Borough Pres Adams Wants to Upzone Broadway From Williamsburg to East New York

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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who grew up on Gates near Broadway, wants to upzone Broadway from Williamsburg to East New York. The proposal was buried in a recommendation to the City Council about a review of a six-story mixed-use housing project called Henry Apartments in Ocean Hill, reported The New York Daily News.

Adams envisions 10 story buildings with 50 percent market rate apartments, 30 percent middle income and 20 percent low income. The upzoned area would stretch for four miles from where the BQE crosses Broadway at Marcy in South Williamsburg to Broadway Junction in East New York, cutting through Bushwick, Bed Stuy, and Ocean Hill along the way. The stretch through Bushwick, Bed Stuy and Ocean Hill is dotted with empty lots from arson fires, looting and blackouts of the 1970s.

If the proposal succeeds, it will set off a huge land rush of development and gentrification along the corridor. However, we just don’t see how it would be possible to build comfortable apartments here. The J, M and Z trains run on an elevated track along exactly this path. Triple-paned glass and other measures don’t seem like they would offset the incredible noise and vibrations. Today, even with skyrocketing property values and rents pushing people into every imaginable cranny, there is still virtually no residential use of the corridor today, legal or illegal. Above the retail street level, the buildings are almost all used for storage or simply empty.

Above, an empty lot on Broadway in Bushwick. After the jump, another empty lot on Broadway in Ocean Hill/Bed Stuy.

What do you think of the idea?

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16 Comment

  • But where better to build large residential buildings than right next to transportation. That existing apartments are empty may have more to do with the low quality of their construction or buildings not being up to current code. I wouldn’t want to live on 4th avenue or near the BQE in Williamsburg yet large developments are going up there.

  • bottom line..the JMZ is underutilized …you can get to Wall St from Gates J in like 30 mins. think this prolly makes sense.

  • they should build a soundproof bubble around the elevated tracks

  • i agree broadway out to broadway junction is ripe for development and that the JMZ is way underutilized (which makes it a wonderful and underrated train, for now at least). that said, i can’t say i know what it would be like to live ON broadway and have the train rumbling by, and i wouldn’t really want to find out…

  • Ten stories seems insufficiently aggressive. Twenty stories would be more reasonable for serious transit-oriented development. Definitely the right idea, though. Even if they’re not going to do twenty stories in Bushwick/Bed-Stuy, the area around Broadway Junction is basically completely vacant–let’s make that a new highrise neighborhood with zoning.

  • Also, residential development is quite common along the Els in Chicago. There’s no reason high-rise development around the J/M/Z can’t be successful here. I do worry that only 50% market-rate is not enough to be seriously enticing to developers without enormous government tax benefits, though.

  • As a resident of one of those buildings along Broadway I think this may be the most inaccurate, ignorant article I’ve ever read on Brownstoner. Most of those buildings are fully occupied, just not with rich white people.

  • They should also throw in the area south of Broadway Junction between the L train and Pennsylvania ave. and as far south as Sutter ave. since it’s full of mostly low rise commercial and parking lots for school buses it would be perfect for high rise development. Commuters will have the L, C, A, and 3 and LIRR as transit options and the J/Z at Broadway junction a stop or two away.

  • Noisy trains never stopped anyone from wanting to live in Dumbo. or Ditmas Park. Doesn’t the Japanese house have the Q in the backyard?
    While we’re on the subject of interesting areas to develop for affordable housing, how about Bloomberg’s plan to build over the BQE near Columbia St?
    Could something like that be done over the prospect expressway in Windsor Terrace? Once again, these were canyons carved out by Robert Moses, taking out blocks of row houses with eminent domain.
    or the humungous Sunset Park rail yards, served by the N and D express trains and taking about 15 entire blocks?
    I’m also surprised that Coney Island Ave hasn’t seen more action – it’s a busy street right off of the park.

  • good idea… better to build up areas that need it.. than to overbuild in areas that are doing ok on their own