Pratt Center Research

Urban Manufacturing

Creating an Innovative Mix: What We Can Learn from San Francisco

Report  |  February 11, 2016

New York City is exploring the creation of a new type of zoning district intended to increase job density in the City’s manufacturing and industrial areas, called Enhanced Business Areas. These districts will allow for a mix of “creative-office” and manufacturing/production space by utilizing an internal cross-subsidy mechanism to incentivize the preservation and creation of production space.  A very similar initiative was recently launched in San Francisco in their Production, Design, and Repair (PDR) districts. 

In tandem with the creation of a new type of special district, the Department of City Planning proposes to map the first new district of this type over the Greenpoint Williamsburg IBZ and has also certified an application for a special permit for a mixed use commercial-industrial development at 25 Kent Avenue in that IBZ.

This policy brief examines the City’s proposal to create a new type of zoning district and its implications citywide, and also looks closely at the proposal for 25 Kent Avenue.  It details the San Francisco model, which aims to accomplish similar goals. Drawing on best practices in this model and lessons learned from past failures in New York, this brief makes recommendations for how the proposal for the new zoning district could be modified to better achieve its goals. These recommendations include specifications for enforcement, mission-driven non-profit stewardship, workforce linkages, and space requirements.

For more information on San Francisco’s PDR Districts and the 100 Hooper Project:

Report from the San Francisco Planning Commission Hearing on the Conditional Use Permit for 100 Hooper, January 2015

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Ordinance on Production, Design and Repair Districts, April 2014

City of San Francisco Planning Code – Office Subsidy in Section 210.3C