Industry City's billion-dollar plan for becoming 'a hub for the innovation economy' - Technical.ly Brooklyn

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Mar. 9, 2015 1:29 pm

Industry City’s billion-dollar plan for becoming ‘a hub for the innovation economy’

Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball presented ambitious plans for the Sunset Park industrial complex today. He says new zoning for the site is the first step.

Gift bags for guests of the Industry City event featured products currently made at the complex.

(Photo by Brady Dale)

Industry City has made a lot of progress since Jamestown Properties and its many partners took the lead on rehabbing the former shipping terminal. Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball presented plans Monday to make the space into an international center for commerce. To get there, Kimball argued, the complex needs a new zoning designation to give it more flexibility. He looks for that conversation to take place over the next couple of years.

Throughout Kimball’s presentation inside the Industry City leasing office on 36th Street, he returned again and again to the innovation economy. We recently raised the question of where the new startup ecosystem might be now that Dumbo has gotten so pricey. Industry City may not be the sort of spot for true startups, but Kimball made it very clear that his vision for the place is very TAMI — the increasingly buzzy real estate term for tenants from the technology, advertising, media and information sectors.

"What is the vision of uses we need to make this place hum? It’s an ecosystem."
Andrew Kimball, Industry City

“We want to create a hub for the innovation economy, with businesses that have a long-term connection to NYC,” he said. “In the past year, we’ve been in the viability and credibility stage,” adding that they needed to see whether or not the innovation economy would come if they got the buildings ready.

MakerBot is one of the anchor tenants in the space. Kimball said it has increased its footprint from 20,000 square feet when he started to 250,000 square feet. We recently visited another Industry City tenant, DOOB, which is exploring advanced 3D-image capture.

So far, $100 million has been invested in the space, which has led to the leasing of 850,00 square feet and the creation of 1,500 jobs in the complex, according to a release from Industry City. The Atlanta-based Jamestown Properties is also behind Manhattan’s revamped Chelsea Market.

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Kimball said the updated plan calls for $1 billion in additional investment. The complex ultimately has over 6 million square feet of space, including almost a million square feet of green space.

Andrew Kimball describing the redevelopment plan for Industry City

Andrew Kimball describing the redevelopment plan for Industry City. (Photo by Brady Dale)

“What is the vision of uses we need to make this place hum? It’s an ecosystem,” Kimball said, meaning that some of the uses he believes the property needs are forbidden by its current zoning classification, which reflects 1960s-era thinking about land use, he argued.

Kimball said that, even with the success so far, they’ve only chipped away at the buildings now used either for storage or sitting vacant. At the current rate, he said, it could take 30 years to fill all the space Industry City has available.

In order to achieve its broader vision, Industry City wants to rezone the area so that it can include classrooms with lab space, expanded retail and a new hotel and convention center. On that last point, Kimball said that these uses would make up a small percentage of the total square footage of the property, but would be critical for enabling it to serve as an international business destination. Kimball specifically pointed out the Philadelphia Navy Yard as a model for mixing industrial uses with hospitality, saying that 80 percent of visitors to the hotel at the Navy Yard are there because of business taking place within the yard.

Industry City’s plan calls for adding roughly a million square feet of leaseable space over the next 12 years.

Products produced inside Industry City today

A display featuring products currently made at Industry City. (Photo by Brady Dale)

Kimball spoke in support of the mayor’s call for new ferry service, saying that if any site merited a ferry stop, it was Industry City at 39th Street. He argued that the fact that most workers at Industry City will be able to walk or commute quickly to the site will improve employee retention. However, Kimball also wants some more parking.

Kimball said that entry-level jobs for TAMI companies pay 50 percent better than service sector jobs. Industry City believes its proposal will create 20,000 jobs.

Kimball previously headed up the redevelopment effort at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Industry City represents about 20 percent of the former Bush Terminal, which, at its peak, was the largest multi-tenant industrial property in the United States. Industry City is the largest privately owned industrial complex in New York City.

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