North Brooklyn Industry and Innovation Plan

Land Use

Manufacturing uses have faded in many areas of New York City, typically as a result of rezoning or as a result of a failure of manufacturing uses to compete with other more-profitable uses of land, such as hotels.  For example, some large sites that might otherwise have been developed for light manufacturing uses, or possibly creative or innovative tech uses, have been snatched up by hotel developers for new large hotels.  Changes in land values have encouraged hotel use over manufacturing use and have transformed the neighborhood in the process.

To combat this trend, the city is seeking to preserve manufacturing uses in some areas of the city, including the North Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) and adjoining areas.  The IBZ is approximately 900 acres, of which 75% are occupied by industrial companies. In addition to core industrial areas, the IBZ also includes more mixed-use areas with diverse commercial, manufacturing, industrial, and some residential uses.

The Department of City Planning is leading the creation of a plan (called the North Brooklyn Industry and Innovation Plan) for this area as part of the City’s Industrial Action Plan, announced by Mayor de Blasio on November 4th, 2015.  According to City Planning’s website, “This plan will identify strategies to promote job growth and economic activity, and ensure that core industrial areas – areas of the most intensive industrial activity – provide such businesses opportunities to thrive.” Consistent with Mayor de Blasio’s Industrial Action Plan, the plan will explore new models for innovation districts to support 21st century businesses and jobs, with opportunities, as appropriate, for a mix of light industrial, commercial, and limited residential development.  According to City Planning, the plan will seek to create a better business environment by preserving and growing industrial jobs, as well as other compatible jobs in the creative and innovative sectors, improve quality of life for residents and nonresident employees, address conflicts between industrial and non-industrial uses, identify improvements to transportation and infrastructure conditions, and address environmental and resiliency challenges.

City Planning is also exploring whether to exclude or restrict hotels from the City’s core industrial areas, including the North Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone.  This is critical since, under current zoning, hotels are permitted in M1 zoning districts as-of-right.  Much like the M1 zoning districts in Long Island City, which has seen an influx of new hotels over the past 10 years, large portions of the North Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone are zoned M1. Moreover, given the relatively close proximity of this area to Manhattan, a trend toward more hotel development is inevitable.  An exclusion or restriction of hotel use from these areas would prevent hotel developers from grabbing properties like in Long Island City, thereby preserving more manufacturing uses and maintain the industrial nature of the area.

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