Sunset Park has been a contender for next “it” neighborhood since 2013, when the team behind Chelsea Market took over Industry City. The six-million-square-foot warehouse complex, dating back to 1895, used to be a thriving manufacturing and import-export facility but now looks almost abandoned with its broken windows and uneven alleyways. But the clamor of construction and the comings and goings of employees hints at dramatic changes afoot.
In August 2013, a group consisting of Belvedere Capital, Cammeby’s International, Jamestown Group, FBE Limited, and Angelo, Gordon & Co. took over the complex. Jamestown, which started investing in and remolding Chelsea Market in 2003, expects to turn Industry City into a hot spot over the next years.
On a given day, you’ll find any number of potential investors touring the 16 buildings. “We have invested $100 million dollars so far,” says Cristal Riviera, Industry City’s director of community engagement. “And we are looking at probably $300 million in investment over the next 10 years to be able to activate our entire campus.”
The amount of space available there is exceptional. “It’s the largest industrial site in New York City and, arguably, in the United States, which demonstrates a huge potential to become a job creation engine for Sunset Park, for Brooklyn and for New York City,” said Rivera.
The process has not been without controversy: soon after Jamestown Group took over, rent hikes drove dozens of artists out of their studios, and there’ve been accusations of gentrification. However, Rivera argued that their goal is to create a multicultural community integrated in the Sunset Park neighborhood. “We work with businesses that are on Fourth Avenue and upland [in Sunset Park], so we have a very good relationship,” Rivera said. “Those are things that we do intentionally because we understand that it’s important for people upland to feel part of what we are doing here. To us that’s a huge priority.”
Anthony Cirone, co-owner of Li-Lac Chocolates – a business that opened its factory and show room in Industry City in November 2014 – says that many of their current visitors are from Sunset Park and that the company is committed to hiring in the community. “We didn’t move here to create a retail destination. That’s really kind of a secondary benefit of being here,” he said. “The main purpose is for the production space. I think that this will probably grow as the community here in Industry City grows but this will never be in part with our busy stores in Manhattan.”
Nevertheless, it’s clear that Industry City’s marketing push has attracted an array of businesses. From trendy coffee shops on the ground floor to offices and studios on the upper floors, Industry City is turning into a hub for young entrepreneurs. Watch our video to discover more about the place.