The public sector is being asked to give four big gifts to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce for its 100th birthday.
On Saturday, February 10, a few days before the Chamber’s centennial celebration, an economic development strategy report was released by the business group that covered the next 100 years. Several rezonings and policies to create more residential and commercial space was called for by a study that was funded by a $100,000 federal grant. The report also calls for major investments by the city, state and feds are encouraged to develop many previously overlooked areas in Brooklyn.
The chamber argues that it was funding by the government for projects like Atlantic Yards and the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge that have led to the blossoming of the borough’s economy.
Chamber President Andrew Hoan said, “We have to start asking what’s next for Brooklyn, and how do we make sure that this place stays as cool as it is, and as innovative as it is, and as welcoming.”
The report had four main projects, which are:
1- Bringing new functions to Broadway Junction. 3.2 million New Yorkers transfer between the A, C, J, L, M and Z lines each year at this East New York hub. That doesn’t even include the five street level bus connections and nearby Long Island Rail Road station. The CEDS report proposes that creating a commercial center in the area by using public properties as well as establishing a SUNY or CUNY campus there, will encourage riders to hang around the area rather than just passing through, which in turn will create new jobs and opportunities for the area residents.
Hoan said, “It’s space, it’s education and it’s transit. And we believe that’s the future at Broadway Junction.”
2- Coney Island. According to Crain’s News, “The famed amusement area and boardwalk were the site of substantial city investment and controversy under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But New York’s winters have chilled efforts to convert ‘the People’s Playground’ into a year-round destination, and endemic local poverty—in part a result of concentrated public housing and great distance from job centers—has proven intractable. A remedy, the chamber suggested, would be a public-private venture involving nearby Kingsborough Community College and its Kitchen Ventures Incubator Program: a hospitality and culinary training center for local residents, stationed inside a hotel.”
3- Fort Hamilton Army Garrison. The sole remaining military outpost in New York City was referred to by Hoan as “a remarkable federal asset that we believe is underutilized.” It can be revitalized by bringing a cybersecurity incubator and first-responder training center to the southern Brooklyn complex. Through the melding of education with its defense-related function, it can serve as a growing sector of the economy. Previous conversion of federal properties into places for job creation and tech innovation were noted by Hoan, including the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Brooklyn Navy Yard.
4- The”X” Line. According to Crain’s, “The report rates proposals for a Brooklyn-Queens Connector, Utica Avenue 4 train extension and 1 train extension into Red Hook as important transit developments for the local economy. But perhaps the most ambitious and imposing project it recommends is the three-borough X line, also called the Triborough RX. First suggested by the Regional Plan Association in 1996, this would link a patchwork of existing tracks and right-of-way to run a train from the Bay Ridge Yards to Brooklyn College, through East New York and into Queens, and finally to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.”
The Chamber says the large coasts could be offset by the MTA selling the rights to build over the tracks to private developers.
Hoan said, “This, to me, is the project of the century. To think you already have the pre-existing right-of-way, and our most valuable asset—more land—right there.”
By Hannah Hayes