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Sunset Park Business Boom Surpasses City and Brooklyn Rates, Report Finds

By Nikhita Venugopal | September 15, 2016 6:20pm
 Sunset Park's 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
Sunset Park's 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
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Sunset Park Landmarks Committee

SUNSET PARK — Business has been booming in Sunset Park for more than a decade, with strong growth in the manufacturing and healthcare sectors and a population increase of recent immigrants, according to a report released Wednesday by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The number of businesses grew by 56 percent to 3,840 from 2000 to 2014 in Greater Sunset Park, an area the report defines as Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace and a portion of South Slope. By comparison, Brooklyn's overall rate of growth for the same period was 43 percent and the city's was just 15 percent.

“Greater Sunset Park is undergoing an economic revival,” said DiNapoli, whose report credited, in part, industrial centers, such as Industry City, Brooklyn Army Terminal, South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and Liberty View Industrial Plaza for the growth.

“People want to live and raise families here, manufacturers and other businesses want to open and hire here."

Renee Giordano, the executive director of the Sunset Park Business Improvement District which oversees Fifth Avenue, said that the number of businesses has gone up since the BID was founded in 1995, and demand for retail space is high. 

"I notice that when a business is empty, I know it's not going to be empty for very long," she said.

In 2015, Greater Sunset Park set a record of 39,920 private sector jobs, with about 4,500 of those based in the manufacturing industry. Healthcare, however, accounts for the highest number of jobs in the area and Lutheran Medical Center is the largest employer. 

The average salary in 2014 in the private sector in the Greater Sunset Park area, at $46,460 last year, was also higher than the borough average of $41,180, according to the report

But it isn't just jobs and businesses that have seen growth. Sunset Park's population has rapidly increased over the years as more immigrant communities settle down in the neighborhood.

Immigrants now make up almost half of Greater Sunset Park's population and more than a quarter of the total population have lived in the country for a decade or less, the report found.

Almost 42 percent of immigrant residents are from China, 23 percent from Central America and Mexico and 10 percent from the Caribbean, according to the report. Overall, Hispanic and Latino residents — both those born in the United States and immigrants — make up 40 percent of the population.

The population density has put a strain the area's public infrastructure, from severe overcrowding in neighborhood schools to startlingly cramped living situations. 

In 2014, 20 percent of the neighborhood's households had more than one person per room, compared to 11.3 percent in Brooklyn and 9.9 percent citywide, according to the report.

Giordano also urged businesses to find ways to adapt to the neighborhood's diverse new communities.

"One thing that a business owner has to do is change with the population," she said.

"You can offer whatever you want, but if it's not what the people want to buy, it's not going to do you much good."