Downtown Brooklyn’s Big Idea
Master planning is all the rage in New York—from the World Trade Center to the Far West Side—but one spot in Downtown Brooklyn is starting a bit differently, prioritizing its greatest asset: its cultural history.
Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s Andrew Kalish told us this morning the Brooklyn Cultural District is about more than museums and music venues. Restaurants, housing (including affordable), office and public space are on the way—all encouraged by the $310M of economic development that cultural institutions here and in the rest of Downtown created last year. Just as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Theater District in Manhattan have spawned neighborhoods active around the clock, the Brooklyn Cultural District is encouraging development across the board—live, work and play—made all the more appealing by the cultural offerings.
New projects on three former City-owned parking lots for which RFPs required affordable housing and community uses will deliver in 2016. Two Trees is building BAM South, an 80/20 apartment building with 16k SF of public space and 50k SF of culture space for BAM and a library. Above is architect Enrique Norten's rendering for the corner of Ashland, Flatbush and Lafayette.
Gotham Org is building 586 apartments (more than half affordable), 11k SF of retail and 8,000 SF of office space for the Theater for a New Audience at Ashland and Fulton (FXFowle’s rendering is above), a site known as BAM North I. And Jonathan Rose Cos is putting up BAM North II on Lafayette between Rockwell and Ashland with 117 apartments (40% of them affordable). Eyebeam was slated for the 27k SF of cultural space but had to exit the project, and Jonathan Rose is selecting the new cultural tenant now.
Jonathan Rose, known as a community-minded developer, likely will include a restaurant in its project (above, rendered by Dattner Architects), Andrew says. Three other development sites are in play within the Brooklyn Cultural District. Two have been purchased, though the buyers are unknown: Fulton between Flatbush and Rockwell, and Ashland between Hanson and Lafayette. And Forest City Ratner is looking for a development partner for apartments on Fulton between Hudson and Rockwell to replace the candy factory-turned-government offices it has demolished. While the City and Downtown Brooklyn partnership can’t require cultural uses, they make sense, Andrew says. With 12,500 residential units planned for Downtown Brooklyn, a theater, museum or music venue at a residential building's base is a huge marketing advantage.