Update on DUMBO Rezoning: CB2 Land Use Committee Says “No”, but an Artist Says “Yes”

Wednesday evening, Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee voted 8-6 to disapprove the proposal to rezone a portion of DUMBO that now includes many working artists’ studios from strictly manufacturing (under which studios, but not residences, are allowed) to mixed-use manufacturing and residential. Although the Committee gave thumbs down to the proposal, it will still go before the full Community Board at its next meeting in April (date and place to be announced). From there, no matter whether the Board decides to follow the Committee’s recommendation or not, it will go to Borough President Marty Markowitz. Should there be a “triple no” on the proposal from the Committee, CB2, and Marty, the City Planning Commission will not implement the rezoning. However, we are advised that Markowitz, as well as Councilmember David Yassky, supports the rezoning. So, stay tuned.

We have also learned that, despite our view that the rezoning could force many working artists out of studio space in DUMBO, artists there are not unanimous in opposition to the proposal. A DUMBO artist who supports rezoning says:

My opinion is based on one, the rent has already gone up in DUMBO. I have been here for fifteen years and seen many artists leave because they could not afford the rent. The artists that are left are already paying high rent.

The second thing I am basing my opinion on is, many artists live illegally in the work only spaces because they cannot afford to have two places. And I don’t know many artists that use their studio space for just studio space unless they share the space with other artists to make it affordable.

So, based on [these] two points, I think that the area should be zoned for what it is used for. The rezoning will help force landlords to bring buildings up to code and create a safer situation for the artists working and living in those spaces.

Ultimately, I think it depends on the individual’s situation. Some artists will benefit and some will not. For me it is a good thing.

Any other views on the rezoning proposal, pro or con, will be welcomed.

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  • FTB

    I am a video editor with studio space in the neighborhood. I have been here for 5 years. The rents are high, but these are not really spaces anymore for sculptors and painters. Most of the floor I work on is full of recording studios, web designers, photographers, and production companies. In comparison to spaces for these types of businesses in Manhattan, the price for rent in DUMBO is very low. If my building becomes residential there will be many small businesses employing lots of people that will be forced to move. The creative businesses in the neighborhood are what make the neighborhood at this point unique and what keeps DUMBO from being a ghost town during the day. I have only run across a handful of people who lived in their studios and it was always a temporary situation as the spaces don’t have showers, kitchens or private bathrooms.
    I am all for allowing developers to fill in the empty lots in the neighborhood with residential buildings and fix up the abandoned warehouses for loft spaces. However, I would like to see the buildings that are currently being used commercially to stay that way as they provide space to a community of creative professionals that are important to the city as a whole. 10 Jay, 20 Jay, 68 Jay and 18 Bridge are the 4 buildings that first come to mind. Other buildings such as 25 Jay and 135 Plymouth would benefit from a rezoning as they are being used currently as residential.