May 10, 2004
Raynoff, Press Secretary -- (212) 720-3471
CITY PLANNING COMMISSION
VOTES TO APPROVE COMPREHENSIVE DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN
WITH CHANGES TO ADDRESS LOCAL CONCERNS
May 10, 2004 – The City Planning Commission
(CPC) today voted unanimously to approve a comprehensive
plan for Downtown Brooklyn that combines zoning changes
strategic infrastructure investments to create a dynamic
downtown with 18,000 jobs in new, desirable commercial
space, new housing, retail, open space and improved
transit connections. The plan, which is the cornerstone
of Mayor Bloomberg’s economic development strategy
for regional business districts, is designed to help
lead an economic resurgence by spreading opportunity
throughout the five boroughs. The plan approved today
builds on the strengths of surrounding residential
communities and also incorporates changes advocated
during the public review process by local elected officials,
the public and local businesses and institutions. The
next and final stop in the approval process is review
by the City Council.
The Department of City Planning (DCP) and the New York
City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) have spearheaded
the planning effort on behalf of the Bloomberg Administration
in conjunction with the Downtown Brooklyn Council,
a not-for-profit economic development advocacy group
representing a number of Downtown Brooklyn's corporate,
academic and cultural institutions.
CPC Chair Amanda M. Burden said, "Not only does
this plan take advantage of Downtown Brooklyn’s
rich transit hub and proximity to Lower Manhattan by
creating conditions for commercial growth, but at the
same time, it provides opportunities for new residential
development, better connecting downtown and surrounding
neighborhoods and ensuring a vibrant mix of new initiatives."
"It is especially rewarding that we were able to use the public review
process effectively to address community concerns while maintaining the focus
on our economic and planning objectives," Ms. Burden added.
"Today marks an important milestone in Downtown Brooklyn's history," said
EDC President Andrew M. Alper. "The Downtown Brooklyn Plan will encourage
new office and residential development, a variety of retail opportunities, and
improve the mass transit system-all key elements in helping Downtown Brooklyn
capture future economic growth and create new jobs. The Plan firmly solidifies
Downtown Brooklyn as the third major business hub in the New York metropolitan
region, as well as a thriving cultural and academic center."
The sweeping proposal involves increasing zoning allowances
to catalyze development, assisting in the assembly
of key commercial and residential sites and undertaking
a series of infrastructure improvements including construction
of a park atop a new garage to help facilitate the
creation of as much as 5.4 million square feet of new
commercial space and about 1,000 units of housing.
The Plan for Downtown Brooklyn also calls for the
relandscaping and development of both sides of
Flatbush Avenue, making
it a real gateway to the borough, serving the area's
workers and residents as a more pedestrian-friendly
connector. The thoroughfare is now largely viewed
as a vehicular route off the Manhattan Bridge.
To enhance the mix of residential and commercial development,
the Plan requires retail with large windows open to
the street, all of which will enliven the sidewalks
of Downtown Brooklyn and increase the customer base
of local businesses. It also includes measures to foster
expansion of academic and cultural facilities.
In developing the Downtown Brooklyn Plan, the City
worked closely with Community Board 2 and representatives
of neighborhoods encompassed by the plan to address
quality of life improvements, including traffic management
and parking facilities and historic preservation. Participating
community organizations included groups from Brooklyn
Heights, Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and
The Plan envisions the creation of:
- Three new office towers, with as much as three million
square feet of space, to be built abutting a newly
created 1.5-acre park on Willoughby Street just west
of Flatbush Avenue Extension.
- Another office development anchoring the west end of
downtown at Willoughby and Boerum Place with a total
development potential of nearly 850,000 square feet.
- New residential and office opportunities on the eastern
side of Flatbush Avenue Extension, from Tillary to
Willoughby Streets and along the south side of Myrtle
Avenue, east of Flatbush Avenue Extension.
- Additional residential opportunities along Livingston
Street between Smith Street and Flatbush Avenue.
- Expansion of the area’s existing academic
institutions, which include Polytechnic University,
School and St. Joseph's College; more than 32,000
students are enrolled in Downtown Brooklyn in schools
900,000-square-feet of campus area.
As part of its public review, the CPC held its public
hearing in Downtown Brooklyn to make it convenient
for local residents to have input, and heard more
than seven hours of testimony. In response to the
which included that of Councilmembers Leticia James
and David Yassky and Community Board 2, and to recommendations
from Borough President Marty Markowitz, the plan
evolved to address certain concerns through city
and changes to the application:
- Institute of Design and Construction (IDC):
In an effort to minimize condemnation, and in recognition
of the school's contribution to Downtown Brooklyn,
the site was removed from the Brooklyn Center Urban
Renewal Plan, maintaining the school in its current
location. This site was originally selected to
open up the entrance to the Willoughby Street
office corridor and the Willoughby Square open
site will also not be upzoned.
- Brooklyn Law School (BLS):
BLS voiced concerns over the designation of an
urban renewal site at Red Hook Lane where the
property and has active plans to expand. In response,
language was added to the Brooklyn Center URP
reserving not less than 100,000 square feet for
space on that site.
- Livingston Street:
To minimize condemnation, and to facilitate the
development of Long Island University classroom
other previously designated but never-acquired
sites on Livingston and Fulton Streets were also
from the Brooklyn Center Urban Renewal Plan.
- Site 6A/ Block 1118 ("Arena Block"):
In order to minimize confusion between the Downtown
Plan and the arena project, an issue advocated
by Councilmember James, no change will be made
land use designation for the existing urban renewal
Site 6A on Block 1118. It remains 'commercial'
and was removed from the list of sites proposed
measures to improve traffic flow in the area are being
put into place even before development begins.
Among these are the appointment of a dedicated traffic
coordinator for Downtown Brooklyn at the Department
of Transportation, a blueprint study of ways to reduce
bottlenecks, reduction of government parking on the
area’s streets and a promise to study a parking
permit proposal by Councilmember David Yassky to reserve
on street parking for residents in certain areas.
The attention the Downtown Brooklyn plan has focused
on the area has spurred interest in preserving some
of its older buildings to complement an improved
downtown. Ms. Burden has supported local civic groups
in an effort to preserve facades and facilitate adaptive
reuse of upper floors. In addition, following inter-agency
meetings, the city’s Landmarks Preservation
Commission has calendared 81 Willoughby for landmark
consideration and will look at several other buildings
in the Fulton Street area. Landmark designation brings
eligibility for preservation funds.
In view of the Underground Railroad’s great importance
has in our nation’s history, City Planning and
EDC acted immediately to investigate the claims presented
at the CPC public hearing of Underground Railroad activity
in the area. Following extensive research, no evidence
has been found to substantiate the existence of Underground
Railroad activity at 233 and 229 Duffield and 434 Albee
Square West. Nevertheless, when redevelopment occurs
at these sites, test borings will be conducted to ascertain
if there is any evidence of tunnels that include Underground
Railroad artifacts. Using the criteria of the National
Parks Service, if a connection is established to the
Underground Railroad, excavations would take place
and the findings would be recorded and exhibited in
an appropriate location.
comprehensive plan for Downtown Brooklyn’s
growth now goes to the City Council for review. More
information about the Downtown
Brooklyn plan and other
DCP projects is available on the department's
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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