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    12.08.16 Law School Hosts Conference on the Future of Development in Brooklyn
    Brooklyn Zoning

    A major conference held at Brooklyn Law School on December 2 drew several hundred leaders from the government, development, and advocacy communities to discuss the future of Brooklyn zoning. The Law School co-sponsored the daylong conference, The Next 100 Years of Brooklyn Zoning, in partnership with the New York City Council and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

    In her opening remarks, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen emphasized the role that Brooklyn will play in making New York City a hub for smart growth.

    “Now, more than ever, we need to own our New York gestalt and how we fit into the national conversation about growth,” Glen said. “We need to continue to be the place that everyone wants to live, while being prosperous and inclusive. We have to show the country that we can make the city both more prosperous and more fair.”

    The biggest hurdle to this goal is a lack of affordable housing. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has made major strides in this area with its mandatory inclusionary housing policy, but Glen said the next step will be to make more permanent zoning changes. Glen and other speakers at the conference also addressed the growing need for commercial and manufacturing space. Glen said her department’s next goal would be to determine what true mixed-use zoning should look like in the 21st century.

    “We don’t just want to allow it,” she said. “We want to require it.”

    The conference, co-sponsored by the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship at Brooklyn Law School, New York City Council Member and Adjust Professor David Greenfield, and The Real Deal, included several panels focusing on how zoning can be used to ensure the continued diversity of Brooklyn’s communities while accommodating unprecedented growth. Greenfield, who chairs the City Council’s powerful Committee on Land Use, took part in the panel “Zoning Our Diverse Communities for the Future” with City Council members Rafael Espinal, Brad Lander, Stephen Levin, and Antonio Reynoso.

    Mitchell Korbey ’03, chair of the Land Use and Zoning Group at Herrick Feinstein LLP, led the panel “How Development Is Done in Brooklyn.” Participants included Jed Walentas, principal at Two Trees Management Company; Margaret Anadu, managing director of the Urban Investment Group at Goldman Sachs; Meredith Marshall, managing partner and co-founder of BRP Development Corporation; Lisa Gomez, chief operating officer and partner at L+M Development Partners; Raju Mann, director of land use for the City Council; and Winston von Engel, director of the NYC Department of City Planning’s Brooklyn office.

    Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams spoke at lunch, emphasizing the importance of the people and communities affected by zoning decisions.

    “Sometimes we speak about zoning in an echo chamber, but this is about families and communities,” he said. “If developers don’t acknowledge the climate we’re in—a climate of anger and frustration—it’s a big mistake.”

    Adams said many New Yorkers are concerned about gentrification and displacement in the face of rapid growth, and noted that Brooklyn is the most unaffordable place to own a home in the United States. Developers must focus on diversity and community relationships to combat this discontent, he said.

    “We have planted the seeds of development in areas that traditionally no one wanted to, and now we are watching them grow,” Adams said. “Now we must ‘upzone’ those areas.”

    The conference concluded with a panel on the future of manufacturing and industrial business zones in Brooklyn, where the sites like the Navy Yard have become hubs for a new wave of manufacturing. Speakers on this panel included Aermando Cahppelliquen, the equitable economic development campaign coordinator at the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development; Toby Moskovits, CEO of Heritage Equity Partners; Brian Coleman, CEO of the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center; David Ehrenberg, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Industrial Park; Adam Friedman, executive director of the Pratt Center for Community Development; and Lee Wellington ’13, the executive director of the Urban Manufacturing Alliance.