Urban Design Studio I: Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, Columbia University

Site Profile: Sunset Park

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by June 10, 2017

Sunset Park, located in Southwest Brooklyn, has played a significant role in the City’s development – both as a maritime and industrial center and as a gateway neighborhood for successive waves of immigrants. While Sunset Park’s industrial waterfront declined considerably in the 1960s and 1970s – largely as a result of global economic trends and development of containerized shipping – its strategic location on Upper New York Bay, extensive industrial infrastructure, access to a large local labor pool, and connection to major transportation networks serving New York City as well as the wider region, maintained its importance as a working waterfront. Economic development policies and programs put into place in the last two decades have generated substantial reinvestment in the area.”  From Community Board 7’s 197-A Plan for Sunset Park, 2007

In the last ten years, the reinvestment in Sunset Park’s waterfront has far outpaced expectations.  Despite the recession, the number of businesses increased by 56 percent between 2000 and 2014, four times faster than the citywide rate,  according to a report by the New York State Comptroller.  This growth is in part attributable to investments in infrastructure and open space by the Economic Development Corporation, which include $100 million of improvements over twenty years to Brooklyn Army Terminal, the SIMs Recycling facility and Bush Terminal Park which opened in 2014.  Neighborhood activists like Elizabeth Yampiere from UPROSE worry this economic growth is leaving the residents behind.  “People who work in this neighborhood live in this neighborhood. And now we’re going to lose it to gentrification,” she told the New York Times.   Some believe that recent redevelopment of manufacturing space like Industry City and Made in New York have displaced more jobs that they have created.

Despite the growth in businesses, Sunset Park has not seen as dramatic an increase in housing costs in recent years as other parts of Brooklyn; however there is strong concern that displacement is inevitable. Today 55% of Sunset Park’s residents are considered housing burdened, meaning their housing costs exceed 30% of their income.  Many resident believe that the proposed BQX line will accelerate this crisis of affordability.

Housing Snapshot from Furman Center