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DiNapoli Hails Downtown Brooklyn's Economic Rebirth

Study released by NYS comptroller shows impressive job and business growth. However, report offers little evidence of progress on affordable housing.

State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli traveled to Thursday to announce the release of a report showing impressive gains in economic growth in Downtown Brooklyn, including Fort Greene and Clinton Hill.

"In short, the story of Downtown Brooklyn is one of economic success and revitalization," DiNapoli said.

The report, covering a seven-year period that included a citywide boom and a global financial meltdown, revealed an increase in the number of private sector jobs in Downtown Brooklyn from about 65,000 in 2003 to over 75,000 in 2010.

"We need to continue to nurture and develop that success and recognize that it came from a lot of hard work," he said.

DiNapoli was joined at today's unveiling of the post by several elected and economic development officials, who mostly stayed on message in regards to the overwhelmingly positive economic data in terms of jobs, retail occupancy and the steady growth of local artistic hotspots like BAM.

"Brooklyn is now a two cultural district town," said Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz. "Lincoln Center, here we are."

However, Lucas Shapiro, senior organizer with Families United For Racial and Economic Equality, noted that the issue of affordable housing was largely absent from Thursday's press conference.

According to DiNapoli's report, future plans at the recently instituted BAM Cultural District call for new towers with mixed-income residential units.

In addition, developers of  scheduled to rise next year at the site of Dekalb Market promised to set aside an undisclosed number of affordable housing units.

But concerns about the lack of specifics regarding housing took a backseat to the mostly positive data in DiNapoli's study, which confirmed the meteoric growth of neighborhood landmarks like BAM, Brooklyn Navy Yard and Fulton Mall.

"The key, in our view, is how you go from being a hotspot, a high-tech Silicon Valley flash-in-the-pan to being a blue chip thing. And that's the whole objective," said Alan Fishman, chairman of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

To accomplish that goal, DBP president Tucker Reed unveiled a strategic plan to draw tenants to underutilized spaces, particularly above Fulton Mall storefronts, and to better connect Downtown neighborhoods for pedestrians.

In his remarks, Reed announced plans for a network of parks, plazas, greenways and greenspaces to connect hotspots like the Barclays Center, MetroTech and Brooklyn Bridge Park.

"It's hot, it's interesting, it's important," Fishman said of Downtown. "Now we have to make it solid and sustainable."

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