Navy Yard

City Hall joins BNYDC, business and community leaders to debut Navy Yard’s Building 77

$185 Million Renovation Brings 1 million Sq. Ft. of Prime Industrial, Retail Space into Downtown Brooklyn

November 15, 2017 By Andy Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mayor Bill de Blasio offers remarks prior to the opening of Building 77, as BNYDC CEO David Ehrenberg (center) and Chairman of the board Hank Gutman listen. Eagle photos by Andy Katz

Maybe it was the stress of elections barely two days past, or mastering the logistics of the Navy Yard — itself a city within a city — but nothing seemed to go quite right on day the ribbon was to be cut and the Yard’s largest single building, No. 77, was to be presented to the world.

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People invited to the ceremony on Nov. 9 were shuttled to a variety of entrances, only to be turned away by well-meaning but clueless security staff; the ribbon itself was prepared for cutting as remarks ended, then everyone broke off into groups, moving every which way.

“Did we miss covering the ribbon cutting?” a member of the press asked one of the mayor’s staff.

“I think we missed actually doing it,” came the staffer’s baffled reply.

What a shame! But, when all is said and done, who cares? The transformation of Building 77 from a septuagenarian warehouse filled mostly with bats and awaiting demolition into a cutting-edge manufacturing facility that will house dozens of businesses, providing some 3,000 good jobs by the end of the decade, is a remarkable achievement.

“We invested so we could get to this day,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told the assembled group that included Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Andrew Hoan, President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership Regina Myer, state Assemblymember Joe Lentol and City Councilmembers Laurie Cumbo and Stephen Levin, among many others. “It’s going to create a lot more momentum, and it’s going to create a lot more focus on the Navy Yard and more and more businesses are going to want to come here and create jobs right here in Brooklyn.”

Built during World War II as a mixed-use storage facility and, on the top floors, offices for the Yard commandant and U.S. Navy’s North Atlantic Fleet command personnel, 77’s original designers never had the manufacturing of custom jewelry or smoked salmon in mind.

Transforming the utterly utilitarian creation into a modern manufacturing and retail hub with a public entrance was the work of two years and $185 million in costs. Some of the more notable achievements were the removal of 3 million pounds of concrete from exterior walls and replacing it with 50,000 square feet of windows; the erection of a public plaza and frontage on Flushing Avenue; the installation of modern, 16,000-pound freight elevators; the placement of 925-ton cooling towers on the roof; the installation of fiber optic connectivity throughout and, on the ground floor, a 60,000-square-foot Food Manufacturing Hub, anchored by Russ & Daughters, the venerable specialty foods purveyor which has joined Katz’s in leaping across the East River to serve Brooklyn customers in their own borough.

“One hundred years ago, my great-grandfather sold dried herring from a cart on the Lower East Side,” co-owner Niki Russ Federman explained as she showed members of the press how the still-rough ground-floor vault would eventually shape up, enabling Russ & Daughters to provide sit-down meals as well as do production for distribution to other retail outlets.

Sharing 77’s ground floor will be Brooklyn Roasting Company, Transmitter Brewery, Pizza Yard, Rustik Tavern, The Brooklyn Greenery and the NYCHA Food Business Pathway, a training program to help NYCHA residents start up and run their own food businesses.

“We’re working to continue to integrate the Navy Yard back into the community at large,” explained Brooklyn Navy Yard President and CEO David Ehrenberg.  “The economies of this absolutely do make sense!”

Said de Blasio: “This is really something powerful for everyday families. So, when you think about what’s happening here, you can also think about it as protecting the middle class, making sure the middle class can survive and can thrive in this city going forward.”


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