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Which Way Brooklyn?

Thursday May 2004

Panelists: Howard Goldman, Principal, Howard Goldman, PLLC; Dick Netzer, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Planning & Public Administration, Wagner School, New York University; Andrew Zimbalist, Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics, Smith College Co-Author, Sports, Jobs and Taxes: The Economic Impact, of Sports Teams and Stadiums
Moderator: Julia Vitullo-Martin, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute

Developer Bruce Ratner, with the blessing of Mayor Bloomberg and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, has proposed a $2.5 billion development project for downtown Brooklyn, including a 19,000-seat arena for the Nets with a mixed residential-office project across the street. If approved, the arena will be designed by the prominent architect Frank Gehry.

Even without this project, however, Brooklyn is in the midst of a market-driven renaissance that has brought a mix of new housing and light manufacturing back into once blighted neighborhoods. To succeed, the Ratner development has requested government condemnations of private property, public financing, and tax abatements. An alternative approach would be for the city to continue its rezoning of Brooklyn, eliminating the current restrictive manufacturing zoning and permitting market forces to work. What combination of housing, retail, light industry—even a sports arena—might emerge?