February 5, 2004
Hevesi Report: Brooklyn Economy Poised for Redevelopment
Brooklyn's growing and evolving economy is poised to take advantage of development opportunities within the borough to bring new housing, jobs and tourism to areas that did not benefit from the economic boom of the 1990s, State Comptroller Alan Hevesi said in a report he released today examining the state of economic development and the overall economy in Brooklyn.
“During the recent economic slowdown in the City and national economies, Brooklyn's economy showed improvement as employment remained stable, private sector wages grew, property values surged, crime fell dramatically and the number of public assistance recipients substantially declined,” Hevesi said at a breakfast sponsored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce on the Long Island University Campus. “While problems remain that need to be addressed – including a lack of affordable housing, high poverty, and an aging transportation network – recent investments made by the City, the State, and private investors have positioned the borough well for future growth.”
A number of Brooklyn projects have either been proposed, or are currently underway through the cooperative efforts of the City, the State and private developers. These projects will help revitalize several neighborhoods including Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Sunset Park, DUMBO, Red Hook and downtown Brooklyn, according to the report. Although unanswered questions remain about many of the projects, the potential they bring to provide housing, diverse industries, tourist attractions and open space is unprecedented and will go a long way toward making the borough an even more desirable destination.
“Brooklyn has many strengths and as we move forward into the 21 st century, we are positioned to be a leader in economic development and a model for all cities nationwide,” Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz stated.
"The Comptroller's report confirms what those of us in Brooklyn have known for years," said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Kenneth Adams. "Our borough's economy is diverse, incredibly vital and is poised to help lead a citywide economic recovery. It's easy to see why so many people are bullish on Brooklyn."
Brooklyn experienced only moderate growth during the economic boom of the 1990s because most of its jobs were local in nature, mostly in health, retail trade and service industries. But that is also what cushioned it during the national recession following the technology bust in 2000 and the 9/11 terror attacks.
The report details the evolution of the Brooklyn economy. Notable findings include:
Thanks to that stability and a changing economy, Brooklyn has become attractive to developers and several major initiatives are either planned or underway, including more residential housing, retail development, redevelopment of the Brooklyn waterfront and new commercial enterprises. Many of these efforts are being undertaken in partnership with Brooklyn-based economic development entities, such as the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation.
A list of these projects would include:
The Comptroller's report also discusses development opportunities for downtown Brooklyn, which continues to benefit from a revitalization effort over the last decade. The central business district now boasts 11 million square-feet of office space where 70,000 people are employed by such firms as Bank of New York, Bear Stearns, Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, KeySpan and Morgan Stanley. The Department of City Planning has issued an ambitious rezoning proposal for the area in an attempt to transform downtown Brooklyn into a thriving “24/7” community. Other projects discussed include the opening of Steiner Movie Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and SUNY Downstate's biotechnology incubator.
“Though Brooklyn faces many challenges in the years ahead,” Hevesi said, “efforts are underway throughout the borough to capitalize on gains made over the past few years and to set the stage for future economic growth.”