While the population boom and housing crisis have caused industrial zones in neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Long Island City to be transferred to residential uses, the city is also taking measures to preserve its manufacturing base. On March 28, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) announced an RFP for the acquisition and redevelopment of three buildings comprising 130,000 square feet at Bush Terminal in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, the 18-building, 6.5-million-square-foot industrial park completed by Irving Bush in 1895.The EDC is specifically seeking proposals from industrial businesses for employment- intensive uses such as manufacturing and fabrication. Proposals are due by May 21st.
Currently the city rents space at the site on a month-to-month basis, a factor that, along with the building infrastructure’s dilapidation, has become a deterrent for businesses. One such company, Brisco— a silk screening shop that employed 100 people—packed up and moved to North Carolina. According to Rachael Dubin of the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, Brisco left due to the leasing issue and because the site’s frequent power outages caused their machinery to break. The RFP requires developers wishing to acquire space at the terminal to seek at least LEED certification. Interested parties can submit proposals for the entire site or a minimum of 40,000 square feet, though no one scheme will be chosen without related plans that fill all three buildings.
Previously, in summer 2006, the EDC issued a similar RFP for three other industrial loft buildings at Bush Terminal. Though the city has yet to announce the businesses that have been selected, the EDC determined to make a decision on the current RFP within six months. An 18-acre park has also been planned on a brownfield to the southwest of the site.
Industrial development is also happening in other areas of Sunset Park, which is a neighborhood where 40 percent of residents walk to work and the vacancy rate for industrial buildings is as low as one percent. At the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, cementkingpin LaFarge North America recently opened a $20 million, 6.8-acre storage and shipping terminal, and scrap-giant Sims Hugo Neu is working with the city to establish a $25 million recycling facility. “The media often portrays these areas as blighted,” noted Dubin. “They’re not. Sunset Park’s industrial properties have lower vacancy rates than office space in Manhattan.”