Skip to main content

Make Downtown Brooklyn a college town? It's also about development rights

A 4/17/15 op-ed in Crain's New York Business from Tucker Reed of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP) was headlined Make Brooklyn a college town.

That's pretty much on par with the message from the DBP for the past three years, since a new initiative was launched in July 2012 to "Raise Downtown Brooklyn’s profile as a 'college town.'"

But the sub-heading on Reed's essay hints at an additional new agenda item: "Higher-education institutions own millions of square feet of untapped development rights in downtown Brooklyn."

This, as far as I can tell, had not been previously suggested by the DBP, and points to a more complicated goal beyond connecting students to area amenities and jobs. Writes Reed:
Institutions of higher education own millions of square feet of unbuilt development rights in the area. It's time to bring those properties to life. The institutions should leverage private investment to transform their underutilized real estate into first-rate facilities that support their academic and housing needs. It's a winning strategy in several ways.

First, it would lift the institutions themselves. Broadly accepted research shows that student housing not only diversifies a school's student body but also increases retention and graduation rates. Further, investing in housing fosters a sense of community among students and an affinity for one's alma mater—increasing chances that they'll give back later on.

Downtown Brooklyn schools need only to look across the river, to New York University. Once largely considered a commuter school, NYU changed its approach and took advantage of its location and underutilized real estate assets to cultivate a campus environment attractive to students and businesses alike. This recognition and subsequent shift in approach played an important role in establishing the school as one of America's premier universities.
Reed suggests that "the de Blasio administration understands this" because "the city last fall collaborated with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and academic institutions to launch the Downtown Brooklyn Higher Education Consortium."

Maybe, maybe not, since that wasn't on the consortium's original agenda.

Writes Reed:
The playbook is straightforward: Couple institutional strength with an advantageous location to create buzzing campus destinations for students, jobs, businesses and affordable student housing.
Reed notes that the "primary aim [of the consortium] is to connect local students with local jobs." That's very different from utilizing development rights.

If that development is truly for "affordable student housing," that's one thing. But I'm not sure that's the DBP's mission. What's in it for the developers? What does it mean to have a campus destination for businesses?

So we'll see.

Looking at the documents

The DBP's page on Downtown Brooklyn Higher Education Consortium states:
With more than 60,000 college students hailing from 11 higher education institutions, Downtown Brooklyn is truly New York City's College Town.
That’s why the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has made it a priority to raise the area’s profile by creating the Downtown Brooklyn Higher Education Consortium. The Consortium fosters cooperation among member institutions to broaden and enrich academic programs, encourage fiscal economies through shared services, facilitate interactions with industry, and expand and encourage student programming and community service activities.
In 2014, the City provided seed funds to formalize the Downtown Brooklyn Higher Education Consortium, which will continue existing programs while also expanding areas of collaboration among member institutions, local industry, and the city.

In 2015, Edward Summers became the Consortium's first Executive Director and is currently meeting with member institutions, industry, and the city to discuss the direction of the organization. A strategic plan will be developed and presented to the Consortium and strategic partners later this year.

Below is a sampling of ongoing events that are part of our Consortium efforts:
Annual Tech Triangle U symposium (all events are free and open to the public)
Brooklyn Tech Triangle Job BoardCollege Town Service DaysGuide to Downtown Brooklyn Pre-College Programs
The plan announced in 2012

DNAinfo on 7/31/12, in Downtown Brooklyn Partnership Aims to Make 'DoBro' Next Great College Town, highlighted the new strategic plan. That plan stated Ensure educational institutions are incorporated into the fabric of Downtown.

The details:
COMMUNITY: Raise Downtown Brooklyn’s profile as a “college town,” and stress the tremendous assets that local educational institutions are when promoting the area for commercial attraction.
  • Engage in place-making and infrastructure planning that makes it easier for students and faculty to connect to area amenities.
  • Plan signature events for Downtown Brooklyn’s college student population. Develop new programs that inform students about area amenities and target promotions to encourage their use.
  • Convene educational leadership and work with them to identify and highlight opportunities for institutions to collaborate and enjoy the benefits of shared resources.
  • Connect cultural, residential and educational communities
In the February 2014 Commercial Observer, Reed said, "One of the things we’re really excited about and are working on now is connecting the schools with the companies that are growing here." 


Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in November 2017, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

The previous graphic, from August 2017 (without the ghost B1)

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …