Instant Neighborhood: Just Add Lots and Lots of High-rises

Construction-craneDowntown Brooklyn isn’t the only new residential neighborhood in the city built virtually from scratch. As a result of rezoning and the subsequent deluge of high-rises, areas of Long Island City, Lower Manhattan, the Upper West Side, and Williamsburg  are currently experiencing (or have experienced) similar transformations.

One key difference between what is happening in those neighborhoods and what is happening in Downtown Brooklyn is that no new schools are in the works for DoBro even though it is the area likely to see the largest resulting influx of new residents.

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN: 22,000 new residential units (50,000+ new residents*) = 0 new schools

Here is how the other new residential neighborhoods stack up:

LONG ISLAND CITY / HUNTERS POINT SOUTH: 10,800 units of housing (27,000+ residents**) = 3 new schools

The Queens West Development Corporation was formed to plan and oversee the redevelopment of the Long Island City waterfront. Over 2,600 units of housing and a public school (P.S. 78 pre-k through grade 5), have already been built. Stage 2, currently under construction,  will include 3,200 units of housing and a new public school (pre-K through Grade 8). Adjacent to this development is the Hunter’s Point South development where 5,000 housing units (60 percent of which will be affordable to middle income families) are expected to be developed on the site along with an intermediate/high school.

The two new schools — P.S. 312, a 542-seat K-8 school, and I.S./H.S. 404, an intermediate and high school with 1,072 seats — are set to open in September 2013, joining the only school in the neighborhood, P.S. 78 which was started as part of phase 1. Despite more than 1,500 new seats, many parents say they are worried it will not be enough to accommodate the booming population. Mind you, these schools will be completed before all of the building in the neighborhood is finished.

BATTERY PARK CITY: 8600 units of housing (13,500 residents) = 2 new schools

In the 1970s,  a master plan was drawn up for a new neighborhood to be built on the Hudson River waterfront on landfill from the World Trade Center site next door.  The first residential building was built in Battery Park City in 1980. During the 1980s, a total of 13 buildings were constructed. During the 1990s, an additional six buildings were added to the neighborhood.  The 9-11 attacks slowed things down, but the last of the developments was completed in 2011. Today the area has 34 residential buildings and a population of 13,000.

As a brand new neighborhood built from scratch, there were no schools here, only in nearby neighborhoods like TriBeCa. Two new neighborhood schools were built as part of the development: P.S. 89 Elementary School (enrollment: 531) opened in 1998, and P.S. 276 K-8 (enrollment 551) opened in 2010 after an incubator year at Tweed Courthouse, Despite the two new schools, there remains serious issues of overcrowding in lower Manhattan elementary schools due to the building (and family) boom in neighboring TrBeCa.

RIVERSIDE SOUTH: 4,000 apartments, 2500 more to come (13,600+ total residents***) = 1 new school

In 1992, the city approved plans to develop the 77-acre Riverside South, a large parcel of land over empty railyards between 59th and 72nd between the West Side Highway and Riverside Boulevard. The Riverside Sourth Planning Corporation was formed and Donald Trump, the original developer, began construction of the first residential towers on the northern portion of the site with a planned 16 residential buildings holding 5,700 apartments. He later lost control of the project and the remaining buildings in Riverside South were built by other developers.  The final big development was recently approved  by the city, dubbed Riverside Center. It will bring 2500 units of housing and a 500 seat 100,000-square-foot K-8 school to open in 2015. Schools on the Upper West Side have become overcrowded as a result of this large development and the new school will likely only end up bringing partial relief.

WILLIAMSBURG/GREENPOINT WATERFRONT: 4000 apartments, 6000 more to come (24,000+ total residents*) = 2 new schools

In 2005, the city rezoned a 2-mile waterfront stretch from south of the Williamsburg Bridge to Newtown Creek at the northern border of Brooklyn for higher density housing. One conservative estimate puts the amount of new residential development to date at something on the order of 4,000 new units. However there is potentially lots of development to come from the remaining towers of existing developments (like Northside Piers), or the eye-popping redevelopment of the Domino Sugar Factory which will bring 2500 units and possibly a new middle or high school school. Farther north, a developer will soon break ground on a 5000 unit developmenton the Greenpoint waterfront which will include a school.


22,000 new residential units (50,000+ new residents) = 0 new schools (so far)
20,000+ new residential units = 1 new school (750 seats)
10,800 new residential units (27,000+ new residents) = 3 new schools
10,000 new residential units (24,000+ new residents) = 2 new schools
6500 new residential unit (13,600+ new residents) = 1 new school
8600 new residential unit (13,500+ new residents) = 2 new schools

From the numbers above, it is clear that Downtown Brooklyn, as the neighborhood in NYC with the biggest population boom, needs at least one new school if not more.

* Population estimate based on: # of residential units X 2.4 (average of Manhattan 2010 census data of 2.09 persons per household and Brooklyn 2010 census data of 2.70 persons per household)
** Population estimate based on: # of residential units X 2.5 (average of Manhattan 2010 census data of 2.09 persons per household and Queens 2010 census data of 2.83 persons per household)
*** Population estimate based on: # of residential units X 2.09 (Manhattan 2010 census data persons per household)