To Subdivide For Food Tenants
The owners of a 600,000-sq. ft. industrial building at 630 Flushing Ave. in East Williamsburg-which formerly housed Pfizer-was awarded $2 million from the City Council Small Manufacturing Investment Fund to subdivide and modernize existing underutilized industrial space at the building.
The City Council and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced that the first awardee of funding under the program was Acumen Capital Partners LLC, which owns the East Williamsburg site.
The funding was offered through an RFP issued by the New York City Economic Development Corporation in December 2011, which intended to incentivize needed capital improvements and create appropriately-sized and modernized space for small manufacturing and industrial businesses.
The building is currently partially occupied by a wide variety of food and high-tech manufacturing tenants, including McClure’s Pickles, Kombucha Brooklyn, Atlas Scientific, People’s Pops, Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, One Lucky Duck, Brooklyn Soda Works, Downtown Cookie Co., and Madecasse Chocolate. Acumen plans to begin subdividing approximately 88,000 square feet of large floor plate space at the site into smaller leasable units that could range in size from 100 to 6,000 square feet.
For the new spaces, Acumen plans to target companies that have been forced to locate outside of New York City due to the cost of leasing space, existing businesses in the area, start-up companies and new industrial users.
“It’s only fitting that we are transforming the former Pfizer headquarters, one of the last century’s icons of advanced manufacturing, into a space that will house this century’s manufacturing companies,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn in a statement. “Innovative practices like the reuse and modernization of underutilized industrial space will help us continue to diversify our city’s economic engine and create well-paying jobs for New Yorkers.”
“Acumen has a long history of creating re-adaptive use for industrial spaces. Their success merits the public investment awarded to them today,” added Council Member Diana Reyna, chair of the Committee on Small Business. “I look forward to continuing to provide affordable and modernized space for the city’s industrial sector.”
“The Small Manufacturing Investment Fund is a prime example of the city’s ongoing initiative to drive our industrial sector and stimulate solid economic growth,” noted Council Member Karen Koslowitz, chair of the Committee on Economic Development. “I congratulate Acumen Capital Partners for their well-deserved grant that will go towards renovating their large and underutilized industrial space to smaller and affordable units. This will not only accommodate to the needs of our small businesses, but will go towards generating thousands of new industrial jobs and attract more businesses to start up in NYC.”
The RFP to modernize and subdivide existing industrial space remains open, and proposals can still be submitted for potential funding with awards ranging from $1 million to $2 million per project. Respondents to the RFP must indicate how and why the funds are critical to making the project financially viable, in addition to other proposal requirements outlined in the RFP.
Awardees will be selected based on factors including, but not limited to: the amount of city subsidy needed per square foot; how quickly the space can be modernized and subdivided; the amount of private investment that the respondent will make in the project; and how many jobs will be supported and created.
The next submission deadline is Sept. 11, and $6 million in funds are available for future awards.
The RFP to modernize and subdivide industrial space is one of 22 initiatives announced in June 2011, by Mayor Bloomberg, in partnership with the City Council, that will revitalize, modernize, and preserve up to nine million square feet of underutilized industrial space, and create and retain up to 30,000 direct and indirect industrial jobs, generate annual payroll earnings of more than $900 million and more than $150 million in city tax revenue. The industrial sector is an integral part of the city’s economy that has faced serious challenges in recent decades, but now offers real opportunities for growth and development.
The initiatives resulted from an inter-agency review of the city’s industrial policies, led by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel, New York City Economic
Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky, Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Robert W. Walsh and City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden.
The review found that while the city’s industrial sector has been declining in line with national trends of eight percent annually over the past 10 years, there are certain subsectors showing stability and growth. As offshoring costs increase, it is anticipated that industrial activities will continue to grow nationwide. New York City in particular offers unique location-based advantages for industrial activity, including a population of about 8.4 million, access to a large workforce and highly-skilled labor, and one of the nation’s busiest ports based on import volume.
The review also found that industrial businesses in the city are challenged by a lack of building stock appropriate for modern industrial uses, higher costs, and difficulty maneuvering city processes. Industrial sectors account for 15 percent of New York City’s overall private employment and more than 23 percent of employment outside of Manhattan, and industrial jobs have a mean wage of $67,000.