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July 19, 2019
SEEKING TO GUARANTEE SPACE FOR DIVERSE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN NEW RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS, BOROUGH PRESIDENT AND ALLIES PROPOSE RESIDENTIAL ZONING TYPE IN CURRENT MANUFACTURING ZONES THAT INCLUDES LIGHT INDUSTRIAL, ARTS, AND COMMUNITY FACILITY USES
BROOKLYN, NY, July 19, 2019: Today, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams joined with a broad coalition of citywide advocates and community leaders to call on the City to adopt policies that require a portion of new residential development in current manufacturing zones include non-residential uses, including light industrial, community facility, and artisan “maker” uses. The proposal, designed to help ensure that vibrant, mixed-use development happens as part of planned rezonings, called on Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) to provide a residential and light industrial zoning type that requires non-residential use on the first floor of a mixed-use building; require a portion of the non-residential space be reserved for defined light industrial, arts, and community facility uses; create guidelines for rent that may be charged to such non-residential tenants in mixed-use buildings, and establish stewardship and enforcement mechanisms that ensure owners of mixed-use buildings comply with the regulations. Borough President Adams highlighted that this new development model for new residential buildings sought to guarantee space for diverse employment opportunities.
“Our approach to urban planning should reflect our vision for the city, one that encourages a diversity of opportunities to live and work that in turn advances communities of diverse backgrounds and ideas,” said Borough President Adams. “Members of CB 8 have worked in partnership with my administration for several years to further a new model for mixed-use development that captures these goals, with a particular focus on promoting light industrial, community facility, and artisan “maker” uses that are affordable and attractive. This is truly community-oriented planning that I believe the City should adopt.”
“When we plan for mixed-use neighborhoods, our zoning tools should ensure that new development includes a dynamic mixture of residential, commercial, light industrial, arts, and non-profit spaces,” said Council Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo. “This mixture of uses leads to a mixture of people and economic opportunity and helps make our Brooklyn neighborhoods the diverse and vibrant communities that we all know and love.”
The proposal was first envisioned by members of Brooklyn Community Board 8 (CB 8), which represents a district that is home to more than 120,000 people living in the neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Weeksville. More than 5 percent of its 1.6 square miles is zoned for industrial, manufacturing, commercial, and office use. 44 percent of households in the area spend 35 percent or more of their income on rent.
“North Crown Heights includes a large section of land zoned for manufacturing, with many vacant properties that require rezoning to encourage job-intensive uses. We’ve engaged DCP to help, but their current mixed-use policy leaves manufacturing uses as an option, not a requirement,” said Ethel Tyus, chair of CB 8. “We’ve learned from the experience of other neighborhoods in Brooklyn that means new development will only be residential and retail. While our community needs affordable housing, no housing is affordable if you don’t have a job that pays a decent wage. Increasing the range of local employment opportunities is a priority for our Board.”
Borough President Adams and CB 8 have been joined in this call by a number of leading citywide advocates in affordability and urban planning, including the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD), Evergreen, Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center (GMDC), Pratt Center for Community Development, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (SBIDC).
“As manufacturing zoned land has gradually been lost, the amount of space for manufacturing uses in our city has dwindled,” said Armando Moritz-Chapelliquen, senior economic development organizer for ANHD. “DCP should allow innovative policy that addresses this shortage and aims to bring new light industrial space to move forward, rather than be disregarded by private developments that undermine the goals laid out by communities.”
“New York City’s vitality and sustainability depend on the City being able to maintain its diverse neighborhoods, but we don’t have the right land use tools to achieve that diversity,” said Adam Friedman, executive director of the Pratt Center for Community Development. “The current MX zoning has a misleading name because there is nothing in it to preserve a mix. We need new zoning tools that foster a genuine, balanced mix between light industrial and other uses.”
“When increased density is provided for residential use in manufacturing zones, the remaining non-residential use should be held to a very high standard to maintain the industrial character of the community,” said Leah Archibald, executive director of Evergreen. “Space should be affordable for the average manufacturing firm in Brooklyn, most of whom can only tolerate rental rates from $14-$19 per square foot. An effective mixed-use policy must include direction on how a developer can calculate affordable rent to prevent the loss of production jobs in the city.”
“GMDC has a great interest in the preservation of manufacturing districts so that those areas can continue to provide space for good paying, permanent jobs in New York City,” said Brian T. Coleman, CEO of GMDC. “Further, we can attest to the strong demand for industrial space in western Crown Heights as we leased our latest renovated building within six months of opening. CB 8 has made great efforts to craft a zoning type that will incentivize manufacturing uses and allow for innovative growth in the district.”
“In New York City, we can, and must, solve housing and employment challenges,” said Ben Margolis, executive director of SBIDC. “To do so, we need new developments that include quality-job generating space for local residents to build quality careers. SBIDC is proud to be working with dedicated elected officials and advocates to see how a demand for housing can also grow sustainable and affordable space for production, the arts and the mission-driven sector.”
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