Downtown Brooklyn Overview
Downtown Brooklyn embodies the best of New York City. A quick subway or ferry ride across the river from Lower Manhattan, the neighborhood is home to a thriving art and cultural scene and a growing innovation economy. Several of the City’s top public and private institutions for higher learning are located in the area, including NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, NYC College of Technology, Pratt Institute, and Long Island University. The concentration of institutional anchors is helping fuel the development of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, a district comprised of DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn and the Navy Yard. According to the Brooklyn Tech Triangle Strategic Plan released in 2013, more than 520 tech and design related firms now call Downtown Brooklyn home.
Known for its historic brownstones and attractive new apartment buildings, Downtown Brooklyn provides diverse residential options for those that live, work and study in the area. The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), America’s oldest performing arts center founded in 1861, is located in Downtown Brooklyn and produces over 220 performances every year, drawing in over half a million visitors annually. BAM’s success has spawned a new cultural district in the area, including multiple theaters for film and live performances, dance studios, workshop and education spaces. And with the opening of Atlantic Yards, Downtown Brooklyn welcomed the Nets to the neighborhood as the first professional team to call the borough home since 1957.
Technology & Innovation
Over the last decade, Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Navy Yard and DUMBO have fostered a substantial rise in the number of entrepreneurs, creative firms and next generation manufacturing companies. This burgeoning innovation cluster offers 17 million square feet of office space and is supported by a strong network of educational and cultural institutions, flexible workspaces, and innovative programs.
- Urban Future Lab – Designed and operated by NYCEDC in partnership with New York University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering, this 10,000 square foot multi-use facility offers business incubation, product demonstration and educational workshops. Urban Future Lab opened in March 2014 and houses 20 cleantech startups, a demonstration center and NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering’s K-12 STEM program. More information: See the NYC Urban Future Lab page.
- DUMBO Incubator – NYCEDC, NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering and Two Trees Management launched a tech startup incubator at 20 Jay Street in 2011. DUMBO Incubator tenants include a dynamic community of financial services, media, green, bioscience and fashion companies who are provided with workstations and educational programming. More information: See the DUMBO Incubator page.
- Made in NY Media Center – This 20,000 square foot facility located at 22 John Street in DUMBO serves as home to more than 100 innovators in film, video, gaming, design and technology. The facility opened in 2013 and features a media arts gallery, 72-seat screening room, education center, community co-working space and incubator space. More information: See the Made in NY Media Center page.
Arts & Culture
Serving as the home to more than 50 premier arts and culture organizations, Downtown Brooklyn is a renowned cultural destination. The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) has anchored the area for more than 150 years and continues to drive the growth of the artistic community. BAM functions as the heart of the Brooklyn Cultural District, a collaborative effort between multiple city agencies, NYCEDC and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership to invest in creating performance, rehearsal, office, and workshop spaces for artists. The plan also incorporates streetscape improvements and branding initiatives that link the cultural venues and promote a cohesive district. Currently underway in the Brooklyn Cultural District are multiple mixed-use developments that integrate affordable housing, ground-floor retail and creative cultural spaces.
More information: See the Brooklyn Cultural District page.
Since the rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn in 2004 that aimed to facilitate a more mixed-use urban environment, the residential population in the neighborhood has significantly increased. Essential to this trend has been the influx of affordable housing. According to an analysis by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, approximately 12,000 residential units were in the pipeline or under construction as of the fourth quarter of 2014, and almost a third of these will be affordable units. Mixed-use projects like City Point, a 1.8 million square foot development incorporating retail, residential and office units, are incorporating this essential affordability component into their projects. The first phase of the City Point project, a 50,000 square foot retail building was completed in 2012. The second phase of the project, currently under construction, features two residential towers with both affordable and market-rate units, as well as an additional 600,000 square feet of retail space that will complement and strengthen the existing commercial corridors of Flatbush Avenue and Fulton Street.
More information: See the City Point page.
The ongoing development of Brooklyn Bridge Park, an 85-acre site stretching 1.3 miles along Brooklyn’s coastline, has contributed to a robust network of parks and open space throughout Downtown Brooklyn. The park currently offers residents and visitors an array of amenities including picnic areas, sports fields, playgrounds, fishing prep stations, boating, dog runs, a roller rink, fitness programs and courts for basketball, bocce, handball, volleyball and shuffleboard.
Willoughby Square, a 50,000 square foot street-level park, will add to the neighborhood’s open space within the heart of the downtown. With an innovative partnership model, the park maintenance will be regulated by a local non-profit, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, and financed by revenues collected from a 700-car parking garage constructed below the park. The project is currently under environmental review with estimated completion in 2018. More information: See the Willoughby Square page.
Free Public WiFi – NYCEDC, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and the Brooklyn Academy of Music have partnered to provide free public WiFi in Downtown Brooklyn. Two separate networks are currently operational within the Brooklyn Tech Triangle and serve approximately 8,000 users per week.
With 13 subway lines, 15 bus lines, 2 ferry terminals and a Long Island Railroad station, Downtown Brooklyn is one of New York City’s main transit hubs, providing both citywide and regional accessibility. Transit connectivity will continue to improve in 2017 with the expansion of subsidized ferry service. Existing terminals at Schaefer Landing in South Williamsburg and Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO provide access to Downtown and Midtown Manhattan, Northern Brooklyn, Southern Queens and Governor’s Island. The newly proposed routes will further strengthen Downtown Brooklyn’s connectivity to all five boroughs, including links to Southern Brooklyn, Astoria, Rockaway, Roosevelt Island, Northern Manhattan and the Bronx.
More information: See the Ferries page.