Today’s news:

Brooklyn Bridge Park velodrome plan crashes despite Joshua Rechnitz’s $50-million donation

Wheels of misfortune!

The Brooklyn Paper

The wheels have stopped on a philanthropist’s lofty plan to bring an indoor bike track to Brooklyn Bridge Park because the project cannot be built within the $50-million budget.

Park officials say the proposed cycling facility and recreation center, dubbed the Fieldhouse, required more cash than the massive sum velodrome mastermind Joshua Rechnitz wanted to hand over in what would have been the largest donation to a park in Brooklyn’s history.

“Despite months of hard work and assessment by the leadership of the Fieldhouse, it has become clear that the project in Brooklyn Bridge Park is not financially viable,” said a spokeswoman for Rechnitz. “The special requirements of a facility in this location and providing a fieldhouse with the highest quality design exceeded the $50-million budget.”

The unique plan, announced last April, called for a 200-meter, cycling track that could host major races, as well as a boathouse and space for sports like basketball, tennis, and gymnastics.

Planners shifted the design later in the year to allow for more space for other recreational activities after some critics bashed the plan due to the relative obscurity of track cycling, in which spandex-clad riders careen around a steeply banked track on single-gear bikes.

“When you take public land you want to serve as much of the public as you can,” said Brooklyn Heights Association president Jane McGroaty, whose group feared running the velodrome would put Brooklyn Bridge Park — which must cover its own operating costs — in the red. “This kind of cycling is not a sport that is universal ... the big fear was that it was going to be financially impossible to sustain itself over the long term.”

Rechnitz even threw in an additional $10 million on top of his original $40-million donation to support the velodrome in its infancy, but concerns about the facility mounted, especially after Hurricane Sandy swept through the open space, the New York Times reports.

Representatives for Brooklyn Bridge Park said they were saddened by the change of plans.

“We are grateful that we were considered for this very generous gift and regret that this project will not come to fruition in the park,” said Brooklyn Bridge Park president Regina Myer.

Other park advocates mourned the loss of the facility and blamed the project’s demise on the controversial decision to cover park costs by building housing inside the green space.

“This is a terrible loss, there is no doubt about it,” said Judi Francis, the president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, who has fought to get a year-round athletic facility in the park for years. “It only further proves that the interest of housing and those who live in and around the park supersedes the interest of those who need a park for recreation.”

Rechnitz vowed to continue his search for a site to build a velodrome in the New York area.

“I’m determined to find a terrific site on which to build a beautifully designed facility,” the reclusive philanthropist said in a statement. “I greatly regret that this cannot happen in Brooklyn Bridge Park but I am confident that we will find a new home for the Fieldhouse in the very near future.”

He is still forging ahead with his plan to turn a decaying Metropolitan Transportation building known to Gowanus residents as the “Bat Cave” into an arts hub.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. Follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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JAY from NYC says:
well they could not build a stadium for the jets either, and that clearly makes a hell of a lot of money. They also talked about building a NASCAR track on Staten Island and that did not happen either.
Its too bad this did not work out, I don't think its something that we need, but it would have been a cool thing to have.
The comment that Judi Francis made is really unfortunate though, because people do need a decent place to live and the reality is that there is a terrible housing shortage in this town, made worse by Superstorm Sandy, and a roof over a persons head is gonna be higher on the priority list than a velodrome. Its really disappointing that she would make a comment like that.
Hopefully though they can find some place where they can build this and the financial numbers make sense.
Jan. 10, 2013, 5 pm
JAY from NYC says:
well they could not build a stadium for the jets either, and that clearly makes a hell of a lot of money. They also talked about building a NASCAR track on Staten Island and that did not happen either.
Its too bad this did not work out, I don't think its something that we need, but it would have been a cool thing to have.
The comment that Judi Francis made is really unfortunate though, because people do need a decent place to live and the reality is that there is a terrible housing shortage in this town, made worse by Superstorm Sandy, and a roof over a persons head is gonna be higher on the priority list than a velodrome. Its really disappointing that she would make a comment like that.
Hopefully though they can find some place where they can build this and the financial numbers make sense.
Jan. 10, 2013, 5 pm
Tim from Carroll Gardens says:
Good news. A velodrome would occupy potentially a large amount of park space and serve relatively few in the city, let alone the neighborhood. This is something that should be done on private land to serve its specialized community.
Jan. 10, 2013, 5:56 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
JAY, those two that you mentioned would be privately owned, and they shouldn't be given any public funds at all let alone what was built for the Mets, Yankees, and Nets. I too am glad that this velodrome won't be built, because it would just be seen as another pet project. Of course, I know that a website like Streetsblog will go to their usual scapegoating and enemies list. Then again, what else could be expected from a group of people who just hang around a faceless, internet message board who could never be taken seriously compared to those that are really out there. Seeing this velodrome being canceled is as good as seeing the Yankees losing the World Series. Maybe that money can co to something more useful that can be used by many rather than just a few.
Jan. 10, 2013, 7:12 pm
Vic from Kings County.... says:
Hahahah...Sandy displaces homes and, what, some water front buildings are needed with cheap rents. Yeah, right. Is about the stupid parking spaces. People living in the Dumbo area is just selfish. Idiots, it ain't a park there right now but a large field of construction area. Enjoy your view because nothing would get built for a while......
Jan. 10, 2013, 8:08 pm
ty from pps says:
I really hope that comment wasn't from the real Tal... that would be sad. It sounds like the meds wore off.
Jan. 10, 2013, 9:43 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal said
"Then again, what else could be expected from a group of people who just hang around a faceless, internet message board who could never be taken seriously compared to those that are really out there."

nah
Jan. 11, 2013, 6 am
Dan from Boerum Hill says:
People act as though there is a dearth of space. Half built, there's still more room than will ever be occupied. There's plenty of space left for revenue generating buildings like hotels and a velodrome. They just need to do value engineering to meet the generous offer for the velodrome.
Jan. 11, 2013, 6:59 am
Other Other Michael from Brooklyn says:
"Then again, what else could be expected from a group of people who just hang around a faceless, internet message board who could never be taken seriously compared to those that are really out there."

Funniest thing I've read from "Tal" ever. Nice work.
Jan. 11, 2013, 11:02 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
If you want this velodrome so much, I have a better idea. Why don't those bike zealot groups just give the funding themselves to help build rather than make the taxpayers foot the bill? At least the taxpayers won't have to worry about paying for something that will hardly be used. I am sure that both Mark Gorton and Paul Steely White have the money to fund for it, though they are probably going to demand that the Bush tax cuts stay for them even though they probably didn't do much before they would expire, but want it to continue just to make the same excuses to keep their tax breaks longer.
Jan. 11, 2013, 9:10 pm
John from Westminster Road says:
Rechnitz seems eccentric, if not vain and nutty.
Jan. 12, 2013, 1:51 am
ty from pps says:
Tal... you need medical assistance.
Jan. 12, 2013, 3:46 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
In all honesty, I don't find a velodrome that necessary, especially if it won't be used constantly just like most of the bike lanes, which will make it a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Jan. 12, 2013, 5:12 pm
Mark Groton from Brooklyn, NY says:
Tal, tell me the reason for your ill will. I googled my name this evening and came across your multiple posts in which you attack my person, seemingly without cause. I am here to clear my good name from innuendo.
Jan. 20, 2013, 12:07 am

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