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Sunset Parking: Industry City redevelopment needs public land for car lot

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A plan to invest nearly $1 billion of private money in Sunset Park’s Industry City could bring hundreds of new parking spots to an area where car space is at a premium, but the proposal relies on the city playing ball.

The leadership of the industrial park unveiled a massive redevelopment plan on March 9 that envisions adding a 400-room hotel, nearly 16 football fields worth of retail space, and more than four times that much space dedicated to technology startups and high-tech manufacturing. But the plan hinges on the city-owned South Brooklyn Marine Terminal hosting a new parking lot serving people who work and shop at Industry City — and possibly the public at large, as well.

The area’s councilman blocked a city plan to redevelop the terminal in December, but Industry City’s president, who is promising the redevelopment will create 20,000 jobs, said he needs local pols and officials to come together on parking and other infrastructure improvements to make the proposed 12-year investment program feasible.

“What we’ve been clear about is one thing — in order to succeed here, we’re going to need additional parking,” said Industry City president Andrew Kimball.

The 16-building campus currently has just 450 spots. For comparison, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is just four-fifths of Industry City’s size, has more than 3,500 parking spots, said Kimball, who headed the Navy Yard’s redevelopment from 2005 to 2013.

Kimball wants the city to build a five-acre parking lot — roughly the size of four football fields — in a corner of the 88-acre South Brooklyn Marine Terminal.

A single acre can accommodate between 100 and 150 parking spaces depending on the layout, according to city-planning wonks, so the new lot could provide as many as 750 spots for the parking-starved area. And the lot could even be open to the community at large, Kimball said.

“This parking is not about Industry City — this is an under-parked area,” he said. “There’s no parking to get to the local park. There’s no parking if you create thousands of jobs at South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. We are open to a very broad dialogue with the community about how to use that parking best, since it is on public land.”

The Economic Development Corporation floated a plan last year to use the terminal for container shipping, but Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park) stymied the project in January, citing lack of community oversight. The freshman legislator has resumed talks with the city about the terminal’s future — this time with community groups in tow — and said parking is a big part of the discussion.

“Really what we need is a Sunset Park industrial parking plan. But immediately, I think we need to look at granting that kind of support for Industry City today with the commitment to plan for what’s coming,” said Menchaca.

That forward-looking parking plan should assume South Brooklyn Marine Terminal working “at full throttle,” he said.

But a parking lot isn’t the only thing Kimball is asking for. The city will need to rezone portions of the complex for retail and hotel uses — and spend about $115 million to prepare area streets for an influx in workers and shoppers, Kimball said.

Industry City is asking for the city to make $115 in capital investments to public roads, public transportation, bike lanes, and open space — introducing water taxi service, re-jiggering a five-block stretch of the greenway, and extending the B35 bus route one block west to the waterfront.

The rest of the $1 billion would come from Industry City’s consortium ownership — including Rubin Schron’s Cammeby’s International, which is planning to erect a 40-story residential tower in Brighton Beach — and other private investors.

Still, the redevelopment plan would take 30 years without a “modest investment” from the city, Kimball said.

“With a rezoning, with the parking and with the public infrastructure, we can drive this investment over the next 12 years,” he said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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