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WISE: We also video a high tech system of checking on our officers, which is known as Protract. It is a bar code scan system. Each officer on certain times of the day, night particular, gets a little laser pen. There are these little tiny bar codes -- you don't even see them -- and all around the area as the officer patrol past the location he swipes the light pen on the bar code and at the end of the tour that information is downloaded into a computer and we can get reports where people were when they were at certain locations. Extremely helpful in determining when we do have incidents exactly where our officers were and what the responses were.
The net result of all this is that crime since 1992 when the first MetroTech building was opened has dropped 78%. That's over 20% greater reduction than the city wide average and what its left, MetroTech, is practically no crime. No major crime and very little minor crime. We mainly respond at this point to shoplifting reports, disputes with a customers and moving illegal vendors around and we do now give a lot of directions because people still don't know where MetroTech is. It is a happy situation in terms of the security. In fact, when we first started we had a service set up where an office employee could call our office late at night or after hours if they felt uncomfortable walking to the parking lot or subway and we would send an officer to walk them to wherever their point of entry or exit was. We used to call it an escort service but that was ill advised. So we don't call it an escort service and we hardly ever use it anymore. If we get two calls a month for that service it is a lot.
The second issue, clean. This was done by Contract. We hired Contract Cleaning Company, and again we then apply an additional amount of work force. In fact, five, six times a day, seven days a week sweeping, cleaning every curb is swept three time a day. Every trash basket is emptied three times a day. Put out double the number of trash containers that the sanitation had. I have no qualms about walking out there and saying this place will be clean and it wouldn't be because of Mayor Koch. Maybe the first time it was.
So that having been done, the question became: Okay, well, what are the anything things we should do? Here, looking out at neighborhood more carefully, we looked at one thing that wasn't mentioned. There are over 250 retail and service businesses in the MetroTech District. What about the retailers and merchants, service providers in addition together large properties located. While we feel that is it important to the making of a neighborhood of what we had located in the building. I would like to recognize at this point Victor Burra who is one of those merchants and a member of our board. Victor owns Victor's Hallmark and four Victor's Hallmarks. If you need a card don't forget Victor's. He is, I think, a good example of the merchants who have been able to expand his business and a lot due to partnership activity which were bigger than others in order to exist. We conduct seminars for the retailers. There are business practices, financing. Credit card fraud, whatever the issues might be. We have a (inaudible) program which is an incentive program to improve merchants signage. We provide a free consultation of an architect and if the merchant decides to go ahead with a sign or the painting of a corner so the (inaudible) or installation of an open security gate we will subsidize up to five hundred for installation. At this point the hundred and fifty retailers on first floor in MetroTech thirty-five have changed their signs in the last three years. So the whole look of the street surrounding MetroTech in addition to the core is changing. We are encouraging the business to do marketing. We have a newsletter that is published four times a year. Goes out to 15,000 office employees as well as an extensive mailing list. Again, that's unique. In most business districts, particularly in Manhattan, you don't have a community that you would even publish a business newsletter to. But at MetroTech this community receives that very well.
Where are we headed? Well you heard a lot from the speakers. There is a lot more going on in Downtown Brooklyn. Yes, we need help to get it but the 24/7 is a very important concept. I attended a meeting where that was dubbed CARES. We need CARES. What does CARES stand for? Well, it's culture, arts, recreation, entertainment, sports. I got it right. We need to focus on trying to get more of that activity into downtown. Harvey Lithenstein who, what did they call him before? An icon. The former Director of the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Jeanne Lufty are working hard to create a cultural district in and around the Brooklyn Academy of Music. An important neighbor to MetroTech, essential to expanding the influence of MetroTech. All the new development sites 330 Jay Street, 9 South MetroTech, the expansion of the hotel, Polytechnic Dormitory, Polytech classrooms and also the provincial reuse of the Transit Authority building in 370 Jay Street. 345 Adams Street, the Federal Court expansion. All of these elements are moving and will occur. I really am not familiar to what we heard today. These are going to happen but we need to push to make sure they do.
Finally, I would say that the BID was built to be a partner in all these activities. Most of the folks you heard of today worked closely with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and other organizations in order to try to increase our influence. My sense of Downtown Brooklyn future is it is only going to be better.
Just to give you one idea. We went from crime and grime as I call it to flowers and chess. This is a full page ads we ran in last week's downtown paper. The MetroTech Garden. Ten years ago nobody would have thought this was what you could be doing with Downtown Brooklyn. I invite you today if you like at 12 noon to play a game against the grandmaster from Brooklyn at the MetroTech chess festival. With that I think I'll close. Take some questions if we have time. Thanks.
WOLLMAN: Thank you. Thank all of you. I'd like to now ask the panelists from the second half of the case study section to take their seats. Karen Hopkins, Marc Rosenbaum and (inaudible). As you can see we are still not totally perfected the resurrection of our power point, but we are making progress over two weeks.
Karen Hopkins is President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Miss Hopkins previously served as Development Director at the New Playwrights Theatre in Washington DC, and has been an adjunct professor at the Brooklyn College Program for Arts Administration. She is the author of Successful Fundraising for Arts and Cultural Organizations. Please welcome Karen Hopkins.
HOPKINS: Thank you and good morning. I am pleased and very excited to be talking about BAM; its future, its past and how it fits into the scheme of Downtown Brooklyn. I think I saw Harvey here and I want to recognize him. He and I worked together over the last twenty years and I think there is a lot to say about how the history of BAM has really mirrored the history of Downtown Brooklyn over that twenty year period.
I think it is interesting in talking about the future to begin with talking about the past. So I want to tell you a bit about the history of BAM, how it fits in, in terms of the history of the borough. The first Brooklyn Academy of Music was build in 1865 on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. And it is very interesting that one of the earlier activities of that facility was a fundraiser to raise money for bandages for union soldiers for the Red Cross during the Civil War. In that time in the 1860's they raised four hundred thousand dollars. Now, if you think about how much that was then you will understand why the mantle of the fundraiser is on me today. The building burns to the ground with the turn of the century and a committee of one hundred citizens of Brooklyn lead by Abraham Abraham of the old Abraham and Strauss rallied together to build the current facility on Lafayette Avenue. It opened in 1908 and today we're lucky it stands as one of the great architectural treasures of the city.
We now have several incarnations in our building of the beautiful 2000 seat Howard Gildman Opera House, the one thousand seat Harvey Lithenstein Theatre on Fulton Street. We have four incredible movie theaters which are not little movie boxes but instead, movie palaces. And instead of using the power point, I decided I'd just to go with the good old: Here's a picture of it, since I didn't want to take any chances here with the new technology. These movie theaters are spectacular. We have the smallest one, a hundred and ten feet. The largest, 272 seats. We also have the BAM Cafe.
I want to talk about the programs in these two facilities. Two theaters, four movie theaters, the BAM Cafe and a complete education and humanities program serving 14,000 students mainly from the borough. One hundred and sixty schools. Then we also have the Cyber BAM. We built a media lab with the grant from Lucent Technology on the upper level of the BAM Cafe which allow artists and scientists to work together to see where art and new media can meet and find new happiness together. We also have a complete outreach program in partnership with the City Park Foundation and MetroTech. We do concerts in the various parks all summer long in various neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn. The BAM of the future will be and is the theatrical cinema and new media entertainment center in the world. We have currently a budget of 22 million dollars.
Bruce Ratner is our chairman and I also want to say a few words about Bruce's part of this whole vision of BAM. Parties heard me tell the story many times that people used to say to us, "Where is such and such playing?" A theatrical event. And they would say, "Well, it is going to be at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and then playing in London." And the person would say, "Okay, I'll see it in London." So we had to overcome.
I also remember in 1989 when we brought the Welsh National Operative Band that our patron of the evening was Princess Diana and this was her first official visit to the United States. We raised a million dollars in one night. It was a huge deal that the Princess of Wales was coming to Brooklyn. So we got word earlier that day that Dan rather was going to do a segment on the princess coming to Brooklyn. My mother alerted everyone in the state of Florida that we are going to be on national television on CBS. We couldn't leave the building because we had things happening that night so we had televisions brought in so we could see his report. All of a sudden he comes on and its Dan Rather, CBS News, and we see Brooklyn and there is just shots of garbage, trash, people lying in the gutter, streets overflowing with ruin and this is how Brooklyn was. You know, why is she going here? This was the theme of his story. Instead of: Isn't it incredible she's coming here?
So this is the kind of prejudice we have had to overcome over many years. So when I describe the BAM of today with all these different entry points. I am talking about a new incarnation of an urban cultural center. We call our marketing mantra, Destination BAM, where you can come have dinner in the BAM Cafe, see a show, go to a movie, go upstairs for live music. We have live music and spoken word presentations that are free to the public every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and will be beginning gospel brunches featuring ensembles from great Brooklyn gospel choirs starting this fall. The idea is to be welcoming to all; to provide a variety of experiences.
An example of that would be we just had the (inaudible) which was a great presentation. A cast of 284 people in a production that was really about Jewish survival. The opera was in the opera house. We did a film festival on the screen. We had a vibrant cabaret in the cafe. We had a full day symposium. So you could see by choosing a theme or idea that has a lot of heat, that it is possible to create a lot of energy around a particular idea and to use every aspect of our venues to contribute to that. That's what we think a great cultural destination can be. We are now thrilled that Harvey and his retirement is rebuilding the neighborhood, that we are part of a great cultural district that will be defined by art. A wonderful opportunity or for a new neighborhood in New York City to be defined by art and culture. With existing partners already there, Brick, the Urban Glass, the Brooklyn Cable Access Television 651, the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, we are well on our way to really having a nucleus already of great cultural institutions.
So, as I conclude, I say that we need a bold vision for the future. I believe we have that with culture leading the way with a sort of Brooklyn edge. In order for us to succeed we must have great population density. Culture needs people. We need businesses. We need residential. We need a hotel. We need a lot of different kinds of activity in order to make the neighborhood great. Many people have heard me mention many times BAM is not a job, it is a crusade. Today, I would like to say that Brooklyn is not just a borough, it is a symbol of the best and worst of urban America and I hope in the future I hope we can make it just stand for the best. Thank you.
WOLLMAN: Thank you, Karen. At this point, is Harvey Lithenstein sitting here? Could you stand up for a moment?
WOLLMAN: Jeanne Lufty is President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music Local Development Corporation. She previously was a Managing Director of Brand Marketing at Burson-Marsteller. Senior Vice President for Marketing and Communications at the Greater New York Savings Bank. She also served as Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and now leads the BAM LDC. Please welcome Jeanne Lufty.
LUFTY: Thank you. I also have a pseudo low tech presentation because I am also concerned about powerpoints. There is a couple of slides here. I am very pleased to be here this morning. It has been very interesting. I have -- because I've worked in economic development -- I worked at Public Development Corporation and New York City Economic Development Corporations which succeeded. It is especially wonderful to have been involved in the beginning of what was the emergence of Downtown Brooklyn to celebrate that here and in these sessions with all of you and to be participating in what I think is going to be one of the most exciting development projects not only in Downtown Brooklyn, but in the city today. That's going to be the creation of a mixed use culture in Downtown Brooklyn. So I am going to take the next ten minutes to tell you about the BAM Local Development Corporation and about the BAM cultural district.
The BAM LDC is a 501 C3 independent non profit organization. We are not BAM. The programming is left to Karen Hopkins and Joe Dililo. And Harvey Lithenstein and I are working with a Board of Directors that includes a list of accomplished and well respected professionals from the real estate industry, urban design community development to create a vibrant 24 hour mixed use area in the 4-3 neighborhood in Downtown Brooklyn.
Now, what we hope to bring to this area and Karen introduced you a little to it is a dynamic mix of uses that are going to be visual or performing arts, educational uses that both emerge from these cultural organizations like schools. These will be supported with new residential housing which the borough and city so desperately needs. That will include market rate housing, subsidized housing and hopefully some artist housing. Our goal is to use this housing to bring vitality to the streets and create much needed density so we can spur the demand for amenities in the area. Amenities such as stores, restaurants, music venues, a hotel and public open space that whether be programmed for things like retail markets, antique markets and hopefully performances.
On the amenities issue, I have to say it is unbelievable that Fort Greene with its wonderful brownstones and new escalating real estate prices and its density in population does not really have any amenities. You can walk the streets in the neighborhood and find there are no stores, no fish markets, no butchers. We are hoping that one of the outcomes of this exciting project is that we will be able to help attract some of these amenities to the area. All of this we believe should be housed in a very visually distinctive and attractive environment which the essence is communicated through first class architecture. We feel very fortunate to have opportunities to really develop some buildings in this neighborhood that can really reflect outstanding architecture. We intend to have artistic street lighting, attractive landscape design and (inaudible).
I just want to step back and say I am glad Harvey is here, actually, because I'd like to give him credit for the vision of developing this cultural district. As you know, Harvey worked for BAM 32 years and he strived diligently to develop a niche for BAM and establish it as a proclaimed international avante garde performing arts venue. He also struggled working with Karen to make it financially stable. Once they were able to do that in the mid '90's he then began to turn BAM outward to the communities. They brought in the scope of the offerings that BAM now has, the cafe now as Karen mentioned, and the cinemas. The idea of a cultural district is really, we believe, a logical next step in that development process. It is an opportunity to really allow BAM to go out more into the community and to ensure its longevity. It is an opportunity to create an art environment that encourages synergies between diverse arts groups. It is also a way to continue the ongoing revitalization of the Fort Greene community.
What I think that Harvey didn't realize and what we have been finding as we have been working on this district, is it is really an opportune time to do that. As Alair said earlier today, timing sometimes can be everything. There are a number of forces in the economy today that are conspiring to make this a perfect time to do this. We know because of the strong economy real estates costs have been rising. As a result of that, there has been a tremendous migration of people from Manhattan to Brooklyn, to Brooklyn brownstone neighborhoods. People who have been priced out of the real estate market who love New York City. They want to stay here. They want to have children here. So what are they doing? Moving to Brooklyn brownstone neighborhoods. Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Clinton Hill. All of these neighborhoods are benefitting from this migration to Brooklyn.
What is happening is -- someone else mentioned this morning -- people -- I think Alair also said it -- there is something about Brooklyn that kind of gives a sense of community. I think the people want to be part of a community in addition to being part of the larger New York City context. We believe they are a perfect target audience for what a cultural district would have to offer. The evidence we have is just look at what is happening in these neighborhoods. On Smith Street restaurants have been opening up. Fifth Avenue and Park Slope, Dekalb Avenue in Fort Greene. Over the last year, more than 29 restaurants have opened in these neighborhoods and they are crowded. If you want to go to them on a Saturday night, you had better have a reservation, as I have found.
Now, in addition to this migration of residents to Brooklyn, it is no secret that artists have been moving to Brooklyn for some time now. This trend has increased so much over the past few years that we believe that Brooklyn now has the largest concentration of artists living and working here than any borough in the city. That's pretty amazing. It is very, very exciting. There are writers, there are painters, they are filmmakers, there are visual arts, musicians, and they live in Williamsburg or Fort Greene and Park Slope.
Here is an interesting statistic that not only reinforces that, but points to the fact that these artists are receiving recognition. Out of sixty-five artists who recently received the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellows Award. 1/5, eleven of them came from Brooklyn. Only seventeen, six more came from Manhattan. I think that's pretty astounding.
The last and probably the most important ingredient that is making it possible to develop an arts organization -- an arts district in Downtown Brooklyn, is that we are finding once again because of the vibrant economy and very expensive real estate market, that cultural organizations are being forced out of Manhattan and starting to make their way to the boroughs on the other side of the river, particularly Brooklyn. This is no small phenomena. Believe me, we believe it is a crisis that is going on in cities where culture provides eleven billion dollars in revenue to the city's economy where there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand direct and indirect jobs from the arts in New York City.
We are hearing on a daily basis, groups who's leases are up and their landlords are wanting to renew them at exponential rates and obviously the organizations can't do it. These organizations are being replaced by venture capital firms among others. It is common knowledge that Soho has become a shopping mall and to reinforce that point the Guggenheim Museum on lower Broadway is now on the ground floor level of (inaudible).
So what is happening is these groups are struggling for a solution and finding themselves focused on real estate and not on what they do best, which is creating art. This is a particular problem for dance groups and alternative space companies. We are currently undertaking a survey to find out just how deep this problem goes so in developing a district we can find a solution to work for these kinds of organizations.
Now, how do we hope to accomplish this? We are -- Harvey and I are actively laying the groundwork for the district. We engaged (inaudible) in conjunction with the Rockwell group to develop a master plan for the area. And SOM is now in the process of doing all the master planning things. Studying land use, zoning properties, ownership, looking at pedestrian and vehicular traffic patterns, looking at demographics, thinking about parking. What do we do with what is there and how do we handle additional traffic that will come to the area? And in doing that we are really looking -- this map is a little fuzzy, but I am going to tell you about what the boundaries for the district are roughly. Again, this is an area we are studying so I can not say these are definite boundaries. But we are studying an area that comprises of Dekalb Avenue on the north, Flatbush Avenue on the west, Hampton Place that wraps around BAM on the south, and on east or southeast, we run down Fulton Street and encompass a very active (inaudible) and come back on Ashland Place.
The core of the district is anchored by the BAM Harvey, which includes 651 (inaudible). It also has, of course, BAM's main theater with the cafe and cinemas and the opera house and Mark Morris Band Center which will be completed this year. There's going to be a five story, four and a half story building with thirty-five thousand square feet and it will house rehearsal studios for Mark Morris. There will be some ground floor space they are looking to lease, so if you know anybody please see me after this.
Now, so in addition to those uses as Karen mentioned are other organizations in the area supporting the concept of a district. There is Urban Glass, Brooklyn Cable Access TV, Brooklyn information and culture and what we are feeling is that while it is very important for the BAM LDC to spur development in the area, and in doing that we are going to focus on a core being right here. From there the goal is to organically expand into the remainder of the district and have these weave themselves into the fabric that is Fort Greene. We are going to help initiate this, some of the stuff is happening organically.
Karen mentioned that Art New York just purchased a building in the area on South Oxford Street. It is going to house some of their small member theaters, it will have office space and also share rehearsal space. The Zen Center of New York City is moving its headquarters from Halsey to State Street and Third Avenue. We just heard recently that the former Sarah J. Hale Vocational School is being concerted into a Brooklyn High School for the Arts opening in the fall.
Finally, we have been speaking to a charter school opening up in the fall to serve the 4-3 Prospect Heights and Clinton Hill neighborhoods and taking a temporary lease in the neighborhood and eventually it will relocate into the heart of the district. So that's just an idea of what we are thinking about.
While we continue to work on a master plan we'll also be working to reach out to art organizations, speaking to people in the community, residents, merchants, etcetera so that we can get feedback as we move forward. So keep your eyes and ears open because there is lot of good stuff. Thank you.
WOLLMAN: Marc Rosenbaum is President and CEO the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation which manages and develops the 264 acre industrial park for the City of New York on the former site of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. As President of BNYDC, Mr. Rosenbaum is a member of the Mayor's Cabinet. He previously served as Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District and adjunct professor of Law at Hofstra Law School. Is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Please welcome Marc Rosenbaum.
ROSENBAUM: While one of our vice presidents sets up one of our photographs -- we decided to go low tech to make sure we can be seen -- I'll tell you a little bit about myself first, and where Brooklyn has gone from a personal view.
I was born in Brooklyn in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. I was raised in Sheepshead Bay, having gone to Lincoln High School. I went to Brooklyn College where I met my wife and lived in Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights until 1991 at which time I had a daughter in the third grade. My wife and I decided because she was now -- my wife -- to join a patrol to protect the elementary school children walking to school, in her case, from being mugged on a regular basis, it was time for us to leave and we went to Westchester. My daughter is finishing high school and my wife started a campaign as of two years ago to get us back to Brooklyn Heights. That's the kind of change that is already happening. As for the changes, let me go into history.
Obviously, it is quite a famous place. It was founded in 1801 by Thomas Jefferson so that the United States could build a Navy for the first time, a new country. By 1812, the War of 1812, it was already putting out many of the ships the Navy needed to fight the British. By the Civil War we were the entity -- that iron clad. Now I find this interesting because we are thinking in terms of a campaign now for the which tech space we are building and we just completed 60 thousand square feet of plus and go space at the Navy Yard and the campaign was going to be a print campaign that said a brief history of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. 1812 the monitor. 2001, the monitor, that's where we are going.
However, by World War Two the size of the Brooklyn Navy Yard doubled to over three hundred acres from approximately a hundred and fifty acres and almost unbelievably on that average there were seventy-four, seventy thousand people working on a 24 hour, seven day a week basis. By the time the war ended the number went down do fifteen thousand. Then in 1966, ten
years -- just under ten years after the Dodgers decided to leave Brooklyn the Navy decided to leave and took with it 89,000 jobs. In 1971 the city decided it would be a good idea -- actually it started just prior to that, 1968 to buy the Navy Yard and the concept at the time was they would level the acreage there and put in an investment of approximately 98 million dollars which in 1968 dollars acquaints to almost four hundred and fifty million dollars in today's dollars and build a brand new industrial park. And well as most of us can remember in 1971 the city fell into the physical crisis. And from '71 until approximately three years ago a totality of five million dollars was spent on the infrastructure of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Given that it was closed by the Navy in '66 we had a master plan done four years ago at the Navy Yard and it came up after the Navy Yard was reviewed by engineers, we had a life expectancy of a major infrastructure system, electrical system, steam systems of only five years.
Now at that time five years ago we had approximately two thousand jobs with about a hundred and sixty businesses. We, the Guiliani Administration decided that the Brooklyn Navy Yard was much too important both for the jobs that already existed and the potential it had to let it get completely destroyed and that was the path it was on. In the last two and a half years we have spent from city capital money over fifty-two million dollars on our infrastructure. We have plans to spend another sixty million dollars over the next five years. That does not include things such as the co-generation plants and I see Chris (inaudible) from the Brooklyn Navy Yard co-generation partners, a private organization not part of the NYDC that invested six hundred and thirty-two million dollars in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to build a state of the art power plant which also happens to be and won awards from being one of the cleanest power plants in the United States. That has set the stage. That and the infrastructure work we are doing for our most ambitious project.
When I came to the Navy Yard five years ago as general counsel I had just returned from a vacation in California. I have some friends and relatives so I had been touring some of the movie lots out there, in particular the 20th Century Fox lot. I arrived at the Navy Yard not withstanding that, I had been born and raised in Brooklyn. I had never set foot in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and I was fortunate because my car had never been towed to the Brooklyn Navy Yard which was one of the things it was known for. By the time the Navy left and the time I got to the yard, I can say very safely that the Navy Yard has pretty much been, if not forgotten by Brooklyn and the rest of the city, at least nobody knew what was going on there. Among the things that were going on there were approximately a hundred and forty businesses and two thousand people working.
In any case, I arrived at the Navy Yard and go through this secure facility that we have and it struck me almost immediately that it bore a resemblance to movie lots in California. It had its own street. It was a secure facility. I heard Mike Wise talk about the lack of crime in MetroTech which I truly applaud him for because I know what that takes. We have had no major crime at the Navy Yard for the last six years and I am going to knock on wood for that one. We have a sixty person security force that makes sure that happens but I think there is an element of luck as well.
One of the first questions I asked the administration at the time was whether or not movies were shot at the Navy Yard and, in fact, there had been some location shooting, but it quickly became apparent that if the yard was to continue to have a name and not be forgotten it needed what I have to refer to as a grand project that would not allow people to forget what went on there. They couldn't say what happens at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. As it turns out, I wasn't the only person to have this idea. We started to ask around we found that there were two set design companies at the Navy Yard. One of them fairly large that makes all the sets for the Proctor and Gamble soap operas and for Saturday Night Live and another smaller company that was just starting out.
The smaller company was combining with another internet company that had just become a tenant of the Navy Yard and the two people who's names you probably heard if you read any of the press on the movie studio, were Lou Matigan and Carey Hart. The (inaudible) Association is the other entity that makes set designs. They had a more limited vision of what they wanted to do which was some television studios. But their two young men Mr. Hart and Mr. Matigan had a much greater vision that went along with what we needed. We took a gamble and decided that these two young men probably had the experience, started their own businesses and also they were young enough probably not to know that you couldn't do this because people were telling us left and right you couldn't do this.
I'll give you an idea how negative some of the attitude was. We have a high level New York City official. Now, I am a member of the Mayor's Cabinet and Chairman of the Board. Brooklyn Navy Yard's Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington. So the city's commitments to the Navy Yard could not possibly be more. But we had a visit from another high city official -- not the
mayor -- on a day we were shooting a movie at the yard. The movie starred Hugh Grant and James Caan and was being produced by Elizabeth Hurley, not unknown names. We stopped at the set. We watched them film scenes and came back to our office to meet with Carey Hart and the people from Morgan Bank and the attitude immediately was: You can't get anyone from Hollywood to come to Brooklyn. They won't come. I looked -- we just spend a half hour watching a movie being filmed with some of the biggest stars Hollywood has and actually hear somebody say: They don't come to Brooklyn.
That's the attitude just as BAM has had to fight that attitude, that's the attitude we had to fight. As you probably know we held a press conference back in May and had some well known Hollywood names. I am not going to use this forum to explain why that project didn't happen. Sufficed to say we had entered into a contract a year earlier with Mr. Hart and Mr. Matigan to give them an opportunity to raise the financing for an eleven sound stage project that would take up fifteen acres of the two hundred and thirty acres that we have under our jurisdiction of the Navy Yard and they were in the midst of gathering that financing at the time. We began to negotiate with this other group and it became clear they were supposed to work along with Mr. Matigan and Mr. Hart, but in fact what was happening was an attempt to push them out of it. They had a legally binding contract but they also had more time to get their financing in place. When it became clear that the other group was just testing the waters and wanted another hundred and thirty-five days to decide whether or not they wanted to go through with the project, Mr. Matigan and Mr. Hart came up with the Steiner Equities people. They had the money. Not only did they not have to raise financing, although, they are going to go to outside sources, but they committed to doing the hundred and twenty million dollars project with their own money. This is a reverse trend because the Steiners are from New Jersey and decided it was time to come to New York, and not just New York, but Brooklyn in a big way. We have now gone from the theoretical stage to taking down the two gigantic buildings.
I may have to move around. I am going to try to speak up. The sites that we have for this studio sits in this red area. There are two buildings. Each one of which were built for World War Two to make the hulls of ships. They are three football fields long and nine stories high. Unfortunately, they both have to come down because they are pretty well made of asbestos. That's what we are in the process of doing now. We have gone from the theoretical stage to the physical stage. We have done the asbestos abatement for most of it and the actual destruction of the buildings is happening right at the moment. The schedule we are on is for the studio to start being constructed in August of this year to be completed either by September of 2001 and completely completed by December 2001.
Some people have visited the Navy Yard. They've seen we are well
on our way. This is not a pipe dream. It is not a Hollywood dream. It has become
a Brooklyn reality and I can't be happier about that. What I am also pleased
about is along with this project which I am completely certain will mean that
nobody will be able to forget the Navy Yard again, we are part of the rest of
Downtown Brooklyn. I am a little surprised that I am sitting here in the cultural
panel as opposed to the waterfront panel, given our location, but be that as
it may what I am very gratified to see starting with BAM going down through
MetroTech, down through DUMBO, over to us and then across to Williamsburg, we
will have a slot of land and community which probably will be second to none
in its creativity and vibrancy. I couldn't be happier to be a part of that.
I will be very happy to take questions. I am going to keep my presentation shorter.
WOLLMAN: Well, you can see we try to pack a lot in and I actually can't exactly say why the Navy Yard presentation was put in the midst of a new cultural district except, of course, it does represent a commitment and investment in the creation of culture that will be almost second to none. I share
Mr. Rosenbaum's enthusiasm for being able to think about its potential implementation right now.
The word is propaganda, but it is really the aspirations of BAM and information statements. All those things are on a table outside. I'd like to thank Karen Hopkins, Mr. Rosenbaum, and Jeanne Lufty for their presentations. We are coming to the closing segment of today. We always run late but you always get your money worth, so to speak. I would just like to say how far we have come in these three sessions.
First, I'd like to welcome Glenn Markman and Kenneth Adams Fisher to join us up here and to recount again where we started from just about a month ago. Looking at Brooklyn's role in the region, looking at the issues of the strategic location of Brooklyn and assets that its location brought to it. Looking at the Regional Plan Association's Downtown Plan, the beginning of our investigations of the waterfront in terms of the (inaudible) project.
Moving on to the second day the discussion of Brooklyn residential future and issues of Fort Greene and Brighton Beach and closing presentations looking at broader aspects of low and moderate income housing. Brooklyn is, I guess, as Mr. Rose would have us say, ascending. But some of us just from the perspective of the past decade or so it looks as if it is quite ascending. For those of you who come in late I say that the transcripts in an edited fashion will be available in this issue of Properties, the institute's review. We encourage you for those interested to give your name to one of the young ladies sitting outside. This is, after all, a real estate institute and the issues of the real estate future of Brooklyn lie at the heart of our concerns informed, of course, by cultural and economic developments as of all real estate and by the inner relationships between the private and public sectors. We have asked a representative from both public and private sectors to conclude the morning and the conference and I can't think of two better people equipped to do this.
Glenn Markman is Executive Managing Director of Grubb and Ellis New York Inc. He's a member of the Real Estate Technical Advisory Committee to Senator Charles Schumer's group of thirty-five and he sits on the Downtown Brooklyn Counsel. Please welcome
MARKMAN: Thank you and what a relief to see my powerpoint presentation go on the screen. I don't know if I was more nervous during the Knicks game last night or thinking whether or not it is going to operate. It is a pleasure to be at Baruch College, my Alma Mater. Grew up in Brooklyn. Went to Lafayette High School, and it is so great to hear all those speakers discussing all the positive things and going into the hallways and breakfast this morning and getting such a buzz about Brooklyn and where it is going. It really is appropriate that we have this conference in Manhattan.
My mandate is really talking about the office space market. The impact of the market here into New York City and Manhattan greatly impacts what is going on, on the other side of the river. So we put together a compilation of buildings, class A buildings, B buildings and C in midtown. Midtown south and downtown. And to give you a snapshot of what is going on in Manhattan, I see the red line is the vacancy factor and the amount of space available. The yellow bars are the amounts of absorption. The blue bar is the new construction. As you can basically see in 1992 there was approximately (inaudible) seventy percent vacancy in New York. There are parts of the city like Downtown Manhattan where one out of every four feet was vacant.
Fast forward to 1992, eight years. We are talking about vacancy factors that are below six percent. When you get into six percent vacancies you are talking about virtually no space. There is no supply which gives Brooklyn a window of opportunities to capture the next wave of tenancies into the borough. The cost of doing business in Manhattan is extremely expensive. The average rent in New York City is over fifty dollars a square foot of the better buildings. Park Avenue through Sixth Avenue are averaging a hundred dollars a foot -- that's for office. That's not retail space. It is astounding what the differential has become between Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Now, who is actually renting space? In Manhattan there is a cross-section of tenancies. We don't have all our eggs in one basket. We have many different industries that occupy space here unlike Brooklyn which is really dependant on city, state and federal non profit type tenancies. So we want to see going forward is really a shift in Brooklyn to a more balance sort of like we have up here on the screen. Noticing approximately 29 percent or 29 out of a hundred feet leased in the first year according to Grubb and Ellis was leased by new media companies. Now you may think these new media companies are leasing two thousand, three thousand, five thousand. But these are really, very large space users. They are occupying a hundred thousand, two hundred thousand. There are companies that probably very few people heard of two years ago. They may not have even existed two years ago. But they are supplying thousands and thousands of jobs to the Manhattan real estate market. These companies they are not looking for the traditional office building. They don't want a Park Avenue type of facade. They really want a cool type of space. If you think about the space that exists in Brooklyn it is exactly what these new media and high tech companies are looking for.
It is not just the new media companies but you talk to Chase and City Bank, they are going over the same type of space because they need to recruit the best and brightest and the way to do that is to create that type of environment for that type of employee. So Brooklyn has wonderful opportunities. DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn landscape is really positioned to jump into this arena. If you are a tenant looking for space today, where are your options?
We talked about the availability and it has been a common theme, this crisis in Manhattan. And where are companies going to move to? Well, basically Brooklyn has no space for the most part right now. Class A and class B. The Jersey waterfront has a potential to create over ten million square feet of the new office space. That really is Brooklyn's biggest competition today. (inaudible) is just going into one building after another and Newport Tower really began after MetroTech and he's just on to building three, four or five and there is quite a list of tenants who Jersey has not been attracting from Goldman Sachs to just (inaudible). They are going to be leasing over two million square feet. The Chase Manhattan Bank who is presently negotiating for over a million square feet at Newport Tower. That's the same Chase Manhattan that has a huge presence in Downtown Brooklyn.
What happens is once we start in Manhattan losing certain types of tenants out of the state they are probably gone forever. So when an ISO insurance office leaves Water Street, chances are they may not be coming back to Water Street. So you lose these companies and it starts to chip away at the office market.
Now, Brooklyn also has a distinguished list of tenants. Blue chip companies. Chase Manhattan Bank isn't on this list but they occupy over a million and a half square feet in MetroTech. Keyspan Energy has their front office and back office in MetroTech. Morgan Stanley occupies over a half million square feet of back office space. So we have a critical mass in Downtown Brooklyn. We have the opportunity to really take advantage of all the hard work that the Ratners have done and really create a special environment as we go forward. This gives you an overview of the office market. Class A market basically consists of Renaissance Plaza, MetroTech, One Pierrepont Plaza and virtually no space available in any of those buildings. The secondary space on Court Street, Livingston Street, these are secondary buildings that really for the most part are housing a certain type of tenancy. That could change. As we move into the twenty first century it would not surprise me if we didn't have a real shifting of the type of tenants in Downtown Brooklyn to a more corporate and technology or biotech type feel. DUMBO is really at the cutting edge right now of the type of buildings that companies are looking for. It would not be a surprise if the Sweeney Building, which is becoming available next year, would get leased to a single high tech company looking to create a presence in Downtown. Possible rehash, consist of Board of Education buildings on Livingston Street. Whether it is 110 Livingston, 131 Livingston, or 65 Court Street there are buildings that potentially could create a corridor and create energy that Brooklyn presently does not have. There are a number of people who submitted bids to the City of New York regarding this development and whether it happens or not, I guess it is very political. But it would be just incredible if that seven hundred and fifty thousand square space on Livingston Street could become a biotech corridor or just become a place where thousands of new jobs are created to support the restaurants and various businesses that take place in the Downtown Brooklyn area.
370 Jay Street is a building that the MTA has and they consolidated that to Broadway so chances are that building maybe in play. But by and large it is really not that much out there. I am not going to rehash the MetroTech. There is two sites, two million square feet. In the scheme of things we really need to create large blocks of space or more space to enlarge the amounts of space in Brooklyn. But the slide before shows there was practically two million, eight hundred thousand square feet of possible inventory. Now when you think of thirteen million square feet compared to Manhattan it is insignificant space wise. But as far as central business districts go, Sacramento, California, San Antonio, Texas, Detroit, Michigan do not have thirteen million square feet office markets. So this is a pretty hefty and large midsize CBD.
We have heard over and over again about the transportation Brooklyn has. You think about New York transportation, Manhattan transportation, Union Square Times Square, Columbus Circle. Well, the Downtown Brooklyn transportation is as good as any of those. There are great redevelopment opportunities on Court Street on Remsen Street. There is a way to change the tenancy and you know there is a huge cost differential between space in Downtown Brooklyn which secondary space rents for in the mid twenties for square foot compaired to the fifty dollars square foot for average space in Manhattan. So there is a twenty-two dollar square foot differential. We already have a number of blue chip companies corporate presence here in New York City. Just hearing all the great things BAM is doing and Marc is doing with the Navy Yard is just astounding.
Finally, in the I guess it was '40's, 50's,
and '60's so many people who grew up in Brooklyn left. Moved out of state and these are decision makers in companies. And what we are finding was that a lot of people are coming back, buying homes in the Heights, outside of the Heights, renovating buildings. These are the entrepreneurs of the 21st century. There is no question in my mind that they are people who would love to be able to conduct their business in Brooklyn since they are so committed and passionate about the borough because they can get to Manhattan very quickly. But I really believe that the landscape is going to change.
Finally, people today one of the big issues is labor and finding the brightest and best students. Well, Downtown Brooklyn has thirty-five thousand students who are going to college and this is a great opportunity for the companies who will come into the marketplace to capture the labor and student body from those universities. What do we need to do to position ourselves going forward? Joe Rose and Jim Whelan talked about how we can equalize the pricing between Jersey City and Brooklyn because there is that huge price differential. New construction in Brooklyn if there are no incentives, you would need rental rates in the high fifties or mid fifties per square foot versus low thirties in Jersey City. So state, the city, has to figure out a way to balance the ledger. That's work I feel very confident that Jim and Ken Adams who are two great additions to Brooklyn will be able to advocate as we go forward.
The Brooklyn Alliance is an awareness organization trying to change the perception of Brooklyn. I'll tell you a quick story. About a year ago -- I do a lot of leasing of space in Downtown Brooklyn to corporate tenants like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and I had an executive from a large financial institution take a look at some space I was marketing at Pierrepont Plaza. We went through space and he loved the views of Manhattan and he loved the high tech building. We finished the tour and I said to him, "Let's take a walk around the Heights so I can give you a sense of what this place is all about." And this president of this company said, "Well, is it safe?" I am saying to myself, well, you know Brooklyn really needs to change the perception.
Ken and Jim are really doing a great job and they have a lot more work ahead of them. Jim was involved in the 14th Street bid and there are a lot of the (inaudible) between Union Square and the transportation hub and what we have as far as an office space environment in Downtown Brooklyn.
Finally, these conferences are exceptional. Five hundred people
will come and listen to all the different stories taking place. People are leaving
with such a different feeling of Brooklyn but we need to take this show on the
road and bring this to tenants out there so they can understand what is going
on. You don't necessarily have to be there in person. You can do it through
high tech means. I think as we go forward we need to have a great technology
story to tell. I am sure we'll put that together. I am thankful for having been
a part of this three day session and look forward to answering any questions
WOLLMAN: Thank you. Now you know why Glen capped it off for the
private sector. To close the conference, we turn to a member of the New York
City Counsel, Mr. Kenneth Fisher. He represents the 33rd District, which includes
Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights and he also serves
as the Chair of the City Counsel Youth Services Committee. Mr. Fisher currently
is the host of the CUNY-TV public affairs show Citywide. His articles on public
policy have appeared in the New York Times, New York Law Journal and Crain's
New York Business. Please welcome Kenneth Adams Fisher.
FISHER: I am from the government, I am here to help you. What pressure to be the last speaker. I feel Charlie Rangle, the Congressman, says, everything has already been said but not everyone has said it. So now it is my turn. But I want to ask first, just so I get some sense who I am talking to. How many of you currently live, work or do business in Brooklyn? Okay. And how many of you came here to find out about Brooklyn? Okay. So there is a few really smart people in the room. The pioneers who have heard something is going on and the rest of us huddled around the campfire looking for security in numbers. I am going to address that at the end.
Let me start by making a bow to our academic setting. I think that one of the phenomena going on in Brooklyn now and probably is true in other parts of the city but particularly true in Brooklyn is that over
the '70's and '80's everyone who wanted to leave, did. That's a very important thing. Most of the people who stayed, stayed because they wanted to. In our family our favorite t-shirt is the one that says: Brooklyn, only the strong survive. Very popular. Some were too poor to leave. Some stayed because their ethnic communities provided them with social structure they couldn't replicate anywhere else. Some are moving in, not because they are poor but because they are not affluent enough to be in Manhattan and the sterility of the suburbs has now become apparent to them.
In the academic thing, let me share with you an observation by Jane Jacobs on the topic of unslumming, which I think we have been talking about during the substantial part of this conference. She said when sufficient people begin to stay and slum by choice several other important things also begin to happen. The community itself gains confidence and strength partly from practice and growth. And finally this takes much longer from becoming less provincial. The third change that occurs and that is implied, this diversification within the population is a gradual self diversification within the population itself. The degree of finance and educational advancement among those who remain in an unslumming slum varies. The majority make modest gains. Some make considerable gains and some make virtually no gains at all. The different skills, interests and activity outside the neighborhood vary and diverge with time. If you think about it that's exactly what has been going on in Brooklyn.
Now let me put a little bit of a face on it if I can, by describing some of the Downtown Brooklyn folks you might encounter if you come to visit. We have got Barry. Barry is a property owner. He's doing okay financially. He actually never did badly. His own business always seemed to find the market in the New York economy and he also has some store fronts that he rents out and those are close enough to Fulton Street that the mass of people going down there has always been able to support his business. But he's not afraid to come to work anymore. That's a big change from twenty years ago. Barry would like his property to be part of a larger assemblage because he's heard there is a real space demand in Downtown Brooklyn but for some reason the great real estate families that would normally take the longer view would invest in buying up his properties and others around him to create those development opportunities, don't seem to be sniffing around quite as much as he would like.
He's also got a problem because in his own business the technical skills requirements have gone up and he finds he spends more time interviewing candidates to find people who have the basic skills necessary to work in his business which he needs in order to be competitive.
Marge lives in the brownstone belt that surrounds downtown. It is one of the mixed blessings point of view because downtown's ability to expand could result in dislocation for some of the most attractive residential communities in the city. So whether Marge lives in Brooklyn Heights or Boerum Hill or Cobble Hill or Fort Greene or Park Slope, she represents an entire class of people. She's a partner in a Wall Street law firm. She is fiercely proud of the fact that she lives in Brooklyn. She loves BAM. She can't wait for the Brooklyn Bridge Park to get built on piers one through five. She doesn't really have much reason to come downtown. Her life doesn't really intersect with the courts and social services in downtown. She's not entirely comfortable shopping in downtown, although she has heard there is some vibrant shopping areas there. She enjoys going to the new hotel. That's an okay thing for Marge. What is interesting also about Marge is both of her kids are going to go to college. And while she would probably want them to have the experience of what is part of university life for young people, she doesn't even know that Polytechnic Institute or (inaudible) are alternatives for kids, let alone the other institutions of higher learning in Downtown Brooklyn.
Pat lives in DUMBO. He had just moved his web design firm from out of his house to a B-class building on Court Street. He hangs out in Williamsburg. He is hoping he will be able to sneak his kids into a public school in Park Slope if they'll reach that age before his IPO hits. Otherwise, he's very happy about the fact there are some great private schools in Downtown Brooklyn he will try to get his kids into. He can't wait for the movie studio to open up in the Brooklyn Navy Yard because he thinks that's going to be very good for his business. But when his company grows he doesn't know where he's going to find the first class office space he's going to need to act as an inducement for the technical workers his business is going to hire.
So it is a lifestyle issue for him because at some point the dollars become irrelevant in the dot com business and it is the company that can give you a porsche and he can't give his employees a porsche because there is no place to park even if they were going to live in Brooklyn.
Finally, well, not finally, but very significantly, there is Martha. She's a community leader in the housing project adjacent to downtown. They are not quite as bad as they used to be. At one points the infant mortality rate in the (inaudible) houses was higher than it was in Bangladesh. It is a little bit better than that now. But in many ways the housing projects are still the poster child for urban pathology and the progress that is reflected in MetroTech is a cruel joke. Because despite the efforts of Bruce Ratner and a lot of other folks who do outreach to the people in poor neighborhoods surrounding them, the reality is at that time we didn't invest in providing those folks with the interim job experience or the training they needed to be qualified for those MetroTech jobs.
Even now with all the pressure for welfare to work and job training programs spouting up all over the place, Martha still doesn't know what she would do with her kids because there is no day care available. And even the process of finding a job in that area, assuming she was able to overcome those other hurdles are pretty significant for Martha, one of the things that is holding her back is if she does get one of those jobs and starts to make some more money, she's concerned that if she wants to build a better life for her family there is no place affordable anywhere close to Downtown Brooklyn.
So the trade-off of moving out of the housing project which she desperately wants to do with her kids, is that she might not be able to stay in Brooklyn at all. She doesn't know where she would go if she got out of subsidized housing.
So those are some of the people you might encounter in Downtown Brooklyn today. Of course, you might meet Ken. Ken grew up in Brooklyn at a time when crack was the sound his baseball bat made on a good day in Prospect Park. By 1991, crack was being offered to the nine year old kids in the parks in Downtown Brooklyn. But Ken and his wife and family decided to stay in Brooklyn. In fact, Ken lived for a brief time in Grand Army Plaza in the building where he had grown up. When his son was 19 years old he was the first child in that building since Ken had left to go to college. So Ken was both the last of the old generation of Brooklynites in Grand Army Plaza and also the first of the wave of (inaudible).
Now he lives in Brooklyn Heights. He practiced law in Montague Street. Wound up in the City Counsel and he considers himself blessed because the brownstone revival, the Downtown development, the explosive growth of the creative community and most of other terrific things you heard about have happened in his district. He hopes he had something to do with it. But more importantly, he's blessed because his wife who had the good fortune of hearing about a brownstone at the bottom of the market five years ago and that's his retirement sitting there.
Ken's challenge is to reconcile and meet the needs of Barry and Marge and Pat and Martha who are all important constituents of his. Unfortunately, Ken and I are very close! I have some advice for him when he asked me what the strategy should be for Downtown Brooklyn in the 21st century. What I said to him was: We should stop whining and stop the panic because we have got nothing to be ashamed of. The fact of the matter is, and I think the show of hands here demonstrated those of you who are smart enough to know about what is going on in Brooklyn are perfectly positioned to take advantage of it. All the rest of those folks are missing out on something special. They will catch on to it sooner or later.
One of the things we have to do as a borough is work on our brand. Those of you in business you are all in brand these days. The Brooklyn brand is something that definitely needs to be polished up. We can't rely on our nostalgia market anymore. The number of people who actually live in the borough and remember the Dodgers continues to drop every year. At the same time our brand took a beating during the seventies and eighties because of the crack epidemic and other circumstances that affected us rather seriously.
But we can do some proactive things, also. One of them is start planning for a more prosperous future and protect ourselves against future down times in the cycle. This conference has certainly been a tremendous resource in that regard. We can also start growing. I am talking now particularly about Downtown.
First, we need to grow conceptually. I was struck by the comment: Why was the presentation on the Navy Yard included in the presentation of the cultural district? I'm going to answer that question. Because I think it is critical to the conceptual breakthrough we have to make. We are really talking about the information industries. That's what the product is at the movie studio, at the cultural institutions, what the product is at MetroTech. In all those places we are requiring and processing information. There is a continuum there. We are very well positioned as a city in general, Brooklyn in particular, to take advantage of that for two reasons.
One: People migrate from one industry to another. They draw on each others resources. And secondly because I believe the people who work in the information rich industries want to live in the information rich environment. There is no environment that is more information rich than Brooklyn, in particular, Downtown Brooklyn. What you are talking about is the interesting architecture of our brownstone neighborhoods or the cultural diversity of the people who come to Downtown Brooklyn everyday.
So conceptually we need to be thinking of Downtown Brooklyn no longer as the central business district, the urban core. We need to be thinking of Downtown as stretching from the Atlantic Center, the Academy of Music, all the way down to waterfront and from the Navy Yard to Red Hook. Because the creative community is there and information processing community are all within there. When we start to look at it as that basis then the question becomes: What kinds of investment and amenities do we need? Where do we want that growth of office space to be? How do we reconcile the competing interests of the folks that I described in order to ensure that prosperity is both available to everyone? Obviously, no one can guarantee that everyone moves into the winner's circle, but at least we can open the door.
And how do we make sure we don't become secrets to our own success? Today there is a very successful apartment building going up on Montague Street. A thirty-five story building. It is not exactly what I would have picked for the entrance to Brooklyn's -- New York City's first historic district, but it reflects a demand. And without some real planning and direction from the political leadership in the business community, we are going to see more of these developing. Where do we want growth?
One of the things that makes me frustrated representing the northern part of my district, is to stand at the top of the World Trade Center and look down on New Jersey and everything that has happened along the Jersey waterfront and look down on the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront and see not only land that is vacant, but because of outdated zoning, prime candidates for inappropriate uses such as big box stores. That's what I always think of when I think of looking at Manhattan from the Brooklyn waterfront. Let's put a movie theater there and let's put a windowless store there and its just insane. A garbage transfer station. That's what I really think to go opposite the Empire State Building. The zoning we have is just insane. That is not to say if you offer me a Newport in Greenpoint that I would necessarily want it because it has an impact on the rest of the community, but now is the time for us to look down the road and see where we want to go as a borough and community.
So we have to grow physically. There is no doubt there is a tremendous demand for space, for affordable housing and part of the plan, the smart growth, the Brooklyn smart growth that I am calling for today involves the increases in densities where appropriate in the central business district and around it without necessarily choking ourselves.
Finally, we need to grow this consensus that we have about our strengths. We need to get beyond the racism and I haven't had the ability to (inaudible) many of the sessions where anybody has used that word before. But when Dan Rather sees the garbage and not the opera house or when movie stars -- people say movie stars don't want to come to Brooklyn, a lot of what is driving that and the bad decision making process among lenders and developers with all due respect, is a form of racism that sees the color of the skin of the people who walk downtown. Not the color of their charge cards which are the same gold and platinum that people at that income level have in the rest of the city.
So in closing, what I want to say is I am optimistic about the
future, looking forward to moving forward together into the 21st century. About
sixty years ago when Betty Smith wrote A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, she called
it the tree of Heaven because she said wherever its seed landed, it struggled
to make a tree that reached for the sky. We know all too well that we are Brooklyn
natives, Brooklyn born, all over the country, proud of their heritage, excited
about the fact that they came from Brooklyn. Our trip as elected officials,
it seems to me, is to make Brooklyn a place where our kids want to live. Not
just a place they used to be from. I look forward to working with all of you
on that effort. Thank you very much.
WOLLMAN: I would like to thank Mr. Fisher for that very carefully crafted piece of effort among both of them to end this conference. I would like to take just another 30 seconds of your time to publicly thank the staff of the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute. Ellen Posner, the Conference Administrator who put it all together and Sara Hilska, Shirma Caruth and Heather Montague, all of whom worked to put all of this together. A lot of them are going away on vacation now. I think Heather is going to stay, so if you have any questions please call the institute. Get your name on the mailing list. Thank you.
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