THE FUTURE OF THE “CONDO CORRIDOR”
Here’s a post that I’ve been meaning to add for a while — a quick analysis of the development that’s occurred in Williamsburg-Greenpoint’s waterfront “condo corridor” since the 2005 rezoning and a look at what the future holds. I’ll be writing my thoughts on the election results shortly.
I’m defining the “condo corridor” as the area bounded by Division St on the south, Driggs Ave/McGuinness Blvd on the East, the East River on the west, and Newtown Creek on the north.
Census 2010 population of the “condo corridor” is 41,099.
Data on development comes from Department of City Planning’s 2013 PLUTO files. These files used to cost $600 per borough to acquire but they were recently made free and publicly available by the Bloomberg administration. Open Data from city agencies is one area of policy where Bloomberg has actually been very strong.
Development in the “Condo Corridor” Since 2005
Since 2005, 174 new buildings have been constructed in this area, adding 5,284 new residential units. As expected, most of the development is in Williamsburg where dozens of industrial properties were replaced by condominiums. Overall, 6.45 million square feet of development has been constructed in this area since 2005 and 85% of this space has gone to residential uses.
5,284 new residential units implies a population increase of roughly 13,000 (assuming 2.5 people per unit). But Census 2010 measured only a population increase of only 4,000 from 2000 to 2010 in the condo corridor, to a total of 41,099. Many of these developments finished after 2010, and it is widely understood that Census 2010 under-counted many neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, so it’s safe to assume that the current 2013 population of the condo corridor may be significantly higher than measured in Census 2010, perhaps around 46,000 to 50,000.
As we learned from longtime local residents during interviews for The Domino Effect, the presence of the additional population that the neighborhood has gained since 2000 is very noticeable in the crowding on the neighborhood infrastructure, its streets, sidewalks, transit, and parks.
The median household income of the condo corridor, as measured by the most recent American Community Survey Data, is $57,537. Although median income has been steadily increasing in this area, this figure suggests that despite the addition of many new affluent households, many moderate and low-income households remain in the area. This is significant because it means that if “affordable housing” is targeted at a level above 60% AMI (area median income) such housing is essentially contributing to gentrification rather than helping to offset it. “Affordable housing” that targets 80% AMI is unaffordable to the majority of households in the “condo corridor” that has been most impacted by gentrification.
Also according to the most recent ACS data, roughly two thirds of “condo corridor” workers use public transit to commute. As I detailed in my last blog, Two Trees is asserting that less than half of the workers at the Domino site will arrive by subway, an assertion based on small surveys with local office workers.
What’s in store for the “Condo Corridor”?
More and more people in the neighborhood are beginning to discuss the potential impact of new waterfront development as Greenpoint Landing. 77 Commercial St, and soon Two Trees’ Domino move through the ULURP process. The immense scale of these projects has prompted concern about lack of planning and basic infrastructure to handle the population increase. Many are calling for more significant contributions to public infrastructure and amenities from the developers. Discussion of “rezoning the rezoning” to reduce the density and increase the mixture of uses on the waterfront is percolating.
Beyond Greenpoint Landing and Domino, just how many new units and residents might all the potential waterfront developments bring?
Rose Plaza — 800 units
Two Trees Domino — 2,284 units
New Tower at Northside Piers — 500 units
Additional future tower in front of the Edge — 500 units
Greenpoint Landing — 5,500 units
77 Commercial Street — 720 units
Other Greenpoint waterfront south of Greenpoint Landing — additional 5,000 units (estimate)
All told, there’s potential for over 15,000 units to be added on the waterfront if it is built out under the 2005 zoning and other proposed projects go forward.
These waterfront developments would add roughly 38,000 population, almost doubling the Census 2010 population of the “Condo Corridor”
If two thirds of area residents continue to use public transit to commute as is the current pattern, the waterfront developments will add upwards of 14,000 new public transit commuters.
It’s been eight years since the 2005 rezoning, with only three towers at Northside Piers and the Edge completed. The vast bulk of the development allowed by 2005 has yet to be built, yet the impact of new population and construction is already being felt throughout the condo corridor.
To those who were not here in 2005, or those who paid little attention (i.e. the vast majority of everyday residents) it’s a shock to suddenly realize that an entire new neighborhood has the potential to be built literally on top of the existing one.
The imminent development of the waterfront megaprojects has sparked new grassroots organizing efforts under the banners of “Save Greenpoint” (www.savegreenpoint.org) and “Save Domino” (www.savedomino.org) as more local residents begin to question the impact of these projects.
The addition of 30,000+ new highly affluent residents to this area will greatly accelerate the gentrification of the inland neighborhoods, especially when it comes to the commercial/industrial spaces. Without additional protection, creative and light manufacturing businesses will be pushed out and the North Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone, already under pressure by creeping bars hotels and clubs (which should not be allowed in manufacturing zoning to begin with), will be decimated. Williamsburg-Greenpoint will become entirely a bedroom and consumption district for the affluent, unrecognizable to those who have lived here for decades and have invested their lives contributing to the value of the neighborhood.