CROWN HEIGHTS — Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Council Member Laurie Cumbo gave their nods of approval on Friday to a community board proposal to create a new type of zoning that its proponents say would add and preserve jobs in central Brooklyn.
Community Board 8, which cover northern Crown Heights, Weeksville and Prospect Heights, last year put forward a proposal aimed to protect manufacturing jobs in the neighborhood by adding a new kind of zoning that mandates developers set allocate space in their properties for non-residential, non-retail uses. Now, the board and local politicians want the Department of City Planning (DCP) to add a type of residential and light industrial zoning “that requires non-residential use on the first floor of a mixed-use building,” and mandate a part of non-residential space be set set aside for “light industrial, arts, and community facility uses,” according to a borough president press release.
With the local Council member and borough president supporting the community board’s initiative, it looks to be gaining momentum, though it remains unclear if City Planning and the de Blasio administration will take up their ask.
“When we plan for mixed-use neighborhoods, our zoning tools should ensure that new development includes a dynamic mixture of residential, commercial, light industrial, arts, and non-profit spaces,” said Cumbo, who represents parts of Community Board 8’s territory. “This mixture of uses leads to a mixture of people and economic opportunity and helps make our Brooklyn neighborhoods the diverse and vibrant communities that we all know and love.”
“Our approach to urban planning should reflect our vision for the city, one that encourages a diversity of opportunities to live and work that in turn advances communities of diverse backgrounds and ideas,” said Adams, a 2021 mayoral candidate. “Members of CB 8 have worked in partnership with my administration for several years to further a new model for mixed-use development that captures these goals, with a particular focus on promoting light industrial, community facility, and artisan ‘maker’ uses that are affordable and attractive.”
He added, “This is truly community-oriented planning that I believe the city should adopt.”
Community Board 8 Chair Ethel Tyus said that the northern part of Crown Heights has a significant amount of land zoned for manufacturing, and is home to “many vacant properties that require rezoning to encourage job-intensive uses.” And under prevailing zoning in the neighborhood, she said, manufacturing uses are optional rather than required, necessitating that City Planning make manufacturing space mandatory in new developments to ensure that jobs are added in the area along with apartments.
“We’ve learned from the experience of other neighborhoods in Brooklyn that means new development will only be residential and retail,” said Tyus. “While our community needs affordable housing, no housing is affordable if you don’t have a job that pays a decent wage. Increasing the range of local employment opportunities is a priority for our board.”
In response, Rachaele Raynoff, a City Planning spokesperson, said Friday that the agency is “pleased to continue to work with community boards, elected officials and neighborhood groups, including in Crown Heights, on creative solutions that bring more housing and good jobs, in a broad array of sectors, closer to more New Yorkers, and which allow an evolving range of businesses to locate in close proximity to residences.”