WSJ: Brooklyn Brewery Taps Navy Yard for Expansion

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In a move that will both boost food and beverage manufacturing and create greater public access to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, The Brooklyn Brewery will build a new brewery, headquarters and roof-top restaurant and beer garden at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Building 77. The Brewery will employ 124 people at the Yard, with the long-term goal of creating an additional 100 jobs.

The Wall Street Journal’s Emily Nonko covered the story:

Brooklyn Brewery, a Williamsburg-based company that has grown in popularity alongside its namesake borough, has cut a deal to move its headquarters to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The company is leasing 75,000 square feet at Building 77, a 1-million-square-foot industrial warehouse now undergoing a $185 million renovation. Plans call for the Brooklyn Brewery’s space to open in 2018.

The space is slated to include offices and a beer garden, as well as an area for manufacturing and a pub in the building’s food-manufacturing hub. Visitors will be able to grab a beer and view the brewery production from the glass walls lining the ground-floor food hall, take a tour of the production facilities or go to the roof, where the beer garden will offer views of the waterfront, said Eric Ottaway, Brooklyn Brewery’s chief executive.

“We will be providing three different experiences for visitors,” Mr. Ottaway said.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard has offered limited access to the public, but in 2013, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. decided to begin offering public access with the development of Building 77.

Brooklyn Brewery has been on the hunt for a new headquarters since 2013, said Brooklyn Brewery co-founder Steve Hindy. “The Navy Yard was always one of our favorite locations, but the problem was that there was no public access as an industrial park,” he said.
The Navy Yard, established in 1801, produced warships for the U.S. Navy through World War II. After closing as a naval yard in 1966, the site has emerged as a popular hub for manufacturing, industrial and creative businesses.

“For generations, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was behind a wall,” Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. president David Ehrenberg said. “But the nature of the yard is really changing. We want to open it up to the public to show that things are still being made in Brooklyn.”

Mr. Ehrenberg said he had “a long conversation” with the Brooklyn Brewery about a possible move. The timing became right with the development of Building 77 and the plan for public access, he said.

Brooklyn Brewery has signed a 40-year lease. Mr. Ehrenberg declined to comment on the asking rent for the ground-floor food hall. “Our goal is to provide a stable home for manufacturers,” he said. “We offer long-term leases in which the rent won’t go up exponentially.”

Stable rent will be a stark difference from what has happened around the brewery’s current headquarters, in the Williamsburg neighborhood. Once a manufacturing district, most industrial businesses have been priced out due to the neighborhood’s residential boom.

Brooklyn Brewery will remain in Williamsburg until its three leases end in 2025, Mr. Hindy said. After that, he hopes to maintain a retail space or potentially a brewpub at that location.

“But we’re realistic about how the neighborhood has changed,” he said. “We don’t expect to maintain our manufacturing at that location unless we get really lucky and can have manufacturing in both places.”

The company also is negotiating for a large production facility in Staten Island. The company currently does most of its brewing in Utica, N.Y. “We’re exporting a lot of beer,” said Mr. Hindy. “By being in Staten Island near the port, we’ll reduce our transit costs significantly.”

The move also would center the company in New York City. Mr. Hindy described Brooklyn Brewery’s expansion throughout New York as “the largest industrial project in 30 years in the city.”

A comparable project, he said, was Mademoiselle Knitwear Inc.’s construction in the mid-1980s of a manufacturing, warehousing and distribution center in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. That facility has since closed, he said.

Brooklyn Brewery was founded in 1988 after Mr. Hindy had ended a tour as a Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press. He said he met many home-brewers on the road, and he began brewing himself upon his return to New York.

Mr. Hindy enlisted his neighbor, Tom Potter, to establish the brewery. The company set up its Williamsburg headquarters in 1996.

“The ‘Brooklyn’ name has been an incredible calling card for us all around the world,” Mr. Hindy said. “But in the beginning, investors questioned naming the brand ‘Brooklyn’ because the image wasn’t great.”

“We couldn’t pay people to come visit us,” Mr. Ottaway said.

The expansion will allow the company to “add a food element to the experience,” Mr. Ottaway said. At the beer garden, “the food will be more than pretzels and bratwursts, but it won’t be fine dining, Michelin star food either.”

Brooklyn Brewery will anchor the food-manufacturing hub alongside Russ & Daughters. A New York food company known for its Jewish specialties, Russ & Daughters signed a 14,000-square-foot lease in January.

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