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About Us > Press Releases Printer Friendly Version

February 14 , 2007

Rachaele Raynoff, Press Secretary -- (212) 720-3471


FEBRUARY 14, 2007, The text of Ms. Burden's prepared speech follows:

Good Morning,

I'm delighted to have this opportunity to speak with you again today, at a thrilling moment for our city.  New York has entered a time of optimism, growth and revival that hasn't been seen for half a century.

After the devastating events of 9/11, in only 5 years, the Mayor has led us to a remarkable and astounding recovery. 

We are now entering a construction boom in all five boroughs that will, when completed a decade from now, stand as one of the greatest in New York City's history.

Three and a half years ago, I spoke to you about the Bloomberg administration's extraordinarily ambitious land use agenda. That strategic agenda was shaped by several factors.

First, it was informed by our population growth that reached 8 million in 2000, which we believed would continue.  In fact, the US Census Bureau figures had us at 8.2 million in 2005, and we now fully expect to add between 35 to 40,000 New Yorkers each year, bringing us to 9.1 million New Yorkers in 2030.

Our strategic agenda was also shaped by the prescient Schumer, "Group of 35" report, issued in 2001.  That report warned that the city's long term economic growth would be limited by a severe lack of office space.  It forecast a need for 60 million square feet of commercial space by 2020. The report recommended the creation of new and expanded business districts in 5 boroughs by rezoning to allow for higher density commercial use.

Our strategic agenda was also very much shaped by the knowledge that we have a tremendous shortfall of housing, especially housing affordable to a range of incomes. 
To help address the affordability issue, we have not only created new opportunities for tens of thousands of new housing units, we have incorporated new inclusionary zoning in many of our efforts, to foster both market rate and affordable housing development.

And, to incentivize commercial development, our rezonings set the stage for millions of square feet of as-of-right, high density commercial development.

By shepherding these initiatives all the way through the land use approval process, we have created the conditions for the private market to invest in sustainable locations within an urban design framework tailored to make an area prosper and flourish.

Our challenge was to develop a land use strategy that addressed these concerns within a framework of a city that is already built out to its edges. We have done this in a way that speaks to New York's strengths, and the need to move towards a more sustainable form of urban development.                     
First, we have promoted transit-oriented development, channeling growth to transit-rich locations and away from auto-dependent neighborhoods.

Second, we have encouraged the recycling of formerly industrial land for new uses, and the adaptive reuse of obsolete industrial and institutional buildings. 

This allows increased population and jobs to be accommodated within New York City's existing urbanized area and not into undeveloped parts of the region.  In fact, New York City's land use policies have been so successful in this regard that the city is growing faster than the region.  Even though the city has only 38% of the region's population, we now have 50% of the region's new housing permits, up from only 20% a little more than a decade ago. This is smart growth. 

And smart growth is essential to the city's sustainable future.

I am delighted to give you some of the highlights of what The Bloomberg Administration has accomplished in 5 short years:

To date, 67 of our rezonings, encompassing over 4500 blocks, have been adopted by the City Council.
In completing the Hudson Yards rezoning, we set the stage for the expansion of the Midtown business district, allowing for 24 million square feet of office space, over 13,000 units of housing, of which more than 3,300 will be affordable, and we facilitated the extension of the #7 line. 

This past December, the city sold $2 billion in bonds, and, notwithstanding reports to the contrary, construction of the line will begin later this year. Already, half a dozen developers plan to start residential projects in the Hudson Yards in the next six months. And in May, an RFP will be issued by the MTA for both the Eastern and Western Rail Yards with developer selection anticipated by this coming fall.

In Lower Manhattan, the population has doubled since 2002, with 3800 new housing units and another 13,000 in the pipeline. Our award winning plan for the East River Waterfront secured $150 million in funding from the LMDC, and we expect major portions of the esplanade and piers to be underway in early 2008. 

Later this year, the City's $38 million Fulton Corridor initiative will begin offering incentives to building owners and retailers along Fulton and Nassau Streets to enhance retail storefronts and restore historic building facades.

And, under the Mayor's leadership, contentiousness had given way to a spirit of cooperation at the World Trade Center Site. Construction of the East Bathtub slurry wall will be completed by the end of this year and construction of the Freedom Tower is underway.

For Towers 2, 3 and 4, an unprecedented design collaboration is taking place in a studio on the 11th floor of 7 World Trade where Foster, Maki, and Rogers are working together to advance the tower designs by Silverstein Properties, intent on meeting a March 1st deadline for schematic designs. And the WTC Memorial Foundation has brought its fundraising total to over $250 million in its $300 million capital campaign.

Five years ago, the Mayor articulated a vision for Lower Manhattan that went beyond the WTC site and looked at how we can rebuild and revitalize the entire Lower Manhattan area.  Today, we can say with confidence that this vision is being achieved in bricks and mortar, new open space and a revitalized waterfront.

Elsewhere in the city, the Administration's five-borough economic development strategy of creating regional business districts has made significant progress. Since last I spoke to you, we have rezoned 64 blocks of Downtown Brooklyn to facilitate 4.5 million square feet of office space and housing to activate this strategically located business district. 
Over 1,250 units are already underway, 800 units in the immediate pipeline, and a new 500 room Sheraton is close to completion, joining the newly expanded Marriott. 

An RFP for the Willoughby Square parking garage will be issued this spring, the design for the relandscaping of Flatbush Avenue is complete and a new design for Fulton Mall is underway.  Atlantic Yards and a new Arena for the Nets will provide Downtown Brooklyn with a state of the art sports venue, office space and affordable housing, anchoring the neighborhood's resurgence.

In Long Island City, only minutes from Midtown, a long held promise for a 24 hour neighborhood is finally being realized.  In 2004, we rezoned the Hunters Point neighborhood in order to bring life and foot traffic to this unique, transit rich, culturally vibrant neighborhood. 

Already, 1000 residential units are in construction and two new office buildings grace the skyline.  The area that was to be an Olympic Village has been re-envisioned as a waterfront community with up to 5,000 apartments, 60 percent to be affordable to middle class households. And we are working on a master plan that integrates this housing with open space, waterfront access and new community facilities.

And, by the end of this year, we will break ground on a $22 million street reconstruction and a lush green park at Queens Plaza. A design for the relandscaping of Jackson Avenue will be complete this spring, setting the stage for the area's rebirth as a unique and dynamic fourth central business district.
In Brooklyn, less then two years after the adoption of our Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning plan, development of more than 1100 units is underway on two waterfront sites that will include 450 on-site affordable units facilitated by our inclusionary zoning. 

In the adjacent upland neighborhoods, another 1000 units are in construction
with applications at HPD for 200 new and preserved affordable units.

Within a year, one third of a mile of new waterfront parkland will be open for public use and enjoyment, finally reclaiming a waterfront that had been left derelict and inaccessible for decades.  In the coming years this one-third mile of waterfront parkland will be extended to two miles of publicly accessible open space along the waters edge. 

And in Manhattan, in West Chelsea, only 18 months after our award winning rezoning was adopted, the High Line Park is in construction, the Whitney museum has chosen its terminus as the location for its new museum, the number of art galleries has increased by 50%, 600 new residential units are underway, 400 more are in the pipeline and no less than 20 development sites are in active design.  And last December, HPD released an RFP to develop 600 affordable units of infill housing on Housing Authority sites.

In the Bronx, a new Yankee stadium is in construction and our rezonings of Morrisania and Port Morris will facilitate residential conversions and mixed-use development. Already, over 800 housing units are being developed in the Morrisania area, and we project more than 400 units of housing in Port Morris.

In Staten Island, the waterfront at the former Homeport will be transformed into 12 acres of new public open space, retail, a sports complex, a farmers market and 350 units of housing. City approvals are complete, infrastructure construction will begin later this year, and development RFPs will go out this spring.

Just last week, we began the seven month public review process of a comprehensive rezoning plan for Jamaica, Queens, one of the largest in the city's history.  Capitalizing on the Airtrain as an anchor for an airport related business district, the plan proposes 3 million square feet of commercial space and 3400 units of residential development. 

And in July we will begin the ULURP for the rezoning of 125th Street to provide new and affordable housing, office space, retail, cultural and entertainment venues, while preserving the area's unique brownstone blocks. 

 And later this year we will unveil plans for the Lower Concourse and 161st Street in the Bronx, Dutch Kills and St. Alban’s in Queens and Fort Greene, Bedford Stuyvesant, Coney Island and the Gowanus in Brooklyn.

In the Gowanus, for example, where a long-ignored industrial area abuts some of Brooklyn's most desirable neighborhoods, we have begun a discussion with the community on a framework to guide future land use decisions. Some of it undoubtedly will be reserved for important industrial and other business activities.  But other portions, including long-polluted vacant and under-used sites, can and will be cleaned up for housing and for public access to and along the canal.

In Staten Island, we will focus on strengthening St. George and developing a framework for the island's North and West Shores.

And in Manhattan, we will be proposing rezoning initiatives on the Upper West Side as well as in the East Village and Lower East Side.

Some of you might ask how we can downzone neighborhoods at a time when the city is bursting at the seams and needs to accommodate so many more people. Downzoning is integral to our smart growth policy.  In auto-dependent neighborhoods that do not have the transit or road infrastructure to support significant numbers of additional residential units, we have discouraged inappropriate growth and at the same time preserved unique neighborhood character.

These policies combined, provide New Yorkers with a broad range of housing choices and opportunities.  In fact, taken together, all these extensive rezoning initiatives provide predictability for residents, property owners and the development community. They also pave the way for as-of-right, appropriately scaled development enabling the private market to respond when the market is ready. 

The market is indeed ready.  We are now going to see new stadiums, subway lines, convention center space and residential development that would have been difficult to conceive of even a few years ago.

New York City's economy is continuing to surpass expectations.  Hotel room occupancy rates are at cyclical highs and vacancy rates in office buildings are at cyclical lows, fueling new confidence in the market for both hotel and office development.  Tourism is also booming.  NYC & Company estimates that tourists spent $24 billion in the city in 2006, supporting nearly 350,000 jobs.

And we believe that still more New Yorkers will be visiting here, doing business here, and making New York their home.  Hence, the responsibility facing us and future leaders is that much greater.

Mayor Bloomberg has now challenged us to help create a more sustainable city, a city that, as I have said, is expected to reach 9.1 million people by 2030.  He has set forth 10 goals for his long term sustainability initiative including increasing transit capacity and open space, and reducing the city's greenhouse gas emissions to have the cleanest air of any big city in America.

We have started down this road with our smart growth policies to accommodate a growing population by building the foundations to support that growth, which we welcome. New York, along with other cities and countries have a responsibility to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which threaten to warm the planet, raise sea levels and alter weather patterns creating more damaging storms.

In fact, New York City can't afford NOT to do it.  We are a coastal city that many scientists agree could suffer serious adverse consequences from climate change. Sustainable development is something we must learn to do in a practical and economical way.  While feasibility is certainly one of the challenges facing us,  we expect the Mayor's pioneering focus on sustainability to recommend measures that not only ensure that more buildings are built with green construction, but also that existing buildings are upgraded and retrofitted.  These policies will have a huge impact on the health of our city and the environment.

A sustainable city must be our goal. We must figure out collectively how to achieve that in a practical, affordable way.  With your collective savvy and creativity, and with your partnership, a lot can be achieved to help ensure our city's future health in the face of the challenges the Mayor has laid out.

New York is now enjoying prosperity as great as any the city has known.  We must harness that prosperity so that future generations can say the same thing about the city they live in.
As the generations that preceded us provided for us, it is now our turn to provide for succeeding generations, So that in 2030, the city will hold as much, and more promise for all New Yorkers as this city does, for us, today.

Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning is responsible for the City's physical and socioeconomic planning, including land use and environmental review; preparation of plans and policies; and provision of technical assistance and planning information to government agencies, public officials, and community boards.

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