Through a series of investments aimed at bringing aging infrastructure to good repair, professionalizing maritime and rail service, and increasing and diversifying job-intensive industrial uses along the waterfront, the Sunset Park Vision Plan lays out a series of short and long-term steps to strengthen the area as a center for industrial growth.
In the fall of 2007, the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development charged NYCEDC with developing a comprehensive vision and investment strategy for the Sunset Park industrial district, a hub of City-owned and managed industrial properties on the Brooklyn waterfront. NYCEDC assembled an internal working group in January, 2008, with representation from the NYC Department of City Planning and the NYC Department of Small Business Services, to outline a strategy to achieve that goal. Over the course of the past year and a half, NYCEDC has led the effort to develop a Sunset Park Vision Plan, with input and collaboration from elected officials, community organizations and local businesses, and with guidance from the Brooklyn Community Board 7 197(a) Plan. The Vision Plan sets forth recommendations for investment over the next twenty years, with a focus on short-term, implementable projects.
The Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) is one of sixteen IBZs in the City of New York, and the Sunset Park waterfront district is already a center of industrial activity. However, the district has suffered from substantial disinvestment over the past several decades which reduces its ability to remain competitive as an industrial working waterfront. The physical development of Sunset Park, which began over 100 years ago, was based on a different platform for manufacturing and distributing goods, one which was well-suited to the infrastructure and building types developed at the time. Today, the main challenge is to figure out ways to adapt and re-use this antiquated industrial infrastructure, and develop Sunset Park into a 21st century model for diverse, dense and environmentally-sustainable industry.
The Sunset Park Vision Plan sets forth a comprehensive framework for reinvestment. The Vision Plan begins with the understanding that industry serves a vital role in the greater New York City economy, and the goal is to develop physical and policy-based strategies that reconcile active industrial uses with public waterfront access while also enabling sustainable industrial growth. The vision for the Sunset Park industrial waterfront is to balance neighborhood, city, and industrial development goals within this framework.
The Sunset Park Vision Plan outlines a strategy for a modern industrial waterfront that is an environmentally sustainable resource, with a combination of improved freight transportation systems, buildings that can accommodate a range of industrial uses, and policies which promote environmentally-friendly and efficient practices. At the same time, recommendations address the need to make the waterfront a safe environment and resource for adjacent area residents and workers and ensure they all coexist.
Informed and aided by over a year of discussions with and surveys of area stakeholders, business owners, and community leaders, the Working Group developed four goals to guide the Vision Plan recommendations:
The recommendations include marine, rail, and building infrastructure upgrades, the creation of workforce development opportunities, integrated public open space and amenities, sustainable industrial development guidelines, opportunities for waste-to-profit exchange networks, and measures for advancing district-wide environmental efficiency.
In a reality of limited resources, the goals and recommendations are shaped by the following strategies in the short, medium and long-term.
By growing and strengthening the Sunset Park Industrial Waterfront and realizing the recommendations set forth in this Vision Plan, the City can also realize substantial job creation and emissions benefits, while also using City capital investments to leverage non-City funding sources and private investment. The short-term recommendations alone have the potential to create or induce 5,000 jobs in Sunset Park, and defer as many as 19,500 annual regional truck trips (53 trips/day) and 1,000 tons of CO2 emissions. Implementation of the full Vision Plan could result in the creation or inducement of approximately 11,000 jobs, the elimination of over 70,000 annual regional truck trips and 5,000 tons of CO2 emissions, as well as the activation of approximately 3.5 million square feet of industrial space for job-generating uses.
The Sunset Park industrial waterfront’s strategic location on Upper New York Bay, extensive industrial infrastructure, access to a large local labor pool, and connection to major transportation networks serving New York City as well as the wider region, help the district maintain its importance as a working waterfront. The recommendations in this Vision Plan aim to foster its continued growth and achieve a vision of how industry can become a better urban neighbor and continuing player in the diversification of the New York City economy.
NYCEDC, in coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York City Parks and Recreation, is undertaking an exciting development of new public open space on the Sunset Park waterfront.
The Bush Terminal Piers Open Space project is a plan to transform a long-dormant waterfront brownfield site on the Sunset Park waterfront into a public recreation resource. Identified as a community priority during planning in the late 1990s for the City’s port and waterfront assets, the project will provide waterfront access on an industrial waterfront previously inaccessible to the local community of Sunset Park.
The site, part of the former Bush Terminal integrated port complex, is located between 43rd and 51st Streets along the Brooklyn waterfront. Once included as part of a proposed container terminal in 1970s, the site’s original piers were covered with fill material until it was discovered that some material contained contaminants and the project was shut down. Having sat dormant in the years that followed, the site began to grow natural foliage and became a rare natural habitat on an otherwise working industrial waterfront. In 2005, the Mayor, Governor, City Council, Borough President, and Congresswoman formally announced the plans and funding to convert the site into a public park, with passive and active recreation facilities as well as a naturalized preserve area retaining some of the site’s natural foliage growth.
Sunset Park, a diverse community of Hispanic, Chinese, Indian and other ethnic and immigrant groups, has minimal open space and almost no public access to the waterfront. Beginning in 2001, extensive outreach was conducted as part of the planning process for the park, with the convening of an advisory group, public meetings, interviews with local organizations, and focus groups conducted in English, Spanish, and Cantonese. The proposed program represents the result of the feedback received during this outreach. Given that the vibrant industrial area which surrounds the site is one of the busiest in the city, every effort has been made in the park planning to avoid conflicts with the surrounding industrial activities.
Concurrent to the design of open space improvements, a team of environmental engineers was hired by NYCEDC to study and design a remediation plan for the contaminated Piers 1-4, classed NYSDEC as a Class 3 inactive hazardous waste site. Since 2001, the two projects have been developed together in coordination with a NYSDEC “Environmental Restoration Record of Decision” in 2004 which represents the approved remedy for the site. Both the remediation and the park design projects reflect the dual need for a DEC-mandated remedial action plan and the design and construction of the community-driven open space project.
The conceptual design for the open space improvements includes the construction of two multi-use baseball and soccer fields, viewing areas for restored and remediated tidal pools, a naturalized preserve area, and future space for a mini-golf and batting cage concession. The design also includes administrative and operational space designed in collaboration with the Department of Parks & Recreation. In keeping with the City’s policy to encourage sustainable practices, several environmentally-conscious design elements are being considered, including on-site stormwater retention, wind turbines, solar power, the reuse of existing on- and off-site materials such as granite blocks from the existing street, and the use of shipping containers as building materials.
You can view the 2004 State DEC Record of Decision to learn more about this project.
As part of the Sunset Park Vision Plan, NYCEDC is working to revitalize the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, an 88-acre facility in Sunset Park that has been inactive in recent years. NYCEDC recently signed leases at the terminal with Axis Group and Sims Recycling of NY, LLC.
Axis Group, an auto-processing company based in Atlanta, will create a new import/export facility at the marine terminal, investing several million dollars to renovate the site. To facilitate the agreement with Axis, NYCEDC has committed to completing $40 million in improvements to the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, which includes creating rail infrastructure and a new public berth at the 39th Street Pier.
Sims Recycling of NY, LLC has agreed to build a modern recycling center at the 30th Street Pier, which will enable Sims to process the City's glass, metal, and plastic recyclables and transport this material via the City's waterways, eliminating 150,000 truck trips annually and creating 100 union jobs. The City's $48 million investment to rehabilitate docks to support this project will leverage a $46 million investment from Sims to fund upland improvements to the terminal site.