SUNSET PARK — It’s finally taking shape.
On Thursday Nov. 21, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) released the designs for the garment manufacturing hub and public realm components of the new Made in NY Campus at Bush Terminal in Sunset Park.
According to NYCEDC, the campus, which is slated to open its doors in spring 2021, will provide affordable industrial facilities for garment manufacturing, film and media production, and related services and industries.
NYCEDC Senior Vice President and Department Head of Design and Construction Jhaelen Hernandez-Eli talked to this paper about what this campus will bring to Sunset Park and how it will separate itself from similar spaces across the city.
“It is rare to combine public space and a public realm with industrial space,” he explained. “This is one of the first industrial campuses in the United States. To be able to reappropriate that kind of waterfront industrial space for more industrial space where people are making things is a unique opportunity. It doesn’t happen very often. Then, to be able to couple it with the public realm creates an entirely unique campus where you have folks making things and folks coming in and enjoying the waterfront for the community.”
The new campus, which is being designed by Brooklyn-based team, nARCHITECTS and W Architecture & Landscape Architecture, will include the conversion of a 200,000-square-foot building to a cutting-edge garment manufacturing hub with workspaces ranging from 2,000 to 40,000 square feet in size. The hub will support 20 to 30 garment-manufacturing companies, with tenants involved in pattern-making, cutting and sewing, and sample-making.
NYCEDC is also delivering 5.3 acres of new public space to complement the adjacent Bush Terminal Piers Park, and providing new amenities to the community and campus workers. Public amenities will include landscaped waterfront access, enhanced streetscapes, pedestrianized plazas and a water play feature.
“It’s extremely exciting,” said Hernandez-Eli. “It’s been in development for years, but I joined the project overseeing the design construction aspects and we started this process as a team back in early 2018. It’s been a pretty incredible journey to get to this moment.”
He also discussed the special Sunset Park waterfront location and the opportunities it will offer visitors.
“Sunset Park has a significant amount of waterfront but most of it is either privatized or dedicated to office or industrial. You have the meat market that’s on the waterfront and not a lot of it is accessible,” Hernandez-Eli explained. “You have the Bush Terminal Piers park which is one of the first significant efforts to change that and this is really a continuation of that. In many ways, it’s the front door to that park, but it also has a significant amount of space that is going to be dedicated to programming for fairs on the weekend, markets for the community, areas for children to come and play, and places for folks to eat. It’s not something that is present for the community in any significant way. It’s not something we are mandated to do. It’s great we are being proactive with it.”
One of the goals of the Made in NY Campus is to keep people from closing their businesses or moving.
“A lot of our old industrial assets throughout the five boroughs, especially in Brooklyn, are being converted into office space or condos,” he said. “Here, we are maintaining that space for businesses that make things … Sunset Park is probably one of the highest concentrations of garment manufacturing outside of Manhattan and what’s happening is folks are moving or closing down. Now they don’t need to. We are providing a space for them.”
The current space includes a significant amount of area dedicated to truck circulation. The plan is to create new spaces while preserving others.
“What we are doing is … taking the trucks off those streets and converting them for people to inhabit,” Hernandez-Eli said. “Softscape trees [will be put] in there while also maintaining some of the unique aspects of the campus history like the rail line.”