Tuesday, March 01, 2016

From City Limits, Distorting Downtown Brooklyn’s Past Can Only Obscure Its Future

From my essay today in City Limits, Distorting Downtown Brooklyn’s Past Can Only Obscure Its Future:
On February 22, two seemingly conflicting reports were issued by major Brooklyn stakeholders.
Since 2004, Downtown Brooklyn has been transformed into "a 21st century model for innovation and economic growth," claims "Downtown Rising: How Brooklyn became a model for urban development", prepared by the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, for the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP).
By contrast, "Downtown Brooklyn is bearing a burden of unanticipated new residential development without a comparable level of infrastructure to sustainably support a growing 24-hour community," states a report from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams analyzing the 2004 rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn.
Could both be accurate? Well, to a degree they talk past each other, with Adams's report defining the boundaries of Downtown Brooklyn narrowly and the DBP quite expansively.
However, Adams's report pays more fidelity to history, recognizing the mixed and unanticipated impact of the 2004 rezoning—"in many ways a success"—that produced far more luxury residential towers than expected, and much less office development than was hoped, though a perceived need for office space drove the up-zoning.
The DBP's report, despite the academic imprimatur, stretches credulity by saluting "a central business district [CBD] in Downtown Brooklyn that can serve as a model for the 21st century." After all, the impressive statistics it cites for new buildings, residents, and private-sector jobs rely on a "Greater Downtown Brooklyn" well beyond that CBD, including Brooklyn Bridge Park, DUMBO, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and pieces of Fort Greene. Only by citing the Pacific Park Brooklyn (formerly Atlantic Yards) development, outside Downtown Brooklyn, does the DBP generate its affordable housing estimates.
For the rest, please see City Limits.

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