The Brooklyn Navy Yard is getting a $140 million infusion of city money to upgrade a massive building from storage space to a workplace for 3,000 employees at companies ranging from a medical diagnostic laboratory to a motorcycle design startup, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.
The project expands previous plans to repurpose what's known as Building 77, a World War II-era structure that once housed supplies and the commandant's offices at the former military shipyard. The 300-acre yard is now owned by the city, which has been transforming it into a hub for manufacturing, entertainment and other companies.
"The Brooklyn Navy Yard is the epitome of something very, very quintessentially New York: the ability to reinvent," de Blasio said at a news conference.
The new investment in Building 77 will add windows, more elevators and other features to make windowless lower floors suitable for more labor-intensive businesses than warehousing, said David Ehrenberg, president of the nonprofit Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp.
It's going to cost twice as much as the city's prior plans to redevelop the 1 million-square-foot building, but it's also expected to double the number of jobs and to increase the rent from about $6 per square foot to $20 or more, officials said. The building is expected to be ready in mid- to late 2016.
Some expected tenants already have space elsewhere in the yard, but the project will give them room to grow and free up space for others, Ehrenberg said. More than 100 prospective tenants have been seeking to get or expand space in the yard, where existing business-ready spaces have had virtually no vacancies in a decade, he and city officials said.
More than 330 businesses employ a total of nearly 7,000 people in the yard, up from 230 businesses and 3,600 workers in 2001. Tenants include Steiner Studios' sound stages, Sweet'N Low makers Cumberland Packing Corp., body armor manufacturer Crye Precision and M&D Door & Hardware, where Brooklyn native Dana Brown, 23, is supporting her father and brother by working as a junior estimator.
"I love what I do," she said, adding that she hopes to build a career there.