Back in November 2010 it was announced overnight that submissions had been taken, narrowed to two, and a winner selected (St. Ann’s Warehouse) to redevelop Dumbo’s long-shuttered, Civil War-era Tobacco Warehouse on Water Street. All seemed poised to continue moving swiftly, but after two lawsuits were filed against the project last week, the U.S. Justice Department has ordered the National Park Service to review the process that set the redevelopment project in motion.
Namely, the project was contingent on the National Park Service (NPS) annexing the Tobacco Warehouse from the the nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park, which basically amounts to removing a historical structure from public space and making it private. While the NPS reviews its decision, the Justice Department has advised the City government to consider the warehouse still under the jurisdiction of the NPS.
Last week the Brooklyn Heights Association, the Fulton Ferry Landing Association and the New York Landmarks Conservancy filed two lawsuits in state court against the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (NYSOP) and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation accusing the NYSOP of illegally removing the Tobacco Warehouse from the federally protected park in the Fulton Ferry Historic District. They’re also suing the Park Service in federal court, alleging that they “performed no meaningful diligence at all” when transferring the property to a private developer. And the privatizing of state-owned land is exactly the type of process that merits a great deal of diligence, public input and transparency it it’s to happen at all, which remains far from certain.