Light manufacturing is dead. Long live light manufacturing!
A new 3,200-square-foot space is available for rent in East Williamsburg, but it is not for the typical loft-dwelling artist that has moved into the area.
Instead, the one-story building will be available for light industrial usage for one or two small manufacturers, bringing 10 to 15 jobs in the neighborhood.
The East Williamsburg Valley Industrial Development Corporation, which purchased the site with the help of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Councilmember Diana Reyna’s office, held a grand opening at 162 Cook Street on January 21 to celebrate renovation.
“The economic development goal of the North Brooklyn Industrial Centers is to preserve local blue-collar manufacturing jobs by providing affordable industrial space in North Brooklyn,” said EWVIDCO Board Chair Tod Greenfield, of Martin Greenfield Clothiers. “The rezoning of the Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront area has forced many small manufacturers to seek refuge in places farther away from North Brooklyn creating a loss of jobs for local residents. We hope to reduce the loss of local industrial jobs by providing long-term industrial space at affordable rates.”
The building is the second industrial real estate development that the nonprofit has bought in East Williamsburg, and part of a broader effort to provide services and advocacy for the neighborhood’s besieged local industrial businesses.
Reyna (D-Williamsburg), who hours earlier was named Chair of the Small Business Committee in City Council, applauded the purchase, calling it a “wonderful achievement for the industrial fabric of our community.”
“This is exactly the kind of partnership we need to foster in order to preserve and support industrial and manufacturing jobs in North Brooklyn,” said Reyna. “Our ability to utilize the fund set aside from the rezoning for this building is a testament to EWVIDCO’s outstanding advocacy on behalf of the employers that keep our neighborhoods and our city economy strong.”
City officials, including Seth Pinsky, President of the NYC Economic Development Corporation and Leslie Ramos, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses, said the new space and others like it will not only help preserve Williamsburg’s industrial identity but inspire new growth in the manufacturing sector.
“We have a lot of young people in this area and spaces like this will help entrepreneurs bring ideas to the market,” said Ramos. “Retaining small spaces is key for preserving this community.”
According to EWVIDCO’s Michael Wilhite, so far two potential tenants, a pet garment maker and a print cartridge manufacturer, are evaluating the site. With ceilings 19 feet high and an M1 industrial zoning overlay, Wilhite says the site is ideally suited for a woodworker or metalworker.
“You’re still in an industrial zone, you are near Wonton Foods and Boars Head, and you really have a nice mix of businesses here,” said Wilhite.
One local business owner, Ernie Wong of Shanghai Steel, who attended the grand opening, was intrigued by the space but would not be relocating there. Wong, whose business is located in the Broadway Triangle, may have to move his business after the City Council voted to rezone the area around him.
“No, no, this place is too small, my place is bigger than this,” said Wong, adding that he would like to remain in Williamsburg.