North Brooklyn’s industrial business zone is undergoing a further rezoning push by Bill de Blasio’s administration just a week after the announcement of the tentative Amazon HQ2 move to Long Island City.

The North Brooklyn Industry and Innovation Plan released on Monday by the City Planning Dept. is meant to foster the growth of industrial manufacturing and tech office space by offering developers tax breaks through the federal Opportunity Zone program. According to the Empire State Development website, the creation of Opportunity Zones “encourages private investment in low-income urban and rural communities.”

In 2015, de Blasio announced an industrial action plan, with the stated purpose to protect the existing 530,000 NYC manufacturing jobs and to grow the local workforce with 20,000 new manufacturing jobs.

North Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone boundary. (NYCEDC)

North Brooklyn’s Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) is the city’s third largest and was one of 16 IBZs that were created in 2006 across NYC to protect the city’s manufacturing workforce.

In the new plan, the 1,066-acre IBZ in North Brooklyn would be parsed into zoning sub-regions: A “core industrial area,” accounting for 69 percent of the total area, would allow for the construction of taller buildings. The new report recommends the following for the core industrial area:

“Implement appropriate limitations on targeted non-industrial uses in the heaviest industrial areas further from residential neighborhoods.

Increase permitted industrial FAR to at least 2.0 across the subarea to allow for multi-story industrial buildings.

Rightsize industrial parking and loading requirements to better align with business’ needs and remove obstacles to the creation of industrial space.

Eliminate existing FAR preference for community facility uses to avoid encouraging such uses over commercial or industrial uses.”

The second sub-regions are the “growth districts,” accounting for 13 percent of the IBZ, that allow for the development of low rise buildings to be utilized as commercial or industrial spaces.

Transition areas” (11 percent of the region) are meant to support mixed-use industrial and commercial buildings by incentivizing developers to include more office space.

The report further explains the history of North Brooklyn’s IBZ and the reasoning for the desired update:

“After many decades of decline, employment in the Study Area is growing and diversifying. From 2010-2016, the area gained 1,200 industrial jobs and 1,070 non-industrial jobs (in sectors such as TAMI, arts, retail, and entertainment), the latter concentrated in areas closest to transit.

However, development has become increasingly haphazard. The City’s zoning for industrial areas has not been significantly altered since 1961 and creates obstacles to the expansion or creation of new industrial or commercial workspace. The zoning’s low allowable building density, high parking and loading requirements, and outdated building envelopes prevent the creation of space that meets the needs of today’s businesses and increase competition for space. Local job growth has also led to increasing strains on local infrastructure. Updating industrial zoning to suit the needs of today’s businesses and improving infrastructure can support continued growth in both industrial and non-industrial sectors.”

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