Tuesday, August 9, 2016

All aboard the gentrification express

From Crains:

The proposed Brooklyn Queens Connector would run 16 miles from Astoria, Queens, to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, passing through Two Trees’ Domino site, several public housing complexes and rows of glassy waterfront condos in Williamsburg. The commuter line would also traverse commercial-job centers including the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Industry City and several other designated manufacturing zones in Long Island City and Red Hook. “We privately refer to this as the ‘gentrification express,’” said one industrial advocate who did not want to be named because of dealings with City Hall.

The unease felt by manufacturers boils down to two basic concerns: Hotels, commercial offices and nightclubs are already allowed to operate in certain manufacturing districts, and those businesses can afford to pay much higher rents than industrial companies, which typically look for space under $20 per square foot. Second, if the trolley proves a quick and reliable form of transportation, commercial tenants and developers are sure to show up in greater numbers, ready to outbid manufacturing companies for the newly prime real estate.

To address those concerns about encroachment, de Blasio pledged last November to require hotels and self-storage facilities to get a special permit before moving into industrial business zones, a designation that applies to much of the manufacturing areas along the path of the BQX. But while the administration has budgeted $442 million to bolster city-owned manufacturing sites, set aside additional cash for an industrial development fund and launched an advanced manufacturing network called Futureworks NYC, officials haven’t codified any of the promised zoning changes discussed last fall. And even if they had, it would likely take at least a year to implement them.

By then, many changes will be well underway. According to one estimate, the streetcar’s design and financing mechanism will be finalized by mid-2017 and then go through a public review process. Already, developers are eyeing opportunities along the route. In July, real estate developer Madison Realty Capital announced the $40 million purchase of two buildings near a proposed streetcar stop in Sunset Park that it plans to convert to office space. That site sits just across the street from Industry City, a six-million-square-foot industrial and office complex whose owners recently put forward plans to build college housing. The dorms were envisioned to accommodate students at New York University and the City University of New York, with priority placement for manufacturing and engineering applications that would dovetail with the kinds of businesses operating in Industry City. That bid was abandoned under pressure from local officials, but the company is still pursuing plans for a hotel, which industrial supporters such as City Councilman Carlos Menchaca see as the first step toward turning the waterfront residential.

All this has convinced members of the industrial community, including those who support the streetcar, that the administration must make good on promised zoning protections before plans advance too far. “I’m really looking forward to [the streetcar] happening,” said Michael Spinner, who runs car-wash and recycling-equipment businesses in Sunset Park and sits on the board of the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp. “But you’ve got to tailor the zoning laws and give manufacturing businesses the advantage.”


Anonymous said...

Where will the depot that houses and performs maintenance for these be constructed? Will these be union jobs or low paid slave labor?

(sarc) said...

I cannot wait for some shiney new things!!!

JQ LLC said...

Already have a name. The GG line, The Generation Gentrification line. Or the NLE for neoliberal express (well it won't feel like an express since this thing will move slower than a child on his first big wheel toy, do they still make these?)

Will they hire locally, although if I was a construction worker living in Sunset Park or Astora, I would not contribute to my displacement that this 19th century boondoggle will cause or will the workforce contain individuals hired through the EB-5 program?

Anonymous said...

It's all about increasing the value of real estate.
That's what the creation of Manhattan's High Line Park was all about.
Now try and find an affordable dump along the old Hudson River nabe.
At least when the Westies had the area, people could afford to live there.
WTF is the difference between an Irish mob and the NYC official government mafia, anyway?
The little guy winds up getting fucked in the tookas!

Anonymous said...

its really no shock this thing is planned to follow along the waterfront, and not more inland.

Unknown said...

You can really tell this was thought up by a hipster committee from Canada and the midwest. Only they could overlook extending the G train and instead push for slow streetcars that are completely incompatible with all existing infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

More muggings and robberies will happen along this trolley line.

JQ LLC said...

These aggressive regressive fauxgressive neoliberals will tell you how much they believe in the science behind the extreme effects of climate change, but still seem intent to support this idiocy of building something totally vulnerable to the elements. So content in their and the predator developers looking glass cities that they overlook how normal vehicular traffic is going to relate to this billion dollar but half-penny idea. It's like they think cars are going to vanish once the rails go down. And judging by the way they are building a metropolis on top of an existing neighborhood in downtown Brooklyn, this thing will take years and level a ton of stress to the roads, the highways above it and the people existing in it.

Anonymous said...

Jersey .City, from Liberty Park, Exchange place has a light rail system. That's how you placate hipsters who made the mistake of buying into an"up and coming" nabe leaking any transportation.
Sales were going down so put in a trolley. It is a long way to the latte shops for a little hipster to walk to.

Eggballo said...

The worst thing about this is that this could've been an incredible streetcar line that could've become a reality. But Mayor De Blasio and the city planners never intended to build this line as a reliable transit line. They just wanted to use it as a tool to gentrify the waterfront. This is the problem with modern streetcars in the U.S., they were only built for real estate development and not for transit. We can still have a Brooklyn-Queens Connector. However, my idea of a BQX line would be a reliable transit line that works well with buses and goes from Ditmars Boulevard to 95th st. There would be high capacity streetcars that can accommodate strollers and wheelchairs. These streetcars would show up at 5 to 10 minute intervals with buses arriving at the stops at 3 to 5 minute intervals. All of the tracks would be in the center of the streets and have their own right of way on large boulevard streets and running in mixed traffic on small 2 to 4 lane streets with the flow of traffic. That is how you build a good streetcar line.