BQX Socio

Economic
Impacts

Overview
On behalf of Friends of the BQX, HR&A Advisors examined the
economic and social benefits of the proposed BQX to New York
City. HR&A examined how the BQX will shape the development
of the Brooklyn Queens waterfront—a geography stretching
from Sunset Park, Brooklyn to Astoria Cove, Queens—over a
25-year period between 2020 and 2045.
To perform its core analysis, HR&A:
• Defined a study area comprised of 11 waterfront neighborhoods that will be served by
the BQX.
• Leveraged regional forecasts to establish
baseline growth projections for the study
area.

• Estimated economic growth increments to
model the BQX’s impact on employment.
• Scaled economic growth increments to
each neighborhood to reflect the relative
transit benefits of BQX.

Figure 1. Study Area; Source: HR&A Advisors

EV Everywhere: Road to Success. January 2014. US Department of Energy.
http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/02/f8/eveverywhere_road_to_success.pdf

41

100

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

This BQX Socio Economic Impacts Study includes the following
chapters:
Chapter 1: Major Findings .......................................................................................................................... 102
Chapter 2: Demographic Context.............................................................................................................. 104
Chapter 3: Economic Development Impacts............................................................................................ 108
Chapter 4: Policy Impacts .......................................................................................................................... 110

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

101

1. Major Findings
Lower Manhattan with an expectation of a
reasonable commute.

1.1 Growing Jobs
HR&A estimates that the BQX will add 86,000
jobs to the waterfront employment base by
2045, accounting for 25% of total forecasted
employment growth. The BQX will catalyze
employment growth along the length of the corridor, with substantial total employment growth
in Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO as well as significant relative gains in transit-underserved
neighborhoods such as Red Hook, the Navy Yard

• Residents of the Astoria Houses in Queensbridge, for whom the BQX will permit reasonable access to employment opportunities in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

and Ravenswood.42

1.3 Enhancing Economic
Competitiveness

1.2 Extending Access
to Opportunity
Although Brooklyn and Queens are home to a
majority of New York City’s residents, many of
their neighborhoods suffer from inadequate
transit service, significantly limiting access to
employment opportunity and workforce development programs. These dynamics are especially pronounced along the waterfront, where
the most economically-challenged waterfront
communities are those with limited or poor
transit service while other communities benefit
from the best access citywide.
The BQX will substantially improve access to
citywide employment, educational opportunity
and recreational amenities for economically
challenged households and NYCHA developments located along the Brooklyn Queens waterfront. The de Blasio administration’s OneNYC
plan calls for ensuring a reasonable commute
time, defined as 45 minutes, for 90% of the city’s
residents. The BQX will make this possible for:
• Residents of Red Hook, for whom the BQX
will substantially reduce commute times
to Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO, the Navy
Yard and Sunset Park. Many residents of
Red Hook could also now access employment and educational opportunities in

42

• Residents of the Astoria Houses in Halletts
Point, who will be able to consider a far
broader range of employment opportunities
by placing Midtown South and Union Square
within reach of a 45-minute commute.

Although the Brooklyn Queens waterfront is
currently home to more than 290,000 jobs,
employment is concentrated in transit-rich
neighborhoods. Among the 11 waterfront neighborhoods analyzed by HR&A, Downtown Brooklyn
/ DUMBO and Long Island City support nearly
two-thirds (172,000) of all employment, in part
large due to their proximity to transit and access
to a broader labor pool.
The BQX will enable the Brooklyn Queens waterfront to achieve its full potential as a significant
contributor to New York City’s economic growth
by improving labor access for employers,
decreasing commercial vacancy, and introducing a place-making amenity.
• The BQX will increase industrial employment by more than 19,100, more than doubling currently forecasted industrial
employment growth and reinforcing the
vitality of the Navy Yard, Sunset Park,
Ravenswood, and Long Island City as nodes
along an industrial corridor.
• The BQX will attract an additional 11,800
innovation economy jobs, helping to competitively position Sunset Park and the Navy

Here and elsewhere, when we say “total forecasted growth,” we mean the sum of baseline plus BQX-derived, incremental growth.

102

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

Yard to absorb spillover demand from
space-constrained Downtown Brooklyn /
DUMBO.

1.4 Achieving Sustainable
Waterfront Growth

• The BQX will reinforce the cultural vibrancy
of the Brooklyn Queens waterfront, fostering the development of a cohesive corridor-wide cultural identity. By integrating
and connecting the corridor’s cultural amenities, the BQX will help to establish a unique
sense of place along the entire route.

Over the past 15 years, most residential development along the Brooklyn Queens waterfront
has taken place within three transit-served
neighborhoods. This blistering pace of development has greatly strained local subway service in these communities.
As the waterfront transforms into a live/work
corridor and commuting patterns shift, the BQX
could relieve transit congestion and ensure the
waterfront remains a viable location to live and
work.

1.5 Improving Quality of Life
on the Waterfront

A

robust public transportation network is
an indispensable element of all worldclass cities. By reconfiguring perceptions of spatial proximity and creating opportunities for density, well functioning transit can
catalyze the urban experience.
The BQX will meaningfully improve the quality of
life of New Yorkers, bringing new convenience
and choice to waterfront residents while
extending access to its cultural and physical
assets.
• The BQX will improve the health and welfare
of communities along the waterfront by
reducing travel times to hospitals and
urgent care facilities.
• The BQX will improve access to workforce
development programs for economically
challenged communities along the
waterfront.

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

103

2. Demographic Context
2.1 Geography
HR&A defined a study area (Study Area) that is
comprised of 11 waterfront neighborhoods—
stretching from Sunset Park, Brooklyn to Hallets
Point, Queens—that will directly benefit from
BQX transit service. These neighborhoods are
shown below:

• Greenpoint, Brooklyn
• North Williamsburg, Brooklyn
• South Williamsburg, Brooklyn
• Navy Yard, Brooklyn

• Hallets Point, Queens

• Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO, Brooklyn

• Ravenswood, Queens

• Columbia Waterfront, Brooklyn

• Core Long Island City, Queens

• Red Hook, Brooklyn
• Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Figure 2. Study Area; Source: HR&A Advisors

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BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

2.2 Residential Profile
2.2.1 Demographics
Waterfront neighborhoods are experiencing a
polarizing change in population. Since 2000,
Core Long Island City’s population has grown
by 83%, while Ravenswood’s population has

declined by 15%. Of the Waterfront neighborhoods, Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO and Sunset
Park are the most populous, each home to over
55,000 residents.

Figure 3. Demographic Trends along the Brooklyn Queens waterfront; Source: US Census Bureau, American
Community Survey (ACS) 2009–2013
Population
2000

Population
2013

Population Δ
2000–13

Density per sq
mile

Hallets Point

25,296

25,108

-1%

44,762

Ravenswood

33,455

28,461

-15%

22,847

6,194

11,355

83%

11,438

Neighborhood

Core Long Island City
Greenpoint

19,440

16,573

-15%

21,764

Williamsburg – North

6,116

10,224

67%

29,826

Williamsburg – South

25,778

27,253

6%

69,530

Navy Yard

16,454

13,368

-3%

19,413

Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO

48,736

56,344

16%

46,738

Columbia Waterfront

7,627

7,817

2%

28,503

Red Hook

12,605

10,670

-4%

12,289

Sunset Park

51,757

55,304

7%

19,933

8,008,278

8,268,999

3%

27,323

253,458

262,477

13%

468,709

City
Corridor

2.2.2 Transportation
The majority of waterfront residents travel to
work via mass transit, a proportion that is onethird greater than the city as a whole. On average,
36% of residents along the corridor own a car
and 38% commute more than 40 minutes to work
each way. Specifically, residents of Sunset Park
are the most likely to have long commutes- over
50% of residents say they travel more than 40
minutes to work each way. Waterfront residents
have a meaningfully lower rate of car ownership
than do people who live Citywide.

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

105

Figure 4. Commuting Trends along the Brooklyn Queens waterfront; Source: US Census Bureau; American
Community Survey (ACS) 2009–2013; ESRI Business Analyst
Neighborhood

40+ min
commute

Subway/
Rail

Bus

Car

Walk

Other

Car
Ownership

47%

60%

5%

20%

8%

6%

43%

Ravenswood

41%

59%

9%

20%

6%

6%

33%

Core Long Island City

24%

73%

1%

17%

4%

5%

42%

Greenpoint

37%

64%

3%

12%

9%

12%

32%

Williamsburg – North

26%

65%

2%

11%

7%

16%

43%

Williamsburg – South

25%

39%

6%

16%

26%

13%

35%

Navy Yard

47%

59%

12%

8%

10%

11%

26%

Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO

27%

67%

2%

8%

11%

13%

28%

Columbia Waterfront

48%

57%

4%

13%

14%

13%

46%

Red Hook

46%

43%

12%

28%

10%

7%

31%

Sunset Park

52%

49%

5%

17%

13%

6%

35%

Hallets Point

City

47%

44%

12%

27%

10%

7%

54%

Corridor

38%

59%

6%

15%

11%

10%

36%

2.2.3 Opportunity
Highly educated Waterfront residents are concentrated within select neighborhoods. Core
Long Island City, Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO,
Williamsburg North, and Columbia Waterfront
residents are highly educated, with nearly of 70%
of the population holding a bachelor’s degree or
higher. In contrast, Red Hook and Sunset Park
are among the lowest educated neighborhoods
on the Waterfront, with more than 50% of the
population holding only a high school degree or
no high school degree. Core Long Island City and
Williamsburg North are among the neighborhoods with the highest median household income
with households earning $102,000 and $80,000,
respectively. Conversely, Ravenswood, Williamsburg South and Red Hook households earn less
than $30,000.

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BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

Figure 5. Educational Attainment along the Brooklyn Queens waterfront; Source: US Census Bureau; American
Community Survey (ACS) 2009–2013; ESRI Business Analyst
Neighborhood

Master’s +

Bachelor’s

Some
College

High
School

Hallets Point

13%

25%

18%

23%

21%

$45,612

Ravenswood

11%

19%

21%

24%

24%

$34,739

Core Long Island City

32%

38%

14%

11%

6%

$102,097

Greenpoint

20%

32%

21%

16%

11%

$63,165

Williamsburg – North

27%

42%

16%

12%

4%

$80,332

Williamsburg – South

No High
School

Median HH
Income

9%

20%

18%

30%

23%

$29,853

Navy Yard

12%

17%

19%

23%

29%

$29,648

Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO

35%

32%

13%

11%

8%

$92,532

Columbia Waterfront

28%

38%

13%

11%

10%

$98,264

7%

15%

20%

23%

35%

$25,566

Red Hook
Sunset Park

10%

16%

17%

21%

37%

$44,725

City

14%

20%

21%

25%

21%

$55,559

Corridor

19%

27%

17%

19%

19%

$45,612

2.2.4 Employment Profile
Jobs along the waterfront corridor are overwhelmingly located in Downtown Brooklyn /
DUMBO, followed by Core Long Island City and
Sunset Park. On average, Waterfront neighborhoods support a greater proportion of manufacturing jobs than that of the city as a whole. The
median worker income for most neighborhoods
within the corridor is between $30,000 and
$40,000—which substantially trails the equivalent measure for the city.
Across many Waterfront neighborhoods, the
highest shares of employment are found in the
Health Care & Social Assistance sector, particularly in Hallets Point, Downtown Brooklyn /
DUMBO, and Ravenswood. Consistently, many
neighborhoods also have a relatively high share
of jobs in the Transportation, Construction, and
Education sectors. Concentrations of manufacturing employment can be found in Sunset
Park, the Navy Yard, Core Long Island City and
Greenpoint.

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

107

3. Economic
Development Impacts
3.1 Policy Context

HR&A has estimated the potential impacts of the BQX on employment growth over a 25-year horizon—a reasonable time frame
in which to observe its initial impacts on the continued evolution
of New York City.

T

he region’s transportation agencies plan
within comparable time horizons; both
the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
and the New York State Department of Transportation orient their 5-year capital programs
around larger, 20-year capital needs assessments. The Regional Plan Association (RPA)
undertakes its generational considerations of
the region’s future more or less every 25 years.
History suggests that transformative investments such as the BQX may require many
decades to achieve their full effect. New York
City’s subway redistributed New York City’s population density outwards from Lower Manhattan
into the west and north of Manhattan from 1904
(when the NYC subway opened) through the
1930s (when ridership plateaued), and on into
the late 1990s, a period during which the outer
boroughs and suburbs sustained continued
growth. Other types of infrastructure also take
decades to realize their full impact. A 2003 Ernst
& Young report analyzing the premium effect of
New York City’s parks’ on adjacent property
values observed that the most profound impacts
on property values were achieved at well-maintained, significantly older parks that had benefited from decades of investment (such as Prospect Park). Although positive, the impact of newer
parks on adjacent property was less pronounced.
Likewise, the 2005 final environmental impact
statement (EIS) issued ahead of Hudson Yards’
rezoning noted, “by 2025 the Hudson Yards area
would become a vital new part of the City,” sug-

108

gesting that the long-term benefits of this vitality
will be observed only in the subsequent decades.
Thus, while the initial impacts of the BQX outlined
in this report may appear substantial, it is highly
likely that they will be dwarfed by the long-term
benefits that will continue throughout the 21st
century. Put another way: 30 years from now,
when the BQX has been in service for over two
decades, its redefinition of the waterfront will
have just begun.

3.2 Geographic Distribution
of Impacts
The corridor-wide impacts highlighted in this
report are conservative and credible, as they are
anchored by the region’s de jure local demographic forecasts. HR&A leveraged long-term
localized demographic forecasts produced by
the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council
(NYMTC), the metropolitan planning organization
for the New York City metropolitan area as the
basis for this analysis. These projections are
developed by the New York City Department of
City Planning (DCP).
NYMTC forecasts assume minimal changes to
land-use patterns within New York City, a constraint that may distort long-term neighborhood
growth forecasts, particularly in presently
under-developed areas. In recent years, urban
planners and city officials have commenced a
public dialogue on the nature of these forecasts
and the implications of their assumptions on

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

regional planning efforts, an effort most recently
led by the RPA.
Thus the distribution of benefits by neighborhood in this report should be viewed as illustrative rather than definitive—as they do not reflect
what will be a highly fluid environment along the
length of the proposed alignment. Since the localized distribution of benefits in this report are
grounded in relatively static assumptions on land
use conditions and zoning constraints, they do
not incorporate what are likely to be significant
shifts in employment and population growth
across neighborhoods that may take place in the
coming decades. To offer two examples:
• Sunset Park may capture a substantial
portion of the employment growth that is
presently forecasted for space-constrained Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO as
tenants take advantage of the neighborhood’s improved transit access, substantial commercial vacancy and lower cost
industrial rent.

• The neighborhood adjacent to the Navy Yard
may capture a substantial portion of the
population growth that is presently forecasted for South Williamsburg as more residential development takes hold and integrated mixed-use projects become feasible.

3.3 Findings
HR&A estimates that the BQX will add 86,000
jobs to the waterfront employment base by
2045, accounting for 25% of total forecasted
employment growth. The BQX will catalyze
employment growth along the length of the corridor, with substantial total employment growth
in Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO as well as significant relative gains in transit-underserved
neighborhoods such as Red Hook, the Navy Yard
and Ravenswood.

Figure 6. Overall Employment Impacts of the BQX; Source: HR&A Advisors, incorporating an analysis of data
from NYMTC and the US Census.
Neighborhood
Hallets Point

2020 Jobs
(Est.)

2045 Jobs
(Baseline)

2045 Jobs
(BQX)

Baseline +
BQX

BQX Impact

7,000

8,000

3,000

11,000

38%

Ravenswood

19,000

21,000

12,000

33,000

57%

Core Long Island City

30,000

36,000

8,000

44,000

22%

7,000

9,000

2,000

11,000

22%

Greenpoint
Williamsburg – North

4,000

4,000

1,000

5,000

25%

Williamsburg – South

12,000

15,000

3,000

18,000

20%

Navy Yard
Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO
Columbia Waterfront
Red Hook
Sunset Park
Total

6,000

7,000

4,000

11,000

57%

151,000

195,000

41,000

236,000

21%

2,000

2,000

0

2,000

0%

7,000

8,000

4,000

12,000

50%

31,000

39,000

8,000

47,000

21%

276,000

344,000

86,000

430,000

25%

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

109

4. Policy Impacts
To contextualize the findings of its economic development
impact analysis, HR&A identified four policy theses for deeper
examination, using them as the basis for policy briefs that illustrate how the BQX will transform the Brooklyn Queens waterfront.
For each of the following sections, HR&A sets forth a policy
context for the corridor and the City, then outlines specific factors by which the BQX will influence these trends.
The four theses examined in this report are as follows:
• Extending Access to Opportunity. The BQX
will link economically-challenged households and NYCHA developments constrained by poor transit service to a broader
range of economic and educational opportunities along the waterfront and throughout New York City, helping to break the cycle
of poverty. Residents of NYCHA developments with poor transit service will be able
to access a greater number of jobs, with
reduced travel times to key employment
centers along the waterfront and elsewhere
throughout New York City.
• Enhancing Competitiveness. The BQX will
improve access to space suitable for new
growth sectors, traditional industrial jobs,
and office functions through the provision
of a new, efficient multimodal transit network. The substantial base of industrial
employment along the waterfront will benefit from improved access to labor, while
the growing innovation economy sector will
benefit from a broader range of transit-accessible neighborhoods located near to its
workforce. Existing Brooklyn Queens waterfront business districts will gain another
placemaking amenity, reinforcing their distinct identity.
• Increasing the Supply of Affordable Housing. The improved transit access and placemaking character of the BQX will make
mixed-income, mixed-use housing devel-

110

opment feasible in a greater number of
waterfront neighborhoods. With the advent
of the BQX, distinctive, mixed-use development that to date has been concentrated
in transit-served neighborhoods such as
DUMBO and Williamsburg will become economically feasible in neighborhoods
throughout the waterfront—extending
northwards from Long Island City into
Ravenswood and Hallets Point, adjacent to
the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and from Red Hook
towards the Sunset Park waterfront.
• Improving Quality of Life on the Waterfront.
The BQX will improve access to education,
healthcare, parks, and culture for residents,
workers, and visitors to the waterfront.
Low-income residents in transit-starved
neighborhoods will benefit from improved
access to workforce development programs, educational opportunity and healthcare. Distinctive waterfront cultural institutions such as the Noguchi Museum and
MoMA PS1 will emerge as convenient destinations for residents throughout the
waterfront. Flagship but transit-distant open
space assets such as Brooklyn Bridge Park
will see increased visitation, particularly by
economically-challenged households who
have not previously had convenient access
to such amenities.

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

4.1 Extending Access to Opportunity
4.1.1 Context

A

lthough Brooklyn and Queens are home
to a majority of New York City’s residents, many of their neighborhoods
suffer from inadequate transit service, significantly limiting access to employment opportunities. Improving transit access to jobs is a core
goal outlined in OneNYC, the city’s comprehensive plan for growth, equity, sustainability, and
resiliency. Through this plan, the city has as a
target to provide 90% of NYC residents with
access to over 200,000 jobs within a 45-minute
commute.43 Recent analyses have emphasized
this relationship between equity and transit:
• A 2015 study from the Regional Plan Association found that “growth in travel within
the four boroughs exceeded the growth in
travel into Manhattan.” While this has taken
place, bus ridership has decreased by 8%
due to slow speeds and infrequent service,
and subway ridership has increased by
23%, but subways do not serve all neighborhoods equally. Low-income households
are especially dependent on mass transit,
because most of these households do not
have a car or live within walking distance
to employment.44
• A 2014 study from the Rudin Center at NYU
Wagner found a link between limited transit
access and higher unemployment. Although
neighborhoods with the worst public transit
are more suburban in nature, with correspondingly higher levels of car ownership,
the “middle third” of neighborhoods that
had “some, but not sufficient transit access”
had the highest rates of unemployment.45
These dynamics are especially pronounced
along the waterfront, where the most economically-challenged waterfront communities are
those with limited or poor transit service while
other communities benefit from the best citywide access. For instance, NYCHA residents
comprise approximately 10% of the total waterfront population, with substantial concentrations
in transit deserts along the route. The BQX will

improve access to opportunity for transit-starved
communities, including those developments
located in the “middle third” neighborhoods identified in the Rudin Center study, such as Astoria
(Hallets Point), Red Hook, and Sunset Park.
4.1.2 Case Study: Red Hook
In sharp contrast to the rapid gentrification of
Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO, Red Hook remains
one of New York City’s most economically-challenged neighborhoods. Defined by its industrial
businesses, low-rise buildings, and ample open
spaces, Red Hook is isolated from neighboring
Brooklyn communities and the rest of New York
City due to the physical barrier of the Gowanus
Expressway and the absence of rail transit. The
median household income for Red Hook households is $25,556, less than half the citywide
average. One fifth of Red Hook’s population is
unemployed, twice that of the BQX corridor and
the city. Residents of NYCHA’s Red Hook East
and West houses comprise 58% of the neighborhood’s population.
The poor quality of existing transit service prevents many residents from pursuing employment opportunities in established and emerging
employment centers. 55% of Red Hook residents rely on public transportation to commute
to work, and 30% of residents spend an hour or
more traveling to work each way. The nearest
subway access to Red Hook—the Smith-9th
Street stop on the F and G line—is a 15-minute
walk for many residents. Red Hook is also served
by the B57 and B61 bus route, which, at their
highest frequency, run on 12- and 8-minute
headways, respectively.

One New York.
Regional Plan Association, “Overlooked Boroughs” Regional Plan Association, February 2015.
45
Kaufman, Sarah, Mitchell Moss, Justin Tyndall, and Jorge Hernandez, “Mobility, Economic Opportunity
and New York City Neighborhoods,” NYU Wagner Rubin Center, December 2014.
43
44

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

111

Figure 7. Travel Time Savings from the BQX to Red Hook Residents; Source: HR&A Advisors.

Findings
The BQX will significantly expand the range of
workplace destinations that can be reached
within a 45-minute commute. While an analysis
of US census data finds that nearly 10% of Red
Hook residents are employed in Red Hook, less
than 1% work in the surrounding waterfront neighborhoods, including Sunset Park and Brooklyn
Navy Yard with their concentrations of industrial
jobs. Following implementation of the BQX, commute times to Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO will
be reduced by 10 minutes or more, and portions
of Lower Manhattan will now be within a 45-minute
commute of Red Hook residents.

112

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

Figure 8. Commuting Distance Benefits of the BQX to Red Hook Residents; Source: Conveyal, HR&A Advisors.

Legend
Accessible within 45 minutes:
existing transit network
Accessible within 45 minutes:
BQX + existing transit network

The BQX will broaden the range of non-degree
employment opportunities that are within reach
of Red Hook residents. A high school degree is
the highest level of educational attainment for
58% of Red Hook residents. Nearly 70% of Red
Hook’s NYCHA residents have not completed
education beyond high school. The implemen-

tation of the BQX will allow Red Hook residents
to access City-supported job training programs
and entry-level employment available at the
Navy Yard and other community-based job
training programs. Such access will ensure that
Red Hook’s residents have a meaningful chance
to access new jobs created by the BQX.

Figure 9. Accessible Jobs within a 45-Minute Commute from Red Hook;
Source: HR&A Advisors, Conveyal, US Census Bureau
Sector
Manufacturing

Accessible Jobs

Accessible Jobs with BQX

BQX Impact

850 jobs

1,800 jobs

112% increase

Health Care & Social Assistance

8,500 jobs

14,100 jobs

66% increase

Educational Services

27,750 jobs

31,200 jobs

12% increase

Retail

9,300 jobs

15,300 jobs

64% increase

Other Sectors

44,000 jobs

86,500 jobs

97% increase

All Jobs

90,400 jobs

148,850 jobs

65% increase

4.1.3 Case Study: Hallets Point
Although only two miles from Long Island City,
Hallets Point remains one of the waterfront’s
most economically-challenged neighborhoods.

It is both physically and economically isolated,
jutting out into the East River to a point less than
half a mile from the Upper East Side, but a world

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

113

apart in terms of economic opportunity. Median
household income in Hallets Point, at $45,600,
trails that of the BQX corridor as well as that of
the city. Unemployment is especially pronounced
within the Astoria Houses, where the rate hovers
around 30%.
The poor quality of existing transit is a barrier
to employment opportunities in established and

emerging employment centers. At its closest
point, the Astoria Houses are 0.7 miles and a
15-minute walk to the N/Q station, with most
residents having to walk even further. Infrequent
bus service outside of peak hours compounds
the problem. With nearly no local employment
opportunity—97.5% of Hallets Point residents
work outside of the neighborhood—the poor
quality of local transit presents a daily challenge.

Figure 10. Travel Time Savings from the BQX to Hallets Point Residents; Source: Conveyal, HR&A Advisors.

Findings
As with Red Hook, the BQX will significantly
expand the range of workplace destinations that
can be reached within a 45-minute commute.
Travel times to Long Island City and East Midtown
will be cut by up to 10 minutes. The Navy Yard will
now be within commuting distance of Hallets
Point residents. Most notably, a range of neighborhoods outside of the waterfront—including
the Garment District, Midtown South, and Union
Square—will be within reach of residents.

114

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

Figure 11. Commuting Distance Benefits of the BQX to Hallets Point Residents;
Source: Conveyal, HR&A Advisors.

Legend
Accessible within 45 minutes:
existing transit network
Accessible within 45 minutes:
BQX + existing transit network

Through improved citywide access to these
destinations, the BQX will nearly double the
range of employment opportunities that are
within reasonable reach of Hallets Point resi-

dents. In key sectors such as healthcare and
social assistance, the BQX will more than triple
the number of jobs that can be reached within
a 45-minute commute.

Figure 12. Accessible Jobs within a 45-Minute Commute from Hallets Point ;
Source: HR&A Advisors, Conveyal, US Census Bureau
Sector

Accessible Jobs

Accessible Jobs with BQX

BQX Impact

Manufacturing

2,500 jobs

4,750 jobs

90% increase

Health Care & Social Assistance

8,950 jobs

24,050 jobs

169% increase

Educational Services

3,800 jobs

16,400 jobs

332% increase

27,400 jobs

51,900 jobs

89% increase

Other Sectors

155,300 jobs

277,500 jobs

79% increase

All Jobs

197,900 jobs

374,700 jobs

89% increase

Retail

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

115

4.1.4 Case Study: Queensbridge
The NYCHA Queensbridge Houses are the
largest public housing development in North
America. Split into two components (Queensbridge North and Queensbridge South), the complex is home to almost 7,000 people in 3,101
apartments.46 Due to this remarkable scale, the
50 acres and 26 buildings that make up Queensbridge North and South function like a neighborhood unto themselves. For the purposes of
this analysis, Queensbridge comprises about
half of the housing units and 40% of the population in Ravenswood.
With a median household income that is substantially lower than most other points on the
alignment, Queensbridge residents could particularly benefit from the improved access to
jobs, educational institutions, and training. At

$21,000, median household incomes trail those
for Ravenswood ($29,900), the waterfront as
a whole ($58,900), and the city ($55,600). In
addition, 37% of Queensbridge residents fall
below the poverty line, and 39% of adult residents failed to complete high school, metrics
that also trail averages of the waterfront and
the city.
Although residents of Queensbridge benefit
from an on-site F train stop, residents of the
complex face long commutes to work. Queensbridge residents are more likely to rely on public
transportation, and over half of residents (52%)
face a 40+ minute commute, a higher proportion
of residents than in Ravenswood (48%), Long
Island City (24%), Greenpoint (37%) or Hallets
Point (46%).

Figure 13. Travel Time Savings from the BQX to Queensbridge Residents; Source: Conveyal, HR&A Advisors.

Findings
The BQX will more tightly link Queensbridge with
major employment hubs along the Brooklyn
waterfront, notably at the Navy Yard and Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO. Travel times to the
Navy Yard and points north will be reduced by

46

up to 15 minutes, positioning Queensbridge residents to take advantage of a broader range of
opportunities in the industrial and innovation
economy sectors.

Barnard, Anne, “Delayed Impact at Queensbridge Houses,” City Room, NY Times, 8/14/2009.

116

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

Figure 14. Commuting Distance Benefits of the BQX to Queensbridge Residents;
Source: Conveyal, HR&A Advisors.

Legend
Accessible within 45 minutes:
existing transit network
Accessible within 45 minutes:
BQX + existing transit network

4.2 Enhancing Economic
Competitiveness
4.2.1 Introduction
Transit is vital to New York City’s economic competitiveness. In 2013, nearly 60% of New York
workers relied on public transit as their primary
means to work.47 When considering potential
locations, employers value transit as it expands
their labor catchment area and enables them
to draw on a broader, more productive workforce.
Business and economic development leaders
across the city, ranging from the Partnership
for NYC to the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership,
have consistently cited transit’s critical role in
attracting and retaining employees and the
importance of a robust transit network for the
city’s economic competitiveness. 48
In large part, the relationship of the vitality of
transit to economic competitiveness derives
from impacts to labor access: an expanded
labor market enables a better fit of worker skills

to job requirements. Widely recognized as a
benefit of large-scale investments and a subject
of extensive academic research, a seminal paper
succinctly characterizes its significance: “This
effective size of the labor market—the number
of jobs that can, on average, be reached in less
than X minutes—is in turn a major explanation
of labor productivity… A larger effective labor
market makes it easier for enterprises to find
the skills they need, and for workers to find the
jobs they want.” 49
High-growth industries such as technology and
media have fueled NYC’s employment growth
in recent decades. However, growth is limited
by a Manhattan-centric transit network.
According to a 2013 NYCEDC study, high-growth
industry tenants prefer spaces with close proximity to transit and amenities, but they can generally afford rents below $40 PSF ($2013).50
This preference for transit-accessible but
affordable space has led a growing number of
firms to seek spaces outside of Midtown and
Lower Manhattan. However, as NYC’s transit
network is largely oriented towards Manhattan,

47
American Community Survey (2013). 2.5 out of 4.3 million New York workers relied on public transit as their primary means of
transportation to employment.
48
Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA/Urban Land Institute (March 2015). Keeping New York On Track: The Importance
of the MTA Transit Network in a Changing World.
49
Size, Sprawl, Speed and the Efficiency of Cities, Prud’homme and Lee, 1998.
50
NYCEDC (December 2013). Commercial Real Estate Competitiveness Study.

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

117

only a limited number of outer borough neighborhoods have the quality transit access sought
by high-growth industries—and space is scarce.
Although the Brooklyn Queens waterfront currently offers over 250,000 jobs, employment
is concentrated in transit-rich neighborhoods.
Among the 11 waterfront neighborhoods analyzed by HR&A, Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO
and Long Island City offer nearly two-thirds
(172,000) of all employment, in part due to their
proximity to transit and access to a broader
labor pool. In contrast, geographically proximate
but transit-starved neighborhoods are home to
approximately 37,500 high-quality, well-paying
industrial jobs but have lagged in employment
growth despite public and privately-led efforts
to support industry.
To achieve its full potential as a significant contributor to New York City’s economic growth,
the Brooklyn Queens waterfront is in need of a
transformative investment such as the BQX.
Such a project will attract high-growth industries and make more efficient use of available
real estate capacity throughout the corridor,
while at the same time supporting the industrial
economy. Based on this framework, HR&A
focused on BQX’s potential impact on three
specific goals:
• Sustaining the waterfront industrial economy. The BQX will help retain and grow
high-quality, well-paying industrial jobs
along the waterfront. It will provide firms
access to affordable and flexible space
while expanding their access to labor, allowing them to draw on a broader, more productive workforce.
• Catalyzing Innovation Economy growth. The
BQX will enable emerging neighborhoods
such as Sunset Park to attract firms in technology, advertising, media, and light manufacturing while supporting the retention
and expansion of existing firms by providing
access to affordable, transit-accessible
commercial space as well as a desirable
“placemaking” amenity.

• Reinforcing established Brooklyn Queens
CBDs. The BQX will reinforce existing business districts in Downtown Brooklyn /
DUMBO and Long Island City by enabling
them to offer a new “placemaking” amenity
and an improved commuting experience,
enabling them to lure established companies that would prefer a distinctive non-Manhattan location close to their workforce.
4.2.2 Retaining and Growing Industrial Jobs
Context
New York City’s industrial sector is an enduring
cornerstone of the regional economy. Having a
diverse range of industrial subsectors such as
utilities, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation, and warehousing is an essential
underpinning of the viability of the city’s other
economic sectors.
New York City has fought hard to retain its industrial base, with mixed results. In the 1940s,
industrial jobs were 49% of the city’s workforce.51
However, globalization, business evolution and
technology advancements have sapped the
vitality of New York City’s industrial sector. Today,
industrial jobs represent only 14% of the city’s
workforce.52 In response, the city has adopted
a number of policies and incentives to protect
and support industrial firms—Industrial Business
Zones, subsidized space, tax credits, tax abatements, and low-cost financing—have faced
increasing headwinds, and stagnant growth.
Industrial jobs provide living-wage jobs and are
concentrated largely in Brooklyn and Queens.
Despite challenging conditions for growth, industrial sectors continue to provide high-quality,
living-wage jobs for New Yorkers. According to
the New York State Department of Labor Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, industrial sector jobs in NYC provide an average salary
of $76,000.53 This is comparable to the average
salary for all private sector jobs ($84,000). The
industrial sector is also disproportionately
located in Brooklyn and Queens, which contain
56% of the city’s industrial employment compared to 31% of total employment.

Regional Plan Association (1940). The Labor Force in the New York Metropolitan Region.
New York City Economic Development Corporation (2015).
53
New York State Department of Labor (2012). Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.
51

52

118

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

In 2020, the Brooklyn Queens waterfront will
be home to 66,000 industrial jobs, approximately 12% of the city’s industrial jobs, with a
significant portion found in transit-challenged
neighborhoods. Transit-challenged neighbor-

hoods such as Ravenswood, Sunset Park, Red
Hook, Greenpoint and the Navy Yard will support
39,100 industrial jobs, approximately 59% of
the corridor’s total industrial jobs.

Figure 15. Corridor Industrial Employment, 2020; Source: EMSI, HR&A

By 2045, industrial employment along the
waterfront is forecasted to increase by 13,600
jobs. Growth is anticipated to continue in transit-challenged areas such as Ravenswood and
Red Hook, where industrial uses are protected
by zoning and land prices are not prohibitive to
industrial development. Growth is primarily
driven by construction, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing—compensating for
continued job losses in the manufacturing and
utilities sectors.
The BQX will improve labor access for waterfront
industrial firms, particularly for firms in the Navy
Yard, Sunset Park, Red Hook and Ravenswood.
Industrial firms, the majority of which are located
in transit-challenged neighborhoods, will be able
to draw a larger labor pool, enabling them to grow
and expand with the workforce they need. With
the introduction of the BQX, labor access will
increase by 8% corridor-wide but significantly
higher impacts will be felt in the Navy Yard, Red
Hook, and Ravenswood. This improved access
to labor will in turn lead to employment impacts
of 45%, 44%, and 44% respectively.

By linking together disparate hubs through
transit, the BQX will reinforce the waterfront as
a 21st-century industrial corridor. The BQX will
enable light manufacturing firms in the Navy
Yard to more easily collaborate with their suppliers and customers in Long Island City, encouraging greater collaboration and spurring further
economic development.
The BQX will improve access to public-owned
industrial assets along the waterfront,
enhancing their integration into the city’s
economy and bolstering access to affordable
industrial space. By improving access to labor
for to some of the city’s largest publicly-owned
industrial properties, such as the Brooklyn Army
Terminal in Sunset Park, the BQX will dramatically reduce vacancy rates by attracting and
retaining industrial and manufacturing firms
that seek the affordable or subsidized industrial
and manufacturing space that they require to
remain in New York City. Thus the BQX will help
ensure recent public investments in their preservation and rehabilitation result in a maximal
social return for the city of sustained industrial
employment and economic output.

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

119

Findings
By improving labor access, the BQX will more
than double industrial employment growth,
enabling the waterfront to attract an additional
19,100 jobs, for a total of 98,700 industrial jobs.

The BQX will help firms retain existing talent and
enable them to attract new employees who were
previously unable to access waterfront industrial jobs.

Figure 16. Employment Impacts of the BQX in the Industrial Sector; Source: HR&A Advisors.
Neighborhood

2020

2045 (Baseline)

2045 (BQX)

Baseline + BQX

BQX Impact

Hallets Point

1,400

1,500

400

1,900

27%

Ravenswood

13,700

17,600

7,800

25,400

44%

Core Long Island City

11,600

13,500

1,800

15,300

13%

Greenpoint

4,200

5,600

700

6,300

13%

Williamsburg – North

900

900

100

1,000

11%

Williamsburg – South

800

900

100

1,000

11%

Navy Yard
Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO
Columbia Waterfront

2,000

2,00

900

3,000

45%

14,400

16,400

2,200

18,600

13%

700

1,100

100

1,200

9%

Red Hook

4,500

7,200

3,200

10,400

44%

Sunset Park

11,800

12,900

1,700

14,600

13%

66,000

79,600

19,100

98,700

24%

Total

120

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

Case Study: Brooklyn Navy Yard

O

ver the past five decades, the Brooklyn
Navy Yard has successfully transitioned
from a naval facility into a modern industrial park. When military activity ended in 1966,
the Navy Yard was home to more than 9,000
workers. Beginning in the late 1980s, after the
closure of the largest shipbuilder in the Navy
Yard, the City recognized the need to diversify
the facility and provide space for growing industrial businesses. Today, the Navy Yard is managed by the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development
Corporation (BNYDC) and has over 330 busi-

2,000 workers, including many local residents.
Together with the BQX, the Employment Center
can help ensure that underemployed residents
of the Brooklyn Queens waterfront are qualified
for new jobs that are created in the Navy Yard
and elsewhere along the corridor.
The BQX will expand the Navy Yard ’s labor catchment
area, providing access to 80,000 workers from Red
Hook, Sunnyside, Long Island City, Ravenswood, and
Midtown. ; Source: MTA NYCT, Sam Schwartz Engineering, HR&A, Conveyal

nesses that employ more than 6,500 workers.
The Navy Yard has been expanding to accommodate new employment sectors while maintaining affordable space for traditional industry
and manufacturing. During the past decade, the
Navy Yard has attracted tenants in film, artisanal
food and small batch manufacturing. It is also
home to industrial tenants such as GMD Ship
Repair, FC Modular (modular construction), Crye
Precision (military equipment manufacturing),
Icestone (countertop manufacturing) and ARES
Printing and Packaging. In order to continue providing low-cost, flexible space for industrial tenants, BNYDC has announced plans to add 1.8
million square feet of space over the next two
years. However, to continue to make this space
viable and accessible to manufacturing companies, the City must invest in transit infrastructure
to connect workers to these jobs. Currently, Navy
Yard employees are at least a 20-minute walk
to the closest subway station.

Legend
Accessible within 45 minutes:
existing transit network
Accessible within 45 minutes:
BQX + existing transit network

The BQX will provide Navy Yard tenants with
access to 80,000 more workers. This will bolster the growth of existing industrial businesses
and attract new industrial businesses whose
growth cannot be accommodated elsewhere
along the waterfront. Even more impactful, new
jobs created as a result of the BQX will be accessible to those who live along the corridor. BNYDC
has operated an on-site Employment Center for
over 15 years, finding quality jobs for more than

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

121

4.2.3 Catalyzing Innovation Economy Growth
Context
In the past decade, high-growth sectors in the
innovation economy have supported New York
City’s strong economic growth, supplementing
traditional sectors such as financial and legal
services. According to OneNYC, the innovation
economy supported 15% of private employment
in New York City in 2013. Between 2003 and
2013, New York City’s tech sector grew from
246,000 jobs to 291,000 jobs, outpacing the
city and the nation with an annual growth rate
of 1.7%.54 Over the same period, total employment increased by 1.1% in New York City and
0.4% nationally each year.
At the same time, the available commercial
space preferred by growth-stage tech tenants,
generally distinctive Class B or C buildings with
proximity to transit and amenities, is declining.
According to a NYCEDC-commissioned study,
growing tenant demand absorbed 1.6 million
square feet of the city’s stock of Class B/C office
space between 2000 and 2012. This decline is
projected to continue in the near future, with a
projected decrease of 7.8 million square feet
between 2013 and 2025, resulting in fewer office
options for a growing industry. Over time, this
poses significant risks for the sector’s continued
growth; as demand continues to outstrip supply,
tenants will face higher rents and few alternative space options, hampering the sector’s continued growth.

In 2020, the Brooklyn Queens waterfront will
be home to approximately 18,000 innovation
economy workers—with 52% located in Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO. Within the corridor,
innovation employment is concentrated in
Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO—an area with
robust transit access and amenities and a location where affordable Class B and C office properties have been greatly sought after.
Findings
HR&A estimates the BQX will attract an additional 11,800 innovation economy jobs, for a
total of 50,100 jobs along the waterfront. The
BQX, by providing enhanced labor access and
a placemaking amenity, crucially positions
emerging neighborhoods such as Sunset Park,
the Navy Yard, and Ravenswood as viable alternatives that can easily capture spillover demand
that cannot be absorbed in Downtown Brooklyn
/ DUMBO or Long Island City. Spillover growth
can also be accommodated in Long Island City
and help reinforce its status as an employment
center along the waterfront.

Figure 17. NYC Class B/C Office Space Supply and
Demand, 2000–2025;
Sources: NYCEDC, Alvarez & Marsal

54
“The New York City Tech Ecosystem: Generating Economic Opportunities for All New Yorkers.” (April 2014). Published by HR&A
Advisors, Association for a Better New York, Citi, Google, and NY Tech Meetup.

122

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

Figure 18. Employment Impacts of the BQX in the Innovation Economy; Source: HR&A Advisors.
Neighborhood

2020
Innovation
Jobs

2045
Innovation
Jobs
(Baseline)

2045
Innovation
Jobs (BQX)

Baseline +
BQX

BQX Impact

Hallets Point

200

300

100

400

33%

Ravenswood

800

1,000

700

1,700

70%

2,200

2,800

800

3,600

29%

Greenpoint

Core Long Island City

400

900

300

1,200

33%

Williamsburg – North

900

2,000

500

2,500

25%

Williamsburg – South

400

1,100

300

1,400

27%

Navy Yard

800

2,000

1,200

3,200

60%

9,400

22,100

6,000

28,100

27%

Columbia Waterfront

Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO

100

200

100

300

50%

Red Hook

200

500

300

800

60%

Sunset Park
Total

2,600

5,400

1,500

6,900

28%

18,000

38,300

11,800

50,100

31%

By 2045, innovation economy employment
along the waterfront is projected to increase
by 20,300 jobs. Although these jobs are forecasted for Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO and
Long Island City, the growing unavailability of
Class B and C office space may prevent this
growth target from being reached. Reflecting
the trends identified in the recent EDC study, in
2014 Class B/C vacancy was 4.6% in Downtown
Brooklyn / DUMBO and 3.0% in Long Island City,

significantly lower than the citywide average.
The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership currently
maintains a list of “up to 100 companies” who
are interested but unable to move to Downtown
Brooklyn / DUMBO. In light of these conditions
it is likely that Sunset Park and the Navy Yard
will absorb a significant portion of growth that
is presently forecasted for Downtown Brooklyn
/ DUMBO.

Figure 19. Projected Employment Growth and Development Capacity, 2045;
Source: HR&A Advisors, leveraging datasets from PLUTO and CoStar.

 

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

123

Case Study: Sunset Park

S

unset Park has historically been a working
waterfront, largely oriented around the
manufacturing and distribution industries. Throughout most of the 20th century, major
industrial complexes such as Bush Terminal
(now Industry City) and South Brooklyn Marine
Terminal provided high-quality jobs for local
residents and inexpensive, flexible space for
import/export and manufacturing firms.
In recent decades, due to structural changes
in the economy, Sunset Park has experienced
substantial disinvestment and job losses. As of
2015, the neighborhood contains approximately
29,000 jobs. While this is a significant concentration compared to other waterfront neighborhoods, employment growth has been negative
or stagnant over the most recent decade.
Public and private-sector leaders are seeking
to reverse this decline. In fall 2007, NYCEDC
released a vision plan to revitalize Sunset Park,
calling for investments in infrastructure and
adaptive reuse of the publicly-owned South
Brooklyn Marine Terminal and Brooklyn Army

Terminal. Since that time, private investors have
acquired and repositioned Industry City and
Liberty View Industrial Plaza, positioning the
sites to attract tenants in tech, fashion, and
small-scale manufacturing. However, 32% of
Sunset Park’s industrial SF continues to be
vacant, twice as high as the waterfront as a
whole and three times as high as New York City.
The BQX can unlock Sunset Park’s potential and
support its transition into a hub for innovation.
Entrepreneurs are beginning to recognize
Sunset Park’s potential as evident by new tenants in Manufacture New York, a fashion incubator, and BioBAT, a life science incubator. However transportation continues to be challenge
as the neighborhood is served only by the N/R
train (and the D train north of 36th Street), transit
service that connects poorly with other waterfront tech hubs such as DUMBO, the Navy Yard,
and Gowanus. The BQX can complement existing
service by reducing travel times to these tech
hubs, solidifying a network of innovation
economy companies, and accelerating the
exchange of people and ideas.

Figure 20. Travel Time Savings from Industry City to waterfront Tech Hubs

DUMBO
3 minutes saved

Navy Yard
10 minutes saved

Sunset Park
Industry City

124

Gowanus
10 minutes saved

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

Case Study: Cornell Tech

C

ornell Tech will provide a catalytic anchor
for the waterfront’s tech ecosystem. The
City has long sought to position Long
Island City as an employment center but until
recently, employment has largely been concentrated in traditional industries such as finance
and manufacturing. Over the past decade, a
wide range of firms such as Shapeways, Lyft,
and the Henson Company have relocated to the
area for affordable office and industrial space
and nearby LaGuardia Community College is
spearheading CUNY’s commitment to tech education. The Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt
Island will bolster this momentum and help
foster a tech ecosystem along the waterfront.
The BQX can enhance Cornell Tech’s integration
with the waterfront and encourage tech employment in previously transit-poor neighborhoods.
While geographically proximate to Queens, Roosevelt Island remains largely separated from
recent waterfront revitalization efforts, with
connectivity limited to the F train and sporadic
bus service to Astoria. The BQX, operating in
tandem with frequent East River Ferry service,
will foster close integration with neighborhoods
throughout the to the Brooklyn Queens water-

front by significantly reducing travel times to
preferred residential neighborhoods such as
Greenpoint and Williamsburg as well as tech
employment hubs at the Navy Yard and Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO. In turn, this will reposition previously transit-poor areas of the waterfront as new, competitively priced alternatives
for spinoff firms seeking affordable space that
is within reach of the campus.
The BQX can improve residents’ access to
resources and community programs offered by
Cornell Tech. As part of its agreement with the
City, Cornell Tech is partnering with New York
City middle schools to create Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics (STEM)
programs. Pilot programs are underway at
P.S./I.S. 217 on Roosevelt Island, including
coding, web design, robotics, mobile development and mentorship programs, and is slated
to expand to schools in East Harlem and Long
Island City. By improving connectivity from Cornell Technion to waterfront communities, the
BQX will position Cornell Technion to engage
with a broader range of public schools located
along the waterfront.

Cornell Tech students visited P.S./I.S. 217 on Roosevelt Island to teach coding and provide mentorship for
middle school students. Through improved access to waterfront schools, the BQX would position Cornell Tech
to pursue engagements with a greater number of nearby public schools.

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

125

4.2.4 Reinforcing Established Brooklyn and

Queens Business Districts
For over two decades, the Brooklyn Queens
waterfront has been firmly established as a
location for major businesses. During the 1980s,
New York City sought to establish lower-cost
business districts outside of Manhattan, largely
in response to competition from emerging hubs
in New Jersey and Connecticut. The city identified two key waterfront locations—Downtown
Brooklyn / DUMBO and Long Island City—as
potential business districts and supported the
development of MetroTech and One Court
Square. Since their completion in the early 1990s,
Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO and Long Island
City have been home to back office functions for
major corporations such as Chase and Citi.
As major corporations are seeking to attract
and retain a younger workforce, they are
seeking locations that are both amenitized and
transit accessible. Amenities are key for
attracting and retaining workers, particularly in
higher-end, knowledge-based industries.
Despite competition from neighboring cities
such as Jersey City and Stamford, New York
City’s waterfront has emerged as the premier
location for affordable office space due to proximity to a well-educated workforce and an
exceptional collection of amenities, ranging
from open space and cultural venues to culinary
and entertainment destinations.
The introduction of a streetcar will bolster an
already-competitive amenity base and reinforce
Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO and Long Island
City’s status as business districts of choice. In
addition to transportation benefits, streetcars
can provide a placemaking amenity by improving
the public realm, similar to its role in other major
business districts. In Seattle, the streetcar was
a major part of Amazon’s decision to relocate
to South Lake Union, a former warehouse district north of Downtown Seattle. Vulcan Real
Estate, which led the redevelopment of the area,
stated that “the streetcar definitely provided
the impetus for development to happen” and,
as a result, funded part of the streetcar via a
Local Improvement District. In Portland, Con-

126

gressman Earl Blumenauer, an early advocate
of the Portland Streetcar, cited the importance
of the streetcar to the redevelopment of the
Pearl District as it was “a signal to the public, to
the property owners, to investors and developers
that something new is going to happen and it’s
going to be there for a long time.”
• In Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO, perhaps
the waterfront’s most successful mixed-use
residential and commercial neighborhood,
the BQX will complement the suite of existing amenities that distinguish the district
from its peers—such as Brooklyn Bridge
Park, Brooklyn Academy of Music, best-inclass subway service, and adjacency to
brownstone Brooklyn. The BQX will reinforce
the distinct sense of place that characterizes the district, while offering a convenient,
one-seat ride to proximate but poorly-connected residential neighborhoods such as
Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
• In Long Island City, a neighborhood whose
redevelopment over the last two decades
has strongly favored single-use residential
property over commercial office or retail
development, the relatively greater amenity
value of the BQX will help to encourage a
greater mixture of land uses and foster a
more distinctive district identity. Developers
will be encouraged by the fast, convenient
access that BQX offers to nearby neighborhoods, building projects that can attract the
next generation of businesses and workers
to Long Island City.

4.3 Achieving Sustainable
Waterfront Growth
Over the past 15 years, most residential development along the Brooklyn Queens waterfront
has taken place within three transit-served
neighborhoods, Core Long Island City, Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO, and Williamsburg
North. These three neighborhoods have
absorbed approximately 68% of residential new
construction since 2000, a significant propor-

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

tion of which can be attributed to rezonings initiated during the Bloomberg administration.
Amidst this climate of blistering growth, however, city and state investments in local infrastructure have failed to keep pace with rapidly-growing local demand, with growing
congestion and delays to the subway network.
• In North Williamsburg, MTA investments in
the L line, while significant, have failed to
keep up with demand. Peak-hour congestion
at Bedford Avenue has contributed to
crowded conditions and delays along the
length of the L line.
• In Core Long Island City, the introduction of
over 8,000 new housing units has contributed to significant congestion along the
length of the 7 line, with conditions likely to
worsen following the arrival of 21,000 units
in the development pipeline.
The de Blasio administration’s plan to expand
East River Ferry service in 2017 will begin to
relieve congestion at key locations along the
waterfront, particularly at transit-served adjacent parcels. An expansion of ferry service offers
the city administration its best short-term option
to address the need for improved waterfront
transit, particularly at locations where planned
ferry stops are proximate to current or proposed
residential development.
• In Hallets Point and Core Long Island City,
East River Ferry service will support planned
developments at Astoria Cove by Alma
Realty and the Durst Organization as well
as proposed developments near to Queens
West and the LIC waterfront.
• In Greenpoint, East River Ferry service will
support the influx of new residents that will
follow completion of the Greenpoint Landing
development, where construction has
recently begun.
• In South Williamsburg, East River Ferry service will significantly improve transit options
for large-scale waterfront projects such as
the Domino Sugar Factory redevelopment.
The BQX would enhance city efforts to support
sustainable waterfront development by

enabling a greater number of waterfront residents to leverage the East River Ferry for Manhattan-bound commutes. By reducing travel
times to East River Ferry stops throughout the
waterfront, the BQX would provide a greater
number of waterfront residents with a credible
alternative to capacity-constrained subway
service—particularly in recently-rezoned neighborhoods which have experienced significant
population growth.
The BQX would encourage a greater number of
residents to consider employment at or near to
the route, facilitating the waterfront’s transformation into a unified live/work corridor. By
reducing travel times to existing and emerging
employment centers along the waterfront, the
BQX would foster a broader, more sustainable
distribution of future residential growth, with
benefits to communities throughout its length.

4.4 Improving Quality of Life on
the Waterfront
4.4.1 Introduction

A

robust public transportation network is
an indispensable element of all worldclass cities. By reconfiguring perceptions of spatial proximity and creating opportunities for density, fast, effective, and prevalent
transit can catalyze the urban experience. Those
characteristics that most distinguish New York
City from its American peers—the extraordinary
size of its population and workforce, its broad
geographic scale, and its corridors of density—
all derive from the prevalence of its public
transit network.
New York City communities that are proximate
to transit benefit from a broadly improved quality
of life. In diverse communities such as Flatbush,
the Upper West Side, Flushing, and Woodlawn,
the prevalence of transit enriches residents’ lives,
with benefits to their health, education, and cultural enrichment that extend far beyond access
to opportunity. Put simply, the broadening of
choice and opportunity made possible by transit
benefits all aspects of their lives.

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

127

The BQX will meaningfully improve the quality
of life of New Yorkers, bringing new convenience
and choice to waterfront residents while
extending access to its cultural and physical
assets. Upgrading mass transportation to and
along the corridor will enable its residents and
workers to take greater advantage of its wide
array of open space and cultural assets. All communities—both revitalizing neighborhoods such
as Long Island City as well as challenged areas
such as Red Hook—will meaningfully benefit
from improved access to healthcare, workforce
development programs, and educational opportunity. In short, the BQX will better integrate
these waterfront neighborhoods with the rest
of the city, allowing residents to fully partake in
all that the city has to offer and granting a lifeline to necessary tools and resources.
High-quality public transportation does more
than move passengers from one place to
another. Public transit creates a sense of place
and identity that is integral to city life. A well-connected, cohesive urban environment provides
all New Yorkers the chance to thrive.
4.4.2 Expanding Opportunity Through Workforce

Development and Education
Context
Over the past two years, the de Blasio administration has focused the city’s education and
workforce development efforts on the promotion of sustainable, family-supporting careers
across key growth sectors. The de Blasio administration’s Career Pathways report, released in
November 2014, proposes a suite of programs
that focus on middle-skill opportunities,
including increased opportunities for education,
training, and professional networks. The recommendations outlined in Career Pathways are
designed to better align education and training
opportunities for a broader range of New York
City residents, assisting their efforts to secure
work in good-paying industries.
Many of the sectors highlighted in the Career
Pathways report will experience growth as a
result of BQX. As examined in this report,
employment in sectors such as tech, manufac-

55
56

turing and construction will account for a significant proportion of the 86,000 additional jobs
that will result from BQX.
Low-income and under-skilled residents of the
waterfront’s most vulnerable communities—
those most likely to benefit from an expansion
in local employment opportunity—will require
access to city investments in workforce development and educational opportunity in order
to benefit from this growth. NYCHA residents
comprise 10% of the waterfront population, with
significant NYCHA developments in Hallets
Point, Ravenswood, Red Hook, and the Navy
Yard. A high school education or less accounts
for nearly 50% of residents’ educational attainment in these neighborhoods, substantially
lower than the corridor or the city. Without
greater participation in the city’s workforce
development and educational programs, residents in these neighborhoods will be unable to
take full advantage of the new employment
opportunities made possible by the BQX.
For transit-served neighborhoods throughout
New York City, access to fast and convenient
public transportation supports the city’s efforts
to promote educational opportunity and workforce development targeting key growth sectors. 78% of CUNY students commute to their
classrooms by subway or bus, and more than
40 percent of the City’s 1.3 million schoolchildren receive subsidized MetroCards. All of the
major universities at and near to the Brooklyn
Queens waterfront—including LaGuardia Community College, Long Island University, the Pratt
Institute, CUNY-Tech, and NYU Polytechnic—are
proximate to the existing rail transit network.
The BQX will make it possible for transit-disconnected communities to take advantage of
key workforce development and educational
programs that can improve pursuit of new
waterfront employment opportunities. By introducing new and convenient access to existing
programs at and near to challenged waterfront
communities, the BQX will help residents to
attain the skills needed to pursue forecasted in
the coming decades. Key among these programs
and initiatives are the following:

New York City Department of Education
CUNY 2012 Student Experience Survey

128

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

• Brooklyn Navy Yard Employment Center
(BNYEC) An on-site program managed by
the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC), the BNYEC specializes
in providing job placements inside and outside of the Navy Yard for residents of local
communities and NYCHA developments. In
November 2014, the de Blasio administration announced plans to expand BNYEC
placement and training facilities at the Navy
Yard’s BLDG 92 facility.

regarded for its ability to help young immigrants pursue opportunity.
• The BQX would shorten commute times
for current and prospective Brooklyn International High School students, improving
their quality of life and supporting their academic development.
Additional workforce development and educational programs that the BQX would extend
access to include:

• The BQX would extend BNYEC access to Red
Hook, Ravenswood, and Hallets Point,
enabling a substantially greater proportion
of waterfront residents to pursue on-the-job
placements at key Navy Yard employers.

• Center for Family Life Employment Services
(Sunset Park)

• Brooklyn Job Corps Employment Services
(BJC) BJC is an education and career technical training program administered by the
U.S. Department of Labor that is designed
to prepare young adults to pursue a wider
range of employment opportunities. BJC
offers a range of academic programs, which
range from High School Equivalency programs to English-language and driver education programs. In addition, BJC offers a
suite of training programs designed to facilitate entry-level access to the tech and
healthcare sectors.

• Fifth Avenue Committee (Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO)

• CUNY—City Tech (Downtown Brooklyn /
DUMBO)

• Solar One (Long Island City)
• LaGuardia Community College
(Long Island City)
• Aviation High School (Long Island City)
• Coalition for Queens (Long Island City)

• The BQX would enable a broader range of
Waterfront residents to access BJC’s educational and workforce development
programs, gaining the necessary skills to
secure entry-level employment at an
expanding waterfront.
• Brooklyn International High School Brooklyn International High School offers recent
immigrants an immersive experience
designed to bolster English-language skills
amidst a challenging, interdisciplinary
academic environment. Located in Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO, the school’s
diversity is reflected by a student body
representing 30 countries. Thanks to the
range of its offerings—which include a
school-supported internship program as
well as extensive college counseling and
outplacement efforts—the school is widely

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

129

Case Study: Brooklyn Workforce
Innovations
convenient transportation that will be improved
along the waterfront with the BQX.
The BQX will enable more New York City residents to participate in the education and workforce development programs offered by
Brooklyn Workforce Innovations and other providers. Every year, more than 5,000 New Yorkers
apply for positions within the organization’s
Image Source: Brooklyn Workforce Innovations
Annual Report 2013/2014

F

ounded in 2000, and an affiliate of the
Fifth Avenue Committee, Brooklyn Workforce Innovations is a leading non-profit
that helps train jobless and working poor New
Yorkers. Upon graduation, the program matches
graduates with living wage employment opportunities. Every year, more than 700 participants
enroll in a total of seven different job-training
programs, with a 94% average graduation rate
and an 89% average placement rate.

programs, with nearly half coming from boroughs other than Brooklyn. The programs are
offered in multiple neighborhoods in Brooklyn,
but are located in transit inaccessible areas of
Gowanus, Red Hook, and the Navy Yard.
Increased connectivity along the Brooklyn
Queens waterfront will enable residents to
access critical workforce development programs
that can prepare them for a new—and
expanded—waterfront economy.
Source: Brooklyn Workforce Innovation Annual Report
2013/2014

Brooklyn Workforce Innovations also partners
with NYCHA to combat high unemployment
among public housing residents. The non-profit
offers five-week programs in workplace safety
and jobs-readiness skills that help NYCHA residents launch their careers. Public housing residents are often among the most in need of
employment and workforce development services, with 23% of public housing enrollees not
having been employed in the past year.
The organization’s sector-based approach to
workforce development helps to provide opportunities in commercial driving, telecommunications, TV and film production, and carpentry.
Depending on the program, the timeline for
training and job-placement, including receiving
occupational credentials in some career paths,
can take more than six months to a year. This
commitment requires access to reliable and

130

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

4.4.3 Extending Access to Healthcare
Context
New York City contains one of the largest healthcare systems in the country. In 2013, the City’s
hospitals and research institutions received
more than $1.4 billion in NIH funding, the second-most in the country.57 These hospitals are
able to serve millions of New York City residents,
including those who live in the immediate neighborhoods, and those who are able to access
health care via transit.
However, while New York City possesses some
of the best hospitals in the world, a significant
portion of New York residents do not have access
to health care. In 2013, nearly one million New
Yorkers did not receive needed medical care,58 a
problem that disproportionally impacts residents
of poorer neighborhoods. 26 neighborhoods
throughout New York City are currently classified
as primary-care shortage areas by the federal
government, a designation that reflects access
to primary care physicians, dentists, and mental
health providers, as well as the needs special
populations such as low-income residents or
those who face language or cultural barriers.59
Figure 20. NYC Health Professional Shortage Areas;
Source: Ctr for Health Workforce Studies,
SUNY-Albany ; Source: Ctr for Health Workforce
Studies, SUNY-Albany

Many of the communities along the Brooklyn
Queens waterfront are challenged by poor
access to healthcare. Sunset Park, Red Hook,
Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO, the Navy Yard,
South Williamsburg, North Williamsburg, Long
Island City, and Ravenswood face limited access
to hospitals, urgent care facilities, outpatient
treatment, pre-K and daycare. Furthermore, in
recent years, neighborhoods along the Brooklyn
Queens waterfront have lost access to critical
healthcare services. In 2013, Long Island College Hospital closed its doors due to financial
troubles, leaving nearby neighborhoods with
further reduced access to essential healthcare
and severely impacting residents’ well-being.
The BQX will improve the health and welfare of
communities along the waterfront by reducing
travel times to hospitals and urgent care facilities both on the corridor and at transit-served
locations elsewhere throughout the city. Communities such as Red Hook and the Columbia
Waterfront will benefit from improved access
to hospitals in Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO
and Sunset Park. Ravenswood and Hallets Point
residents will be able to access urgent care and
pediatric facilities in Long Island City and Greenpoint. And residents in Sunset Park will have
more immediate access to the services provided
by NYU Lutheran Medical Center.

NYCEDC – “Life Sciences Initiative”
OneNYC
59
OneNYC
57

58

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

131

Case Study: NYU Lutheran
Medical Center in Sunset Park
opened a “Chinese Unit,” which provides Chinese-speaking bilingual staff 24 hours a day, 7
days a week to enable patients with little or no
English to communicate with doctors and nurses.
Situated only one block away from the track
alignment along 3rd Avenue, the BQX will enable
the hospital to provide better services to residents in Sunset Park and Red Hook. As public
transit access along the waterfront is improved
through the implementation of the BQX, NYU
Lutheran, with its emphasis on emergency
healthcare services, is well positioned to handle
more patients who will require rapid responses.

NYU

Lutheran Medical Center
is one of New York City’s
oldest healthcare providers, having served the Brooklyn waterfront
for more than more than 130 years. The hospital
has been a pioneer in its expanding its outpatient clinical services to the neighboring communities. As of 2015, the hospital has been affiliated with the NYU Langone Medical Center, and
will be clinically integrated with the broader
health care network, enabling a higher quality
of care through a fully integrated delivery system
in Brooklyn.

Source: NYU Lutheran Website

NYU Lutheran is classified as a Level I Trauma
Center, enabling its employees to provide comprehensive and specialized services. The hospital has undergone a major expansion in recent
years, with its emergency department increasing
its facilities by 45% in 2010. The hospital treats
approximately 70,000 patients each year, with
emphasis on serving walk-in patients from the
surrounding neighborhoods in 30 minutes or
less on average.
NYU Lutheran is a crucial resource for Sunset
Park, and has gone to great lengths to serve its
neighboring community. In 2004, the hospital

58
59

New York City Department of Education
CUNY 2012 Student Experience Survey

132

BROOKLYN QUEENS CONNECTOR

4.4.4 Boosting Visitation to Cultural Institutions

and Open Space
Context
The Brooklyn Queens waterfront hosts some of
the most distinctive cultural institutions and
open space amenities in New York City, with
significant potential for continued growth. The
influence of the Brooklyn Academy of Music
(BAM) on the city’s cultural life has never been
greater, thanks to decades of forward thinking
and innovative programming. MoMA PS1 has
emerged as one of New York City’s cultural landmarks, thanks to the success of its summer
programming. Public investment in new parks
over the past 10 years—including both largescale parks such as Brooklyn Bridge Park and
Gantry Plaza State Park as well as small-scale
improvements at Dutch Kills and Greenpoint’s
Transmitter Park—have created new nodes of
activity. Furthermore, the influx of residents and
workers in transit-served waterfront neighborhoods such as Downtown Brooklyn / DUMBO,
North Williamsburg, and Long Island City, has
catalyzed local demand for cultural amenities.

the extension of the Jubilee Line. Closer to home,
many of New York City’s most well-known clusters of cultural institutions, including Museum
Mile on the Upper East Side and the collection
of more than 350 art galleries in Chelsea, are
oriented within close walking distance of transit
service, drawing visitors and tourists from
throughout the city and the region.
The BQX will reinforce the cultural vibrancy of
the Brooklyn Queens waterfront, fostering the
development of a cohesive corridor-wide cultural identity. A well-connected transit system
would enable schoolchildren and seniors in the
Farragut Houses to visit the Noguchi Museum,
and allow residents of Greenpoint to make use
of playing fields and open space in Red Hook.
Implementing the BQX would promote the
broader development of cultural institutions
along the length of the Brooklyn Queens waterfront, facilitating the emergence of a cohesive,
corridor-wide identity.

However, the poor quality of transit along the
waterfront has restricted the geographic reach
of its institutions and hampered the development of a corridor-wide cultural identity. Despite
sustained public and private investments in
cultural institutions and open space, transit
connectivity between key locations along the
waterfront remains fragmented and erratic. A
journey to Brooklyn Bridge Park from Red Hook
and Sunset Park can take as long as 45 minutes,
requiring multiple transfers between subways
or local buses; traveling to the Noguchi Museum
from Greenpoint can take as long as 50 minutes
to travel 3.7 miles during peak hours.
In cities throughout the world, public transportation plays a crucial role in supporting the
development of leading cultural institutions and
distinctive parks. In London, the redevelopment
of the south bank of the Thames—a multi-decade effort that encompasses the Tate Modern,
the National Theater, the British Film Institute,
and the Globe Theater—has greatly leveraged

BQX Socio Economic Impacts

133

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