FORT GREENE — The neglected, branch-strewn strip of the Brooklyn Navy Yard located next to three public housing developments will finally welcome the area's first big supermarket, Sen. Charles Schumer said Friday, announcing that the site was officially being transferred to the city after a long and controversial process.
The supermarket, which will also include industrial space, will be built on Admiral's Row, a strip of 11 derelict buildings dating from the 1800s. Two of the historic structures will be preserved and restored for additional retail shops. Nine of the crumbling buildings will be torn down, despite a fight by preservationists.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation is requesting proposals for the supermarket.
In all, officials expect the project will bring roughly 500 permanent jobs to an area with high unemployment, and ensure quality and affordable food for the local population.
The community was "previously bereft of supermarkets," Schumer noted.
The senator said he and other local officials had for years been pressuring the Army National Guard — which managed the Admiral’s Row site — to hand over the unused land.
"While most of the Navy Yard has been put into use as it should, one strip — Admiral's Row — has been literally left to rot," he said, blaming "considerable federal foot dragging."
The Army's final concession of giving the property to the city would allow "yet another improvement to a community that is on the upswing," Schumer added.
The supermarket, slated to open in 2014, will be roughly 74,000 square feet, said Andrew Kimball, president and chief executive officer of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.
He said his organization would ensure that the supermarket that moves into the spot is "responsible" and "does not gouge" customers with high prices.
Even state Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, who previously opposed the construction proposal, fearing it would fail to preserve the historic strip, spoke in support of the plan. He said he had not realized Admiral Row's extreme state of disrepair.
"I'm hastened to admit that I was wrong and Andrew was right," he said of Kimball's vision for the development.
As for the Brooklyn Navy Yard's longstanding disuse, Schumer blamed the federal government's lack of foresight in handling the closure of military bases like the Brooklyn Navy Yards decades ago.
"The federal government was derelict in failing to have a plan," he said.