City seeking developer for Sunset Park site

By Gary Buiso

The city announced this week its intention to seek a developer for a vacant 1.1 million-square-foot warehouse building in Sunset Park, a move officials said signals the desire to rekindle industrial activity along the waterfront.

The quasi-public Economic Development Corporation issued a request for proposals on Dec. 28 for both the sale and the development of property, known as Federal Building #2.

The site includes an adjacent 100,000-square-foot parcel of vacant land. The approximately 240,000-square-foot development site is bounded by 30th Street on the north, Third Avenue to the east, 32nd Street on the south, and Second Avenue on the west. The agency is requesting proposals from qualified developers or end users to redevelop the property for light industrial uses.

According to the EDC, it is anticipated that the adjacent 100,000-square-foot parcel will be used for parking, but other uses that comply with zoning regulations may be proposed. Proposals may also include a small amount of office space and a limited amount of retail on the lower levels to improve the look of the street and provide services to the building’s occupants, the agency said.

The EDC had previously sought developers for the site, and found one in Manhattan-based firm Time Equities. But the economy forced the company to abandon its plans, the firm announced last February.

The initial request was tailored narrowly, seeking a developer to come in and create spaces for smaller industrial companies, according to EDC spokesperson Janel Patterson. “This one, we’re are just looking for mainly manufacturing and wholesale distribution, she noted. “What we are doing now is letting the market tell us.”

The proposals are due back in February, and the EDC will then weigh them. “We would obviously like to make a decision as soon as we can,” Patterson said.

Officials hailed the city’s initiative, saying it could revive the economy of the neighborhood, as well as the region.

“A light manufacturing facility at Federal Building #2 holds the potential to rejuvenate Sunset Park and provide jobs for the community’s hard-working residents,” Rep. Nydia Velazquez said in a statement. “By joining together to develop this urban industrial property, we can ensure that the input of the community is included in this project.”

Even though the clouds of the Great Recession have yet to disperse, the city said it feels its timing is right. “Despite current economic conditions, we feel that this is exactly the right time to be seeking new investments in our city — a sentiment that is confirmed by the numerous inquiries that we have received from the industrial community about the future of this unique property,” said EDC President Seth Pinsky. “This request for proposals represents an excellent opportunity to transform Federal Building #2 into a thriving center of industrial activity.”

Federal Building #2 was built in 1916 as a warehouse for the Department of the Navy and is currently owned by the federal government and administered by the General Services Administration. The EDC will take title to the property prior to its disposition for development.

The reinforced concrete, eight-story building has 16 elevator shafts and nine stairwells, and features 200-pound-per-square-foot floor loads.

The site stands across from the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, which is being reactivated as a break-bulk maritime port and currently hosts a maritime automobile receiving and processing facility.

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