Expects 15,000 Jobs by 2020
By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. announced during a press conference on Monday that it will add 1 million square feet of manufacturing space when it opens its Green Manufacturing Center and completes a $140 million renovation of its Building 77 within the next two years.
“The Navy Yard is realizing the future,” Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Carlo Scissura said. “It can provide more space and really continue to assist the workforce development, assist young entrepreneurs and really maximize the potential of the waterfront in Brooklyn.”
“We have been 100 percent full for 10 years,” said Navy Yard Development Corp. CEO David Ehrenberg. “We're the only landlord in the city who is quite upset that we are full. We’ve been unable to satisfy the demands of our existing tenants who need space, and we get about five or six calls a day from companies looking for space and we can’t help them.”
At its height, the Navy Yard had 70,000 full-time jobs, but when the U.S. Navy moved out in 1966 it immediately lost 10,000 jobs, and eventually there were as few as 100 jobs.
Today, private companies located within the Navy Yard provide about 6,000 to 7,000 jobs to the community, and that number is expected to grow with these expansions.
“We are now starting our largest expansion since the Navy moved out, and expect by 2020 that we will have about 15,000 people working here with hopes and plans for even more,” Ehrenberg said.
The restoration of the Green Manufacturing Center cost roughly $78 million and is expected to create 800 jobs when it opens. The restoration of Building 77 is anticipated to cost $140 million, which is expected to be covered by city funding, private funding and loans, according to Ehrenberg.
Building 77 was initially built very quickly, over just six months, before America’s entry into World War II. Since it was a warehouse, the lower 11 floors were built without windows. The renovation, which is expected to take between a year and a half and two years, will add windows among many changes.
“We are currently looking, for just those top two floors, for a marquee tenant,” Ehrenberg said. “Not a traditional anchor tenant that will pay debt service on the building, that would be nice, but we're looking for a marquee tenant who will anchor the industrial center here at the Yard.
“We believe that Brooklyn and the city is ready for a major manufacturer or major research and design company to move back into the city,” he said.
A big part of this project will be to add a public space dubbed the “Yard Commons.” This involves moving the Navy Yard wall so that Building 77 will no longer be behind it and will be easily accessible by the community. Ehrenberg said he expects to lease out the bottom floor to food manufacturers who would also have retail outlets where Navy Yard employees, as well as members of the surrounding community, can go for lunch.
“Building 77 will really define our success, in my mind, over the next five or seven years,” Ehrenberg said. “It will create a center of gravity at the Yard and the ground floor will give us a common area that the Yard lacks. The first complaint I got at the Yard was that there weren't enough lunch options.”