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The Domino Sugar Factory, May 22, 2011, Jenriks Photography

CASE-STUDY: GREENPOINT-WILLIAMSBURG WATERFRONT REDEVELOPMENT TRANSFORMING THE WORKING-WATERFRONT TO PRIME REAL ESTATE Miguel Van Steenbrugge 2MIRA 2011-2012


Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas Industrial Business Zones

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Long Island City

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LOWER NEW YORK BAY ATLANTIC OCEAN

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Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas & Industrial Business Zones in New York City

Residential Zoning Districts Mixed-Use Zoning Districts Allowing Residential Commercial Zoning Districts Allowing Residential

LONG ISLAND SOUND

Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas Airports Parks

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Shorefront Zoning


New York City Harbor: Concentration & Redevelopment New York City harbor has a long history of manufacturing and shipping industries along its waterfront, both public and private. In over two decades of development, the City has transformed the vast marshlands and forested waterfront once observed by Henry Hudson when he arrived in the New World, into the largest maritime Port on the East Coast and the third largest Port in the United States. Today this industrial framework on the waterfront still has a vital contribution to the City’s economy. It counts for thousands of jobs and over a billion dollars in tax revenues1.

In the 1992 Comprehensive Waterfront Plan2 much attention was paid to maintaining and securing the industrial and maritime uses of the New York City’s waterfront and to provide a strategy for attracting future developments. By defining so called Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas (SMIAs), the plan proposed several locations where industrial activities could continue to thrive and grow in the future. They act as concentrated areas for employment and working-waterfront uses. To this day, the once designated sites still operate and are steadily growing. The 2005 New York City Industrial Policy3 outlined several new programs together with the formation of the Mayor’s Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses. Inspired by the SMIAs in the 1992 Comprehensive Waterfront Plan another effort was done in favor of concentrating the development of industrial, maritime, manufacturing and shipping waterfront activities by creating Industrial Business Zones or IBZs. The concentration of these industries in areas on the waterfront that are best suited for those activities is one of the strategies outlined in Vision 2020 to preserve and support the role of the Port of New York and New Jersey4. Although these sites show a steady growth in activity, in particular the Brooklyn Navy Yard SMIA5, vast stretches of the SMIAs and IBZs also suffer from long-term vacancy and residual contaminations caused by past and present industries and also have to deal with a variety of historical assets that are unable to serve the needs of modern day harbor practices. Most of the infrastructure created in the Port was built in a time when New York was still a manufacturing hub. But due to changes in the economy the industrial sector has been in decline with a lot of the manufacturing businesses disappearing from the waterfront.

This poses a big challenge for the City. On one hand the vast waterfront infrastructure needs to be maintained in order to support past and future maritime developments, vacancy has to be dealt with, contamination sites have to be cleaned up and the industrial heritage needs to be accounted for in redevelopment plans. On the other hand, there has been a shift in waterfront developments towards more residential uses as well as creating open public spaces and access to the waterfront. The City often turns to private developers, because of high costs for contamination cleanup that tenants are unable to afford and because of the attractiveness of under used sites for other businesses. Through the tool of rezoning and changing land use the City tries to address the problems with the redevelopment of (old) under used industrial, maritime and manufacturing sites. This applies to historic waterfront structures, larger vacant sites and sites near industrial areas as well as publicly or privately owned sites. This may be a solution for the reuse of these areas but it also poses threat for the remaining manufacturing, shipping and maritime activities.

Because of the connectedness of waterfront activity with New York’s history, the protection and preservation of historic structures through landmark status or adaptive reuse plays an important role in improving property values and providing a sense of place. On the other hand, underuzed waterfront areas are being targeted by private developers who are able to build high-end residential densities through changes in zoning or land use. 1-2-3. Vision 2020, March 2011, 1992 Achievements, p14 4. These are based on the 1992 Comprehensive Waterfront Plan and the 2005 NYC Industrial Policy 5. Vision 2020 p169, “The robust increase in business activity between 2000 and 2008 is attributed to a dramatic redevelopment effort, harnessing more than $500 million in public and private investment”

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Greenpoint-Williamsburg aerial, September 20, 2004, Greenpoint Blogger

Vacant Lots (grey) and Vacant Buildings (black)

Greenpoint-Williamsburg Rezoning

The City of New York Department of City Planning March 2004

Proposed Zoning

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The Existing Zoning in July, 2003 Purple stands for manufacturing and industry BROADWAY

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M1-1(R6) M1-1(R6)

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The City of New York Department of City Planning July 2003

NOR TH

Greenpoint-Williamsburg Rezoning

Existing Zoning

TEN EYCK

ST

R6 R6

1

Zoning district boundaries: 4

Existing zoning district boundary Proposed zoning district boundary Proposed mapped park

C1-4 overlay C2-4 overlay

C1-3 overlay C2-3 overlay

2

BROOKLYN 3

4


Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront: Going Residential The Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfronts have always been dynamic zones of commerce and farming until the mid 19th Century. Due to population and economical growth, manufacturing, industry and maritime activities found their way onto the East River shorelines and replaced nearly all farmlands by 1900. This gave rise to a thriving shipbuilding and manufacturing center in New York City and contributed in the identity of communities inland1. But as in other parts of the New York City area (for instance Red Hook2), waterfront communities have become a victim of changing economic patterns, global competition and displacement of activities. Smallscale uses such as light manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and utilities, which were thriving in Greenpoint-Williamsburg as well as other areas, experienced accelerated displacement since the 1990s because of gentrification phenomena3. Between 1991 and 2002, manufacturing employment alone dropped by 72% in Williamsburg and by 60% in Greenpoint and the number of industrial jobs declined with almost 40%. Large manufacturing firms are no longer present in the area. The employment in manufacturing for New York City as a whole has fallen by nearly 80% in comparison with 19474. The overall result of these changes on the working-waterfront is a dominant presence of vacant lots and under used industrial resources. To address these problems and other issues concerning the entire neighborhoods, the Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront and Land Use Plan was legislated and approved in May of 2005. It represented an extensive effort by the City to increase housing opportunities and revive the waterfronts as an economic asset inspired by the 1992 Comprehensive Waterfront Plan5. The Plan was guided by proposals in 197a Community Plans already adopted in January of 2002 and comprising of the following main themes: waterfront access, housing and local commercial development and rezoning. This was complemented by several objectives the Plan set out to accomplish in order to reflect changing conditions and prepare the communities for the future. It would provide in the City’s need for affordable housing and other developments, relying on vacant and under used land. It would build on the strong character of the existing neighborhood. It would protect zones of important industrial activity and employment. And finally, it would establish a blueprint for an accessible waterfront in which the previous could be incorporated6.

Not surprisingly this meant radically changing the East River waterfront to compliment the approved Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront Access Plan that preceded. This WAP outlined a large amount of new green public space (about 200.000 m2), a 2.5km continuous walkway on the shoreline and publicly accessible piers7. It also meant that accelerated residential development would be supported in order to revive the waterfront. This could only be done by drastically altering the zoning of the waterfront. Zoning on the GreenpointWilliamsburg waterfront before the Plan was dominated by heavy industrial and manufacturing areas followed by a buffer zone of light manufacturing which also allowed for some commercial uses8. The Master Plan proposed a decrease in areas zoned for industrial activity (not only on the waterfront) and an increase in space zoned for residential use. Through zoning requirements for private developers the open public space would be provided. Manufacturing remained in several concentrated areas to the North and the South (Part of the Newtown Creek SMIA/IBZ). 1. Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront Open Space Masterplan, 2005, p5 2. Vision 2020, March 2011, p171: Between 2000 and 2008 the number of industrial firms in the Sunset Park SMIA dropped by almost 14% while non-industrial firms increased by nearly 40%. It has some of the largest vacant sites of all SMIAs. 3. Community Development Studio, Rutgers University, Spring 2007, p16 4. 2002 New York State Department of Labor data analysed by the Department of City Planning, http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/ greenpointwill/greenplan3.shtml, Accessed October 26 2011 5. Community Development Studio, Rutgers University, Spring 2007, p4 6. Planning Framework Background, http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/greenpointwill/greenplan1.shtml, Accessed October 26, 2011 7. The Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront Access Plan, http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/greenpointwill/greenwateraccess2.shtml, Accessed October 26, 2011 8. Planning Framework Overview, http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/greenpointwill/greenplan2.shtml, Accessed October 26, 2011

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The redeveloped 184 Kent warehouse, Daniella Zalcman

Redevelopment at the waterfront, 2009, Krzysztof Poluchowicz


The rezoning of Greenpoint-Williamsburg has effectively accelerated the residential development in the area and especially on the formerly industrial waterfront. Vision 2020 reports of a transformation resulting in the building of 2700 new housing units since the rezoning of 2005 with another 2900 units in development9. It provides for mid-rise and high-rise developments on the waterfront which will give incredible views on Manhattan. Project marketing often uses this to promote certain developments. These include not only new build projects like The Edge or Northside Piers, but also a few restoration projects of historic industrial assets. One of these is the former Austin, Nichols & Company warehouse at 184 Kent street, designed by Cass Gilbert and completed in January of 191510. The building was acquired by the current owners, 184 Kent Avenue Associates in 1986, and from 2001 until several years ago, it was rented out to both commercial as residential tenants. In September of 2005, the building was recognized as a historic asset by the Landmarks Preservation Commission and designated as a Landmark11. But this decision was overruled by the City Council which in turn could have left the building to either deteriorate or be demolished to make way for condominiums (this is what the original owners intended). But the owners sold the warehouse to JMH Development which would try to restore its historic value with an extensive restoration using historic preservation tax credits12. Unfortunately for preservationists, the historic status didn’t mean that the new owners couldn’t alter the building. The warehouse was converted into roughly 340 luxurious apartments with a large center courtyard and all sorts of different amenities including a new rooftop level13. The redevelopment of the Domino Sugar Factory, another historic building, will commence in the near future with affordable housing, commercial space and more.

Michael Marella stated on The Architects Newspaper that Greenpoint-Williamsburg is a clear example of rezoning that gives residential development the waterfront and moves manufacturing to the interior opposed to integrating both with access to the water14. In a way, this is consistent with a trend of converting the shoreline from a working waterfront to high end real estate, that has been occurring for the last few decades15. Even before the rezoning of 2005, property owners saw the opportunity to increase income by getting rid of industrial firms in favor of higher rents, especially in mixed-use districts. A report by the Pratt Center in 2001 even stated that “the primary reason that manufacturing uses have declined in mixed-use districts is that an influx of non-manufacturing uses has caused property values to rise, prompting owners of manufacturing buildings to replace manufacturers with other uses that can generate higher revenues.” Since the approval of the first Comprehensive Waterfront Plan in 1992 and waterfront zoning in 1993, it appears that it is easier to rezone industrial waterfront for impressive highrises in neighborhoods16. Although this is part of a system that depends on private developers to pay for public improvements through zoning regulations, this comes at a price.

9. Vision 2020, March 2011, Greenpoint-Williamsburg Transformation, p13 10. Landmarks Preservation Commission, September 20, 2005, Austin, Nichols & Co Warehouse, p1, Accessed October 26, 2011 11. Landmarks Preservation Commission, September 20, 2005, Austin, Nichols & Co Warehouse, p10, Accessed October 26, 2011 12. A Williamsburg Warehouse Lives On, The Wall Street Journal, July 7 2011, Accessed October 26, 2011 13. Rose Associates Inc, 184 Kent, http://www.rosenyc.com/New-Development/184-Kent.aspx, Accessed October 26, 2011 14. On The Waterfront, The Architect’s Newspaper, September 26 2011, Accessed October 24, 2011: Michael Marella worked on Vision 2020 15. Tom Angotti, On The Waterfront plan: Real Estate Dreams and Future Conflicts, January 2011, Accessed October 24, 2011 16. Tom Angotti, On The Waterfront plan: Real Estate Dreams and Future Conflicts, January 2011, Accessed October 24, 2011

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The “New Domino”, 2013+, Rafael Viñoly Architects


Sources:

New York Harbor Background, Planning, Waterfront & Vision 2020

Vision 2020, March 2011 1992 Comprehensive Waterfront Plan http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/cwp/index.shtml; http://www.nyc.gov/html/waves/html/home/home.shtml; http://www.nyc.gov/html/waves/html/gallery/gallery.shtml; http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/rezonings/rezonings.shtml; http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/317.html; http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/wrp/wrp.shtml; http://www.panynj.gov/about/coastal-eco-systems.html; http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/landuse/20110124/12/3457 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/07/realestate/07cov.html?_r=1&scp=5&sq=project%20waterfront&st=cse http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Harbor; last modified on 14 October 2011 at 09:00; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_of_New_York_and_New_Jersey; 4 October 2011 at 14:08; http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/14/arts/design/14wate.html; http://www.preservationnation.org/travel-and-sites/sites/northeast-region/brooklyns-industrial-waterfront.html; http://www.archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=5650 http://saveindustrialbrooklyn.org/ http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/01/new-york-harbour-city-again http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/13/AR2011031303804.html

Greenpoint-Williamsburg

Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront and Land Use Plan Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront Access Plan http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/greenpointwill/greenoverview.shtml http://nymag.com/realestate/articles/neighborhoods/williamsburg.htm http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/greenpointwill/gw_fuca_sum.pdf http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/greenpointwill/waterfront_access_plan_map.pdf http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/greenpointwill/landuse_0903.pdf http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/greenpointwill/existing_zoning.pdf http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/greenpointwill/propzone.pdf http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_your_park/greenpoint_williamsburg_waterfront/greenpoint-williamsburg.html http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_your_park/greenpoint_williamsburg_waterfront/images/greenpoint_williamsburg_waterfront_ masterplan.pdf http://ny.curbed.com/places/184-kent http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2007/05/11/exclusive_184_kent_design_makeover_revealed.php http://policy.rutgers.edu/academics/projects/studios/Williamsburg07r.pdf http://northbrooklyn.org/econdev.php http://www.cb1brooklyn.org/PDF/CB1-RTF%20ULURP%20POSITION%20STATEMENT%20AND%20RECOMMENDATIONS.pdf http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/greenpointwill/greenplan3.shtml http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/greenpointwill/greenwaterdevelop1.shtml http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/greenpointwill/gw_feis_ch_03.pdf http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/wrp/newtowncreek.pdf http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/pub/wf.shtml http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/pub/cwp.pdf http://www.rosenyc.com/New-Development/184-Kent.aspx http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2007/05/11/exclusive_184_kent_design_makeover_revealed.php http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303823104576391681273001042.html?mod=wsj_share_twitter http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/austinnichols.pdf http://www.gothamgazette.com/unpreserved/6.shtml http://saveindustrialbrooklyn.org/pdf/austin_nichols.pdf http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/waterfront/20060511/18/1848 http://gothamist.com/2006/05/03/greenpoint_term.php Access times are added to footnotes

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Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront Redevelopment  

Case-study on waterfront redevelopment and the impact on industrial assets for the Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront

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