Downtown Brooklyn's Remaining City-Owned Parcels About to be Redeveloped

Commercial News » North America Commercial News Edition | By Hortense Leon | December 5, 2012 8:16 PM ET

The last three city-owned parcels in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District are about to be developed, after years of delay because of the financial meltdown.

The Gotham Organization and DT Salazar, Inc. will develop a mixed-use, 515,000-square foot project with 600 units of housing, half of which will be affordable, along with 20,000 square feet of cultural and related office space and 20,000 square feet of commercial space, while the Two Trees Management Company is planning to develop a 32-story tower with 50,000 square feet of creative, cultural and community space and 300 to 400 apartments, 20% of which will be affordable. In addition, there will be 23,000 square feet of retail space in the latter project.

Both projects are going through the public approval process, but the Gotham Organization and its partner are much farther along and are planning to break ground in 2013 or early 2014, said Melissa Pianko, executive vice president at the Gotham Organization. While her company still needs to get final approval for its project, the Two Trees project, which is being designed by Enrique Norten of Ten Arquitectos and which recently began the public review and approval process, needs to have its parcel rezoned before the development can proceed, she said.

On the third and last city-owned parcel in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District, New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development put out a request for proposals last week. "These projects, which will bring more affordable housing and community space to the neighborhood, are more proof of the confidence that the real estate industry has in New York City and downtown Brooklyn," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"Downtown Brooklyn is currently home to more than 40 non-profit visual, performing and media arts organizations, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Mark Morris Dance Center, and the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts (MoCADA) and together these new projects will add to this dynamic neighborhood's emergence as an unparalleled center for arts and cultures in New York City," said Council Member Letitia James.

"Fort Greene (which is next door to Downtown Brooklyn) has historically been home to countless artists who are in need of affordable housing," said James. "This plan will provide additional arts space for those creative forces in this community and affordable housing to address the demand," she says.

"The city has been systematically allowing developers to come in," and redevelop parcels in the area,  says Pianko. The three city-owned parcels are being used as parking lots today, she said.

On November 26, Two Trees, which agreed to purchase the district's "South Side" parcel from the city's Economic Development Corporation in 2009, began the city's Uniform Land Use review procedure to gain approval for its 32-story, mixed-use development. The 50,000 square feet of creative and cultural space in the project will be shared by BAM, 651 Arts, an advocacy organization for African American performing arts and culture, and the Brooklyn Public Library.

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