Dutch firm West 8 has beat out James Corner Field Operations and Hargreaves Jones for the chance to create an 11-mile-long stretch of parkland in South Baltimore. The winning proposal from the studio's New York office was chosen as part of the Middle Branch Waterfront Revitalization Competition, a city-backed plan to reengage locals with an underutilized section of the Patapsco River shoreline. Located east of Westport and south of Port Covington across the river, the waterfront spanning from the existing Middle Branch Park will be expanded in the surrounding bay into a landscaped linear strip for recreational activities and observing wildlife. West 8 will partner with local teams from Mahan Rykiel and Moffat & Nichol on the multi-phase project, and figure out the best strategies to build a new green ring around the waterfront filled with piers, boardwalks, and other structures for performances and group gatherings. Per the proposal, future phases will include converting the 103-year-old, Beaux Arts-style Hanover Street Bridge, which connects Middle Branch to Port Covington, into parkland as well. A new car-centric bridge will be built stretching from the planned Under Armour campus to Brooklyn, instead of Cherry Hill where Middle Branch Park is located. An artificial island will be built underneath it in the middle of the bay. SouthBmore.com reported that in order to create this large ring of land, West 8 will redistribute dredge from a port nearby and place it further up the bay where it will eventually help form marshlands and other wetland ecologies. This move, according to Brad Rogers, executive director of the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, will help build an attractive waterfront for the South Baltimore community—one that could boost its economy like the other built-out improvements at Inner Harbor and Fells Point. West 8 also aims to build a trail system that loops from Middle Branch Park to Westport Meadows and across Ridgeley’s Cove. A decrepit bridge there could possibly be made into a pedestrian-only thoroughfare as well, providing access to Swan Park in Port Covington. For further context, the entire site sits south of M&T Bank Stadium and is close to the core of downtown Baltimore. A masterplan to revamp the Middle Branch area has been in the works since 2007, and the competition to redesign the waterfront started last summer, under the helm of the city-supported Parks and People Foundation.
Posts tagged with "Waterfront Revitalization":
As Detroit and Buffalo get set to take on two transformative park projects along their respective waterfronts, both cities have been generously backed by a philanthropic organization aiming to enhance green space and bolster community engagement. Today, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced its pledge to invest over $1.2 billion in the cities by 2035 in honor of its founder, the Buffalo Bills’ late owner, and his centennial birthday. The Foundation is making a sizable donation to Western New York and Southeast Michigan—the two areas Wilson loved most—by committing a combined $200 million for upgraded parks and 250 miles of trails in the regions. A large chunk of that change will go directly to revitalizing LaSalle Park in Buffalo and West Riverfront Park in Detroit. With a design already envisioned by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) and David Adjaye, the latter parkland will give Michiganites long-desired, tangible access to the Detroit River. Though the 77-acre LaSalle Park has stretched across Lake Erie’s edge since the 1930s, it’s massive potential for further beautification and elevated programming could increase the quality of life for Buffalo residents and beyond. Dave Enger, president of the Foundation, stressed that community involvement is the key to taking on these monumental landscape goals. “Foundations don’t build parks, communities do,” he said. “Our vision is really to support these wonderful projects and the people that have the vision.” The design process is well underway for West Riverfront Park in downtown Detroit. Situated atop a former industrial piece of land, the 22-acre parkland will be a year-round destination for fishing, skating or swimming, sports, entertainment, and family gatherings. MVVA’s proposal was chosen over 80 other submissions in an international design competition to reimagine the park, which was transferred from private ownership to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy in 2014. Since their master plan was selected earlier this spring, MVVA has worked alongside the Conservancy and the Detroit Mayor’s office to garner feedback from locals and find out their personal ambitions for the park. The firm’s principal, Michael Van Valkenburgh, said his team especially loved talking to people aged 60 and older about their childhoods in Detroit—the places they loved and why. For many, the secluded Belle Isle was the only locale they could go to enjoy green space and the river at the same time. But that’s about to change thanks to these new ideas for downtown. “Not every place in Detroit has what New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park offers—a way to touch the water and put your toes in,” said Van Valkenburgh. “Because Detroit is so vast horizontally, we knew needed to add shock and awe to the design to get Detroiters who were far away to come to the water. Michiganders feel defined by and proud that the state is surrounded on three sides by the Great Lakes. We thought giving access to the water, through this cove and beach creation, would be a big draw.” A construction start date hasn’t yet been announced for West Riverfront Park, but officials estimate it will be complete by 2022. Van Valkenburgh is sure the master plan will go through many design iterations before ground is broken and he’s excited about more community input. “I’ve been going to public meetings since 1990,” he said. “These have been the most uplifting public meetings I’ve ever been a part of. People come with a real sense that this park is going to be a big lift for the city. They really want it.” At the other end of Lake Erie is LaSalle Park in Buffalo. Though it’s a long-loved and well-utilized community treasure, city stakeholders agree that it could use significant improvements. In 1998, the city conducted a planning review to overhaul the expansive parkland and identify priorities for a new design and upgraded programming. That vision was never realized until the Regional Institute at the University of Buffalo began researching its history and surveying people through a project called Imagine LaSalle. A focus group even spent this summer exploring the park and visiting other famous green spaces in Chicago, Cincinnati, and New York for inspiration. “The feedback has been tremendous so far,” said Brendan Mehaffey, executive director for the city’s Office of Strategic Planning. “Part of the mayoral administration’s core values is inclusion so we’ve talked to people from all backgrounds including low-income individuals, young professionals, business owners, and more.” Community engagement is at the heart of both efforts in Buffalo and Detroit. Much like Imagine LaSalle, MVVA also transported a busload of teenagers to visit their Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, and other groups went to New York and Philadelphia. Mehaffey sees the connection between the two waterfront park projects, and the two cities in general, as vital to their respective successes. “The Detroit team is much further into the design process than we are, so we’re delving into their research to try and discover best practices for building our own LaSalle Park,” he said. “I think that commonality between us is part of what the Wilson Foundation’s statement is going to make to the country.” Enger also believes the two cities are inextricably important to one another—that’s why his organization has zeroed in on their combined futures. He emphasized that spurring economic development through green space is a key way to democratize the municipalities on a greater level. “Where else in the United States are you going to find world-class parks in post-industrial cities that overlook international border crossings and feature some of the most magnificent sunrises and sunsets?" he said. "We think the total leverage of this project will be far greater than what our investment will bring.”
Los Angeles and London–based Spatial Affairs Bureau has unveiled a series of transformative concept designs for a major new downtown linear park that would reconnect several communities and establish key points of access to the historic falls of the James River in Richmond, Virginia. The so-called Richmond BridgePark plan has been in the works for over six years as part of an expanding set of improvements slated for the city’s waterfront, where several historic and modern bridges cross over the James River. The aim of the project is to connect the city’s downtown and South Side neighborhoods by creating new pieces of pedestrian-focused urban infrastructure that can draw both sides of the city together. Within a short section of the downtown area, the river is crossed by bridges at 14th and Manchester Streets as well as by State Route 301 and Interstate 95, among other crossings. The latter three spans were built as part of modernization efforts during the mid-20th Century, but their wide configurations and oversize arterials have isolated spaces and dislocated communities. With their expansive plan, Spatial Affairs is aiming to remedy at least some of these malignant conditions by “borrowing” space from the bridges in order to create a pedestrian boardwalk across the river. The plan also calls for transforming an existing but disused median along the bridge into a “bicycle superhighway” that could carry bicycle commuters over the river, as well. The paths will have generously landscaped footholds on either side of the river, according to renderings, and will extend formally and informally into the neighborhoods on either side. The reworked transportation route will also host several of the city’s Pulse high-speed bus lines and add a new interconnected park system studded with event spaces and public art. Another aim for the project is to create a new people-centered route that offers expansive views of a historic train viaduct that was burned down at the conclusion of the American Civil War. The remaining foundation elements and ruins will be visible from the pedestrian bridge and will serve as a focal point for the entire project. The project is moving into the final design stages over the next couple of years as work continues on a private fundraising campaign aimed at funding the plan. Meanwhile, backers of the BridgePark are moving toward getting the city to include the initiative in the city’s forthcoming development plans. Regarding the project, Peter Culley, director at Spatial Affairs said, “We are at a very exciting stage in what is an appropriately ambitious project taking its place as part of Richmond’s impressive renaissance as a river city with important histories now ready to be reexamined.” Culley added, “As cars begin to take a second place in our cities, human stories and experiences can appropriately move up to the front of the line.” In a press release, BridgePark Foundation President, Ted Elmore, states, “We are thrilled to work with the community and this extraordinarily accomplished team in examining our past and envisioning monuments to our future. The popularity of newly achieved river initiatives, such as The Potterfield Bridge, coupled with exciting projects pending downtown make now an ideal time for us to contribute a bold vision to our City.” The unveiling of the conceptual plan for the project follows a six-year-long community outreach effort and the completion of an ideas study by Spatial Affairs Bureau in 2015. Spatial Affairs has an office in Richmond to help coordinate the project. Buro Happold New York is on board for structural and economic impact studies for the project with Sam Schwartz Engineering working on the pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular transportation strategies. Timmons Group will provide civil engineering services while Gardiner & Theobald will conduct cost estimation for the project. A timeline for completion of the park has not been announced.
The first part of phase 1 of the San Pedro Creek redevelopment in San Antonio, Texas, is now open to the public, and the waterway’s rejuvenation has been touted as a celebration of Latino culture in the city. San Antonio-based Muñoz and Company was tapped in 2015 to design the 2.2-mile-long restoration of what was then a concrete drainage ditch. The completion of phase 1.1, a 2,200-foot-long stretch of riverwalk christened San Pedro Creek Culture Park, marks just one part of a four-phase plan to revitalize the 2.2-mile-long creek. “As the Trump administration boasts about building a wall between us and our Mexican roots, San Pedro Creek will be a national symbol for Latino and Anglo communities actually coming together to celebrate their shared values, history, and future,” said Henry R. Muñoz, Principal in Charge at Muñoz and project lead. “This unveiling marks the start of San Pedro Creek’s restoration, turning this neglected creek into the ‘Latino High Line,’ which exemplifies the community’s rich heritage and stands for a national dialogue playing out in nearly every city across the country.” The opening of the first phase on May 5 coincided with the 300th anniversary of San Antonio and was commemorated by the unveiling of Rain from the Heavens, a public art installation cut on stainless steel panels depicting what the stars looked like that night in 1718. Also on display in the Cultural Park are murals that honor the local culture of San Antonio and surrounding Bexar County, by artists Adriana Garcia, Katie Pell, Alex Rubio, and Joe Lopez. San Pedro Creek once flowed freely through the city but has been deepened, rerouted, and sometimes covered entirely since the 1700s. Each area of the river will eventually have its own design and accompanying visual identity, but retain a focus on the local ecology, history of San Antonio, and the water itself. The San Pedro Creek Culture Park section is hemmed in by historic limestone walls, and features widened walkways, a new boardwalk overlook, benches, and new landscaping that uses indigenous aquatic plants and trees. The widening and deepening of the creek also boosted the waterway’s ability to sequester stormwater, in addition to the five new bioswales that were installed. Phase 1.2 of the project is under construction and set to finish in 2020.
The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach might be some of the world’s busiest shipping facilities, but just beyond the stacks of shipping containers and bustling cranes sit densely populated neighborhoods that have struggled for decades to maintain a vital hold on the nearby waterfront. That dynamic is about to change, as a slew of transformative waterfront-adjacent projects aim to reclaim and transform the shore for nearby communities. Following a new master plan issued in 2014, the waterfront areas along the Port of L.A.–adjacent neighborhood of Wilmington have been in a continual state of restoration and redevelopment. There, Boston-based Sasaki built out the first phase of the Wilmington Waterfront Park in 2012, a 10-acre installation packed with natural berms, playing fields, and trees. The plans—developed with Studio-MLA—would create a “buffer against port operations” and a “window to waterfront,” according to Zach Chrisco, partner in charge of the project at Sasaki. The latest phase of the waterfront redevelopment project aims to recast the existing waterfront areas with more widely accessible leisure and shopping spaces connected by public amenities like a giant lawn, stepped landings that meet the water, a small floating harbor, and a fishing pier. “Our goal with the project is to diversify the way the community can engage with the water,” Kate Tooke, landscape architect at Sasaki, explained, describing the metallic shade structures and an open-floor leisure pier with hammocks that dangle directly over the water. The waterfront will connect to the Wilmington community via the Avalon Promenade and Gateway, a new promenade and pedestrian bridge sequence designed by T.Y. Lin International that will feature underground restrooms on one end and a public plaza on the other. Both projects are slated to break ground this year with an anticipated 2019 opening. In the nearby neighborhood of San Pedro, developers Ratkovich Company and Jericho are leading the Ports O’ Call Village redevelopment project aimed at bringing a new 180,000-square-foot San Pedro Public Market project to life. The development is led by Rapt Studio, a local design firm. Describing the lead-up to the project, Sam Farhang, Rapt Studio president and project lead said, “We went in immediately and said, ‘This is not a project that could be designed and delivered by single team.’” The designers got to work on assembling a “dream team” for the project that includes James Corner Field Operations and Adamson Associates as executive architects. Rapt is designing a series of new warehouse-like prefabricated steel moment frame structures flexible enough to hold new retail programs while remaining malleable over the developer’s 55-year ground lease over the site. Plans call for adding a new “town square” containing the aforementioned retail and plaza spaces, a new marketplace to hold the relocated San Pedro Fish Market, and an event lawn that connects to the waterfront directly so that “every type of person—whether it’s longshoremen on their lunch break or a Millennial mom and dad with a single child in a stroller—can find an aspect of this site that resonates with them.” The project will be delivered in phases through 2020 or 2021 as to not displace some of the larger tenants that will remain. Across one of the shipping channels, Gensler is working toward a long-term vision that would rework the area’s employment and economic demographics, as it builds out the multi-phase AltaSea development; a new 35-acre complex that will combine marine research, public education programs, and sustainable energy development. The $150 million complex will aim to redevelop a series of existing waterfront warehouses, replacing industrial shipping uses with high-tech research equipment and hordes of visiting tourists, school children, and researchers. Describing the goals of the project, Li Wen, design director at Gensler said, “We see the Port of L.A. becoming a place of education through experience,” adding that the project seeks to “re-introduce the ocean as a place to be preserved, revered, and studied.” Work on that project is currently underway and the first phase is expected to be completed in 2023.
Beating out a pool of over 80 international design teams, a team with Brooklyn-based landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) and Sir David Adjaye have been chosen to transform the 22-acre West Riverfront Park in downtown Detroit. While the nonprofit Detroit RiverFront Conservancy has stressed that they were choosing a team, not a design, MVVA’s presented plan for the park would substantially change the waterfront. While the final four competitors for the park presented big names in landscape architecture, including James Corner Field Operations, Hood Design Studio and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, the diverse programming proposed by MVVA ultimately won out. The $50-million redevelopment will present all-ages options throughout the shore, including the carving out of a beach inside of a secluded cove. Now that the design team has been chosen, the MVVA-led team and Detroit RiverFront Conservancy will solicit input from the community to nail down the final design details. The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy will also fundraise to reach the rest of the $50 million goal in the meantime, meaning the construction and completion date for the project are uncertain at the time of writing. MVVA’s design for the riverfront park mixes active uses with more passive recreational areas and mingles the park’s natural systems with the city grid, similar to firm’s approach at Brooklyn Bridge Park. On the western side of the park, there will be a pool house and built up “performance hill,” complete with a clamshell-shaped amphitheater that will sit on a pier in the river. The circular “Sport House” will go up to the east, which from the renderings looks like it will float above a basketball court and feature a green roof on top. Moving east, a tall, artificial bluff will surround the park house and picnic grove. Perhaps the most prominent feature in the proposal is the aforementioned beach at the park’s center, which will be hemmed in by a stone jetty to the west and a fishing pier to the east, likely to prevent erosion. MVVA’s renderings show kayakers and beach-goers relaxing in the summer and skating on the frozen river in the winter, part of the Conservancy's vision for an all-year-round park. Capping off the eastern edge of the park is the enormous “Great Lakes Play Garden” for children, and “Evergreen Isle.” The stone island sits parallel to the playground in the river and is designed to break up ice floes and anchor ecological improvements by creating a shallow, biologically diverse channel. The shore of the entire park will be bounded by the Detroit Riverwalk. “It was love at first sight when I saw the Detroit River,” said Michael Van Valkenburgh in a press release. “I immediately recognized that this new park could draw the city to the water’s edge.” West Riverfront Park is bounded by Rosa Parks Boulevard to the west and Eighth Street to the east, a stretch that had been in private hands for nearly 100 years before the Conservancy purchased it in 2014. A $345,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s “Livable Communities” focus area financed the West Riverfront Park Design Competition. MVVA’s team for the project, besides David Adjaye, will also include Utile and Mobility in Chain, and local partners LimnoTech (Ann Arbor), PEA (Detroit) and NTH Consultants (Northville).
Dutch architects MVRDV have teamed up with Australian architecture firm Hassell to craft a scheme for Resilient by Design’s Bay Area Challenge competition that focuses on a taking a kit-of-parts approach to create an interconnected network of urban zones and landscapes that can potentially mitigate some of the effects of climate change for the city of South San Francisco. The proposal—dubbed “Connect and Collect”—envisions deploying a taxonomic set of structures developed by the firms in order to create a type of “do-it-yourself urbanism” that would supercede existing development, according to a promotional video issued with the design proposal. Taken together, the structures fulfill the basic functions of urban life at various scales, creating places to gather, receive services, live, and work, while also offering the flexibility to change in use after natural disasters. The proposal divides inhabited areas into two distinct but interwoven zones that are then populated with “collector” sites residents can make use of. So-called “shoreline collectors”—art venues, floating farms, emergency shelters, ferry terminals, and other objects—will dot the water’s edge and its surrounding tidal zones, according to the scheme. These areas are meant to connect with so-called “uphill collectors”—grocery stores, hospitals, emergency castles, car and bike-sharing facilities and the like—further inland via a set of urban-focused streets and nature-focused creeks that change as they drop to meet the water’s edge. The collectors are to be organized in grouped configurations, adjacent to regionally-scaled infrastructural elements like schools and transit. These nodes will then aggregate with one another via multi-modal connections to create a distributed network of soft-edge urban areas that not only function on a day-to-day level, but also adapt to natural disasters and periodic flooding with greater ease than existing development models. Renderings and diagrams for the proposal depict colorful groupings of the collector structures organized in porous, quasi-urban configurations with the spaces in between the collector sites populated by nature trails, bicycle paths, and transit lines. The plan proposes a slew of new public recreational areas to help create these hydrophilic zones, including a new shoreline park at Colma Creek. In a statement announcing the proposal, Nathalie de Vries, MVRDV's co-founder, said, "Climate change is real; by the end of the century there will be a sea level rise of two meters," adding, "Bay Area communities [must] respond to this challenge in a multi-disciplinary approach to upgrade their general resilience." The so-called HASSELL+ team’s proposal is among ten visions articulated for Bay Area communities being developed as part of Resilient by Design’s Bay Area Challenge. Competing groups include teams helmed by BIG, James Corner Field Operations, and Scape, among others. A recently-revealed proposal by BIG and One Architecture+Urbanism proposes a series of floating islands for the south San Francisco Bay. Other members of the HASSELL+ design team include: Deltares, Lotus Water, frog design, Originate, Civic Edge Consulting, Goudappel, and Page & Turnbull architects. The designers will continue to work through this spring and will present their final proposals in May 2018 at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.
Following the city council’s approval of a comprehensive, sometimes contentious East Harlem rezoning earlier this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced yesterday that the city will be committing $83 million towards creating a new waterfront park in East Harlem. The seven-block-long, seven acre-park will feature new bicycle and pedestrian paths, connect the East River Esplanade from East 125th to East 132nd Street, and create an unbroken greenway from East 51st Street to East 145th Street. On top of the newly pledged $83 million in capital, the city had already promised $18 million to restore that same area and another $15 million to fix up the section of the esplanade between East 96th and East 125th Street. All of this follows an announcement by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) that the $100 million riverfront stretch between East 53rd and East 60th Streets was inching towards a construction date. The greenway, a 32-mile-long strip that runs around the edge of Manhattan, will eventually become both an unbroken loop for both bikers and pedestrians, as well as a buffer from coastal flooding. “The East River Esplanade is a major public open space asset that offers wonderful views and a chance to relax for New Yorkers up and down the east side of Manhattan,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in a press release. “As El Barrio/East Harlem neighborhoods have witnessed, however, part of this greenway has been neglected for far too long. That’s why the Council prioritized investing in this important open space as part of the recent East Harlem Rezoning. We are proud to welcome this $101 million capital investment for the construction of a brand new waterfront promenade.” The EDC, in conjunction with the Parks Department, will also be responsible for designing and permitting the revitalized section of East Harlem Esplanade, while Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architecture is the prime consultant for this section of the greenway link. A renewed investment of capital and attention in the upper half of the East River Esplanade has been sorely needed. This year, sections of the promenade’s seawall have sloughed off into the river, shipworms continue to eat away at the wooden piles underneath, and sinkholes keep forming as a result of gaps between the underlying concrete slabs, according to the Parks Department. Construction on the new park is expected to begin in 2020, when work on the adjacent the Harlem River Drive is completed. The EDC is expecting that the work will take approximately three years, and finish in 2023. As for the section between East 96th and East 125th Street, the EDC is expected to re-survey the area in 2018 and present their recommendations afterward.
Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects has released an extensive outline envisioning the future of Memphis, Tennessee's Mississippi riverfront. Studio Gang’s Memphis Riverfront Concept is a broad framework spanning six miles of the east bank of the river. Divided into five zones—Fourth Bluff, Mud Island, Tom Lee Park, M.L.K. Park, and Greenbelt Park—the Riverfront Concept is designed to re-link the city’s downtown to the underutilized waterfront. The plan calls for changes, large and small, ranging from new park buildings to major ecological remediation. Many of the changes proposed are meant to build on the things people in Memphis already enjoy about the river. Throughout the design process, Studio Gang worked with the public and the Mayor’s Riverfront Task Force to gauge interest and gain insights into the future role of the river in the city. Based on community suggestions, the plan calls for enhancing views across the river, year-round attractions, additional family spaces, and various bike and pedestrian paths. Picturesque sunsets, barbecue, and the blues—just a few of Memphis's favorite pastimes—were all considered in the plan. For example, Tom Lee Park's new adventure playground and waterfront pavilions aim to be catalysts for the generally quiet park. Currently, the park is primarily programmed for a month-long fair each year. Studio Gang hopes that the Riverfront Concept will make it a year-round destination. The namesake of the park, Tom Lee, is a local African-American hero. Along with the Memphis-based National Civil Rights Museum, the plan proposes a “Civil Rights History Loop.” The riverfront has always been of historical significance to the city. Not only was the riverfront the site of the settlement which eventually became the city, trade along the river was the driving economic force for most of the Memphis's history. The Riverfront Concept hopes to reignite interest in the Mississippi River while reflecting back on its past importance. Among other areas that will see major changes is Mud Island—a peninsula in the river—which has been re-imagined as an Eco Hub. Currently, the area is a cultural center in the city and includes portions of the University of Memphis, as well as the Mississippi River Museum and an outdoor amphitheater. The Riverfront Concept includes learning and research areas, as well as ideas about institutional collaboration. Considering the Mississippi River watershed constitutes nearly 40 percent of the United States surface freshwater, Studio Gang argues that Memphis is an ideal location for freshwater studies. The Memphis Riverfront Concept is meant to be a starting point for much larger changes for the city. Over the past 60 years, Memphis's population has moved further and further east, away from the river. The Riverfront Concept aims to re-center the focus of the city on its historic starting point along the bluffs of the river and provide an expansive shared amenity. To do so, Studio Gang developed three design principles: foster, restore, connect. Each of these principals was constructed through discourse with the public and city officials. The "foster" principle focuses on bringing the public together and encouraging civic pride and appreciation for the river. "Restore" focuses on bringing back native ecological conditions and allowing the public to better understand the river system. The "connect" principle sets goals for bridging the divide between the city and the river, physically and culturally. The entire 140-page Memphis Riverfront Concept is available online for the public to view.
On its tenth anniversary, the local nonprofit development corporation Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has released a report that details just how well the development of downtown Brooklyn is going. Downtown Rising: How Brooklyn became a model for urban development demonstrates how, since its 2004 rezoning, private investors have put more than $10 billion into Downtown Brooklyn. The report was commissioned by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and produced by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy at NYU. “Downtown Brooklyn has harnessed its determined capacity for creative change to undergo a true rebirth over the past decade,” said Tucker Reed, president of the Partnership. “This report demonstrates just how far strong civic leadership can go when it’s bolstered by smart public investment, and provides the first definitive account of how we came so far, so fast—and where we need to go from here.” At a panel hosted at NYU and moderated by Professor of Urban Policy and Planning Mitchell L. Moss last week, Reed, Joe Chan (executive vice president, Empire State Development Corporation), Regina Myer (president, Brooklyn Bridge Park), and Hugh O'Neill (president of economic consulting firm Appleseed) discussed the report and next steps for downtown Brooklyn. Since the creation of a central business district in the Group of 35 report, Downtown Brooklyn has transformed itself into a tech hub, a center of arts and culture, a nexus of higher education. Between 2000 and 2013, the district's population grew by 17 percent. The number of residents with a bachelor's degree nearly doubled, and median household income grew by 22 percent. Reed mentioned that, as part of its community development goals, the Partnership "is working on workforce development" to close a skills and opportunity gap among residents without a college degree. The report has five recommendations for continued growth which center on clearing barriers for development through incentives and flexible zoning, as well as greater investment in transportation, the arts, and public space:
Downtown Brooklyn and the city should ensure that innovative new companies have room to grow through increased—and targeted—commercial office space investment.
The city should learn from the 2004 rezoning of the area, which allowed flexible permissive zoning and land use policies and resulted in a surge in development. The city should avoid trying to achieve narrowly defined policy objectives by enacting overly detailed zoning restrictions and prescriptions.
The city should continue to invest in innovative public space improvements, such as the Brooklyn Strand initiative and completion of Brooklyn Bridge Park, that make Downtown Brooklyn a more attractive place to live, work, invest, do business, and visit.
Developers and property owners, non-profit organizations, and the city need to work together to ensure that cultural institutions, arts organizations, and individual artists can continue to play a vital role in the ongoing transformation of Downtown Brooklyn.
The city needs to address long-standing gaps in the area’s transportation networks, including lack of transit access to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, difficulties in getting between the core of Downtown Brooklyn and the waterfront, and the scarcity of good options for travel between existing and new waterfront neighborhoods and growing concentrations of jobs along the East River.
While everyone was distracted by Monday's BIG news on the High Line, SHoP unveiled a three-tower complex on the waterfront in Long Island City, Queens. The tallest tower, at 45-40 Vernon Boulevard, will be 28 stories, with 296 residential units. The three towers will ring the Anable Basin, a human-made inlet off of the East river. The towers will sit ten blocks northeast of SHoP's Hunters Point South, a two-building, 900-unit development with 20,000 square feet of retail, where tenants love Airbnb-ing their taxpayer-subsidized pads. The development is part of a master plan to revive the Anable Basin (also known at the Eleventh Street Basin), site of the former Pepsi-Cola bottling plant, with public waterfront access and a refurbished pier. The towers, real estate blog 6sqft reports, will mostly replace the current building on site, 69,550 square foot Paragon Paint Factory, now defunct. The site, currently zoned for manufacturing, will require a zoning variance to build residential. There will also need to be environmental remediation performed on the land. The tallest, central tower partially cannibalizes the rear of the factory, rising into a decidedly non-industrial 300-foot-tall glass wall. Future residents will have expansive views of Manhattan and the East River. The two smaller towers, at 45-24 Vernon Boulevard and along 45th Road, will be copper clad at the base with angled windows on the upper stories to maximize views of the cityscape. The towers will rise 14 stories and eight stories, respectively. No word yet on the project's groundbreaking or expected completion date.