As Sunset Park continues to boom, Industry City is setting its sights on drastically raising its employment as well as redeveloping the massive 16- building, six million-square foot space.
Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball introduced a proposal on Monday, March 9 that would bring over $1 billion in private investment to the waterfront property as well as add 20,000 jobs to the neighborhood within 12 years, which Kimball said would benefit local residents.
“At his speech last Thursday, the mayor called on the private sector to step up and create good, local paying jobs. That’s what this project is all about,” said Kimball. “After decades of decline, we are about to launch an era of economic growth, including four million square feet of innovation economy and modern manufacturing space.”
Kimball, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Carlo Scissura, Borough President Eric Adams, Councilmember Carlos Menchaca and State Senator Marty Golden were in attendance and spoke during the event. Community stakeholders were also on hand for the announcement.
According to Kimball, should the plan come to fruition, Industry City would be the nation’s largest privately owned adaptive reuse of an underutilized industrial space for modern manufacturing uses. “Our vision,” he stressed, “is to create a hub for the innovation economy with businesses that have long-term viability in New York City, and most of all, create sustainable good paying local jobs.”
Kimball also discussed the hardships faced by Industry City when he took the CEO role in 2013. “We faced a lot of challenges,” he recalled. “Nearly 70 percent of the site was underutilized and there were very few jobs. It was a massive undertaking.”
Since then, Industry City has leased 850,000 square feet of space in 18 months and created 1,500 jobs. “No other public or private sector site up and down the BQE has created that many jobs in such a short order of time,” Kimball added, attributing the change to bringing in “new and exciting tenants that represent innovation economy.”
Kimball’s vision includes factors such as finding jobs for Sunset residents, a new hotel that would need to go through a public approval process and expanding retail in the complex. A key, he said, is updated zoning, as well as more parking.
“If you don’t have additional parking, you’re going to have a problem,” he said, noting there are only 450 spaces for 5.3 million square feet.
Golden also discussed the space’s past. “There used to be 25,000 people working here,” he said. “We don’t have anything close to that but we will and shortly, working with Andrew, the Chamber and others to create energy that is needed to get Industry City where it needs to go.”
“All the members of this community are looking to bring soul to the brick and mortar that has been here,” added Menchaca. “Andrew’s presentation is one to celebrate. He’s not only bringing his vision but the voices of people working here and want to work here.”
However, not everyone thinks the proposal is necessarily advantageous to Sunset Park residents. “Today, [Industry City] is filing for a zoning change – a very extreme change – they told us about this – but they did not embrace us in a discussion of how to make it work for all of us,” said Executive Director of Sunset Park Restoration Tony Giordano. “Industry City has a lot to learn. While we want good paying jobs for local residents, we want assurances that those jobs really will exist.”
Scissura remains optimistic. “Industry City should be called Innovative Industry City because everything about this place is phenomenal,” he said, “whether it’s the makers or the shops of makers companies who were leaving Brooklyn but who have now made commitment to the borough because of Industry City. That’s important.”