In 2004, the New York City borough of Brooklyn introduced rezoning laws that were designed to bring in more office and commercial development. Brooklyn has long been the second most commercial borough in the city behind Manhattan, but the residents of Brooklyn wanted more industrial space to help give job opportunities and inspire financial growth.
The 2004 plan had allowed for only 979 units of residential construction, but the actual number at the end of 2015 was 11,000 new residential units. As residents grow angrier at the continued development of residential space and the lack of commercial development, the borough government is trying to create plans that would inspire more office buildings and fewer apartments.
The Affordable Housing Boom Did Not Help Commercial Development
When New York City started to see new residential development at the beginning of the millennium, almost all of the housing was retail priced into high rent ranges. This forced people to move to other parts of the city, and it also caused a rise in housing issues. To help relieve the stress, the city mandated that new residential construction projects must include affordable housing as well as retail rate housing.
One of the places people initially went when the rents in Manhattan started to spiral out of control was Brooklyn. To help provide housing for new residents and prevent a tenement situation from arising, Brooklyn started to rezone parts of their industrial areas for residential and implemented the affordable housing rules.
At the same time, new business corridors created in Brooklyn attracted startups and created a strong business environment. The strain of people who work in Manhattan living in Brooklyn and the growth of Brooklyn’s own business district forced the borough to open up even more residential development zones. All of this has conspired to destroy Brooklyn’s initial idea of creating more commercial and industrial space for its residents. Now Brooklyn residents are starting to wonder if there is enough space left for commercial development.
Developers Are Becoming Part Of The Problem
The neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn recently had a developer present an idea for a large office complex with some manufacturing facilities as well. The developer promised to dedicate 17 percent of his property to manufacturing, as long as they were allowed to build the rest into commercial office space.
It had been over a decade since new manufacturing facilities had been built in Brooklyn, and the people of Brooklyn know that building manufacturing facilities means more jobs. But many residents are bristling at the proposal because they feel that Brooklyn already has too much commercial office space and needs more manufacturing development.
The residents of Brooklyn are afraid that if this facility is approved, then all of the rezoned industrial property throughout the borough would also be peppered with commercial office space, which does not do nearly as much to promote blue-collar job growth in the area. As of March 2016, the city council, residents, and the developer are still working on a solution that works for everyone.
Is There A Balance Between Commercial And Residential Development?
In 2004, Brooklyn had plans to compete with Manhattan when it came to industrial development and job creation. But when people working in Manhattan suddenly decided to start living in Brooklyn, the borough had to change its plans and make room for new residential development. A little over a decade later, Brooklyn’s plans for commercial development seem in peril.
However, developers in Brooklyn are finding ways to develop commercial property that can benefit the borough and the citizens. It may take a few more years to determine what the most beneficial guidelines are, but it is evident that Brooklyn is now actively trying to address its need for commercial development amongst a boom in residential housing.