The National Park Service’s approval of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation plan to hand over the historic Tobacco Warehouse in Dumbo (currently part of a protected state park) to the theater across the Water Street, St. Ann’s Warehouse, has just gotten more complicated, despite a recent ruling that the deal doesn’t violate any NPS rules.
The Brooklyn Eagle reports that yesterday the three groups opposing the scheme (or at least the way it’s being implemented, with little to no public input or transparency), the New York Landmarks Conservancy, the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA), and the Fulton Ferry Landing Association, filed an amended complaint with two additional names to their federal lawsuit disputing the legality of the process by which the NPS allowed the New York State Parks Department to transfer ownership of the historic 1870s warehouse to St. Ann’s, and permit the construction of a new roof thereupon.
The two new defendants joining the NPS in the three community groups’ suit are Kenneth Salazar, the U.S. secretary of the interior, and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp. This passage from the Eagle article gets at the other problem, namely that this whole process has been fast-tracked due to political interests rather than out of any sense of urgency or need to redevelop the Tobacco Warehouse:
In general, the plaintiffs say that the National Park Service’s February decision (upholding the “de-parking” of the warehouse) was the result of strong pressure from the city and state to allow the conversion plan to go through. They claim that earlier, National Parks “was on the verge of restoring the Tobacco Warehouse, located in the park between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, to federal protection until city and state officials convinced them to reverse.”
And, in fact, a 2008 announcement by the NPS to the effect that it was planning to carry out the restoration itself basically confirms this, suggesting that this battle over the warehouse’s fate is nowhere near being resolved. The entire legalese document is below, if you care to get into it.