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Tattoos, Artisanal Food and the Nets: Industry City Is Brooklyn's 'It' Spot

By Amy Zimmer | June 26, 2014 7:09am | Updated on June 27, 2014 5:04pm
 Industry City, Sunset Park's 6-million-square-foot industrial complex, is becoming a Brooklyn hot spot.
Industry City Becomes Brooklyn's 'It' Spot
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BROOKLYN — Industry City — a massive complex of historic warehouses along Sunset Park's waterfront — is quickly becoming a destination for all-things Brooklyn, from artisanal food and tattoo artists to high-end furniture stores and the Brooklyn Nets.

The 16-building, 30-acre property has a growing roster of artists, home décor designers, cut-and-sew shops and other tenants, like a vodka distillery that offers tours of its space and the popular Hamptons vintage furniture store Ruby Beets.

On weekends, Mister Sunday brings family- and pet-friendly outdoor dance parties to one of its courtyards, and Rooftop Films hosts indie movie screenings atop two buildings that overlook the New York Harbor. Industry City is host to a growing number of artsy events, like this weekend’s NYC Urban Tattoo Convention, bringing 150 local and international artists to showcase their skills for three days of ink.

The 6-million-square-foot complex will also soon host a $45 million practice space and team offices for the Brooklyn Nets. The basketball team’s execs and city officials are expected to announce details Thursday of the project that’s set to be ready by the 2015-16 season, according to Nets Daily.

After years of deferred maintenance, the complex (formerly known as Bush Terminal) is now in the early stages of a two-year, $100 million renovation that began after a partnership consisting of Belvedere Capital, Jamestown and Angelo Gordon — the team known for its successful revitalization of the Chelsea Market — acquired a 50 percent stake in the complex last August. Since then, the number of workers there has grown from 2,400 to more than 3,000 and is 70 percent leased, officials from the complex said.

“It was Lower Manhattan hip,” Bill Jordan of the real estate brokerage CBRE said of an opening party he attended last month for the 10-day series of workshops, installations, open studio tours and other events as part of New York City's design week. "Designer pizza was being grilled outside. There were lights hanging over picnic tables.”

The property owners were doing a good job “repositioning [the complex] like the Chelsea Market," he added.

The thousands of workers now based in Industry City are looking for food, which is why the developers are currently building out the 40,000-square-foot "food hall" in Building 2, where food manufacturers are opening Chelsea Market-like retail windows and cafes, explained Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball.

“Business coming to Industry City want to be part of a dynamic community of makers. They also want amenities," he said. “Consequently, Industry City has sought out food businesses in need of commercial kitchen space. We ask these companies to open a retail window to serve the growing number of people in our buildings. Over time, these food business will also become a significant amenity for the broader Sunset Park community."

There are four food companies currently open in the space: Colson Patisserie (Belgian/French pastries and sandwiches); Blue Marble Ice Cream (ice cream made from pasture-raised cows' milk); Steve & Andy's Modern Primitive Café (gluten-free and organic baked goods); and Ninja Bubble Tea (tea and Vietnamese banh-mi sandwiches).

Four more are expected in the fall: Liddabit Sweets (handmade candies); The Fashion Chef ("couture" cakes, macarons and tarts); Red Rabbit (made-from-scratch sandwiches); and One Girl Cookies (handmade tea cookies, whoopee pies and other baked goods.)

Industry City also redesigned the loading docks between two of its buildings to create a new courtyard where tenants and visitors can get, for instance, food from Country Boy Tacos and Sottocasa Pizzeria or have sangria and beer from Botanica's pop-up bar.

“Long-term, our vision for retail will include more than the food that is produced on-site,” Kimball said, “the idea being that what’s made here should also be sold here.”

Other nearby developments are also transforming the Sunset Park waterfront: a Bed Bath & Beyond is reportedly slated to move in at Liberty View Plaza. The Brooklyn Army Terminal — two huge buildings with 4 million square feet of office space — is also thriving, with a range of tenants, from chocolate maker Jacque Torres to biotech researchers.

With Industry City and these other buildings offering roughly 15 million square feet of commercial and industrial space at a time when such space is disappearing from the city, this pocket of Brooklyn will become “the biggest creative tenant area in the history of New York City,” said Chris Havens, commercial director of aptsandlofts.com and avid dancer who has attended several Mister Sunday parties in Industry City. 

"Sunset Park is rocking now," he said.