Downtown Brooklyn’s Willoughby Square Park project is officially dead

January 31, 2019

Rendering: Economic Development Corporation.

It appears that residents at Downtown Brooklyn‘s new Brooklyn Point development won’t be getting their “beautifully landscaped one-acre oasis” after all. Plans to add a new park atop a high-tech parking facility on Willoughby Street across from City Point in Downtown Brooklyn are officially off the table, Brooklyn Paper reports. The plan was set in motion a decade ago under the Bloomberg administration. City officials said Wednesday that a deal with the developer chosen for the job back in 2013 failed to close.

According to a letter sent to the builder’s attorney this week by the EDC, agency heads point to the developer’s inability to secure financing and resolve other business issues as the reasons behind their decision to abandon the project. A spokesman for the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the agency overseeing the project, said “Following several years of working in good faith, we are disappointed that the developer did not meet critical closing conditions on the Willoughby Square project.”

EDC leaders had previously announced plans to break ground break ground on the project’s underground automated parking lot and park this month. The news came more than 15 years after a promise was made to add more green space in exchange for the upzoning of a large swath of Downtown Brooklyn. The plans included residents–some of them rent-stabilized–being evicted from area homes to make room for the new project.

A few weeks ago, the local Community Board 2 shared an internal memo that suggested the city might sever ties with the Long Island–based American Development Group (the project’s chosen builder) and put out a new bid for the job. But Perry Finkleman, head of American Development Group, said at the time that he still expected to close the deal by the end of January. Rumors of the project’s imminent collapse began circulating last March, the story being that Finkleman lacked the funding to complete the project–which would have included the ability to park 700 cars using a system of light sensors and other technology.

The project’s collapse is a disappointment to the community, particularly those who were booted from their homes to make way for the new park. Downtown Councilman Stephen Levin said, “The entire process has been unacceptable to myself and the greater Downtown community, this is a clear example of how not to do public planning. I realize it’s complicated because of the underground parking, but it shouldn’t be that complicated to build a park on city-owned land. It’s totally unacceptable, there’s no excuse.”

Levin said that he is willing to consider a facility with fewer parking spots after community members suggested the project not cater to motorists so much in the public-transit-rich neighborhood. “Ultimately this park has to get done. I don’t want to allocate blame, I want to figure out a way forward.”

[Via Brooklyn Paper]


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