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Gentrification in the Skies: The Brooklyn Tower Rising


9 Dekalb towering over Ft. Greene Park

(Editor’s Note: This opinion post was made by an anonymous contributor. Please contact us if you’d like to contribute.)

The Brooklyn Tower is a towering monstrosity currently under construction in the outer boroughs of New York City, because apparently Manhattan wasn’t enough for all the wealthy yuppies looking to gentrify yet another neighborhood. Standing at an impressive 1,066-feet, this 93-story behemoth will surely block out the sun and ruin the skyline for everyone else. Developed by JDS Development and designed by SHoP Architects, the Brooklyn Tower will feature a whopping 550 units for the rich and wealthy, with a measly 150 units for purchase and a slightly more generous 120 units for affordable rentals. Because God forbid the average person be able to afford to live in a decent neighborhood anymore.

But don’t worry, the Brooklyn Tower isn’t just a place for the wealthy to rest their privileged heads at night. No, it also features a whopping 100,000-square-feet of retail space, because we definitely need more overpriced coffee shops and trendy boutiques in Brooklyn. And if that wasn’t enough, the tower will also have a range of luxurious amenities, including a 24-hour attended lobby, package valet, and in-house coffee stand. Because nothing says “luxury living” like waiting around for someone to take your packages and getting a slightly overpriced caffeine fix in the comfort of your own building.

But the cherry on top of this gentrification sundae has to be the roof deck of the Dime Savings Bank, which will feature an outdoor swimming pool, kids pool, whirlpool, sundecks, hammock lounge, and outdoor dining area with barbecue grills and a fire pit. Because nothing says “welcoming to the community” like building a giant tower and then barricading yourself atop it, looking down upon the plebeians below with disdain. But hey, at least there’s a basketball court on the 66th floor for all the poor, displaced Brooklynites to enjoy. Or they could just stare wistfully at the Sky Lounge on the 85th floor, where the wealthy elite can sip champagne and enjoy panoramic views of the city they’ve ruined. The Brooklyn Tower is set to be completed in the first half of 2023, so mark your calendars for the official start of the Brooklyn gentrification apocalypse.

The argument against the argument in favor of 80 Flatbush Tower


80 Flatbush daytime mockup

We’ve covered a lot of the negative emotions around the development of a giant tower at 80 Flatbush, right across from Atlantic Terminal, including neighbor protests and a CB2 vote against.

With a public hearing hosted by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams happening tonight, why not take a look at the reason people are for the new building?

Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, penned an op-ed in Crain’s New York Business today. Note that Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is a nonprofit local development corporation of which Jared Della Valle of Alloy Development (the company proposing to build 80 Flatbush) is a board member. Whew. Got that?

The piece starts by talking about the large number of people who have moved to Brooklyn in the past year:

Nowhere is the city’s housing-affordability crisis more pronounced than in Brooklyn, where an influx of 144,000 residents over the past decade has added pressure to a market struggling to keep up.

With that premise, Myer implores us that it’s not just about building new units for all these people, but about being thoughtful about where we build. Her argument for 80 Flatbush mostly being that we need mixed-use buildings like this close to hubs such as Atlantic Terminal.

But solving the housing crisis shouldn’t entail building just anywhere. We have to be thoughtful about where we provide that critical supply, with key priorities in mind: Build where there’s infrastructure to support new and existing residents, and where density has historically and continually existed.

It’s a valid argument…if you don’t think about it too hard. So let’s think about it a little hard.

This is the same argument that was used to re-zone Downtown Brooklyn in 2002 (in addition to wanting to build new bustling areas outside of Manhattan in a post-9/11 city). Downtown Brooklyn is ideal because it’s close to nearly every single train line, and it’s one stop outside Manhattan on several lines.

In fact, Downtown Brooklyn is even closer to the city than Atlantic Terminal.

That re-zoning in 2002 ushered in the huge construction projects that we’re seeing today. We’re getting a lot of new residential units. I mean, a lot. As in, how the hell are prices going to hold at their current levels?

According to the New York Times, there are 28,400 rental units expected to be built in Brooklyn over the next several years. Holy moly. Let that sink in.

Now let’s go back to Regina’s piece in Crain’s. All of Brooklyn has seen an influx of 144,000 residents in the past decade. Yes, all of Brooklyn, from Brighton Beach to Williamsburg. Yes, “residents” not families. Yes, over the past ten years.

Will the market be able to fill all those new rental units? Based on those numbers, it seems very unlikely. Especially given the fact that all these new rental units in Downtown Brooklyn are “luxury,” with fancy appliances, floor-to-ceiling windows, and amenities up the wazoo.

Needless to say, we do need new housing closer to large transportation hubs. That’s why we re-zoned Downtown Brooklyn in 2002. And it was such a good idea, that we mayyyy have overdone it a little bit.

But if we already re-zoned Downtown Brooklyn to allow towers like this, why does 80 Flatbush need special approval? It’s because it’s not in Downtown Brooklyn.

It’s in Boerum Hill.

Proposed 80 Flatbush Tower on map

So, yes, the city did need more apartments near transportation hubs. They needed it 16 years ago. Now we have more apartments than we know what to do with. Expensive ones, too. Not affordable to most New Yorkers.

That’s no longer a valid argument, especially when you’re trying to build outside of Downtown Brooklyn. We have an entire new neighborhood dedicated to having housing near infrastructure that can support them. If you want to develop giant towers, do it there.

Although, I guess we could use more office space, and two new public schools (also all part of the proposal). So who knows?

What will DoBro look like in ten years?


Storefronts on Fulton Mall in Downtown Brooklyn

The Bridge, on the plethora of chain stores opening in NYC (emphasis ours):

Last year, Brooklyn saw the biggest percentage increase in the number of chain stores of all the city’s boroughs, with 1,587 locations, a 3.1% increase from the previous year, according to a December report from Center for an Urban Future. The greatest concentration of these stores is in zip code 11201 (Brooklyn Heights/Downtown Brooklyn), which has 145 national retailer locations including City Point’s Target, Fulton Street’s H&M, and Sephora on Joralemon Street.

My wife and I have had long discussed what we think Downtown Brooklyn will look like in five to ten years. Her thought is that our neighborhood will most closely resemble current-day Tribeca.

I think I agree. At least, I think that’s what all these developers are hoping.

With a huge amount of high-priced luxury apartments, surrounded by chain stores. A massive shopping center along Fulton Street. Easy access to nearly every subway line, and just one stop into Manhattan on several lines. One can see why these developers are trying to turn Downtown Brooklyn into New York City’s Next Big Thing.

What do you think Downtown Brooklyn will look like in ten years? Will it resemble Tribeca? Or some other neighborhood? Let us know in the comments below.