$700M PARK FLAP
A development team with close ties to ex-Gov. George Pataki stands to rack up nearly $700 million in gross revenue by selling more than 400 luxury condos to be built within the state-planned Brooklyn Bridge Park, The Post has learned. The potential gold mine has opponents fighting to keep high-rise housing out of the proposed 85-acre waterfront park in Brooklyn Heights, charging that developer Robert Levine and partners just might have pulled off the deal of the century.
Terms of the Levine deal with the Empire State Development Corp. in 2004 – when Pataki controlled it – are outlined publicly for the first time in a legal notice for a hearing on the project, to be held Jan. 29.
The document has the ESDC envisioning Levine’s development reaching at least $674 million in sales before expenses.
“It looks more and more like a risk-free deal written by Robert Levine that the ESDC just went along with it,” said Cobble Hill activist Roy Sloane.
Levine’s partners include Thomas J. Murphy, a Pataki ally and former executive director of the state Dormitory Authority, and AIG Insurance, which records show donated $120,000 to Pataki from 2000 through 2004.
An independent study by the nonprofit Community Consulting Services Inc. of Brooklyn last year estimated that Levine’s team stood to net $350 million through his 441-unit luxury complex. Levine shot that down, saying he’d be happy to make one-third of that.
Levine will “sell” ownership of the building to an ESDC subsidiary for a token amount. The subsidiary will then lease it back to Levine for 99 years, and Levine will sell the condos for profit.
By going through the ESDC, Levine can circumvent the time-consuming and costly process of obtaining a zoning change through the city to build condos.
An ESDC spokesperson estimated that Levine’s development will bring in $50 million in revenues over the first 20 years to offset park maintenance costs.
“I think the public got a good deal because [Levine] could have gotten his zoning change through the city,” the spokesperson said, adding that without Levine’s building, the park would need more high-rise condos for maintenance costs.
Kathleen McMorrow, a Levine spokeswoman, said a park maintenance fee of $2 a square foot, to be charged to condo owners, will mark the first time such a fee is used to “maintain a public park” in the city.
By RICH CALDER
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