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Brooklyn is Booming

brooklyn construction

Photo: Giles Ashford

Brooklyn is booming these days with a flood of development that could permanently alter its character. Major developments in in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, at the Atlantic Yards site in Prospect Heights and in Coney Island are either underway or slated to begin soon, but less well-publicized areas adjacent to these developments are also experiencing significant changes to their built environment.

According the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, an estimated 13 million square feet of development was planned for Brooklyn in 2005. Recently, The New York Times reported that of the 24,610 permits issued by the City Department of Buildings in Brooklyn in 2005, 1,740 were for new buildings — a rate of four new building permits each day. In that same time, the department issued 1,924 permits for demolition, or five per day. In the simplest terms, Brooklyn lost five buildings and gained four new ones every day in 2005.

In an attempt to understand whether there is a correlation between the rezoning and redevelopment plans and demolition, MAS mapped the demolition permits issued by Brooklyn’s Department of Buildings in 2006(see PDF files at right). We coupled that information with the 10 areas the Bloomberg Administration has rezoned; including the two major upzonings in Downtown Brooklyn and Greenpoint/Williamsburg and eight “contextual” rezonings. Also included on the map are two state projects, Atlantic Yards and Brooklyn Bridge Park. The results show some correlation between the areas experiencing the highest rates of demolition and upzoning.

The MAS will continue to urge the Landmarks Preservation Commission to protect buildings prior to major rezoning and redevelopment projects being approved. Just by looking at the map, one can see the tremendous pressure on the historic resources in the rezoned Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Likewise, historic buildings in neighborhoods like Prospect Heights, adjacent to the Atlantic Yards development are increasingly threatened by development pressures.

The writer is Kress/RFR Fellow for Historic Preservation.