Brooklyn Navy Yard Seeks Tenant for Top Warehouse Floors

New York tenants looking for space in the surging Brooklyn market have a new option: the top floors of the waterfront warehouse where the commandant of the borough’s Navy Yard once presided over the factories and dry docks below.

The upper floors are being offered for lease as part of $140 million overhaul of the waterfront warehouse, which has been out of service for more than 20 years. The space offers panoramic views of the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges and overlook the dry docks where the U.S.S. Arizona battleship, sunk in the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, was built.

The Navy Yard sits on the East River between two of Brooklyn’s hottest neighborhoods, Dumbo, short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, and Williamsburg. The former industrial areas are now home to young, affluent people working in the media and other creative industries. The tenant who takes the space would anchor “the signature building” at the 300-acre (120-hectare) yard, said David Ehrenberg, who runs the property.

“Our ideal tenant would be a very creative use that really works with the mission of the Navy Yard, and works with the market that’s going on in Brooklyn,” said Michael Shenot, managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., the building’s brokerage. “We’re looking for a tenant that’s really in growth mode, that would employ a large number of folks from a diverse range of Brooklyn neighborhoods.”

Top Floors

Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp., a nonprofit that manages the property on behalf of the city, which acquired the site after its 1966 decommission, is asking about $40 a square foot for about 150,000 square feet on the top three floors of the 16-story building, Shenot said. Similar space in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, home to Google Inc.’s New York headquarters, would go for about twice as much, he said.

Jones Lang LaSalle hopes to bring in a tenant from outside New York to add to the city’s job base, Shenot said. The space has been marketed to technology companies from California’s Silicon Valley, as well as firms in London, Singapore and Hong Kong, to take advantage of Brooklyn’s growing reputation as a technology center that’s more affordable than Manhattan.

Brooklyn Navy Yard Development expects a future tenant to use the space for offices as well as research and development, light manufacturing and the making of test products, similar to how other yard occupants use their space, said Ehrenberg, the corporation’s chief executive officer.

Roof Deck

The company plans to reserve a portion of the warehouse as growth space for tenants of other, fully leased buildings at the yard. The $140 million proposal for the building includes installing windows on the bottom 11 stories, where munitions were once kept. The top floors would get replacement windows.

Building 77’s top floors come with a roof deck topped by a radio tower once used by the Navy.

The yard, whose history goes back to the administration of the second U.S. president, John Adams, employed 70,000 people during its World War II peak, or about 0.2 percent of the entire U.S. workforce, Ehrenberg said. That number dwindled to about 9,600 by the time of the yard’s closing.

The yard currently supports about 7,000 jobs. Tenants include the Steiner Studios film-production facility, which opened in 2004. Brooklyn Navy Yard Development expects Building 77 will support an additional 3,000 jobs when the renovation is complete next year.

Ehrenberg, a Brooklyn native, said his personal goal is “getting us back the number jobs that were lost when the Navy moved out. It will have taken us many, many, many decades, but it would be righting the historical wrong of losing all those middle-class jobs.”

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