City Wants More Power Over Brooklyn Bridge Park As Project Slides Into the Red

As the city-and state-funded Brooklyn Bridge Park project breaks ground in coming weeks, the planned 85-acre parkland is facing substantial cost overruns, with a funding source yet to be found.

The development, which seeks to transform the Brooklyn industrial waterfront into a large public park joined by a planned 1,200 apartments, a 225-room hotel and retail and office space, is thought to now cost tens of millions of dollars more than the $150 million budgeted, multiple people involved with the project say.

“Since this project was originally scoped, construction costs have absolutely exploded,” the newly installed president of the state-led Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, Regina Myer, told The Observer. While Ms. Myer would not put a number on the budget shortfall, she said she was confident construction would begin shortly, and a portion of the park would open by 2009.

The recent movement on the park—Ms. Myer said she hoped to finalize contracts for early construction work within two weeks—comes after months of apparent inactivity, with costs rising all the while. The Spitzer administration ousted the previous development corporation president, Wendy Leventer, in early March, and installed Ms. Myer only in late November.

Advocates of the park said they are concerned that overruns could lead to cutbacks in the project’s scope—which envisions a waterfront esplanade, an area for kayaking and contoured green space along the East River—but a person involved with the project said that, for now, talk has centered around bringing in the extra funding from the city and the state.

The Bloomberg administration, offering to put up a large share of the needed money, has asked the state to consider a change in the governance structure for the development corporation, shifting more power to the city, a city official confirmed. The official said the city is awaiting a response from the state, which is facing a $4.3 billion budget gap.

The project, approved by the state in 2006, is meant to pay for its own maintenance and upkeep with payments made in lieu of taxes by six new and converted buildings in the footprint.

The model of development has drawn fire from a group of residents who are critical of the plan, given its reliance on private development bordering the public green space.

City Wants More Power Over Brooklyn Bridge Park As Project Slides Into the Red