Industry City is having a moment.
The rows of unassuming, concrete buildings give little hint of the area’s rich history as a hub of early 20th century industrial progress, nor do they quite convey Industry City’s recent resurgence as Brooklyn’s new home base for creative and innovative companies. But it’s there. A convergence of past, present and future — right in Sunset Park.
Startups, manufacturers, design firms, event planners and food makers have been flocking to the 16-building complex, formerly known as Bush Terminal, since it began undergoing a massive renovation last year.
Thanks to a hefty investment by three developers — Belvedere Capital, Jamestown and Angelo Gordon (the team behind Chelsea Market’s makeover) — Industry City is heading toward a successful second life.
“There’s a lot more activity and energy in general,” said Jason Miller, creative director and CEO at Roll & Hill, whose lighting company has been working out of Industry City since 2012. “The whole spirit of the place has changed.”
Aside from the obvious changes, including better amenities like the recently added artisanal food hall, the spirit Miller references is one of collaboration. The influx of new like-minded tenants has fostered networking and partnerships between businesses.
Anthony Cirone, owner of Li-Lac Chocolates, moved his business to Industry City in July and has already received overwhelming support from the community. “We had a pre-event a few weeks ago only for [Industry City] employees and 500 people showed up!” he said.
Industry City officials hope to expand interest to the outside community as well, with fun events for locals and a job placement program that matches companies with potential hires.
“In the last year, Industry City has begun to come alive with a new wave of companies that support today’s innovation economy,” Andrew Kimball, CEO of Industry City, said in a statement. “Our local job placement initiative serves to bring as many of these good-paying jobs as possible to the people of Sunset Park and the surrounding communities.”
Industry City has partnered with the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation to reach members of the community.
The SBIDC’s executive director David Meade said he sees the job initiative as an “incredibly positive” neighborhood resource that will continue to expand. Roll & Hill is among the success stories — hiring two people from the program so far.
With about 30% of the building complex still unoccupied, Industry City’s potential is just scratching the surface.
And with increased interest typically comes increased rent, something Miller sees as “the nature of the beast” when you rent spaces in New York City.
But for the most part tenants seem undeterred.
“The vision I have in my head is Chelsea Market on a much larger scale,” Cirone said. “The public will come, walk around … They’ll want to see what’s being made.”