Look at the NYC Department of Building’s map of active major construction, and there are large blue dots along the Southern Brooklyn waterfront. Dig further into the data, and it shows that over 70 major construction projects are underway within Brooklyn’s Community Board 13, which includes Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Gravesend and SeaGate.
The area was hard-hit by superstorm Sandy in 2012. Some Sandy re-construction of public housing projects is still not finished.
But developers are drawn to the water-side views, and to the benefits of a Bloomberg-era re-zoning, whose results were delayed first by the recession then the storm. Developments are going up with names like “Ocean Dreams“. Local resident Moses, fishing on the Coney Island pier, says that he’s not surprised.
“Everyone wants to live by the ocean,” he says. Then he adds that what does bother him, is the noise from the construction – which echoed from building to building as he spoke.
He also projects that a lot more traffic will come with the new buildings. “Parking’s going to be crazy. It’s already pretty packed here in the Summer.”
Further along the pier, Mr. Jefferson is on a bench enjoying the sun. He comes here for peace and quiet, from New Jersey. “It’s pretty decent now. It’s not a crime infested, drug infested neighborhood,” he says. “What should they do here? Stabilize it, keep it as it is.”
With the booming development and the growing impacts of climate change, though, one thing that seems certain in Coney Island is change.
Residents have flagged the disconnect between the expansion of luxury and market-rate apartments, and the investment needs of the existing community.
Speaking with Fast Company, local Jaime Cartagena has said: “Building new luxury apartments here is like fixing your hat when there’s a hole in your boat…Look around, there are 33 empty storefronts on Mermaid Avenue. We don’t even have a rec center. We need things like community centers in the West End, places for kids to play.”