Thursday, July 12, 2007

Your EDC at Work: Destroying Parking to Build Apartments, Destroying Homes to Build Parking

The NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) advocates the destruction of the Duffield Street homes. Here is their statement as reported by the NY Times:

The Duffield Street site is an important component of the Downtown Brooklyn plan, a strategy to stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for residents and employees in the area. The plan calls for the creation of attractive, much-needed public open space and below grade parking on a portion of the site.

But is it necessary for a public authority like the EDC to build parking lots? And if it is, why have they been actively destroying parking in the area?

Market Forces and the EDC

As a public authority, the EDC is supposed to encourage projects that would otherwise not be built. While Downtown Brooklyn has seen the loss of some parking lots, there is great pressure to build new spaces in new developments. See:

New York parking spaces join the real estate boom (International Herald Tribune, July 12, 2007)

Livingston/Schermerhorn Development Takes Shape (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 12, 2007)

(For a listing of some of the existing parking facilities within feet of the Duffield Street homes, visit and scroll down.)

Parking Versus Apartments

The EDC’s Downtown Redevelopment plan was supposed to encourage commercial construction, and instead we are ending up with new apartments. Many of these apartments were built on the several parking on Schermerhorn. Streetblog covers this quite well in “T.O.D. in Brooklyn: Turning Parking Lots into Housing.” The Brooklyn Paper also report on the new construction in “Schermerhorn rising” (June 23, 2007).

Yet while the EDC’s plan encouraged the destruction of parking lots to build homes on Schermerhorn, just two blocks to the north, it is advocating the destruction on homes to build parking lots.


The EDC leaves the impression that it has a callous disregard for the current residents of Downtown Brooklyn. If their goal were really parking, then they could have encouraged it in other ways. As the International Herald Tribune points out, the city limits how much parking new buildings below 96th Street can offer, requiring that no more than 20 percent of the units have spaces. Since the neighborhood was rezoned, why not change that rule?

The EDC should have the larger picture in mind. It should also question if additional parking will increase the choking congestion of the area, and whether it should advocate for other forms of transportation. Instead, the first resort seems to use eminent domain for a dubious purpose.

The Downtown Brooklyn rezoning process was supposed to encourage commercial development, and instead it brought us residential development. The EDC and the NYC Department of Planning purport to promote Transit Oriented Development. Instead, they seem to be encouraging automobile congestion.