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NEW YORK CITY-Good transportation and incentives that can put per-sf rates for class A office space in the high teens are among the reasons tenants are pursuing opportunities in Brooklyn. A booming residential market is also a draw. Thanks in part to the approval of a Downtown Brooklyn plan that approved zoning changes earlier this year, it is possible that as much as 4.5 million sf of space will be added in the coming years. That is in addition to the more than seven million sf of space that has been created over the past 20 years.

“The overall goal is to promote a vibrant mix,” said Kate Collignon, vice president, special projects for the New York City Economic Development Corp., during a CoreNet presentation called “Betting on Brooklyn.” She noted that there has been “substantial interest” from the residential development sector.

The Downtown Brooklyn Plan allows for the creation of 4.5 million sf of new commercial office space, 800,000 sf of retail, 1,000 units of housing, new open space and retail amenities, as well as streetscape improvements. Already the city’s third-largest business district, the plan builds on more than seven million sf of corporate office space created in the past two decades. It includes three new office towers with as much as three million sf of space to be built abutting a newly created 1.5-acre park on Willoughby Street just west of Flatbush Avenue Extension and another office development anchoring the west end of Downtown at Boerum Place with a total development potential of 848,000 sf. There are also other residential and retail opportunities.

The EDC and Department of City Planning spearheaded the effort in conjunction with the Downtown Brooklyn Council, an economic development advocacy group representing a number of Downtown Brooklyn’s corporate, academic and cultural institutions. In one of the most prominent moves to the borough, over the summer the Bank of New York moved 1,400 employees into a 10-story, 396,000-sf office tower above the Atlantic Terminal transit hub and a 375,000-sf retail complex. Prior to Sept. 11, the Bank occupied 2.5 million sf of office space at several locations in three Lower Manhattan sites, two of which were damaged in the attacks.

Comparing the amenities in the Downtown area to Jersey City, Michael Burke, DBC director, said, “Unlike Jersey City, Downtown Brooklyn is a real Downtown.” Incentives are also a key to attracting commercial tenants, Collignon pointed out. In the third quarter, class A space average $34.03 per sf, before incentives. A 90-employee company relocating to 20,000 sf of class A space could take advantage of various incentives and bring the net effective rent down to $18.11.

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