Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT) hosted a celebration that marked a century in existence at the growing facility, in addition unveiling over 500,000 square feet of new industrial space.
The event took place on Thursday, May 31, as elected officials, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYEDC) personnel and local business owners discussed the past, present and future of the historic space.
“We are the landlord here at BAT,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “It has proven to be one of our greatest assets.
“For decades, BAT had not lived up to its potential,” Patchett noted. Decommissioned by the military in 1966, “By the time the state took control of the terminal in 1981, it was completely vacant,” he said.
At that point, Patchett went on, it “sat with cracked windows” for half a century. “It was not a place that anyone could safely work or frankly even go into. In the last couple of years, we have transformed it.”
Plans for the complex — where some 1,000 people will be employed — also include launching a Micromanufacturing Hub cluster, dedicating 55,000 square feet of space for small industrial businesses to grow within the campus, and completing renovation of the Food Manufacturing Hub for small food manufacturing firms.
Residents of Sunset Park will benefit, Patchett contended.
“I know it hasn’t always been an easy relationship between the EDC and the local community but I think we’ve made enormous strides over the last few years working towards a shared vision for this space,” he said. “We all want the same thing — more jobs for people who work and live in Sunset Park, more opportunities and access to the waterfront and an overall better place for the people here and the city overall. I really think today is an important milestone event.”
Launch Pad, a new training platform, will connect local residents to modern industrial skills through workshops and create new space and programming to help tenants grow their businesses on campus.
Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen enthused about the four-million-square-foot complex and its rapid transformation accelerated by the New York Works plan, the de Blasio administration’s effort to make significant investments in city-owned properties such as BAT.
“We invested over $200 million of city money to upgrade and modernize the space and it’s working,” Glen said. “We’re able to attract both traditional manufacturing companies and newer innovative manufacturing companies to the space right now, so I think it’s delivering real time.”
“Brooklyn Army Terminal is reflective of the spirit of Sunset Park that we celebrate every day and that spirit is in its response to crisis of the future,” added Councilmember Carlos Menchaca. “In its deep history to a hub for innovation, the BAT also celebrates the visionary manufacturing.”
Businesses chimed in on their experiences with BAT.
“We love it here,” said Ken Goto of Jacques Torres Chocolate, who rides her bike to the ferry nearby. “We have a big loading dock. Before we didn’t have one and we had to lift everything on our shoulders. The neighbors in this building are so creative, too. If we need furniture for the store, we go to companies in the building.”
“We came to the terminal last year,” added Kristine Tonkonow of The Konery. “We are in the annex building. Moving in, we were able to secure more space which is great. The annex is pretty much brand new so we walked into a beautiful brand new space. We’re able now to obtain new certificates for having a larger space. Its more opportunities for growth being in this area. For us, it’s about growth.”
VanTrang Manges, founder of healthy treat purveyor Green Mustache, discussed the pros of being a part of BAT.
“As our company grew, we realized that our products resonated with much broader demographics and so our story is about helping everyone find healthy and convenient ways to eat,” she said. “We came here in December. We were operating in a space in Williamsburg. We decided to move here because we realized that Brooklyn Army Terminal and EDC can help support us in a way few other commercial spaces could by providing more affordable space, available space for expansion and networking.”