Brooklyn Brewery's Hindy Rather Bitter Toward City

“The Brooklyn Brewery was a confirmation of the American Dream,” co-founder Steve Hindy wrote in a commentary released today by the Center for an Urban Future called "Trouble Brewing."

“But after a frustrating, futile four-year search for a new Brewery site to expand operations in the city, I am now asking myself a question our success should have definitively answered: Does New York City really have a place for light manufacturing businesses like ours,” Mr. Hindy writes.

He and his partner started brewing beer from a defunct, Prohibition-era facility in Bushwick in 1987, and in 1991 leased a new 75,000-square-foot plant in Williamsburg for $3.50 per square foot. The Brewery was able to withstand 15 years of sweeping gentrification, the rezoning of industrial areas, and spiking real estate prices in Williamsburg that ultimately pushed their rent to $8.50 a foot; but by 2003 they needed to expand. Thus began a tortuous and taunting search during which they saw two potential relocation sites slip out of their grasp.

Mr. Hindy recounts how the city Economic Development Corporation’s push for them to relocate to Pier 7 in between the Brooklyn Bridge State Park and the heavy manufacturing plants on the waterfront put them smack in the middle of a battle between the Bloomberg administration and American Stevedoring, the company that runs the container port there.

“We were the baby that was thrown out with the bathwater,” Mr. Hindy writes of the aborted plan.

Then the Brooklyn Brewery joined with a developer on a rejected proposal for a residential project on the Gowanus Canal. Meanwhile, Mr. Hindy supported the rezoning of vacant industrial land in Williamsburg in the hopes that they would be able to remain there. (They have seven more years left on their current lease.)

The Brooklyn Brewery’s story is worth a read and serves up a damning indictment of local government—he writes that only two city programs have helped the company in its 20-year history by reducing costs, at least temporarily. Brooklyn Brewery's Hindy Rather Bitter Toward City