Brooklyn Navy Yard
The Brooklyn Navy Yard spans the length of the Brooklyn waterfront from Vinegar Hill to Williamsburg. The complex of 40 buildings covers over 300 acres and has 4 functioning dry docks and 5 active piers. The Yard was an active military instillation until 1966, when it was closed and sold to the City of New York for $24 million. Today, it functions as an industrial park with tenants representing a variety of uses from furniture manufacturing to food packaging to book publishing. A major tenant is Steiner Studios, the largest film and television studio complex outside of Hollywood. All told, the Yard employs over 5,000 people, and in 2006 the Bloomberg administration announced an expansion plan for the Yard expected to create up to 2,000 additional jobs.
Through new construction on underutilized or vacant parcels as well as renovation of outdated buildings, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC) is expected to increase the amount of space available in the Yard by 10 percent. The new facilities will be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards, and at least one will feature building-mounted wind turbines for power generation. BNYDC has also partnered with Steiner Studios to develop a “media campus” at the Yard through expansion of the Steiner facilities as well as efforts to attract additional media companies and a possible graduate-level film school to the site.
In January 2008, the National Guard suspended any transfer of the property to BNYDC after finding the site was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. While eligibility alone does not preclude demolition of the mansions, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires the Guard to formally assess the proposed developments' adverse effects on of the site and solicit input from the public on how these effects might be avoided or mitigated before approving BNYDC's proposal.
In May 2009, the National Guard reached a proposed decision requiring the preservation of only one of the ten mansions in addition to a neighboring Civil War-era timber shed. BNYDC now plans to spend time trying to find a developer willing to incorporate the preservation of the two structures into any plans for the 6-acre site. Groups, such as the Municipal Arts Society (MAS) have urged the National Guard to preserve all of the structures not just the two that would be maintained under the proposed agreement.
The most controversial element of the redevelopment proposal is BNYDC's plan to build a supermarket on land currently occupied by a strip of 10 Civil War-era mansions known as Admiral’s Row. These Flushing Avenue homes once housed high-ranking naval officials but have been uninhabited and decaying since the 1970s. Preservationist groups, while acknowledging the need for a supermarket to serve residents of nearby public housing projects, argued for adaptive reuse rather than demolition of the Row. BNYDC, on the other hand, contends that reuse would be prohibitively expensive. An Army Corps of Engineers study predicted that restoration would cost approximately $20 million, but BNYDC claimed the true price of rehabilitation would be significantly higher. In spring of 2010, the federal government transferred ownership of the land to New York City and subsequently, the City partnered with ShopRite Supermarket to bring a grocery store to the Navy Yard. The work will begin in 2012 and is scheduled to take a year to complete. Work on a visitor’s center and exhibition space broke ground in October 2009.
Last Updated: June 1, 2010