Reinventing the Brooklyn Navy Yard: A national model for sustainable urban industrial job creation
When the federal government decommissioned the nation's foremost naval shipbuilding facility in 1966, it was a devastating blow to Brooklyn's economy. Tens of thousands of jobs were lost and the rusting, dilapidated Yard came to symbolize the massive loss of urban manufacturing jobs in New York and across the United States. Acquired by the City of New York in 1969, Yard management struggled to rekindle large-scale manufacturing and the days of the smoke stacks. It wasn't until the late-1980s, under the leadership of new management, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC), that the Yard began to turn the corner, emerging from near bankruptcy by focusing on a new kind of tenant. Very small, often creative class-driven, light industrial businesses with long-term relevance to New York City's economy began to populate Yard buildings. Today the Navy Yard is widely recognized as a national model for the creation of well-paying urban industrial jobs. Having doubled its employment in the last ten years, the Yard is now home to more than 275 local businesses and 6,000 people who work in a variety of industries from traditional maritime to media, medicine, high-end craft, and green manufacturing. Over the next two years, BNYDC will add nearly two million square feet of new space and 2,000 new jobs. Investments in cutting-edge green infrastructure have nurtured a rapidly growing cluster of green manufacturers, lowered the Yard's carbon footprint and made it a better neighbor to surrounding communities. How has the Yard's growth continued unabated through the nation's worst recession since the 1930s? Practical lessons learned from this naval base reuse can serve broadly as a case study for urban areas that need to reinvent and are ready to embrace a new industrial economy. © 2012 WIT Press.