City Hopes To Expand Park After Williamsburg Storage Fire

February 11, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

The burnt down CitiStorage warehouse, which briefly transformed into an unlikely ice fortress at the Williamsburg riverfront, has reignited talks about finishing the Bushwick Inlet Park the New York Times reports.

The park has been a decade-long dream. After a 2005 rezoning of Greenpoint and Williamsburg brought high-rises into the area, city officials promised residents a 28-acre park stretching 5.5 blocks along the East River and the Bushwick Inlet. So far, only the bottome edge of the Bushwick Inlet Park exists. “The way I look at it, a promise is a promise,” said Councilman Stephen Levin. “The city made a commitment to the community to mitigate the impact of the rezoning through the creation of this parkland. That impact isn’t going away.”

The city will soon expand the northern portion of the park, with deals slated to take lots from the Bayside Fuel Oil Depot in June. But in the center of the proposed park area lies a stretch of 11 acres that houses both the CitiStorage facility and another building that did not burn down. CitiStorage CEO Norman Brodsky owns the land.

Ultimately, the park’s completion depends on whether Brodsky agrees to sell the land and relocate his business facility. In 2011, the Times reported that he’d take “somewhere in the vicinity of $120 million” for the land, the same per-square-foot price the city paid for the car rental lot that is now the southern corner of the park. “But that does not include the tens of millions the city would also have to pay to buy out or relocate his business,” the Times explained. Regarding his plans after the fire, Brodsky has not responded to the Times for comment.

The Times points out that “rebuilding the center to store documents in an increasingly digitized world seems unlikely.” A real estate broker in Williamsburg, Annette Lamatto, said that the city may not even let Brodsky rebuild. “Now the struggle will be whether the city will allow him to rebuild,” she said. “It might be a golden opportunity for the city to come in and capitalize on its promise.”

(Photo: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)