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Thread: Brooklyn Army Terminal, Sunset Park - Cass Gilbert

  1. #1
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002

    Default Brooklyn Army Terminal, Sunset Park - Cass Gilbert

    Moved this out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development thread (originally posted in 2010).

    Catching Rays at Brooklyn Army Terminal

    New York City to install 50,000-square-foot rooftop solar array on Brooklyn Army Terminal

    Jennifer K. Gorsche

    Pilot program calls for a massive solar array to be installed in Brooklyn. NYEDC

    New York is banking on a bright future for the roof of the city-owned Brooklyn Army Terminal. As part of a pilot project, it plans to install a 50,000-square-foot photovoltaic (PV) panel array at the office/industrial complex. The Smart Grid Demonstration Project would create the largest solar collector in the city, capable of producing at least 600,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year, enough to power 2 percent of BAT’s electrical usage, or 120 city homes.

    “If it is successful, which we anticipate that it will be, it will open up new locations in the future,” said Vivian Liao, spokesperson for the NYC Economic Development Corporation.

    The city is reviewing its property portfolio to pinpoint other buildings where solar arrays could be installed, including the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Last month, the EDC issued an RFP for a construction manager.

    The project is also a test of the methods used to finance the $10 million pilot. “The city would do this everywhere if we could, but we don’t have the money to pay for it,” said Liao. Instead, NYCEDC will provide $2.65 million toward installation costs, while investors interested in earning the federal tax credits produced by the project finance the balance. Con Edison will also allocate up to $4.5 million from the $181 million awarded to it under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

    The solar array will produce at least 600,000 kilowatt hours or electricity each year, or enough to power about 120 homes.

    Once it’s installed, Con Edison and the city will collect data from the BAT installation along with other potential solar-array sites around the city. “The demonstration project at the Brooklyn Army Terminal will allow us to monitor solar panels, building energy management systems, and energy storage,” said Con Ed vice president Aubrey Braz in a release. “The goal is to reduce energy consumption based on grid conditions, especially on the hottest summer days.”

    Though states like Arizona or California are more ideal locations for solar collection, PV projects in the Northeast can also make economic sense because the region’s electricity prices are higher.

    The plan to install solar panels at BAT was announced as part of the Bloomberg Administration’s Green Economy Plan in October 2009. The solar panels will be installed on the roof of BAT building B, covering approximately 20 percent of the rooftop. Because the price of solar PV panels has fallen in recent years, the city is optimistic it may be able to expand the anticipated size of the array once a construction manager is selected.

  2. #2
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Brooklyn’s Industrial Space Retools for a New Era


    Brian Harkin for The New York Times
    The atrium of the Brooklyn Army Terminal, which is 93 percent occupied and has rates from $6 to $12 a square foot.

    More Photos »

    The hulking industrial buildings that line Sunset Park’s waterfront once bustled with manufacturing and military activity. Elvis Presley deployed to Germany from the Brooklyn Army Terminal in 1958, one of three million troops to pass through the Cass Gilbert-designed building. The area was once so busy that it had its own rail line and police and fire departments.

    Today, many of these historic buildings, with about 15 million square feet of light manufacturing space in Brooklyn, are antiquated and struggling to stay relevant. Built at the turn of the last century, many of them lack basic amenities like central air-conditioning and automated elevators. As New York City bleeds manufacturing jobs to cheaper markets, persuading companies to stay is, at best, difficult.

    But the city, which owns more than one-third of the space, and private developers are revamping these properties to appeal to a more nimble manufacturing tenant. And in doing so, the buildings are entering a new era that may ultimately benefit this working-class neighborhood.

    Three of the area’s biggest properties are undergoing makeovers: Industry City, a rambling 6.5-million-square-foot complex off the Gowanus Expressway, which has been reaching out to small food manufacturers to capture some of the energy of the Brooklyn artisanal food scene; Federal Building No. 2, now renamed Liberty View Industrial Plaza, which is in the midst of a $40 million renovation and may soon open a Bed Bath & Beyond; and the city-owned Brooklyn Army Terminal.

    “It’s pretty exciting stuff. We’re definitely seeing some improvements,” said David D. Meade, executive director of the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, a local economic development group.

    Industry City is emblematic of the plight of manufacturing here — and its potential.

    Many of the 16 buildings in the complex, which dates to 1895, have fallen into disrepair.

    “After dark, it’s like being in a Batman movie because the buildings are so old and massive and decayed,” said Jennie Dundas, co-owner of Blue Marble ice cream, which moved into a 3,000-square-foot manufacturing space in Industry City in December.

    Only 66 percent of the property was occupied in January 2012, according to a loan analysis by Morningstar. About 2,500 people work at Industry City, according to the owners. By contrast, when Harry Helmsley owned Industry City in the 1970s, Topps Candy, makers of Bazooka bubble gum and baseball trading cards, had its headquarters there and the complex was 95 percent occupied, with 20,000 workers.

    Tenants said that until the current owners, Rubin Schron and Abraham Fruchthandler, began renovations a year ago, windows swung open, roofs leaked, hallways filled with rainwater and trash went uncollected. In December 2010, Schron and Fruchthandler failed to make payments on a $300 million loan on the property, according to the Morningstar analysis.

    “I really remember it being in trouble,” said Jean-François Bonnet, owner of Tumbador Chocolates, which has been a tenant since 2005 and provides sweets to places like the Pierre and the Mandarin Oriental. But Industry City is turning a corner. In April, the owners restructured their loan, reducing their debt and lowering their monthly payments. As part of the arrangement, they invested $30 million in the property, according to the Morningstar analysis.

    They plan to repave streets, upgrade buildings, improve infrastructure and modernize elevators. “The area’s character is shifting from outdated to industrial chic,” Bruce Federman, director of real estate at Industry City, said in a prepared statement.

    The owners have recently negotiated leases with Brooklyn-based niche food manufacturers including Blue Marble, Industry City Distillery, Colson Bakery and Nunu Chocolates. In September 2011, Industry City Distillery, a new vodka producer, moved into a 6,500-square-foot space. One of the location’s draws was access to the roof, where the company hopes to build a greenhouse.

    “The infrastructure support that Industry City offered was great,” said Zachary A. Bruner, a machinist and fabricator at the distillery.

    But redevelopment faces deeper challenges, as manufacturing’s decline has accelerated in the last decade. The vacancy rate for industrial space in Sunset Park has hovered around 8 percent since 2005. It was just 3.1 percent in 2002, and less than 1 percent in 1997, according to data from the CoStar Group, a real estate information company.

    The number of manufacturing jobs has also dropped. In 2002, there were about 3,200 manufacturing jobs in the area between 31st and 63rd Streets and First and Third Avenues, according to census data. By 2010, the number had dropped by half, to 1,600. The area’s overall job decline was much less, down to 17,000 from 19,000, in the same period.

    “Is it getting worse? Probably not. But this is not a cyclical problem. This is a structural problem,” says Rene Circ, director of industrial research for Co-Star, citing high rent and aging infrastructure as two factors.

    While manufacturing space cost an average of $13.16 a square foot in New York City in the second quarter, it was only $4.47 nationwide and $5.14 a square foot just across the river in New Jersey, according to a report by Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, a commercial real estate adviser.

    The Bloomberg administration, however, has intensified its commitment to manufacturing in Sunset Park. The city owns and operates 5.8 million square feet of the manufacturing space in the area, where about 3,400 people work at 140 companies.

    Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future, said the city’s designation of the area as an industrial business zone was “hugely helpful.”

    In doing so, the city has pledged not to rezone the area for residential use. Business owners within the zone are also eligible for a one-time $1,000 tax credit for every worker they employ, up to $100,000.

    Over the last 30 years, the city has invested $168 million in improvements at Brooklyn Army Terminal, a 1919 edifice that was the largest military supply base in the United States through World War II.

    A year ago, after occupancy fell to 87 percent, the New York City Economic Development Corporation spent another $4.2 million upgrading elevators and subdividing some of the building’s 40,000-square-foot floors to lure smaller tenants. In the last year, the Economic Development Corporation has signed leases with 30 new tenants. Today, the 3.1 million square feet of leasable space is 93 percent occupied, with rents from $6 to $12 a square foot.

    Stanislav Didenko ran his auto parts company, Xequipped, out of his apartment until he moved into a 2,700-square-foot office and warehouse space at Brooklyn Army Terminal in June.

    The biggest draw for Mr. Didenko was the windows. The other warehouse spaces he considered had none. “We wanted the view and the light,” he said, standing along a bank of windows that overlooked the loading docks and train rails between the two Army Terminal buildings.

    Rather than seek out smaller tenants, the owners of Liberty View Industrial Plaza hope to lure a major manufacturer to their eight-story building. The 1.1-million-square-foot property, which abuts Industry City, has been vacant for a decade.

    Marvin Schein and Sal Rusi of Salmar Properties bought it from the city last year for $10 million and are spending $35 million to $40 million renovating it. The deal restricts usage to light manufacturing for the first 30 years and requires Salmar to find tenants who can generate 1,300 permanent jobs.

    The developers gutted it, opening up the 160,000-square-foot floors, and restored the facade. Salmar is replacing all 600 windows, automating the freight elevators, adding central air and installing a fiber optic network. It hopes that by making 1.1 million square feet of manufacturing space into a state-of-the-art facility, it will be able to attract large tenants.

    “We are trying to attract a different kind of manufacturer here,” Mr. Schein said.

    But as large manufacturers continue to leave the city, it may be hard to find a few tenants interested in a century-old building.
    John Reinertsen, a broker at CBRE who is marketing Liberty View, noted that “160,000-square-foot floors are hard to come by. Conversely, 160,000-square-foot tenants are hard to come by, too.”

  3. #3
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Sep 2003


    So.... what happened to the solar cell plan?

  4. #4


    Tour this!

    Brooklyn Army Terminal opening up for tours of the 95-year-old Sunset Park military depot

    Two weekends a month, visitors can learn all about the sprawling facility’s impressive history.

    By Matt Chaban / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

    Saturday, September 14, 2013, 12:38 PM

    Matt Chaban/NYDN

    Current tenants have put the balconies at the Brooklyn Army Terminal to interesting uses. Some have plants on them, others use them to make phone calls or for a quick smoke.

    What do Elvis, Prohibition-era bootleggers and dinosaur bones all have in common? They've all spent their fair share of time at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park.
    And now you can, too.
    Matt Chaban

    Entrance to the Brooklyn Army Terminal, a 4-million square-foot industrial facility run by the City of New York.

    For the first time, the city is offering regular tours of the 95-year-old former military depot on the waterfront in Sunset Park.
    Two weekends a month, visitors can learn all about the sprawling facility’s impressive history and unusual occupants, past and present — all while marveling at one of the most magnificent industrial buildings in the city.
    NYC Economic Development Corpora

    Workers lay track at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park Brooklyn as the facility nears completion in 1919. More than 20,000 workers were employed at the terminal during World War 2.

    “I don’t think there’s another place like it in New York,” said Andrew Gustafson, a guide from Turnstile Tours.
    The gigantic beige concrete complex, planned for storage of military wares for World War I, was completed in 1919.
    Matt Chaban/NYDN

    Building 1 at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Built in 1918-1919, it served as a major supply depot for ships leaving for Europe during both World Wars.

    At the time, it was the largest concrete building in the world.
    It took 7 million board-feet of wood just to form the molds for all the concrete, about 10 times as much wood as in the Coney Island Cyclone, Gustafson explained.

    Matt Chaban/NYDN

    Lia and Frank Macaluso are opening a branch of Pete's Place, their 29-year-old Sunset Park diner, inside Building B at the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

    The four-building compound was designed by Cass Gilbert, best known for the Woolworth Building.
    By far the most dramatic feature is an atrium running the length of the 950-foot-long Building B.
    Matt Chaban/NYDN

    The dramatic atrium inside Build B is one of the most famous feature of the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

    Soaring eight stories, it has a steel-and-glass-skylight the size of three football fields. Balconies zig-zag up the walls.
    Between the wars, the government stored confiscated liquor from the city’s thousands of speakeasies here. The terminal was at its height during World War II, when 20,000 workers — mostly civilians — were employed there, sending supplies to North Africa and Europe.
    Matt Chaban/NYDN

    An old train car sits on disused railroad tracks in Building B at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. A reminder of the building's history, it was going to be turned into a restaurant that never actually opened.

    It was from here that Elvis Presley famously shipped out to Germany in 1958 for his two-year tour. Eight years later, the terminal would be decommissioned.
    The city bought it in 1981 for $8.5 million, and in 1987, the Brooklyn Army Terminal reopened as a hub for a range of manufacturing and light industrial businesses.
    Matt Chaban/NYDN

    The balconies that zig-zag up the side of the atrium were an innovative design, allowing goods to be easily transported by a rooftop crane from the floors to the waiting trains below.

    Hundreds of firms have called the facility home over the years.
    Current tenants include Pack It Away storage, Riva Jewlry Manufacturing, online boutique Uncommon Goods, and Lee Springs, which manufactures more than 21,000 different springs for use in everthing from rifles to medical devices.
    The Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim both have storage spaces here (including for those dino bones).
    The terminal has always been central to the city’s efforts to maintain a strong industrial sector in the five boroughs, said Kyle Kimball, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, the agency responsible for the complex.
    Now, the city wants to show that off.
    “It gives us the opportunity to bring the community in and show the public what I think is one of the crown jewels in our portfolio,” Kimball said.
    Chocolate king Jacque Torres, who is building a 40,000-square-foot “Willy Wonka factory” here, found the buildings so alluring, he could think of going nowhere else.
    “It’s so historical and so beautiful,” Torres said. “Nobody has to tell you the history. You can see it and feel it everywhere.”
    The $22 tours run on Saturdays every two weeks beginning Sept. 14. To learn more, visit

    Read more:

  5. #5

  6. #6
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    At 95, The Repurposed Brooklyn Army Terminal Still Impresses

    by Evan Bindelglass

    All photographs by Evan Bindelglass.

    Four million square feet of indoor space. Thirty-two elevators. Ninety-five years old. Sunset Park's Brooklyn Army Terminal is massive, unusual, and wholly unexpected. Originally built in 1919 to transfer copious quantities of manpower and supplies from land to sea and back again, these days parts of the complex have been converted into office space. But its architecture—with arches everywhere and one awesome atrium, designed by Cass Gilbert of Woolworth Building fame—remains a marvel.

    The story of this amazing place was narrated by Andrew Gustafson of Turnstile Tours, who led a tour last month as part of Archtober.

    During World War I, the United States realized it didn't have an efficient means of getting troops and material across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. The solution: massive transfer facilities that could take what was needed off of trains and put it onto ships. Irving T. Bush, known today as the father of what's called intermodal transportation, commissioned now legendary architect Cass Gilbert to design the Brooklyn Army Terminal. The team initially eyed the New Jersey waterfront, which had more convenient rail links. (To get to Sunset Park involved going over 150 miles north to Selkirk, N.Y., to cross the Hudson and come back down south to Brooklyn.) But the terminal's builder's couldn't find land that could physically support complex of this size. Well, they could have, but it would have been cost-prohibitive to erect such a giant structure on the swamps.

    Turner Construction began work in 1918 and completed the project a mere 17 months later, in September 1919, with the help of 7,000 workers. The war, however, had already ended and the facility didn't get to serve the purposes for which it was created until decades later.

    When the U.S. entered World War II, the terminal more than made up for its years of relative inactivity. Some 3.2 million soldiers passed through, along with 37 million tons of supplies. When Elvis Presley shipped off to Germany in 1958, he went through the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

    It ceased military operations in 1966 and eventually, after a massive fire, became a postal-sorting facility, serving in that capacity until 1975. The city bought it from the federal government in 1981, and since then it has been gradually redeveloped into an industrial office park. Currently, over 100 businesses with 3,500 employees are located there. It is run by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which is renovating more of the complex to create more office space.

    Today, the most impressive thing is the inside of Building B, which has an open-air, eight-story-tall atrium and railroad tracks that span its length. The balconies are staggered so that the massive crane that once moved among hem could pick up anything from anywhere and put it down... anywhere else. Building A is nearly identical in size, but does not have a central atrium.

    If you would like to take a tour of this facility, Turnstile Tours offers them on a regular basis. The next tour is on Saturday, November 29 at 11 a.m. It costs $22 a person.

    The old powerhouse.

    Building B.

    There are many wonderful arches on the complex.

    Building A.

    Entry to Building B. Note the black line is not straight. It follows the former railroad track path.

    Heading back to the famed atrium.

    The iconic atrium of Building B.

    The atrium used to have a glass roof, but those panels had fallen into such disrepair that, in the 1980s, there were removed. Repairs were deemed too expensive.

    That is why the first level now has a covered walkway running the length of the building.

    Different businesses use their balconies for different functions. Some use them for HVAC equipment.

    While others seem to use it as a respite from their work.

    Different parts of the terminal were name geographically, according to which destination things and people were shipping to and from.

    The back of Building B, which still needs work to become an active part of the industrial park with usable office space.

    More of those arches. Note where the train tracks used to lead goods and people in and out.

    Building A.

    Brooklyn Army Terminal [official]

    More pics at Curbed

  7. #7
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Those columns remind me a bit of this:

    Next Phase of Renovation to Begin at a Vast Military Remnant in Brooklyn

    JAN. 21, 2015

    Vacant since the 1960s, a half-million square feet of space in the former Brooklyn Army Terminal will be renovated by the city in a $100 million project.
    Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

    Slide Show

    “Drive slow — 8 M.P.H.,” the signs say along the South Brooklyn waterfront, between 59th and 63rd Streets.

    Nothing exceptional about them, except that they are posted on the sixth floor.

    That’s how big the Brooklyn Army Terminal is. Before the 1,000-foot-long floors of its two main buildings were divided in recent decades, the best way to get around them was in a Jeep.
    They are longer than the Woolworth Building is tall. Amazingly, they were designed by the same architect, Cass Gilbert. Where the Woolworth Building was a Gothic fantasy of business bravado, however, the terminal was a stark expression of a nation at war. It was begun in 1918 and completed in time to receive ships coming home from Europe.

    During World War II, the terminal was the headquarters of a network of installations along the East Coast that sent 3.5 million troops and 43 million tons of cargo overseas. It was a crucial transfer point from rail to ship. (A freight line, New York New Jersey Rail, still runs through the complex.) Destination signs along a decommissioned railroad siding in Building B give a sense of the terminal’s global reach:

    Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

    “Greece.” “Balkans.” “Africa Odd Countries.”

    Robert S. McNamara, who was then the secretary of defense, ordered the terminal closed in 1964. The complex was acquired in 1981 by New York City. Since then, the buildings have been reopened in phases as industrial, warehouse, back-office and research space. And as an irresistible location for movie and photo shoots.

    The next phase of rehabilitation is to begin this year. It involves 500,000 square feet — more than 11 acres — on seven floors in the middle of Building A, on the waterfront.

    Apart from the former administration building, these floors constitute the last large block of unimproved space at the terminal. A profusion of stout, mushroom-shaped columns gives the floors the feeling of a hypostyle hall in an ancient Egyptian temple. Instead of hieroglyphics, however, the surfaces are stenciled with “Spitting on floors or stairs is prohibited” and “Status 6 Non-Temporary Storage Air Force.”

    The project is expected to cost $100 million, said Kyle Kimball, the president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which runs the terminal for the city.

    What pushed the price so high, he said, is that the space has been abandoned since the 1960s. Asbestos must be removed. The floors need new freight and passenger elevators, electric service, life-safety systems, plumbing, heating and windows. Design will begin this year. Construction is to take two years.

    The terminal, originally known as the Army Supply Base, is built of reinforced concrete. Floors can support loads of 250 to 300 pounds a square foot, said Dean Bodnar, a senior vice president of the development corporation, who runs the terminal day to day.

    Workers repairing railroad tracks on the Brooklyn Army Terminal campus, around the time of World War II.

    That is enough to sustain the commercial and light industrial tenants that the de Blasio administration wants to encourage at the terminal, as opposed to the warehousing that now accounts for about one-third of the space, but — by its passive nature — only a handful of jobs.

    Mr. Kimball, a high-ranking holdover from the mayoralty of Michael R. Bloomberg, said: “One of the big shifts in thinking was that in the last administration, we wanted to maximize rents. Now, we want to maximize rents in terms of job intensiveness.”

    Mr. Bodnar said that more than 3,600 people were employed by the 100 businesses and institutions that occupy all of Building B and that half of Building A that has already been redeveloped. Many workers walk from their homes in the Sunset Park neighborhood, he said.

    You should have seen the place during World War II, when as many as 20,000 people worked at the terminal, which was designated the headquarters of the New York Port of Embarkation, said Andrew Gustafson, vice president of Turnstile Tours. It offers two-hour tours of the terminal, which is otherwise closed to the general public.

    Taps was sounded at the terminal on Dec. 9, 1966, as operations were transferred to the Military Ocean Terminal in Bayonne, N.J. Among the 3,200 civilian and military jobs that were lost that day, about one-third were held by longshoremen. Their union president, Anthony M. Scotto, declined to attend the closing ceremony.
    “I’d rather not go to my own funeral,” he said.

    Mr. Bodnar has tried to set a more upbeat tone with the historical photos displayed around the lobby of Building B.

    These include Pvt. Elvis Presley, who sailed from the terminal on Sept. 22, 1958, with 1,170 other members of the Third Armored Division, aboard the troopship Gen. George M. Randall, bound for Bremerhaven, Germany.

    “The entertainer said that if rock ’n’ roll music died out during his stay in service, he would give up singing and try to become a good actor,” The New York Times reported the next day. It didn’t. And neither did he.

  8. #8

  9. #9
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    Anyone have pictures of goods being delivered to those balconies back in the day?

  10. #10


    One (not) fun fact I didn't know is that BAT is not a city landmark. I always assumed that it got landmark status when the city got ownership from the feds.

    A lot of BAT info at a trainweb site:

    This photo

    by renowned photographer Andreas Feininger, who emigrated to the US before WWII and joined the staff of Life Magazine.

    A wealth of images

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