When Mayor Bloomberg came into office in 2002, New York City had 12,542 acres of land where manufacturing businesses could legally operate. By 2009, thanks to zoning changes, it had fewer than 10,746, and another 1,800 acres were slated for conversion to other uses under proposed rezonings, bring the total loss of built square footage to nearly 40 percent of all the manufacturing-zoned space in New York City.
This Pratt Center Issue Brief assesses the rapid loss of manufacturing land, looks at its impact on local businesses and job opportunities, and recommends measures for preserving what’s left. Among the recommendations is a moratorium on the conversion of any more manufacturing-zoned land to other uses until the city conducts comprehensive studies of New York's industrial economy and land use, and a requirement that any hotel, big box retail, or large office users obtain a special permit before they could locate in manufacturing zones.
In the course of assessing whether Willets Point's industrial businesses could be successfully relocated to other areas of the city, Pratt Center planners discovered that New York City’s loss of manufacturing land had been more rapid and severe in recent years than anyone had previously calculated. Pratt Center GIS Specialist Justin Kray mapped the findings:
- Since the beginning of the Bloomberg administration, New York City has lost nearly 1,800 acres of manufacturing-zoned land.
- Under current plans another 1,800 will disappear, amounting to a 20 percent reduction in manufacturing land in less than a decade.
- Because the areas targeted for rezoning include many multi-story buildings, the total loss of built square footage is even greater—nearly 40 percent of all the manufacturing-zoned space in New York City.
Working with the New York Industrial Retention Network and Zoning for Jobs, the Pratt Center used these findings on industrial space loss to press for the expansion of designated industrial zones and stronger protections against their rezoning to other uses.