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. Over nearly two years, NYCEDC led a working group—with representation from the NYC Department of City Planning, the NYC Department of Small Business Services, elected officials, community organizations, and local businesses and informed by the Brooklyn Community Board 7 197(a) Plan—to outline a strategy to achieve that goal. The resulting Vision Plan, released in 2009, sets forth recommendations for investment over the next twenty years, with a focus on short-term, implementable projects.
A Sustainable Urban Industrial District
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:
- Maximize the efficient movement of goods
- Protect and grow industrial employment
- Promote green practices
- Balance neighborhood needs
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.
|Short-Term Strategy (0 to 3 Years)|
|State-of-Good Repair & Asset Stabilization|
|Invest in the City’s aging infrastructure - including rail, roads, piers, bulkheads and buildings - to bring it up to modern standards and functionality and to attract new businesses to Sunset Park|
|Define a strategy to stabilize the City’s real estate portfolio with strategic asset management and targeted capital improvements|
|Medium-Term Strategy (3 to 9 Years)|
|Professionalization of Service & Renovation and Adaptive Re-use of Industrial Space|
|With capital improvements made, begin to leverage the existing, valuable infrastructure, such as rails and rail floats, with a professional operator and efficient service|
|Explore ways to activate vacant upper floor space of both public and privately-owned buildings through financing, incentives, potential expansion of allowable non-residential uses and other city actions|
|Long-Term Strategy (10 Years)|
|Over the long term, begin to densify and diversify the building stock and uses, and maintain the Sunset Park waterfront as one of the City’s premier industrial centers|
|Launch a full marketing campaign of Sunset Park as an established sustainable urban industrial waterfront, and increase the usage of its maritime and rail infrastructure assets|
|With added density of industrial users, look for new development sites and possible infill industrial development and potential new parking opportunities to support the industrial community|
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.
Bush Terminal Park
NYCEDC, in coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), New York State Department of State (NYSDOS) and NYC Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC DPR), undertook an exciting development of new public open space on the Sunset Park waterfront.
The Bush Terminal Park project has transformed a long-dormant 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 now provides waterfront access to the local Sunset Park community for the first time in decades.
The site, part of the former Bush Terminal integrated port complex, is located between 43rd and 51st Streets along the Brooklyn waterfront. Dormant for decades, the site began to grow natural foliage and became a rare natural habitat on an otherwise working industrial waterfront. In 2005, city, state, and federal elected officials formally announced the plans and funding to convert the site into a public park with active and passive recreational facilities, as well as a naturalized preserve area to retain some of the site’s natural foliage growth.
Sunset Park, a diverse community of Hispanic, Chinese, Indian, and other ethnic and immigrant groups, has historically had limited open space and public access to the waterfront. Beginning in 2001, extensive outreach was conducted as part of the planning process for the park, including the convening of an advisory group, public meetings, interviews with local organizations, and focus groups conducted in English, Spanish, and Cantonese; the program incorporates feedback received during this outreach. In addition, given that the vibrant industrial area which surrounds the site is one of the busiest in the city, every effort has been made to avoid park interference 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 NYSDEC-mandated remedial action plan and the design and construction of the community-driven open space project.
Remediation work--including capping of the landfill, shoreline stabilization, wetland creation, and construction of new rip-rap shorelines —began in May 2009 and the above-ground work, including the ball fields and the Comfort Station, commenced in 2012. Construction work was completed in August 2014. The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation is now operating and maintaining the park. For more information, please refer to the Bush Terminal Park page on the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation's website.
Improvements to the park area include the construction of a multi-sport field and a baseball/softball field, viewing areas for the ball fields, a Comfort Station, a pedestrian path, and bicycle lanes. The park also features several environmentally conscious design elements such as a wetland area near two remediated tidal pools, a bio-swale for stormwater retention, and a naturalized preserve area.
More Information About Bush Terminal Piers Open Space
You can view the 2004 State DEC Record of Decision to learn more about this project.
South Brooklyn Marine Terminal
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. As part of this revitalization, Sims Recycling of NY, LLC completed construction in 2013 of a modern recycling center at the 30th Street Pier, which enables 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 leveraged a $46 million investment from Sims to fund upland improvements to the terminal site.
65th Street Rail Yard
The 65th Street Rail Yard—one of two active freight rail yards which make up the Brooklyn Waterfront Rail System—provides service to the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and Sims Municipal Recycling Facility. Operated by New York New Jersey Rail, LLC (NYNJR), the yard provides a key connection between New York City and the national freight rail network via the Cross Harbor carfloat system. Freight rail cars coming from or bound for Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island are transferred via a “float bridge” from the rail yard to a “carfloat,” essentially a barge with rail track on the deck. The carfloat is then pulled by a tugboat to a similar rail yard in Jersey City, NJ, where it is unloaded and reloaded. The 65th Street Rail Yard provides connections to South Brooklyn Marine Terminal on the Sunset Park Waterfront, the New York City Transit System, and, via interchange with the New York and Atlantic Railway (NY&A), Queens and Long Island.