Brooklyn's waterfront once employed 70,000 people who built warships. Hollywood came to film movies and TV shows, warehouses became luxury condos and eventually e commerce stepped in to transport groceries and consumer goods to New Yorkers during the pandemic.
According to David Lombino, managing director of external affairs at Two Trees Management, a developer “In some ways, it's the last frontier of the waterfront and the potential to generate dense housing in a relatively near term”.
So far, over the last 2 decades housing has been winning the battle. The Bloomberg administration enacted 120 rezonings, which included a significant part of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg waterfront. As a result, 10,000 residential units were constructed and funding went towards the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The DeBlasio administration expanded the city's ferry service and added new piers which made waterfront real estate more valuable.
Unfortunately, some ambitious projects that were planned did not come to fruition. One example is that developers were unsuccessful at obtaining a rezoning for Industry City after widespread opposition in 2020.
Bradley Cohen, Senior Vice President of Industrial Logistics at brokerage CBRE asks “Is it better to have upscale or dense residential with beautiful views of The Statue of Liberty?” “At the same time, it still remains one of the best access points into and around Manhattan and continues to be one of the most highly sought after last miles into the city”.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey own 100 acres along the waterfront in Brooklyn and have given no indication it would sell its assets for redevelopment.
Developers will have to continue to dream of luxury towers a little longer.
According to Carolina Salguero, founder and President of Port Side New York who spoke with PANYNJ officials” The Port Authority is not interested in selling right now”. “The nature of freight has changed dramatically in a short period of time. They're trying to figure out how to handle freight as it hits their own facilities”.
As it stands now, City and State leaders have focused on Brooklyn's marine terminals and the surrounding area as a distribution hub for the rest of the city.
One extremely important reason for keeping the South Brooklyn waterfront from becoming a neighborhood of luxury rentals is lessons learned from the devastation that Super Storm Sandy wrought 10 years ago, destroying 69,000 homes along the coastline, costing the city $19B in damages.
To be continued...
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