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Something Really Cool is Coming to Brooklyn. Hint: It’s a Mega-Project

Brooklyn’s Industry City unveiled its much-anticipated redevelopment plan Monday, and it envisions something unprecedented in New York: the conversion of a dilapidated manufacturing site into a bustling complex that infuses industry with retail space, academic partnerships and even a hotel. Crain’s first reported that a hotel would be proposed for the site on Friday.

The project is ambitious in its combination of other uses with an industrial backbone, a contrast to manufacturing venues’ usual preference for isolation. The plan is a testament to the evolution of industrial businesses and to the need for more revenue than manufacturing alone would provide to pay for extensive upgrades to the long-neglected complex on Sunset Park’s waterfront.

The plan calls for an eye-popping $1 billion investment over a dozen years and 13,300 jobs at Industry City, including the ones currently there. The developers estimate that another 5,800 jobs would be created throughout the city as a result of the project.

New partnerships are being sought with academic and research institutions. And on-site job training and workforce development centers are planned to connect the sprawling waterfront complex to the surrounding community.

To get started, Industry City needs Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration to approve the creation of a “special innovation zoning district,” said Andrew Kimball, CEO of Industry City. It also will need city and state government to chip in $115 million for infrastructure upgrades and to approve of a plan to build parking on a portion of the city-owned South Brooklyn Marine Terminal site. The current zoning does not permit some of the retail or academic uses that executives envision for the site.

Mr. Kimball, who is also an executive at Jamestown, one of a trio of partners on the project, said without the rezoning from the city, the planned expansion could not go forward as planned.

“We’re not going to pull up stakes and go away,” Mr. Kimball said. “But it will take 30 years to get to all the buildings. So with a rezoning, and with the parking and with the public infrastructure, we can drive this investment over the next 12 years.”

It is unclear whether the de Blasio administration will sign off on the requests without some input of its own. Mr. de Blasio is on a crusade to add 240,000 units of affordable and market-rate housing over the next decade, and is even eyeing some traditional manufacturing districts as possible sites for workforce housing. Meanwhile, those manufacturers are experiencing stress as they attempt to maintain their foothold as hotels and illegal housing spring up nearby. The mayor has vowed to unveil his vision for manufacturing in the city in the coming months.

A spokeswoman for the Department of City Planning says it has yet to receive an application for rezoning from Industry City. Mr. de Blasio’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Kimball said that Industry City would serve as a space for both new-world manufacturers, like 3-D printing and artisanal food production, as well as traditional industrial businesses like clothing and jewelry manufacturers.

“We will continue to be a home for those types of businesses,” he said.

Industry City, which is run by a partnership among Jamestown, Belvedere Capital and Angelo Gordon, will spend $1 billion in private funds over the next 12 years on its expansion plans. That money will come from a “traditional blend” of equity and debt, though Mr. Kimball wouldn’t comment on the specific ratio. He said, though, that Industry City’s ability to raise capital from the financial markets will hinge on revenue from retail and the site’s planned hotel and conference center, as well as signing on high-tech tenants and forging partnerships with academic institutions.

A dispute between the city’s Economic Development Corp. and the City Council over the lease for the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal has held up development at that site. Mr. Kimball said he felt the site should be a mixture of maritime and industrial uses, and he was optimistic that “people are going to come out the other side” on the dispute.

Source: Crain’s New York