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City Incentives Drove West Village Factory to Move to Sunset Park: Report

 For decades, Koppers' factory was hidding behind these non-descript loading docks at 39 Clarkson St.
For decades, Koppers' factory was hidding behind these non-descript loading docks at 39 Clarkson St.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

WEST VILLAGE — One of the last stalwarts of the once-booming manufacturing industry of Manhattan's lower west side has been coaxed to Brooklyn after years of resisting tempting offers, according to a published report.

Koppers Chocolates is ditching their long-hidden Clarkson Street factory — previously likened to the fictional Willy Wonka factory for its secrecy — for a sweet deal in Sunset Park that'll have them paying less than $10 per square foot in a much bigger space, Crain's New York reported.

Koppers' co-owner Jeff Alexander told Crain's the move is appealing not just for the lower costs and additional space, but because the neighborhood feels like the Village once did.

"That area of Brooklyn is similar to what Greenwich Village used to be," he told Crain's. "It attracts young artisans, and it has the same energy that the Village used to have."

Koppers is relocating to Liberty View Plaza, joining a host of chocolate-makers who are making Red Hook and Sunset Park their home — including another local chocolate maker, Li-Lac, which moved to the borough last year after producing chocolates in Greenwich Village since 1923.

Just four years ago, third-generation Koppers co-owner Leslye Alexander — Jeff's sister — told DNAinfo New York that the company was in the Village for the long haul, despite the high taxes, trouble getting trucks in and out of the city and illegally parked cars that block loading docks.

"We're part of [the Village], through thick and thin," she said.

Leslye Alexander said that she would get offers several times a year attempting to coax her family business out of Manhattan. (Jeff Alexander did not immediately respond to inquiries about their move.)

Though they had been in the Village since their inception in 1937, Koppers had long kept the location of their three-story factory a secret, and actually only started stamping "Made In Greenwich Village" on their packaging in response to the hype over hip, artisanal Brooklyn.

"Lately with all the 'Brooklyn is so cool' talk, with so many items being labeled 'Made in Brooklyn,' we thought, The Village is cool, too, so we put 'Made in Greenwich Village' on our labels," Leslye Alexander said back in 2011.

Crain's reported the family's new Sunset Park space measures 50,000 square feet, almost doubling the company's current 30,000-square-foot factory at 39 Clarkson St.

Koppers' is also getting heaps of tax credits and incentives from the city with the move, including discounts on electrical charges, a $3,000 tax credit per employee for up to 12 years and $556,000 in tax credits from the Economic Development Corporation as long as their create 27 full-time jobs at the new factory within the next five years, according to Crain's.