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Behind the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership's curious maps: a city contract defining "Downtown Brooklyn" as extending to Dean Street and Vanderbilt Avenue

The debate about whether Community Board 2 should include the Atlantic Yards site raises questions about whether Atlantic Yards is more identified with Prospect Heights--which its clearly in--or an expanded notion of Downtown Brooklyn.

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, the city-funded local development corporation that has promoted Forest City Ratner's interests, has seemed confused, as I wrote in May 2013.

Its maps long suggested that Downtown Brooklyn stops near the border of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues. At right, for example, the map cannot fit Atlantic Yards.

That's consistent was many other reports, such as the June 2001 report Group of 35 report on office space in Downtown Brooklyn.

But the maps have evolved.


After the proposal for a new Barclays Center-area BID surfaced in January 2013, a new map indicating current development projects (left) found space for the Atlantic Yards site, albeit with the assistance of an inset.


(That effort ultimately was abandoned.)

Then, as shown below, the DBP prepared a new two-page map that manages to transcend the graphical limits of the earlier maps.

First, there's a map focusing on the more traditional boundaries of Downtown Brooklyn, with Tillary Street at the north and Fulton Street at south, and Flatbush Avenue at the east and Clinton Street (one block into Brooklyn Heights from Court Street) at the west.

The second page, however, posits a sort of Greater Downtown Brooklyn, encompassing DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Fort Greene, which are all marked.

There's no notation for Prospect Heights, but the map indicates the Barclays Center and extends to the eastern boundary of the Atlantic Yards site, to Vanderbilt Avenue.

City mandate: to Vanderbilt

Well, the notion of "Downtown Brooklyn" is a curious thing, as I recently discovered, thanks to a Freedom of Information Law request that revealed the 7/1/06 contract between the City of New York and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership for "consulting services" to stimulate economic development, promote growth, coordinate services, and to assist in any area the Deputy Mayor and consultant "mutually agree on."

The contract defines the "Downtown Brooklyn Area" as extending south to Dean Street, east to Vanderbilt Avenue, and north to DeKalb Avenue, as shown in the screenshot below.

That has nothing to do with any definition of Downtown Brooklyn and seems clearly gerrymandered to encompass the emerging Atlantic Yards project. (And also, perhaps, extend the boundaries of Community Board 2, where presumably Forest City Ratner has more clout.) After all, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, even in its expanded map, doesn't try to show the corner of Vanderbilt and DeKalb avenues.



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