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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eric Bederman (HPD) (212) 863-5176
Marc La Vorgna / Julie Wood (212) 788-2958
Danai Pointer (Cultural Affairs) (212) 513-9322


Internationally Renowned Art and Science Center Coming to Last Vacant Site in District, Next to Mark Morris Dance Company 

Further Progress on Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to Finance 165,000 Units of Affordable Housing 

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas and Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin announced today that a team comprised of Jonathan Rose Companies, Dattner Architects, Bernheimer Architecture, SCAPE Landscape Architects and cultural partners Eyebeam Art + Technology Center and Science Gallery International has been chosen to develop an affordable, mixed-use development at BAM North Site II in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District. The site, located on Lafayette Street between Rockwell Place and Ashland Place, will be developed to create 42 units of affordable housing along with new ground-floor commercial space for a restaurant and 27,000-square-feet dedicated to a cultural space to be designed by Eyebeam and Science Gallery. The site is next to the Mark Morris Dance Company building and cater-cornered to BAM’s Opera House; it is the last site in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District to be developed. 

            “Downtown Brooklyn is home to some of our city’s most exciting and innovative cultural institutions, and that’s causing more and more people to want to live and work in the neighborhood,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This new development will bring affordable housing, more cultural space and new dining options to what is now a vacant space, bringing even more life and energy to the neighborhood 

            “Mayor Bloomberg's investments in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District are continuing to pay dividends with the development of more affordable housing on the final parcel of city-owned land in the neighborhood,” Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel said. “Arts, culture and housing are all vital contributors to thriving mixed-use neighborhoods in all five boroughs.” 

“This project will complete the City’s vision for the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District,” said HPD Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas. “Over the years we've seen this area become a community with all the key components that make up a dynamic neighborhood. As the revitalization of Downtown Brooklyn continues, affordable housing is critical to the growth and stability of this community. I am proud that HPD has played such a pivotal role in ensuring that this neighborhood will be home to mixed-income housing and cultural institutions that will make this area vibrant for years to come.”           

“Jonathan Rose Companies is thrilled to be designated as developer for the BAM North II site along with our partners, Eyebeam Art + Technology Center and Science Gallery International,” said Jonathan Rose, President, Jonathan Rose Companies. “I am so pleased to be developing in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District, as I was deeply involved with initiating the redevelopment of the area while leading the Atlantic Center project for Rose Associates in the early 1980s. Three decades later, Jonathan Rose Companies is honored to be contributing to the continual rebirth and evolution of the area. Our project’s much needed affordable housing, cutting edge cultural space, green roofs and environmental responsibility represents the fullness of Jonathan Rose Companies’ capabilities and embodies our belief that transit rich, mixed-use, mixed-income developments are healthier for their residents and the communities in which they are located.” 

“The Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District is an exciting nexus of restaurants, housing and retail connected by more than 40 exciting cultural organizations,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin.  “We are pleased that plans for the North Site development include spaces for two dynamic arts groups-–Eyebeam and The Science Gallery—which will expand the District’s appeal, serving artists and audiences in extraordinary new ways.” 

“The Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District revitalization continues to transform this area into one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the City,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. “The cultural and commercial space on this final parcel will further strengthen the area’s character as a nexus of artistic and economic activity alike, encouraging local businesses to thrive, while providing additional affordable housing options.” 

“Bravo to Eyebeam for ‘seeing’ its way back home to Brooklyn, where it will join the Science Gallery in bringing creative synergy, in its blend of art and science, to the Downtown Brooklyn-BAM Cultural District and to the greater Brooklyn Tech Triangle,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “I am particularly looking forward to the addition of more than forty affordable units at the BAM North II site, helping to ensure that Brooklyn will remain an economically diverse community where moderate and middle income families can reside. Once again, affordable housing plus the arts equals a winning combination for the development of Downtown Brooklyn!” 

The BAM North Site II project is being developed under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP). The NHMP is a multi-billion dollar initiative to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by the close of Fiscal Year 2014. For every dollar invested by the City, the NHMP has leveraged $3.43 in private funding, amounting to a total commitment to date of more than $23 billion to fund the creation or preservation of over 156,397 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs. A total of 37,295 units have been financed in Brooklyn to date.           

The development site spans three tax lots (Block 22107/Lots 36, 40 and 41) on Lafayette Street between Ashland Place and Rockwell Place, with a total area of approximately 12,439-square-feet. The residential component will have a variety of housing types at a mix of affordable and market rate rents. Twenty percent of the development’s total 109 units will be made available to households earning no more than 80% Area Median Income (AMI) or $48,100 for an individual. An additional 20% of the total units will be available to households earning no more than 130% AMI or $78,260 for an individual. The remaining units will be available at market rate. The project will exceed Enterprise Green Communities standards, a comprehensive set of green building guidelines designed specifically for affordable housing, and which is required for all new affordable housing construction funded by the City. 

            The proposal includes approximately 2,700-square-feet of ground floor commercial space for a planned Craft-branded restaurant and 27,000-square-feet of ground floor and second floor space for a cultural center and exhibition space. Cultural partners Eyebeam and the Science Gallery will bring a variety of visual and interactive cultural offerings to the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District and will complement the preexisting performing arts programs in the immediate vicinity, including the programs at the Brooklyn Academy Music (BAM) across the street, the Mark Morris Dance Center next door, and Theatre For A New Audience across the Arts Plaza. Programs and exhibitions offered by Eyebeam and the Science Gallery will focus on the intersection of art, technology and science. The cultural space will host a wide range of programs for the general public as well as student and school programs. 

The development will be the first United States home for the Science Gallery, an international organization that presents changing exhibitions and educational programming focused on science and art, particularly for students ages 15-25.  

Eyebeam was founded in 1997 by filmmaker and digital media entrepreneur John S. Johnson. The organization supports provocative and risk-taking work at the intersection of art and technology. It provides support for some 20 artists annually and presents a wide range of installations, exhibitions, performances, symposia, workshops and education programs for teens and adults around such topics as sustainability, visualization techniques, security and privacy, sound art, programming and software, game design, as well as digital and internet culture. The cultural facilities will feature state of the art exhibition and workspace for Eyebeam’s artists in residence and public programming, keeping the space active often 24/7. 

“By moving back to Brooklyn, where Eyebeam first grew and flourished, we will continue to contribute to and incubate new and innovative work in a community that is becoming a leader in arts and culture not only for New York but the nation,” said Johnson. “Eyebeam has always aimed to move at the speed of culture, and this effort will ensure that young and emerging artists and technologists have a voice in the discourse.” 

Downtown Brooklyn was rezoned in 2004 in part to help facilitate the growth of the new cultural district centered in the Fort Greene neighborhood and its legacy of cultural activity. Since then, the City has committed over $100 million in capital funding to further enliven an already vibrant neighborhood of arts organizations and support the development of the Downtown Brooklyn area as a whole. This project will be located on the same block as the new home for the Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) which is scheduled to open in October 2013, and BAM North Site I, a mixed-use project that is scheduled to start construction in December 2013 and will bring 596 housing units including 298 units affordable to low- and middle-income households. 

In November 2012, Mayor Bloomberg announced the City’s plan to revitalize the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District which included the creation of 600 new units of housing with 300 of those units being affordable housing. The City is exceeding its commitment to affordability and currently has more than 350 affordable units in pre-development in projects in the area, not including the 42 affordable units that will be created through this project. The planned construction of the BAM North Site II marks the development of the last parcel in the district.