New York has the highest population density of any major city in the United States, reports the New York City Department of City Planning, with over 27,000 people per square mile. As groups and communities start to cluster, it is no wonder that micro neighborhoods start flourishing. But today, we’re not talking about ethnic micro neighborhoods, which we’ve covered before, but a new kind of geographical boundary – micro cities. Places that more or less identify themselves as “cities” within their geographical boundary whether through urban planning strategy, nomenclature, or other factors. These, whether self-started or government-initiated, cater to clusters of people who are not only seeking for a space to work and create, but also an incubator for inspiration and lifestyle.
5. Brooklyn Navy Yard
Aerial photo of Brooklyn Navy Yard. Photo courtesy Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.
Managed by the not-for-profit corporation Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC), Brooklyn Navy Yard is a 4 million square foot industrial park owned by the city. Previously, the site was home to the nation’s most storied naval shipbuilding facilities. Although a far cry from its 70,000 employees during World War II, it is now providing almost 7,000 jobs in its twelve new or adaptively reused green industrial buildings. Within its walled property only accessible at the five gate entrances, it has its own street system (the street signs are different too!), and parking rules, and is responsible for its own snow removal and sanitation services.
Due to its historical location and individual development on the Brooklyn waterfront, at a concave curve between Williamsburg and Vinegar Hill, it feels “off the grid,” something that the BNYDC is actively combatting with increased shuttle service to 13 nearby subway stops, including not only High Street and York Street but also Atlantic Avenue/Barclays’sCenter and Clinton Avenue/Washington Avenue.
One of its anchor tenants Steiner Studios moved into the Brooklyn Navy Yard in November 2004. The 580,000 square-foot full-service space is now producing world class motion pictures, independent films, television shows, broadcast commercials, photoshoots, as well as music videos. Steiner Studios plans to convert the abandoned Brooklyn Navy Yard Annex into a media campus by 2027, adding another 420,000 square feet of floor area to the studio complex, already the largest outside of Hollywood. Steiner Studios will also develop a parcel of land home to the beloved but crumbling Admiral’s Row, targeted to open in 2017, which will become a supermarket (Wegman’s), other shops and industrial spaces.
The abandoned Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital, the location for a site-specific art installation last summer
In mid-2015, WeWork announced it would occupy 220,000 square feet (about 32%) of a new $380 million dollar building to be constructed on Dock 72. This building will be predominantly commercial and will open in 2017.
The corporation also announced in October 2015 a $185 million investment to renovate Building 77 to be an entry point of the property to the public. This will include the addition of a food hall and a park that are accessible by all. Earlier this month, New York icon, Russ & Daughters was confirmed as an addition to Building 77’s food hall. The century-old bagel and fish purveyor will be become an anchor business for the development.
Those interested in the history may find the Navy Yard Archives, which contain original floor plans and Navy memorabilia, fascinating.