The city must slam the door on developing new housing in Brooklyn’s old industrial neighborhoods by banning new apartments in those areas, the new deputy borough president said this week.
Diana Reyna, the former councilwoman from Williamsburg and Bushwick who was tapped as the second in command of Brooklyn by Borough President Adams earlier this month, claimed runaway residential development in manufacturing zones is killing working-class jobs in the borough by turning middle-class employment centers into upper-class living quarters.
Renya, who established a so-called “Industrial Business Zone” in the Queens portion of her Council district last November that banned the conversion of manufacturing sites into housing, said the state’s 1982 “Loft Law” that allowed artists to move in opened the floodgates on the residential conversions that helped kill middle-class jobs.
“This was a huge loss for the community,” Renya said. “I’m not against an artist, but I don’t want to play one against the need for jobs.”
Reyna further argued that granting variances or changing zoning to allow condo and apartment construction in industrial areas discourages property owners from renting to manufacturers, since housing seems more profitable — and discourages manufacturers from moving into Brooklyn properties, because they believe the owner will want to convert the space into housing and not grant them a long or favorable lease.
“When was the last time you heard about a private building being bought for manufacturing use?” Reyna asked the audience at a Jan. 16 event organized by state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D–Bedford-Stuyvesant).
Reyna said she will push to have Williamsburg’s Pfizer building placed in an “Industrial Business Zone” that will offer tax abatements and city assistance in planning for manufacturing — and make it virtually impossible to convert to residential use.
Adams applauded his understudy’s dedication to increasing manufacturing development, which he called his administration’s number-two priority. But he said his primary goal is to increase the amount of below-market residential units, and added that he intends to take an inventory of Brooklyn’s zoned manufacturing areas and form a plan on how they could accommodate both aims.
“We’ve got to keep Brooklyn affordable, that’s the number one thing,” said Adams.