New Dawn for Manufacturing in Sunset Park

FedBuild New Dawn for Manufacturing in Sunset Park
The Federal Building.

The Center for an Urban Future, a New York City-based “think tank dedicated to independent, fact-based research about critical issues facing New York’s future,” released a study yesterday urging the city to redevelop two buildings in Sunset Park, smack-dab in the newly minted southwest Brooklyn industrial business zone.

The I.B.Z., you’ll remember, is Mayor Bloomberg’s much-lauded solution to the steady, incremental loss of industrial jobs and spaces the city’s been suffering from due to real-estate speculation and residential conversions. The southwest Brooklyn I.B.Z. stretches from Atlantic Avenue at its northernmost point to 65th Street at its southernmost, all along the East River and surrounding the Gowanus Canal.

But, according to the C.U.F., industrial vacancy rates remain at historic lows. Adding to problem, when industrial buildings are converted to residential developments, blue-collar jobs are lost–or shifted out of the area–and typically, these conversions are not affordable to lower- and middle-class renters.

So, it makes sense for the city to keep a manufacturing base, which is where the C.U.F.’s recommendations come in.

The city owns two massive buildings in the manufacturing district of Sunset Park. The first, the Federal Building No. 2, at 30th Street and Third Avenue, has 1.1 million available square feet. According to the C.U.F., the Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation has secured $3 million in federal and city funds to redevelop the site, out of a total $70 to $125 million needed in total. It’s been sitting vacant for five years, and once developed could provide space for up to 90 business and 1,500 jobs.

Currently, the city has issued a request for proposals and the project needs an environmental impact statement, but it looks like work could begin within the next year and a half. Ground-floor retail is possible to help defray the remaining costs of development.

BrookArmyTerm New Dawn for Manufacturing in Sunset Park
The Brooklyn Army Terminal.

The other building, Brooklyn Army Terminal Building A, has approximately 900,000 square feet of developable space. The multi-building complex was abandoned in 1975 and taken over by the city in 1981. Building B was redeveloped for $130 million and today has nearly 100 percent of its 2.2 million square feet occupied. Its sister building, Building A, has 1.8 million square feet, of which 50 percent is currently occupied. According to the C.U.F., it would cost approximately $40 million to redevelop the remaining space in the building.

According to the C.U.F., the city’s Economic Development Corporation is mulling ideas around for the space, but as yet no funds have been committed.

-Matthew Grace