Rezoning done right putting Downtown Brooklyn on map

The rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn has dramatically revitalized the area over the last several years and made it more desirable for people to work and live there.

This rezoning plan has brought, since 2006, more than $3.9 billion in private investment, and 8.7 million square feet of development, including 607,000 square feet of retail space; 297,000 square feet of office space; 5,900 residential units; and 1,000 hotel rooms.  Along with the redevelopment of Atlantic Yards and the soon-to-open Forest City Ratner project of the Barclays Center, Downtown Brooklyn will be one of the City’s great success stories for the first half of the twenty-first century.

Downtown Brooklyn is the city’s third-largest central business district and was rezoned in 2004 to accommodate greater density consistent with the Department of City Planning’s goal of fostering transit-oriented growth and channeling new development to transit-rich areas. The Real Estate Board of New York supports this type of rezoning which allows both commercial and residential development that positively impacts the city’s economy.

The Special Downtown Brooklyn District (SDBD) where this rezoning occurred borders the neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Bridge Plaza and Fort Greene. It encompasses an area generally bounded by Tillary Street, Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic Center, Atlantic Avenue; and Clinton and Court Streets.

Retail space has boomed with new shopping and amenities transforming Fulton Street with the opening of Shake Shack, Aéropostale, GAP factory store and ALDO Shoes to name a few and has new leases for T.J. Maxx, Raymour & Flanigan, H&M and Century 21, among others. Office space has transitioned from back office use to front office with more media, advertising and technology companies moving to Downtown Brooklyn.

New residential developments offering thousands of new units in Downtown Brooklyn include; Avalon Fort Greene, residential/retail by Avalon Bay; BKLYN Gold by Lalezarian Development; The Brooklyner, residential/retail by Clarett/Equity Residential; DKLB, 80/20 residential/retail by Forest City Ratner Companies; Toren, residential/retail by BFC Partners; 14 Townhomes (Phase 1) by Time Equities/Hamlin Ventures; Schermerhorn House/Common Ground, mixed income/mixed use by Common Ground + Actors Fund/Hamlin; as well as  Two Trees Development’s mixed-use project 194 Atlantic Avenue and the residential project 110 Livingston Street, which redeveloped the city’s former Department of Education headquarters.

The rezoning plan also brought 1,000 more hotel rooms with an expansion at the Marriott, a Muss Development project, and new additions of the aLoft Hotel, Hotel Indigo and the NU Hotel/The Smith.

Last year, a $15 million Fulton Mall streetscape project was completed which implemented new sidewalks, bus shelters, lights and a new plaza called Albee Square, located at the base of the historic Dime Savings Bank of New York and City Point, a sustainable mixed-use development. Other streetscape project improvements were added along Adams Street and Boerum Place as well as along Flatbush Avenue, which softened the Downtown Brooklyn boundary with Fort Greene.

There are several new projects in the pipeline.  The first phase of City Point is completed and the project includes over 1.5 million square feet of local and national retail as well as affordable and market-rate housing. Mixed-use projects include Steiner Development building 324 Schermerhorn Street; 388 Bridge Street by Stahl Real Estate Company; Avalon Bay Willoughby by Avalon/UAL; and 210 Livingston by Benenson Capital Partners. Others are Muss Development‘s project of 2 Floors in 345 Adams; Oro 2, a soft site by Lalezarian; 75 Schermerhorn, a soft site by Edison Properties and 9 Townhomes (Phase III) by Time Equities/Hamlin Ventures.

Changes to parking may also be coming to the SDBD. The city recently proposed to modify the parking requirements to reflect the reduced demand for accessory parking. This proposal would reduce by half the amount of parking that new residential developments are required to provide to better reflect the actual parking demand in Downtown Brooklyn, which features some of the best transit access in the city.

It would also encourage affordable and mixed-income housing by eliminating parking requirements for affordable housing units as well as simplify the parking regulations in the SDBD, which would provide more opportunities for additional public parking for residents, employees and visitors, according to the city. A public hearing on this proposal will be held by The City Planning Commission on September 19, 2012.

This proposal demonstrates that the City continues to make changes in zoning to reflect actual conditions and help reduce the cost of development.

In other REBNY News:

It’s your last chance to get your nominations in for REBNY’s Residential Division “Deal of the Year Awards.” The deadline is Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. Review your re-sales, new development sales and rental transactions that have closed or will close between Sept. 16, 2011 and Sept. 14, 2012 for the Deal of the Year Contest and submit nominations for Most Promising Residential Rookie Salesperson of the Year. The winners will be announced at the Residential Deal of the Year Awards and Gala on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 at the Metropolitan Pavilion. For more information, contact jtaylor@rebny.com.

REBNY members please check your membership profile by Friday, Sept. 14, 2012 on the member’s side of www.rebny.com to ensure an accurate listing in REBNY’s 2013 Diary & Manual. Once you log into the site, under “Enter Website” go to “My Account” and click “My Profile.” If you have changes, please call REBNY’s membership department at 212-616-5245.