Courtyard battle heats up at apartment complex in Brooklyn

Since 1890, the courtyard at the Riverside Apartments off Joralemon Street and Columbia Place in Brooklyn Heights has been a special place.

It has changed over the years. In fact, part of the complex was torn down when the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway moved in right next door.

A previous owner paved over a portion of the park in the neighborhood known as Willowtown.

For the past 10 years, neighbors and the current landlord have been arguing in court and before city agencies about a plan to build an underground parking garage below the courtyard.

A representative for the landlord says the underground garage would offer monthly rentals on 90 spaces, would address parking problems in the area, and help maintain the residences.

Plans include expanding the green space and adding more trees, says Kenneth Fisher, the landlord's attorney.

But neighbors say the increased car traffic will be a dangerous addition to the courtyard. Lenore Mitchell, Valerie Hallier and Tarek Pertew have organized an outreach and fundraising campaign with other tenants.

They're always concerned about the impact of digging and excavation for an underground lot next to the BQE and complex foundations.

The building owners say city agencies have signed off on the plans and granted permits.

Neighbors will continue to challenge the project.

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