The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) recently hosted a community workshop focusing on the Made in NY Campus, the city’s $136 million investment to create a center for fashion, film, and television in Sunset Park’s Bush Terminal, to give locals the opportunity to learn how the community could benefit from the space.
The plan was announced in February by Mayor Bill de Blasio at the historic site.
The workshop was held on Thursday, June 22 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The campus is expected to be completed in three years.
“So much of the property of the waterfront from Third Avenue to the water is owned by the city of New York,” said Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, “which means it’s owned by us, the people who live here in the city and should be strategized with us in mind.”
Menchaca mentioned the important factor of employment. “The mayor has a big plan to bring many jobs,” he said. “We want a maximum amount to come from this neighborhood. It’s not an easy feat. I want to be clear with EDC — we want all of you to help design what this means to Sunset Park first.”
Julie Stein, executive director of Sunset Park for EDC, led the workshop. “What is exciting about this is it’s a large investment and a lot of money, but it’s also spread across a number of different improvements as part of this campus,” she said. “Right now there are 14 buildings on site. Some are vacant, some are demolished and some are in various states of repair.”
She elaborated on the creation of jobs. “We anticipate there will be 1,500 new jobs that will come on line at the Bush Terminal Campus,” she said. “A portion will be in garment, film and television and other manufacturing uses.”
Stein also addressed the current challenges. “There’s been a decrease in the number of garment manufacturing businesses in Sunset but we think with this investment, there’s an opportunity to bring garment manufacturing back to Sunset Park, bringing more jobs in that industry, and part of that would be the cluster at Bush Terminal and some of the other businesses attracted to the neighborhood because we are making this investment to the terminal,” she said.
The second portion of the investment will be towards film and television production studios, which Stein described as “100,000-square-foot new construction/renovation that would be done as a public-private partnership with a private film and TV operator,” Stein added.
There were concerns and questions raised by attendees.
Stefanie Lynen of manufacturing company Winter Water Factory cited rising rents in the area. “What are you doing to support the garment manufacturing that is already here and the jobs we’re losing because of all of the development going on in our area?” she asked.
“The things we have control over EDC are the properties we control,” answered Stein. “Right now we have a lot of space within Sunset Park that we do rent. We control over six million square feet of development. Four million plus of that is municipal so we support the manufacturing businesses in the area by offering below-market rents.”
Maria Roca of Friends of Sunset Park wanted to know how the space would benefit Sunset’s youth. “I think there’s a huge opportunity for those owners to offer internships and come to the schools to talk about opportunities,” she said.
“We’re interested in that type of thinking across the board,” replied Stein.