Brooklyn Navy Yard salutes neighborhood with new public spaces

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When Wegmans opened its first New York City store at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in October, 2019, it immediately brought a new, public dimension to the city-owned, modern industrial park.

Now, the booming Navy Yard’s only fully public-accessible section is poised to begin welcoming even more visitors from the neighborhood and beyond.

The giant, 75,000 square-foot, high-end Wegmans supermarket is the anchor retail tenant of a six-building complex controlled by development company Steiner NYC in a section known as Admirals Row — but which might be dubbed Navy Yard Square.

Now, after five years of construction and painstaking restoration, developer Doug Steiner has begun marketing a total of 80,000 square feet of store space and 5,200 square feet of community-use space in four different buildings arrayed around the gourmet market’s parking lot.

Two of the buildings are restorations of historic, more than century-old structures. The Captains House — a three-story mansion dating from 1850 — is destined for community/non-profit use after an $8 million restoration.

A few steps away, the 1853-vintage Timber Shed building — where ships’ masts were made for more than a half-century — has 7,100 square feet of column-free retail space under a spectacular, 37-degree pitched-roof ceiling resembling that of a church nave. Oversized, arched wooden windows with cedar shutters open onto a tree-lined plaza.
The atmospheric structure had collapsed and had to be entirely rebuilt using materials salvaged from the original.

The rest of the new retail space is contained in two new, ground-up buildings known as 3 Flushing Ave. and 25 Navy St. Admirals Row is also home to 365,000 square feet of light industrial space that Steiner leases back to the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. and a four-story garage in what’s designated as Building 303.

Steiner’s name looms large at the Yard for his Steiner Studios, a 780,000 square-foot complex of ultramodern film and television production facilities that are the largest east of Hollywood. “Boardwalk Empire,” “Sex and the City” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” are a few of the projects that have shot there.

But he’s also spending $300 million on the Admirals Row project. He said, “The Navy Yard wanted a supermarket in that location for 15 or 20 years. Wegman[s] is the dream supermarket.

“For us, the more open the Navy Yard is, the better. The Yards has reached a level of brand awareness it didn’t have until recently. It’s a true hub for the city’s creative economy — and it’s also cool thanks to its concentration of wonderful old buildings.”

Steiner is confident that the retail space will prove just as successful as Wegmans, which is drawing 50,000 customers a week in addition to supporting a thriving home-delivery service. Shoppers can enter the Admirals Row area at Sands and Navy streets and at Flushing Avenue. Ripco’s Jason Pennington is the leasing agent.

Meanwhile, the Navy Yard’s proposed $2.5 billion master plans for expansion aims to raise the total number of employees on site from 12,000 today to 20,000 in the next few years.

Last year, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. reported signing more than 160,000 square feet of commercial leases despite the pandemic.

The Yard, where mighty World War II battleships were launched, is today home to a few dry docks that echo its maritime origins, but mainly to companies that make everything from body armor to modular apartment-building components to organic vegetables grown on the world’s largest rooftop farm

Dock 72, a 675,000 square-foot office tower developed by Rudin and Boston Properties, is the Yard’s newest landmark at the recently opened NYC Ferry terminal.

Steiner also plans to eventually convert an 18-acre section of the Yard known as the Navy Annex — a cluster of haunted-seeming early 20th-century buildings once used as hospitals and propaganda film-making facilities — into a modern educational and media complex.

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