North Brooklyn Industry and Innovation Plan

North Brooklyn Industry and Innovation Plan


In April 2019, the Department of City Planning (DCP) shared an update on the North Brooklyn Industry & Innovation Plan at Brooklyn Community Board 1 (April 9, 2019) and Community Board 4 (April 17, 2019). Presentations can be found here.

Why here, why now?

Research that helps DCP think about where and how to grow jobs in North Brooklyn 

  • PDF Document NYC Workers without a Bachelor’s Degree - This policy brief explores the sectors that provide the best ladders of opportunity. Office-based businesses and industrial businesses (primarily construction, wholesale trade and transportation/warehousing) provide approximately the same number of well-paying jobs for NYC workers without college degrees.
  • PDF Document Employment in New York City’s Manufacturing Districts - The City’s industrial areas are growing jobs for the first time in decades, with high growth in both industrial (primarily construction, wholesale trade, and transportation/warehousing) and non-industrial sectors.
  • PDF Document Can Industrial Mixed-Use Buildings Work in NYC? - Mixing office and retail with light industrial uses can help cross-subsidize new industrial space, but may only work in certain high-rent neighborhoods and on certain sites. However, use conflicts and site remediation still pose challenges.

The North Brooklyn Industry and Innovation Plan was released on November 19, 2018.

View the press release.


What is the North Brooklyn Industry & Innovation Plan?
Context Map

The North Brooklyn Industry & Innovation Plan (the Plan), the largest study of an industrial area DCP has conducted in decades, was announced as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Industrial Action Plan and supports the New York Works jobs plan. It identifies strategies to better align local land use policy in the North Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) Study Area with the needs of today’s businesses while supporting citywide policies for a 21st century, diverse, and equitable economy.

The goals of the Plan are to:

  • Retain areas that can support and grow industrial/manufacturing jobs that provide essential services to the city and offer significant jobs.
  • In targeted areas near transit, increase job density in growing office sectors such as TAMI (tech, advertising, media, information).
  • Create a balanced strategy that channels businesses into different subareas where they can thrive and reduces competition for space and potential for conflicts between industrial/manufacturing and non-industrial businesses.
  • Support an improved quality of life for workers and residents within the Study Area and nearby, and connect workers with a variety of skill levels to quality jobs.
  • Identify potential improvements to transportation and infrastructure that would support growth in economic activity.

In November 2018, DCP released a report that summarizes feedback from extensive outreach in the Study Area to local businesses, residents, workers, and community organizations, and presents detailed analysis of existing conditions and trends. It also recommends strategies to increase space for jobs by updating zoning in industrial areas – M districts – to better support the creation of modern workspace for today’s businesses. It aims to reinforce an industrial core constituting two-thirds of the Study Area for essential, heavy industrial/manufacturing businesses, while also increasing job density in targeted areas near transit and residential areas by supporting the growth of a dynamic mix of creative and tech-driven office-based and industrial businesses.

The Plan was released in conjunction with PDF Document Can Industrial Mixed-Use Buildings Work In NYC? a study ofthe feasibility of incorporating industrial space into new commercial or residential development. The report finds that while these types of mixed-use buildings face design and even financial challenges, opportunities exist for their creation under favorable circumstances. The report informed the Plan’s recommendation that industrial space be incentivized in one portion of the Study Area.

Several of the opportunities identified in the Plan could be considered for other M districts as well, to support investment in businesses and jobs in areas where zoning has not been substantially revisited since 1961 and need to be revised to better reflect the needs of today’s economy.

The Study Area consists of the North Brooklyn IBZ as well as adjoining manufacturing-zoned blocks, spanning 1,066 acres across the neighborhoods of Greenpoint, East Williamsburg, and Bushwick and bordering Newtown Creek. (IBZs are areas containing significant concentrations of industrial jobs, to which tax incentives and business assistance have been targeted, and which the City has committed not to initiate rezoning for residential use.) The Study Area is the third largest IBZ in the city by employment, containing 19,500 jobs as of 2016, 77 percent of them in industrial sectors such as manufacturing wholesale, transportation, construction, waste management, and motion picture recording.

The Study Area’s location in the geographic center of the city gives it key strategic advantages for industrial activities. The three IBZs clustered around Newtown Creek – North Brooklyn, Long Island City, and Maspeth – contained 41 percent of jobs in IBZs citywide as of 2014.

After many decades of decline, employment in the Study Area is growing and diversifying. From 2010-2016, the area gained 1,200 industrial jobs and 1,070 non-industrial jobs (in sectors such as TAMI, arts, retail, and entertainment), the latter concentrated in areas closest to transit.

Construction Supply Business
Construction Supply Business
Media Company Office
Media Company Office
Street Art
Street Art
Retail on Bogart Street
Retail on Bogart Street
Sign Manufacturing
Sign Manufacturing
Recycling Company
Recycling Company

However, development has become increasingly haphazard. The City’s zoning for industrial areas has not been significantly altered since 1961 and creates obstacles to the expansion or creation of new industrial or commercial workspace. The zoning’s low allowable building density, high parking and loading requirements, and outdated building envelopes prevent the creation of space that meets the needs of today’s businesses and increase competition for space. Local job growth has also led to increasing strains on local infrastructure. Updating industrial zoning to suit the needs of today’s businesses and improving infrastructure can support continued growth in both industrial and non-industrial sectors.

The Plan was informed by extensive stakeholder outreach to identify the needs and challenges of local stakeholders. Over the course of late 2015 and 2016, DCP held three large public Open Houses with over 150 attendees, including business owners, local residents, and other stakeholders.

Outreach kicked off at an Open House in December 2015, hosted jointly with Evergreen, the North Brooklyn IBZ’s Industrial Business Service Provider, designed to gather input on benefits and challenges of working or living in or near the Study Area. At the June 2016 Open House, DCP shared a preliminary Land Use Framework informed by input from the first Open House and other outreach to businesses and community groups. At the Open House in September 2016, DCP shared a revised Land Use Framework and recommendations for infrastructure investments.

DCP also engaged over fifty businesses located within the Study Area and fifteen developers/brokers through interviews and small roundtables. DCP presented to and received feedback from Community Boards 1 and 4 and other local community groups representing issues around workforce development, environmental preservation, waterfront access, and environmental justice. Much of the outreach was conducted with support from Evergreen for its Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) planning study.

DCP also worked with local elected officials as well as other City agencies such as the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS), and NYCEDC on infrastructure, workforce development, and economic development issues.

Land Use Framework

The Plan includes a Land Use Framework that identifies goals for the future development of different subareas within the Study Area and land use tools to support those goals. The proposal does not recommend allowing for any new residential uses in the Study Area, with the exception of some small areas on the periphery with predominantly residential uses adjacent to established residential neighborhoods. Limitations on self-storage in IBZs created in 2017 will apply here; limitations on hotels in M1 districts currently under public review are also expected to apply here.

Core Industrial Area (733 acres, or 69% of the Study Area)
A central hub for essential industrial businesses that create jobs and keep New York City running.

Goal: Retain the Core Industrial Area – constituting two-thirds of the Study Area – as a hub for essential industrial businesses, balanced by growth in diverse sectors in the Growth District.

Land Use Recommendations:

  • Implement appropriate limitations on targeted non-industrial uses in the heaviest industrial areas further from residential neighborhoods.
  • Increase permitted industrial FAR to at least 2.0 across the subarea to allow for multi-story industrial buildings.
  • Rightsize industrial parking and loading requirements to better align with business’ needs and remove obstacles to the creation of industrial space.
  • Eliminate existing FAR preference for community facility uses to avoid encouraging such uses over commercial or industrial uses.

Growth District (139 acres, or 13% of the Study Area)
A dynamic, transit-accessible district for creative and tech-driven jobs of the future.

Goal:Support growth an ecosystem of creative and tech-driven jobs in office-based and industrial sectors near transit, balanced by reinforcement of the Core Industrial Area for essential industrial uses.

Land Use Recommendations:

  • Increase density for commercial and industrial uses.
  • Create new loft-like building envelopes to reflect needs of 21st century office-based and industrial jobs.
  • Reduce industrial and commercial parking requirements to reflect excellent transit access.
  • Rightsize industrial and commercial loading requirements to reflect business needs and facilitate development.
  • Eliminate existing FAR preference for community facility uses to avoid encouraging such uses over commercial or industrial uses.

Transition Area (111 acres, or 11% of the Study Area)
A mix of industrial and non-industrial uses serving as a buffer between subareas.

Goal: Support a continued mix of industrial and commercial uses while channeling substantial commercial development to the Growth District.

Land Use Recommendations:

  • Create new mechanism to incentivize provision or retention of industrial space.
  • Modestly increase density for commercial and industrial uses.
  • Create new loft-like building envelopes to reflect needs of 21st century office-based and industrial jobs.
  • Reduce industrial and commercial parking requirements to reflect moderate transit access.
  • Rightsize industrial and commercial loading requirements to reflect business needs and facilitate development.
  • Eliminate existing FAR preference for community facility uses to avoid encouraging such uses over commercial or industrial uses.

Stable Areas (83 acres, or 7% of the Study Area)
Small peripheral areas where no change in land use is recommended.

Stable Areas are portions of the Study Area where significant changes to zoning are not seen as advancing the job growth goals of the North Brooklyn Plan and are generally not recommended.

  • Mixed Edge
    A longstanding mix of residential and industrial uses with no predominant use. No zoning change recommended.
  • Commercial Edge
    Selected active commercial properties adjacent to residential neighborhoods outside of the Study Area. No zoning change recommended.
  • Established Residential
    Predominantly residential blocks with areas currently zoned for manufacturing but that are similar in character to adjacent residential neighborhoods. In these locations, new residential zoning is appropriate to match existing conditions in these small areas.

Additional Recommendations

The North Brooklyn Plan also identifies transportation and infrastructure improvements that can advance innovative transportation planning for industrial areas, support business operations, increase pedestrian and bike safety, and improve the public realm. It also references strategies that could help prepare local workers and youth for jobs in growing sectors in North Brooklyn in industrial as well as creative and tech-driven office-based sectors. 

Next Steps

Based on the extensive outreach and analyses conducted to date in the Study Area, DCP is implementing a three-pronged approach: 1) limit self-storage uses within IBZs (approved in 2017) and limitations on hotels in M1 districts (currently under public review) in both the Study Area as well as citywide; 2) identify broad changes to use and bulk regulations, as well as parking and loading requirements, which have wider applicability to commercial and manufacturing districts throughout the city; and 3) advance zoning and land use actions specific to the Study Area.

A rezoning based on the recommendations of the North Brooklyn Plan will include conducting further analysis and outreach to stakeholders to develop consensus around the details of a rezoning proposal, including boundaries. It will be subject to a full public review under both the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) process and the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which present multiple opportunities for stakeholder input, including numerous public hearings.

A DCP-led rezoning will also include coordination with other City and State agencies such as DOT, EDC, SBS, DEC, and DEP on complementary measures that would advance the economic development goals of the North Brooklyn Plan.

For more information about the North Brooklyn Plan, please contact: