Court dismisses challenge to Pierhouse development

Architect rendering of the Pierhouse development. Image credit: Toll Brothers

Architect rendering of the Pierhouse development. Image credit: Toll Brothers

Zoning restrictions were not violated. In 2006, Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation entered into a project plan for developing a hotel and residential complex at Brooklyn Bridge Park.  The plan called for the development’s northern building to be limited to “approximately 100 feet”.  Following Superstorm Sandy’s flooding of Brooklyn Bridge Park, the development was redesigned to move basement mechanical equipment to the rooftop, in compliance with new zoning changes.  This increased the northern building’s height above the 100-foot cap to 130 feet.  Construction began in 2013, and in 2015, plaintiffs Save The View Now filed suit for declaratory judgment.

Save The View Now, a local community group, argued adding mechanical equipment to the rooftop violated the agreement to cap the northern tower at 100 feet.  The cap was intended to preserve views of the Brooklyn Bridge roadway between the bridge’s east and west towers and placing mechanicals on the roof impedes that view.  Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation responded the agreement stipulated the northern tower would not exceed “approximately 100 feet in height” and the tower rooftop was 100 feet from the base plane.  The defendant also argued measuring the height without considering rooftop mechanicals was consistent with the New York City Zoning Code and a prevailing industry method for measuring building height.

Justice Lawrence Knipel found for the defendant and dismissed the suit.  The judge found the project agreement was silent on how to measure the 100-foot height cap, and a search of the record yielded no evidence the defendant agreed to include rooftop mechanicals in the height cap.  The judge also found though the suit was for declaratory judgment, the action was in fact a challenge to government conduct, and brought well after the four-month statute of limitations on such challenges had expired.

Save The View Now v. Brooklyn Bridge Park, 504785/15, NYLJ 1202729676293, at *1 (Sup. KI, Jun. 10, 2015) (Attorneys: Young/Sommer, LLC, Jeffrey S. Baker of counsel for Save The View Now; Sive, Paget and Riesel, P.C. for Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, Zachary W. Carter for City of New York, Herrick, Feinstein LLP for Toll Brothers Real Estate, Inc.).

By:  Michael Twomey (Michael is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2014).

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