Search results for "Brooklyn"

Placeholder Alt Text

Tot-ful Design

Inaba Williams converts a challenging interior into a luminous Brooklyn preschool
Although architects design new buildings for well-endowed nonprofits all the time, it is somewhat uncommon for firms known for high design to take on super-low-budget commissions. But Inaba Williams was up for the challenge. For a new preschool in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, the Inaba Williams team drew out the quirks of an awkward, column-filled interior to deliver a luminous space that supports the school’s commitment to immersion in Japanese language and culture. The Brooklyn-based firm connected with Aozora Gakuen after the school leased the space, which had sat vacant for two years despite its location in a desirable neighborhood. Unlike most chronically empty New York commercial properties, the rent wasn’t too high for prospective lessees—the space was just too weird. The second floor, where the school is located, doubles as the structural transfer level between the apartment tower above and offices and a parking garage below. In plan, the structural columns look like confetti left over from a manic crafting session. To reconcile the column array with the client’s needs, the team highlighted the irregularities of the 3,500-square-foot space while harmonizing the circulation pattern across three classrooms, a bathroom, and a shared kitchen. Inaba Williams founding principal Jeffrey Inaba opted to move the classrooms to the perimeter and organize an interior pickup and drop-off area (called the Aozora Room, “blue sky” room in Japanese). Surrounded by glass panels that pull light in from the street-front classrooms, that area is the heart of the school as well as a transitional space from the outside world into the classroom. Along with cubbies (getabako), it’s delineated by a raised wood floor that physically separates the shoes-on portion of the school from the classrooms, which, in accordance with Japanese custom, are shoes-off. Typically, architects work to mask irregular features, but in the Aozora Room, they turned what Inaba deemed “the craziest part of the structure” into a defining feature. Making use of what he called “an aspirational Marcel Duchamp door,” a reference to the French artist’s Door: 11, Rue Larrey, the design now has one door leading from the bathroom to the classroom and the other leading from the bathroom to the Aozora Room’s threshold area. All the doors can be opened for seamless circulation or closed for activity separation. To save money, the firm installed standard fixtures and “very, very economical” wood floor and tiling. While Inaba declined to go on the record with the budget, he did say the project cost far less than a typical New York institutional interior—without sacrificing design quality. Consequently, “there’s programmatic variability with very simple elements,” he said. Beyond design, the experience made the firm excited to work with other mission-driven clients. “There are many organizations where the physical space is critical to what [the client] does, but they don’t have the means to afford an architect or think about design,” Inaba said. “To be able to work with a group and make a space that aligned with their teaching philosophy was really important.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Warehouse Modernism

Brooklyn’s East River waterfront is defining itself in unexpected ways
Taking shape along Greenpoint’s once-industrial waterfront district is a series of surprisingly contextual modern condo developments using red brick and exposed black steel to tactfully insert tens of thousands of new residents along this sleepy East River shoreline. The largest of them, a 30-story tower that is part of Handel Architects’ Greenpoint Landing, includes 5,500 units sprawled over 22 acres at the mouth of Newtown Creek, with 1,400 apartments renting for as little as $393 to $1,065. Initial renderings presented for public review surfaced as bland massing diagrams, but the subdued details of Handel’s build-out hold promise for communities becoming accustomed to glossy, glassy, boxy towers in districts where rezoning permits greater height and bulk. To the stakeholders’ credit, the developer showed them a selection of schemes to choose from, including designs by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. In contrast to Long Island City’s gleaming, generic masses and Williamsburg’s spotty, uneven edges, Greenpoint’s waterfront retains enough of its traditional shipping warehouses to sustain the contours of a characteristically industrial neighborhood along West and Commercial Streets, even if most of the industry is gone. Despite a major waterfront rezoning passed by the city council in 2005, until a few years ago, most of West Street continued to host storage for building material and scaffolding, a lumber manufacturer, and a crane and equipment rental company. After large portions of Greenpoint Terminal Market were lost to a ten-alarm fire in 2006, Pearl Realty Management adapted the remains into a studio-and-workspace rental complex, an extension of its Dumbo-based green desk co-working enterprise. Slowly, smaller firms like Daniel Goldner Architects, Karl Fischer Architect, STUDIOSC, and S9 Architecture populated the upland side of West and Commercial with renovated warehouses and upscale condos echoing the material palette of the existing low-rises. Much of the post-rezoning development along West and Commercial stalled due to the 2008 mortgage-backed securities crisis. In 2009, the former Eberhard Faber Pencil Company building became the Pencil Factory lofts, and Daniel Goldner Architects filled in the corner lot with a syncopated colored brick addition and perforated aluminum garage. The project struggled in the post-crash housing market. But in the past two years, a rush of new buildings began to rise up along West and Commercial with a distinct material selection: red and light-colored brick and exposed black-painted steel, with glazed entryways and antique fixtures. Karl Fischer Architect’s 26 West Street opened in 2016, its redbrick and black steel facade filling out the six-story street wall, its large overhang resembling a meat market loading dock. The warehouse modern–aesthetic even extends all the way around the mouth of the Newtown Creek, where a 105-unit building by S9 Architecture employs the same neotraditional style—red brick, exposed black steel, industrial awnings, antique fixtures. An upscale ground-floor grocery store warmed some nearby loft residents up to it after months of sound-based trauma from the drilling of pilings. With leases from $3,350 to $4,350, locals will never be at peace with the rent pressures that come with these buildings, but at least they have the virtue of not extravagantly showing off their residents’ income. Not everything conforms to this trend: The expansive 140-unit development under construction by Ismael Leyva Architects at 23 India Street more crudely fills in its zoning envelope with affordable housing ranging from $613 for studios to $1,230 for winners of the NYC Housing Connect lottery, capped by a 39-story, 500-unit condo tower that promises in every way to form a bland massing diagram in the sky. In any case, contextual exterior cladding is little consolation for a community that fought hard for its 197-a plan—completed in 1999 and adopted by the city council in 2002—which would have allowed significantly less bulk and height, aimed to retain more light-manufacturing jobs, and mandated more affordable housing along with waterfront access. Jane Jacobs, in one of her final written statements, penned a strong defense of the original community plan against the eventual zoning resolution. Of course, the trade-off forced by the city—an upzoned waterfront in exchange for publicly funded parks and developer-mandated walkways—has already helped reduce heavy-industrial pollution, killed a proposed Con Edison power plant, and reduced and eliminated waste-transfer facilities and truck fumes. Some residents are just waiting for the dust and noise of construction to subside, while others hope for another recession to slow down the accelerated activity. In 2009, Andrew Blum published “In Praise of Slowness," for the launch of Urban Omnibus that, in retrospect, should have a more durable life as a critique of fast development. For New York City neighborhoods, slowness provides a much-needed stability in the absence of state-level expansion of rent regulation to protect against predatory development. Yet if there had to be luxury condos facing the former industrial piers, the emerging Greenpoint warehouse modernism was a more subtle and site-specific solution than anyone expected or imagined.
Placeholder Alt Text

New Lab, New You

Brooklyn’s New Lab goes big with a tech hub for urban entrepreneurs
Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue.  Located in a former shipbuilding space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New Lab is an 84,000-square-foot collaborative tech hub dedicated to entrepreneurs working on scalable technologies and products. New Lab supports companies in nine disciplines: robotics, AI, urban tech, the built environment, energy, connected devices, additive tech, life sciences, and nanotechnology. Members benefit from access to a dizzying array of fabrication labs, including 3-D printing, woodworking, casting, CNC milling, and electronics, along with access to free software, including Autodesk and SolidWorks. But it’s also important to note that New Lab’s location in New York City is part of the draw, as the city itself is offered as an ideal laboratory to test the technologies in real-life urban conditions. The flagship tech hub opened in 2016 and was founded to provide a supportive center for those companies working at the forefront of technology and human experience and to ensure that they have a reason to stay in the city. David Belt, New Lab’s co-founder and CEO, is careful to stress that the lab is not an incubator—that is, it is not dedicated to helping companies at the beginning of their research or product-development cycles, but rather those that have concrete products and built technologies and are ready to take the next step. Through a formalized arm of the company called New Lab Ventures—a $50 million venture fund—the lab itself invests in some of its member companies and currently has investments in 14 of them; the lab also connects members to the world’s leading venture funds. And a joint program called the Urban Tech Hub, in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), allows New Lab to support companies that strive to make a more livable, resilient city through their technologies and products. Additionally, the lab has other private-public partnerships in the works and a global partner network with Barcelona, Spain, and Copenhagen, Denmark, that offers other opportunities to members. New Lab currently has 103 member companies, with 600 individuals working at the space. Competition for entry is steep—just 15 percent of applicants are accepted.

Notable alumni include:

CARMERA

The founders see potential for their technology to be crucial for urban developers, autonomous vehicles, public transportation, and infrastructure. It allows for real-time, constantly updated 3-D mapping of cities.

Voltaic Systems

The portable solar power company creates lightweight solar panels and solar-powered solutions for people, products, and structures alike.

StrongArm Technologies

This company develops ergonomic solutions for injury prevention and peak performance for the industrial workforce, including the construction industry.

Terreform ONE

An architecture and urban think tank that advances ecological design in derelict municipal areas. Terreform is New Lab’s only nonprofit and its only architect-centric member.

Placeholder Alt Text

Haute Hoyt

Studio Gang’s new 51-story Brooklyn tower is revealed
Renderings for the new Studio Gang-designed 11 Hoyt condo development in downtown Brooklyn have been released. It will be the Chicago-based firm’s first residential project in New York City and located next to the downtown Brooklyn Macy’s building. Topping out at 51 stories at 664 feet, 11 Hoyt will be among the tallest buildings in Brooklyn—taller than any existing structure and only beat by the yet-to-be-completed City Point Tower III and the under-construction 1,066-foot skyscraper at 9 Dekalb Avenue designed by SHoP Architects. Built on the site of a former parking garage demolished for the project, 11 Hoyt is part of a broader set of changes and high-rise construction happening in downtown Brooklyn. The foundation is already laid with construction of the concrete superstructure to begin soon for an anticipated 2020 completion. The tower is distinguished by its rippling facade and punctuated by square windows, adding a textural quality to Brooklyn’s growing skyline.The luxury building will have 480 residences with interiors by Michaelis Boyd Associates, as well as 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor amenities. Landscape design of the significant outdoor space will be overseen by Hollander Design. The site is being developed by Tishman Speyer, who is also behind the major changes to the adjacent Macy’s building, which includes the addition of a ten-story office tower designed by Shimoda Design Group.
Placeholder Alt Text

Retail Vision

New renderings revealed for Macy’s-topping tower in Downtown Brooklyn
Although construction has been underway for some time, new renderings have surfaced for Shimoda Design Group's Macy's-topping tower in Downtown Brooklyn. The structure, a 14-story office tower, is slated to rise inside and on top of the three buildings occupied by the department store on Fulton Street. The strip, one of the busiest retail corridors in the city, has been targeted in recent years by investors due to its proximity to prime Brooklyn neighborhoods like Fort Greene, Boreum Hill, and Brooklyn Heights. Developer Tishman Speyer is calling this 256-foot-tall project the Wheeler. It will bring almost 844,000 square feet of office space to the area, with floorplates in the new building ranging in size from 34,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet. Macy's is staying on as a retail tenant in the bottom four floors, while offices will occupy the other ten stories. Because the four lower floors are an amalgam of different buildings, these volumes will feature 90,000-square-foot floor plates and 16-foot-tall ceilings. The new structure sports a glass curtain wall with angled fenestrations, and outside, the setbacks and the roof will be crowned with 11 terraces, YIMBY reportedPerkins Eastman as the architect of record. If all goes according to plan, the Commercial Observer noted the project is expected to be complete by the middle of next year.
Placeholder Alt Text

No Man's Land

Look inside the new Brooklyn outpost of The Wing, a women-only co-working network
Co-working network The Wing has opened the doors of its DUMBO, Brooklyn location, the first outside of Manhattan, and members can expect to find the company’s signature pastel pink hues, color-coordinated bookshelves, and eclectic mix of materials in play here as well. Founded in 2016 by Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan, The Wing was envisioned as a series of members-only co-working and social clubs for women, and quickly hit $42 million in investments. While The Wing only opened its first office in October 2016 in the Flatiron neighborhood, the company has been eyeing a rapid expansion, especially after competing co-working company WeWork contributed to its latest funding round. “Expanding to Brooklyn was a no-brainer for The Wing,” said Gelman in a statement sent to AN. “A third of The Wing’s current members call Brooklyn home, and it is consistently one of the most requested locations. We are excited to welcome new women into The Wing’s community and continue the company’s growth.” The Brooklyn branch is housed at 1 Main Street, the neighborhood’s former tape factory and home of the notorious Clock Tower penthouse. Keeping true to the building’s industrial past, architect Alda Ly and interior designer Chiara de Rege have stripped the ground floor space to its bare bones and left the columns, beams and ductwork exposed, and poured pink concrete for a distinctive flourish. The former factory also provided space for a double-height central atrium, and the duo used the opportunity to carve out a second-level balcony space. De Rege has said that utility and beauty don’t always go hand-in-hand, but despite being completely open, The Wing DUMBO uses the seemingly-eclectic interior finishes to break up the club’s different areas. While a pink granite dining table in the atrium draws attention as a central meeting place, the green velvet of the nearby conversation pit easily separates it from the subdued palette of the rest of the space. Color was a major component of the design, and the blues, golds and pinks set the plush interiors apart from the stoic wood-and-glass aesthetic of The Wing’s competitors. The café areas are marked by their thinner, more finely detailed chairs and pedestal tables, but the color-coded library is instantly recognizable as such by the assortment of plush and rounded couches. That lending library, curated in partnership with New York’s Strand Bookstore, contains over 2,000 books by women authors, and each bookshelf swings open to reveal soundproof phone booths. The partnerships don’t stop with The Strand. All of the featured art is curated by and features solely local women artists, The Wing’s café and bar, The Perch, serves food from women-owned partners, and copies of No Man’s Land, an-house magazine launched last fall, are available throughout. A podcast room, vintage photo booth, meditation room and shower are all open for members, but The Wing has opened its reception and retail sections on the ground floor to the public. The DUMBO office might have opened on February 26th, but if you want to join, you’ll have to wait your turn; the waitlist to become a member is at 13,000 names and growing. The company's fourth location will be opening in Washington, D.C. sometime this spring.
Placeholder Alt Text

Yard Work

Brooklyn Navy Yard to double in size after $2.5 billion investment
Already in the midst of a massive expansion, the Brooklyn Navy Yard is set to get even bigger. As first reported by Bloomberg, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC), a non-profit group that manages and develops the yard, is set to reveal a $2.5 billion expansion plan that would double the manufacturing hub’s square footage. Space in the Navy Yard has been getting tight as of late, with an ongoing $1 billion expansion renovating the rest of the existing buildings on the 4.8-million-square foot campus, and as WeWork’s 16-story waterfront office building, designed by S9 Architecture, nears completion. “We’ve reached a point where we have really finished rehabbing all of the existing buildings at the yard, and we’ve been over 99 percent leased for the past decade,” Clare Newman, executive vice president of the BNYDC, told Bloomberg. The new long-term plan will add an additional 5.1 million square feet of vertical floor space to the 4.8-million-square-foot campus, and create more room for manufacturers as well as tech-oriented office space. While the Navy Yard currently employs 7,000 people in a variety of fields, from carpentry to farming, the first stage of the expansion is expected to boost that number to 20,000. The BNYDC predicts those figures will blast up to 30,000 once the long-term build-out is complete. As the BNYDC is an interim group that manages the Navy Yard for New York City, who owns the site, they’ve chosen to fund the $2.5 billion plan through a combination of tenant revenue, government grants, and tax breaks. The Navy Yard’s enlargement is driven in part by the Navy Yard’s success in attracting traditional and high-tech manufacturers, and the campus’s limited size; Newman notes that creative companies and designers often start off strong and outgrow the Navy Yard. By offering larger facilities, the BNYDC can retain this talent on-site. The newest expansion plan will likely kick off with the construction of a 2.7 million-square-foot complex on top of what’s currently being used as a parking lot for cars and trucks. While no timetable has been set yet, the first building will probably hold 75 percent manufacturing space and 25 percent office space for technology and creatives. The second building will likely contain the same mix of space and be built on what is currently being used as a tow lot for the New York Police Department. The third complex in the long-term plan will be built on what is now the Bureau of Prisons supply depot, the last federal tenant in the Navy Yard. The three sites in question are:
  • Kent Avenue (approximately 13 acres)
  • Flushing Avenue (approximately 6.5 acres)
  • Navy Street (approximately 5 acres)
Other than WeWork’s Dock 72 office building, the current Navy Yard growth plan involves the conversion of Admirals row into a Wegmans supermarket, the expansion of the Brooklyn College Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema by Dattner, and Beyer Blinder Belle’s ongoing renovation of the 1-million-square-foot Building 77.
Placeholder Alt Text

Emerging Voices 2018

Brooklyn’s Future Green wants to change the way we think about weeds
The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series highlights individuals and firms with distinct design “voices”, singling out those with the potential to go on to even greater heights. 2018 saw two rounds of judging; first by a panel of past Emerging Voices winners, and a second to pick the winners. The first-round jury included Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, as well as members of the second-round jury, Sunil Bald, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien. AN profiled all of the emerging voices firms in our February print issue. Future Green founder David Seiter will deliver his lecture on March 1, 2018, at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. For the Brooklyn, New York–based landscape architecture firm Future Green, “spontaneous urban plants” are part of a patchwork ecology that has the potential to transform our cities. Future Green’s work is another part of that ecology. David Seiter founded Future Green in 2008 because he felt disconnected from his work in more traditional offices, applying new landscapes onto a site when he wanted to “draw them out of the place itself.” Now grown to about 25 people, his office features a garden and 6,000-square-foot fabrication facility for prototyping new ideas and new ways of weaving contextual plantings into urban sites. A picturesque quality pervades Future Green designs, particularly architectural collaborations like the Atlantic Plumbing residences in Washington, D.C., with Morris Adjmi Architects, and 41 Bond Street in New York, with DDG. At Atlantic Plumbing, the 300-foot-long planted window boxes contribute to the building’s postindustrial character, while the plants climbing up from 41 Bond’s facade were inspired by a visit to the quarry that provided the building’s stone. Future Green will sometimes maintain these types of projects for years after their completion to learn how the plants respond and evolve. Nowadays, an outdoor venue on a former rubble-strewn industrial site in Queens, New York, takes an informal approach. Stepping into the 18,000-square-foot space almost feels like stepping into a friend’s backyard. It’s cultivated but not too cultivated, organized around three large earth mounds, shaded by a grid of honey locust trees that help remediate the soil, and planted throughout with weeds. “We were able to leave a lot of traditionally weed species on the site,” said Seiter, “and then we seeded in a lot of other species that are, I would say, on the edge of acceptable.” For now, Future Green is advocating for a new understanding of “native landscape” that isn’t driven by climate but by human-created conditions. The firm's largest project to date is Half Street, a mixed-use curbless street in D.C., located near the Washington Nationals stadium. On game days, the retail-lined street closes to automotive traffic and becomes a pedestrian plaza for 30,000 people. Future Green’s design draws from its context and the need for flexibility; it includes a paving pattern inspired by Pierre L’Enfant’s iconic plan for the city, large tree pits paired with bio-swales, and other “soft” infrastructural elements designed to manage both water runoff and pedestrian traffic while creating a distinct sense of place. Future Green’s design for Half Street reflects their belief that streets are “the foundation for good new urban space.” As Seiter said, “If we can actually design our streets and sidewalks to be more effective green spaces and more-actively designed spaces for the public realm, we can create a new garden city.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Brooklyn Boom

Morris Adjmi-designed tower revealed for Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill
Morris Adjmi Architects and developer Jeffrey Gershon's Hope Street Capital have presented plans for a 29-story apartment building in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for permitting. The rise of the 312-foot-tall tower at 550 Clinton Avenue is contingent on the developer’s plan to consolidate the rest of the block into a single lot, and transfer the resultant air rights to 550 Clinton. 60,000 square feet of the 70,000 square feet required would come from the nearby Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew, a landmarked church in dire need of façade repairs. The air rights transfer hinges on LPC approval of the church’s renovation, spearheaded by Li/Saltzman Architects, and the commission kicked the project back for minor tweaks at Tuesday’s meeting. Adjmi’s tower would rise on top of a 52-foot-tall base that snakes around the lot to Atlantic Avenue and Vanderbilt. While the entire building would be clad in tan precast concrete throughout and feature windows with metal mullions, the LPC presentation indicates that the windows on the tower portion would be tripartite and span from the floor to the ceiling of the units within. Most distinctively, the tower would taper at the base and twist on the south side to meet the cantilevered upper portion. While 550 Clinton could only be built at 96,000 square feet as of right now, with the spot rezoning being requested and transfer of air rights, the final project could be as large as 238,000 square feet. 34,000 square feet would be for commercial use in the building’s base, while 202,000 square feet would be allocated for residential units. This would be allowed only through the application of Section 74-711 of the city Zoning Resolution, which allows concessions for height and bulk if a maintenance plan is set up for a landmark on the same lot. The LPC’s chagrin on the 9th resulted from questions over the materials that would be used for the façade repair of the church at 520 Clinton Avenue. Commissioner Michael Devonshire took aim at the developer’s use of composite materials to patch the front of the brownstone church instead of the original stone, noting such repairs typically last for only 25 years. Instead of voting on the residential development or restoration, the commission has asked Li/Saltzman Architects to address this issue and present at a later date. Adjmi’s design didn’t escape the meeting unscathed either, as critics called the tower project “severely stark” and inappropriate for a neighborhood where the buildings are typically brick or sandstone. The proposal comes amidst a development boom in the Downtown Brooklyn area, and 550 Clinton is only blocks away from the Pacific Park megaproject. The full presentation given to the LPC is available here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Greening the Bay

Brooklyn’s Jamaica Bay waterfront slated for huge state park

Like the generous soul in the "Twelve Days of Christmas," Governor Andrew Cuomo likes to bestow gifts—usually big-ticket public projects—on the people of New York right before his annual State of the State address. In his speech this week, the governor dropped news that a new 400-acre state park is coming to Jamaica Bay, Brooklyn. Today (the Twelfth Night!), the governor's office, in conjunction with federal and local agencies, released more details on the forthcoming waterside green space, which, after Freshkills, will be New York City's second huge park on a former garbage dump.

The planned park will sit atop the former Pennsylvania Avenue and Fountain Avenue landfills, which ceased operation in 1983. The sites, separated from each other by Hendrix Creek and from the rest of the neighborhood by the Shore and Belt parkways, is just a short jaunt from the Gateway Mall in East New York. Eleven years after the dumps closed, the land was given to the National Park Service as part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, an archipelago of open spaces in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey. In 2009, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection completed a $235 million site remediation effort that prepared the land for other, non-garbage uses. Now, the newly-planted grasses and woodlands undergird coastal ecosystems and ease erosion along three and a half miles of shoreline. Plus, there are gorgeous views of New York Harbor and Jamaica Bay.

"This new state park will be a treasure in the heart of Brooklyn, offering hundreds of acres of beautiful parkland on the shores of Jamaica Bay," Governor Cuomo said, in a statement. "We are committed to ensuring every New Yorker can access the recreational, health and community benefits of open space, and this park will open new doors to wellness for New Yorkers who need it most."

New York State has inked preliminary deals with the National Park Service to plan the park's financial future and maintenance operations. Under the agreement, New York State Parks will develop and run the park in collaboration with the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Phase one of the project is funded by $15 million in state money, part of which will go towards building biking and hiking trails, fishing spots, and kayaking infrastructure, as well as park vitals like restrooms, shading, and food stands. The first phase, open next year, will also include coastal highlands planted with native species. At 407 acres, the green space will be a little less than half the size of Central Park. The landfill park is in East New York, one of the target areas of Vital Brooklyn, Cuomo's $1.4 billion revitalization initiative focused on the central Brooklyn neighborhoods of BrownsvilleFlatbush, Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York.
Placeholder Alt Text

Don't Stop Believing

What’s going on with the Brooklyn-Queens streetcar?
With the recent revelation that New York City’s proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar project had missed its deadline for launching the public review process at the end of December, new questions have arisen over how feasible the project is. As the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has instead chosen to begin a review of the streetcar’s cost and feasibility this year, it’s worth looking back at the BQX’s bumpy ride through 2017. The last time AN wrote about the BQX, it was to report on the release of a leaked memo from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s advisory team to Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen in April. While the 16-mile-long BQX line was originally envisioned as a way to transport residents up and down a revitalized Brooklyn-Queens waterfront by April 2024, the memo called into question the rising costs of relocating below-grade utilities along the line’s route. It was additionally suggested that the use “value-capture” for the $2.5 billion project, which would finance the BQX through rising waterfront property values, might not be enough. Fast forward to November 9th, when two anonymous sources with connections to the project told the New York Post that “It’s going to die.” Citing the contentious relationship between Mayor de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, and breaking with the mayor’s assertion that the BQX would require no state-level intervention, the sources broke down why the streetcar relied on the governor’s approval. Several parcels of land along the BQX’s proposed route are owned by the state government and would need permission to build over, and the MTA has stated that it would not cross-honor BQX tickets for the bus and subway systems. Killing the “last mile” aspect of the streetcar is especially important, as the project was initially pitched as linking neighborhoods that lacked mass transit options. Four days later on the 13th, the nonprofit group Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector unveiled a life-sized streetcar prototype at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The mockup featured enough room for 150 passengers and open gangways, while Friends of the BQX have promised that the streetcar would have an average speed faster than the busses it would share the street with. As December drew to a close, the BQX missed a major milestone in failing to launch the public review process. As the EDC begins an in-depth review of the project, Crain’s has noted that the review would save taxpayers $35 million if plans for the streetcar were scrapped, but would delay the project’s launch another six months, potentially costing up to $100 million every year that it’s delayed. Only a few days after, on December 28th the Post reported that the Department of Transportation would need to repair the decaying Brooklyn-Queens Expressway directly over the proposed streetcar route, potentially delaying the project further. While the Friends of the BQX and the mayor’s office have remained adamant that funding for the project can be found, there are still significant hurdles in the way. A route has to be finalized, some sort of agreement between the city and MTA must be worked out, and protection measures for flooding will need to be discussed as the entire line runs along the most climatologically vulnerable part of the waterfront. As 2018 progresses, it will be worth keeping an eye on whether the BQX can meet its original 2019 groundbreaking date. A Friends of the BQX spokesperson gave AN the following statement in regards to the project's future. "The BQX will dramatically increase opportunity for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront who are clamoring for better access to jobs, education, healthcare and recreation. We're optimistic that the project will take significant, concrete strides forward in 2018."
Placeholder Alt Text

Railroad Housing

MTA to deck over a 4-acre stretch of Brooklyn rail with mixed-use development
Eager to combat a serious housing shortage in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood, State Senator Simcha Felder (D- Southern Brooklyn) announced Tuesday that the MTA would be opening a Request for Proposals (RFP) for developing a 3.8-acre stretch of rail bed that runs through the area. Decking over the site and building residences, similar to what’s happened in Hudson Yards and proposed for Sunnyside Yards, could bring thousands of units to an area of south Brooklyn that’s grown rapidly in recent years. The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) Bay Ridge Branch section cuts from 61st Street between Fort Hamilton Parkway, and 8th Avenue, and is seldom used apart from the freight trains that might pass through once or twice a day. Looking to create a long-term revenue stream from the site, the MTA released their RFP for developing the site’s airspace, at least 22 feet over the rail bed, on Thursday, available here. Calling for private developers to apply, the RFP demands that teams would not only be responsible for the architectural aspect of the residential buildings on the site, both market-rate and affordable, but also retail and office space as well as parking lots. Additionally, any scheme has to leave the rail track in place, and engineering solutions must be included for decking over a gap that ranges from 82 -feet wide in some places to 118 feet in others. This is no easy feat, especially as utilities must also be supplied to the site and would presumably run through the decking; it’s no wonder that the MTA is requiring the entire project to be privately financed. The cost of decking over the much larger, 180-acre Sunnyside Yards has been projected to cost up to $19 billion for similar reasons, though no cost estimates have been released for this stretch of the LIRR yet. The fight to build over this stretch of tracks has been going on for years, with local community groups only recently embracing the plan. Senator Felder stressed that any new construction would have to fit the character of the surrounding neighborhoods. “The vision is to create residential development that is consistent with the character of the neighborhood,” said Felder. “The location of this project presents a significant opportunity to create additional housing units on a gigantic parcel of land that covers a few city blocks.” Interested applicants have until April 27th, 2018, to submit a proposal.