Existing Land Use Map
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The DUMBO neighborhood is located along Brooklyn’s East River waterfront and is situated between the historic neighborhoods of Fulton Ferry and Brooklyn Heights to the west and south, Vinegar Hill and the Brooklyn Navy Yard to the east and Downtown Brooklyn and Bridge Plaza to the south within Community District 2. The proposed rezoning area is generally bounded by the Manhattan Bridge and Anchorage Place to the west, John Street and the East River to the north, Bridge Street to the east and Front Street to the south.
DUMBO’s emergence in the early 19th century as a bustling manufacturing hub resulted from the success of steam ferries that crossed the East River from the nearby Fulton Ferry Landing. The development activity that was generated by this commerce had a profound impact on the neighborhood. Industrial companies began to develop the area with high density brick and reinforced concrete loft buildings to take advantage of the ease of storing, refining and shipping materials from this transportation hub. These loft buildings that continue to define DUMBO’s character today, rise at the street line without setback and are punctuated with large windows, which allowed sunlight into the industrial workspaces. Following the general trend of industrial decline in Northeastern cities, the companies and workforce that operated from loft buildings in DUMBO gradually diminished by the middle of the 20th century.
Following land use and market trends of recent decades, DUMBO has evolved from its industrial past into a dynamic, mixed use community that has adapted by housing a new generation of uses. A residential presence grew in the late 1970s as artists priced out of gentrifying Manhattan neighborhoods transformed the large spaces into work studios and residences. Beginning in the mid-1980s, the New York City Loft Board regulated the legalized conversion of many of these units as Interim Multiple Dwellings (IMD). Since this time there has been a steady increase in residential occupancy within the existing loft buildings, both through illegal conversions and Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) variances. Art galleries and local retail shops, among other design-oriented users, have located predominantly in ground-floor spaces to service the increased activity in the neighborhood. The neighborhood’s large footprint loft spaces and attractive rental prices have attracted creative commercial companies in new media fields such as web and design, music production and promotion, and graphic arts.
In recognition of DUMBO’s unique built character, the neighborhood has received two historic district designations in recent years. The proposed rezoning area is completely within the DUMBO Industrial District established by the State and National Register of Historic Places in 2000, and is almost entirely within the DUMBO Historic Districts established by the LPC in 2007.
The proposed rezoning area contains approximately 12 blocks situated along Jay Street and Bridge Street the neighborhood’s two predominant north-south corridors. Buildings along the Jay Street corridor vary greatly in their respective size, ranging from 1 to 12 stories. The few low-rise buildings of 1 to 3 stories typically have ground floor uses of neighborhood services such as restaurants or local retail with upper floors containing residential use. Buildings of 3 to 7 stories rise from 50 to 80 feet, due to the tall ceiling heights of the loft structures. These are more likely to be uniformly occupied by warehousing or studio uses as several of these buildings have loading docks or other structural conditions that have prevented ground floor conversions. Lastly, the largest loft buildings of 6 to 12 stories, or 80 to 120 feet in height, are typically of mixed-use character. Although there are some vestiges of earlier light-manufacturing uses such as waste paper transfer, ground floor uses typically include dry cleaners, art galleries, garment production, and furniture sales. The remaining floors of these lofts contain an array of uses, including architectural, graphic design, and other business services, printing companies, woodworking and similar light industrial work, and art studios.
Buildings in the Bridge Street corridor commonly range from 4 to 7 stories, or 50 to 75 feet. Smaller foundries and garages of 20 feet in height are also interspersed. Both of these building types do not typically have ground floor uses that interact with the street and are more likely to be occupied by industrial uses including furniture production, woodworking, and metal sculpting that have remained during the area’s transformation. There are also concentrations of office space and residential units throughout the Bridge Street area as well.
DUMBO is served by the F train with a stop one block south of the rezoning area at the intersection of York and Jay Streets. Subway service is also available on the A and C trains with a station at High Street, seven blocks to the southwest. The B61 and B25 bus routes also have stops near the proposed rezoning area.
Recent City Actions
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The proposed action follows six previous private and DCP rezonings in the past ten years in the surrounding and adjacent areas that have increased the mixed-use character of the neighborhood. These include the mapping of a C6-2A district in 1998 to allow for the mixed-use conversion of buildings along Main Street; the contextual residential rezoning of Vinegar Hill, in conjunction with the LPC designation of an historic district; the creation in 1999 of Brooklyn’s first Special Mixed Use District, M1-2/R8A (MX-2) to allow for mixed-use conversion and new construction between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges from Water to York Streets; and several private rezoning applications to facilitate new mixed use developments. These actions have generated over 900 new residential units with the capacity for creation of an additional 900 units in the future.
In December 2007, LPC designated the DUMBO Historic District. Twenty-five lots within the proposed rezoning area contain style buildings as determined by the LPC, requiring these buildings to undergo LPC review of any proposed alteration or demolition.
The rezoning area is currently zoned M1-2 and M3-1. Four blocks north of Plymouth Street, as well as a property at the southeast corner of the Bridge Street and Plymouth Street, are zoned M3-1. Portions of eight blocks south of Plymouth Street are mapped M1-2. The M3-1 zoning has been in place since the current Zoning Resolution was adopted in 1961 while the M1-2 zoning was mapped in 1986, reducing the size of the M3-1 district to reflect the shift in types of industrial uses in the area.
An M1-2 district is currently mapped over approximately two-thirds of the rezoning area generally located south of Plymouth Street. M1-2 districts permit Use Groups 4-14, and 16-17, which include light manufacturing and industrial uses, many commercial uses and certain community facility uses. The district has a 60-foot or four-story street wallheight limit, whichever is less, before an initial setback of 15 feet on a wide street, and 20 feet on a narrow street. All of the streets within the study area are narrow streets for zoning purposes, at less than 75 feet wide. Building envelopes are governed by the sky exposure plane. M1-2 permits 2.0 FAR; however buildings containing community facility uses are permitted up to 4.8 FAR.
An M3-1 district is currently mapped in the area north of Plymouth Street or approximately one-third of the rezoning area. M3-1 districts permit Use Groups 6-14, and 16-18, which include heavy manufacturing and industrial uses up to 2.0 FAR and certain commercial uses. The district has a 60-foot or four-story street wall height limit, whichever is less, before an initial setback of 15 feet on a wide street, and 20 feet on a narrow street. All of the streets within the study area are narrow streets for zoning purposes, at less than 75 feet wide. Building envelopes are governed by the sky exposure plane.