New Report from Baruch College’s Newman Real Estate Institute Points to Increased Opportunities for Affordable Housing in Revitalized Gowanus Canal Area

Potential for 3,000 New Housing Units; Report Also Reveals Recent, Pronounced Demographic Shifts

Bookmark and Share

NEW YORK, NY, May 11, 2010 – Baruch College’s Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute announced today the findings of a report on the economic and real estate potential of the Gowanus Canal area that may offer some relief in the face of New York City’s chronic shortage of affordable housing. Called “Reconsidering Gowanus: Opportunities for the Sustainable Transformation of an Industrial Neighborhood,” the report will be the focus of discussion at a public forum presented by Baruch College on May 12 at Brooklyn Borough Hall. For more information, please visit: http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/realestate.

The report looks closely at the demographic trends shaping the canal-based neighborhood and proposes a multi-tiered approach toward restoring, reinvesting in and redeveloping one of the city's most distinctive communities. Some of the findings include:

Housing: Greater need and potential: An analysis of land-use patterns in Gowanus suggests the area could sustain a 30% increase in its housing supply. Currently, 14% of the land area is used for parking, almost twice the amount used for housing. More land is vacant, 13%, than is used for housing.
      o The area has the potential to add up to 3,000 new housing units, with a significant percentage set aside for low- and moderate-income residents.

An increasingly educated, professional community: The number of Gowanus residents with four years of college jumped from 1.5% in 1970 to 20% in 2000. Additionally, in 1970, 7.5% of employed residents worked in management, business and finance and 3.2% worked as professionals in other fields. In 2000, nearly 16% worked in business and finance, and the number of people working in various other professional fields had increased tenfold to 33.1%.

Rising price of non-residential property: Since 2003, the cost of industrial and commercial property has risen sharply and at a faster rate than residential prices.
     o In 2003, the average sale price for properties with at least 4,000 square feet was $800,000 and by 2006 it had risen to almost $3 million.

"When we began this study of the Gowanus Canal corridor 14 months ago, we saw daunting challenges, including environmental contamination and distressed buildings. But we quickly determined that these hurdles were more than offset by the rich potential this historic community offers, such as the opportunity to create substantial new affordable housing, waterfront amenities and dynamic mixed-use blocks," said Jack Nyman, director of the Newman Real Estate Institute.

The report also features a history of the area, including its legacy of pollution and efforts to counter it; an economic analysis that takes note of Gowanus’ thriving artistic community and recent uptick in new retail outlets and hotels; and recommendations for realizing the potential of the area. Recommendations include: utilizing bioremediation as an environmentally-friendly way to clean up the area; adopting the rezoning and land-use plan currently under consideration by the city; and ensuring that no fewer than 30% of new housing units are affordable.

“Reconsidering Gowanus” was prepared for the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute at Baruch College by Jack Nyman, Director; Rosemary Scanlon, clinical associate professor, New York University Schack Institute of Real Estate; and Harry Schwartz, a New York-based urban planning and development consultant.
                                                          ###

About Baruch College:
Baruch College is a senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY) with a total enrollment of more than 16,000 students, who represent 160 countries and speak more than 100 languages. Ranked among the top 15% of U.S. colleges, Baruch College is regularly recognized as among the most ethnically diverse colleges in the country. Through its three schools—the School of Public Affairs; the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences; and the Zicklin School of Business, the largest AACSB-accredited business school in the nation—Baruch College offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees that reflect the college’s foundation in the liberal arts and its strong focus on management and public affairs. Baruch College dates back more than 160 years to the founding in 1847 of the Free Academy, the first free public college in the nation. As a public institution with a tradition of academic excellence, Baruch College offers accessibility and opportunity for students from every corner of New York City and from around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/.

About the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute:
The Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute meets the evolving needs of the real estate industry through its professional and continuing education courses, applied research and conferences on topical issues. Since its founding in 1996, it has been the Institute's mission to provide timely research on industry trends and, more broadly, on factors ranging from public policy, to economics and finance, to new technology, that shape development in New York City and other urban environments. Its primary focus areas are real estate finance, urban policy, land use planning, zoning, infrastructure and sustainable systems. The Institute’s research, conducted by noted scholars in a range of disciplines and by leading practitioners from private industry, is designed for a broad readership spanning many arenas, including the real estate industry, professional organizations and government agencies. Professional and continuing education programs, as well as certificate programs in real estate, sustainability, construction management and facilities management, reflect the Institute’s multidisciplinary expertise and deep industry connections.

CONTACT: Jennifer Pauly;
                646-660-6129;
                Jennifer.pauly@baruch.cuny.edu