Judge Orders Return of Tobacco Warehouse To Public Parkland

Tobacco Warehouse and Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Photo: D. Caplan

Bad news for DUMBO residents and supporters of the arts, a federal judge ordered the immediate return of Brooklyn’s Tobacco Warehouse and Empire Stores to public parkland on Wednesday. This decision leaves St. Ann’s Warehouse, which must vacate its current premises in 2012, homeless again.

Citing environmental protection and conservation law, Judge Vitaliano ruled that it was “crystal clear” the park service acted outside its authority by removing both the Tobacco Warehouse and Empire Stores, another waterfront structure in Dumbo, from classification as federally designated parkland.

The decision represents a painful defeat for St. Ann’s, which spent years trying to build neighborhood and political support for its $15 million plan to renovate and occupy the Tobacco Warehouse, which was approved in November by Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation. Yet some neighbors, including the Brooklyn Heights Association, as well as the New York Landmarks Conservancy, went to court to stop the move, which, one of their lawyers said Wednesday, would have set a precedent leaving other historic structures vulnerable to private development. [NYTimes.com]