The sweep of gentrification may have devoured entire swaths of Brooklyn, but Sunset Park has managed to maintain its status as a relatively cost-effective hold-out. Despite its excellent tacos and easy access to Manhattan, the area remains largely industrial, with little by way of small-batch artisanal condiment purveyors or farm-to-table brunch spots to draw the moneyed masses. Until now!
According to the Wall Street Journal, the de Blasio administration plans to dedicate $100 million to renovating Brooklyn Army Terminal, and private investment firms last year bought a 49 percent stake in Industry City with the hope of turning the rambling space into Brooklyn's version of Chelsea Market. Nearby at Liberty View Plaza, developers are hoping to create a nascent tech hub to rival DUMBO.
De Blasio's imagining of the revitalized Sunset Park is a pretty one indeed, a place "where working-class residents pay rents they can afford, then walk to stable jobs generated by a blossoming small-manufacturing sector." In reality though, Sunset Park is plagued by systemic problems that will be costly to fix, like potholed roads, aging sewer lines and pollution.
And while much of the 4.4 million-square-foot Brooklyn Army Terminal is occupied by manufacturers, they're generally not of the fashionable "hipsters handcrafting mandolin strings" variety that tend to attract salivating Sunday Styles writers. There are, however, notable exceptions: Chocolatier Jacques Torres runs a 39,500-square-foot chocolate factory from the space, and "creative e-commerce" company UncommonGoods and sustainable furniture purveyor Urban Green have set up shop in BAT as well.
Industry City, for its part, is the current location of the popular Mister Sunday dance parties, having recently been forced from the banks of the Gowanus by development. (The Times describes attendees as "buff dance-enthusiasts, raver moms and many who defy stereotypes, including a tiny redheaded man furiously go-go dancing by a speaker who became the party’s unofficial mascot and lucky charm.)
Some argue that a non-profit partnership could be what is needed to better stock the neighborhood's industrial spaces. "I think the Brooklyn Army Terminal could greatly benefit from the same kind of curation of tenancies and workforce development that the Navy Yard has enjoyed from a public-private partnership and structure where a nonprofit corporation feels real ownership," Kathryn Wylde, president and chief executive of the Partnership for New York City, told the paper.
Whether Sunset Park ultimately becomes the curated manufacturing Valhalla of De Blasio's dreams or not, it's certainly come a long way since Georgette was sucking down bennies outside the Greeks, hasn't it?