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New Master Plan Envisions Brooklyn Navy Yard as Next-Gen Manufacturing Hub

Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation's master plan for the site is a $2.5 billion bet that high-tech manufacturers can be enticed back to New York, bringing with them the economic heft to transform the whole area.
October 6, 2018, 1pm PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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David Berkowitz

There are big plans afoot at Brooklyn Navy Yard, which has experienced a boom in leasing rates over the past decade. Details were recently released on a new master plan for the site, including 5.1 million square feet of new space at a cost of $2.5 billion. 

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation is betting that it can create a 21st-century tech hub, with integrated space for offices and manufacturing employing 30,000 people. "But if BNYDC builds this," Diana Budds asks, "will manufacturers actually come?"

"The master plan isn't nostalgic—this isn't pining for the manufacturing of yesteryear," said BNYDC president David Ehrenberg. "This is thinking, 'What does the next generation of high-growth manufacturers that are going to create these quality jobs need?'" Budds outlines how BNYDC developed the plan, which incorporates new concepts like a "vertical manufacturing building."

Taking its cue from the concept of vertical supply chain integration, the vertical manufacturing building includes three scales of space.

The ground level consists of loading docks, parking, and showrooms which act as a buffer for flooding. All of the mechanical systems—like elevator machinery and HVAC—are located on the second floor. The "XL" manufacturing floors, designed for large and heavy equipment, have large footprints, few columns, and 40-foot tall ceilings. [...] Above the XL floors are light-industrial spaces with 15-foot-tall ceilings. On the uppermost floors is creative office space with 12-foot-high ceilings.

Potential pitfalls for BNYDC include future floods, which could imperil manufacturers occupying the yard's older structures, and transit accesibility. Budds writes, "while the forthcoming NYC Ferry dock is nice, it isn't a mass transit solution. The complex is served by scant bus service and subways are distant (it's a 20-minute walk from Building 77 to the York Street F stop in Dumbo)."

The Brooklyn-Queens Connector streetcar project (which isn't on the ropes after all) is another uncertain element in that equation. "Ehrenberg views the BQX—a hotly debated light rail proposal, which would have stops in the Navy Yard—as a 'critical next component' of transportation accessibility. However, its future remains highly uncertain, considering its $2.7 billion price tag and location in an area highly vulnerable to sea level rise."

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Published on Thursday, September 27, 2018 in Curbed New York
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