DUMBO bursting at the seams with tourists, workers, residents — and construction

Dumbo Belgian Blocks

As contentious as Michael Bloomberg’s proposed presidential run is, he’d probably get some votes in DUMBO.

When he was mayor of New York, Bloomberg was instrumental in helping to transform the former industrial neighborhood to the vibrant family-friendly, tech-centric area it is today. The opening of Brooklyn Bridge Park, sent gleeful residents running for their strollers and Baby Bjorns while subways thundered overhead.

Since Bloomberg’s announcement “touting new parkland and residential development … the highlights of our city’s new green waterfront,” the neighborhood has sprouted, figuratively and literally.

Marketproof data shows an uptick in new construction over the last three years. A major 5-year upgrade to the roads, water, and sewer lines is also underway just as the hulking new apartment complexes take to the skies. An estimated 3,000 more residents will be added to a neighborhood already busting at the seams. At 85 Jay St. alone, some 728 apartments are currently under construction.


“It’s like you’re on a film set every day,” said Mallory Kasdan, a 16-year DUMBO resident and co-founder of DAC (Dumbo Action Committee). “There are people coming into work, deliveries, tourists, construction, Ubers, film shoots. It’s vibrant and inspiring but it can also be overwhelming because there are also children on their way to school.” Indeed, a concern for local parents is whether neighborhood schools are equipped to handle the influx of new kids.

While cranes and scaffolding pierce the waterfront skyline, on ground level the precious hand cut Belgian blocked cobblestone streets are being dismantled and handled with the tenderness of an original Shakespeare folio.

85 Jay Street construction
85 Jay Street construction

“The streets are being refurbished,” explains Kasdan. “It will look beautiful when it’s done.” Conversely, Kasdan describes the current experience of traversing some of DUMBO’s patched asphalt and potholed streets as “walking on the moon,” wreaking havoc to strollers and car and truck axles alike.

Another issue is the crowded F train stop at York Street. There is an obvious disconnect between the city and MTA’s planning and the increase in DUMBO’s residential, business and tourist footprint. Addressing this issue is a priority for DAC, who is looking to have a second entrance built to eliminate bottle-necking during rush hour.

Given the current demands on the neighborhood, it’s hard to believe that DUMBO was seriously offered by the city as a contender in Amazon’s HQ2 bake-off until Long Island City got the nod and then fizzled. The departure of the Jehovah’s Witnesses from their famed Watchtower buildings in 2017 has seen a massive $80 million retail and office makeover dubbed Panorama scheduled to take its place in 2021. That’s just a taste of things to come.

“There are so many new companies heading for DUMBO says Alexandra Sica, DUMBO BID (Business Improvement District) Executive Director and a cheerleader for the area’s commercial attraction. “We already have Etsy, We Work, Wegmans, Rent The Runway, United Technology and many more. It’s a place where companies and people want to be. It’s the number one tech center in New York.” she enthuses. “In fact, it’s probably one of the only areas in New York where you can have families, tech, artists and tourists all within the same few block radius.”


Living around such energy and diversity comes at a cost. Marketproof data shows sales and rental figures almost double those of average Brooklyn prices. The neighborhood has some of the best, most iconic views in the city and is an entrance to Downtown Brooklyn. Some residents and real estate professionals think prices in DUMBO will continue to increase, while others are hoping that in the short term the there may be a buying opportunity, especially if the overall market softens.

Regardless, when DUMBO’s infrastructure catches up to its meteoric development, its star status in Brooklyn’s coveted real estate estate will be assured.

Disclosure: Marketproof powers the real estate listings for Brownstoner, a publication of Schneps Media, which is the parent company of amNewYork.

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