Sailing along: Industry returns to Navy Yard as massive developments move closer to completion

Sailing along: Industry returns to Navy Yard as massive developments move closer to completion
Photo by Taylor Balkom

This old shipyard is cruising into its next life.

Builders are hard at work finishing five projects that will transform Fort Greene’s once-industrial Navy Yard into a new commercial hub when all are completed by early next year. The developments will boost the job count at the nationally recognized historic site by more than 10,000, bringing the number of workers on the campus to its highest amount since the yard’s days as a ship-building facility, according to a honcho.

“We’re in our largest phase of expansion since the navy left, essentially since World War II,” said Clare Newman, the executive vice-president of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, a quasi-governmental agency that facilitates construction projects on the site. “We’re going from 7,000 people working on the yard daily today, to between 17,000 and 20,000 in the next two to three years, which is a pretty extraordinary surge in growth in such a short period.”

Here’s a look at the projects, which are in various stages of completion, going up on the 300-acre, East-River facing campus:

‘Green’ manufacturing

Workers finished rehabilitating the Green Manufacturing Center on Sixth Street between Morris Avenue and Market Street in 2016, and its four tenants are now inside, with some spaces up and running and others in the works, according to Newman.

Companies already hard at work at the site include high-tech armor producer Crye Precision, which makes gear for the United States military, and a collaborative workspace full of growing technology firms, New Lab.

And businesses still putting the finishing touches on their workplaces include gourmet coffee-pourer Brooklyn Roasting Company, which opened in nearby Dumbo in 2009, and chocolatier Mast Brothers, a local company that left a bad taste in some Brooklynites’ mouths in 2015 when foodies accused it of charging top dollar for subpar candy.

Building 77

Navy Yard bigwigs celebrated the grand reopening of its second fully refurbished building last November, but tenants are still moving into the structure on Eighth Avenue between Paulding and South streets that will become a new center for local food-and-drink production upon their arrival.

Future occupants include the Manhattan-based purveyor of smoked fish, bagels, and caviar, Russ and Daughters, and beer-maker Transmitter Brewery, which is moving its operation from Queens to a new headquarters inside the tower — the largest of the Navy Yard’s new developments.

And Building 77, which will boast jobs for more than 3,000 workers alone when fully active, will also feature a public space where locals can come to enjoy the many delicacies those laborers produce on its premises, Newman said.

“What we’re trying to create here is a food-manufacturing hub where the Navy Yard can literally open its door to the surrounding community,” she said. “In a few months, you’ll able to come here and see beer getting brewed and babka getting baked.”

Dock 72

The 16-story structure built from the ground up at 63 Flushing Ave., which sits along the waterfront near a stop on the citywide ferry service, is set to open this fall, if not before, according to Newman.

Two-thirds of its space will house offices for design and technology companies and amenities for tenants that include an outdoor basketball court, rooftop conference center, and gym, she said, while the remaining third will be occupied by shared-workspace provider WeWork.

Admiral’s Row

Developers demolished all but two of the stately naval officers’ residences that once occupied the strip of Flushing Avenue between Navy Street and N. Elliot Place, and the newly built, five-story steel structure that will replace them — which will contain retailers including the highly anticipated outpost of beloved grocery store Wegmans — is well on its way to completion, Newman said.

Navy Yard officials told this newspaper in 2016 that the massive market, which will occupy more than a football field’s worth of space, would welcome its first hungry shoppers this year, but bigwigs now predict an early 2019 opening, she said.

“People should be able to go shop there next year,” Newman said.

Steiner Studios

The ongoing expansion of Steiner Studios — a film-and-television studio that currently occupies six buildings spread across 26 acres on Washington Avenue between Gee and Paulding streets — includes the construction of six new sound stages that will bump the company’s total Navy Yard footprint to 60 acres, according to a Commerical Observer report.

Bigwigs at Hollywood on the East River expect actors to take its new stages later this year, Newman said.

And the five soon-to-finish projects are only one phase of the Navy Yard’s resurgence as a next-generation commercial hub.

Its honchos recently unveiled a plan to reach 30,000 jobs over the next several years by creating another five-million square feet of space — five times the amount inside Building 77 — at three new developments in the yard on Kent and Flushing avenues, and near Admiral’s Row closer to the Dumbo-side of the site, Newman said.

“Continuing to add space for businesses and middle-class jobs, and laying out a vision of what the yard can be as a home for manufacturing in the 21st century, is really important to us,” she said. “It’s a vision that will take place over many, many years.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
On the map: A look at where the five developments sit in the 300-acre yard along the East River.