Joe Chan, the head of the public-private Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, is scaling back expectations that downtown Brooklyn will ever achieve the dizzying heights of central business district-dom once imagined way back in 2004.
Dreams of Brooklyn Central Business District Dashed
Mr. Chan has sounded this note before, though never so definitively. The partnership now says that it expects just 1.6 million square feet of office space to be built in the next five years, compared to 4.5 million square feet that the city Economic Development Corporation estimated would be built when it proposed a massive downtown Brooklyn rezoning three years ago.
More office space might come eventually, Mr. Chan added, and the plan was also supposed to bring a 24-7 character to an area with a few hundred residents. But, still, a big justification for allowing 60-story towers in Brooklyn was that they would house jobs—some 19,000 of them, according to the EDC. Trim that number to less than 7,000 now.
The funny thing is that it looks like grassroots types made better predictions about the downtown Brooklyn real estate market than the experts did. Back when the downtown Brooklyn Plan was being approved in 2004, neighborhood groups asked why the city was envisioning so much back office space when, as the Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association put it, “back office space is being exported to other countries.”
“One of the criticisms we had was that it wasn’t realistic and it wasn’t addressing the impending realities that we all expected we would see as all this residential moved in,” said Jo Anne Simon, an attorney and coordinator of downtown Brooklyn groups during the rezoning. “The city has guidelines about how much open space there should be per person. We were below the guidelines anyway, and now that there will be more residential, we are going to fail to meet those guidelines even more.”