Brooklyn Navy Yard Inks New Leases as Renovations Conclude

Two new tenants will take up 56,000 square feet at the historical site's last redeveloped structure.

In early 2018, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. announced plans to breathe new life into its historic shipyard complex along the East River. The proposal called for a $2.5 billion expansion project that would create 5 million square feet of mostly manufacturing space throughout the next three decades. Implementation would begin once the existing $1 billion renovation project wrapped up.

Now, work has been completed on the final restored structure within the campus, Building 127, while Smart Design and Daedalus Design & Production both signed 10-year leases for a combined 56,000 square feet at the newly rehabilitated historical structure. The duo joins other mostly manufacturing and design tenants at the complex.

Upgrading history

Located on Morris Avenue, the three-story, 95,000-square-foot building was constructed in the early 20th century by the U.S. Navy for boat manufacturing purposes. Cumberland Packing Corp.—which vacated the property in 2017— was the last tenant at the site prior to its reboot. In October 2018, Building 127 landed a $42 million loan to back its redevelopment, according to the New York Business Journal.

The overhaul’s financing included New Markets Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, New York City Capital and private debt. S9 Architecture and Turner Construction Co. were in charge of the revamp that resulted in 30,000-square-foot column-free floorplates, new oversized windows, as well as up-to-date elevators and renovated loading docks.

The Navy Yard occupants

Leading strategic design consulting firm Smart Design committed to 21,100 square feet on the building’s top floor. The firm will move its offices from the Starrett-Lehigh Building, located on Chelsea’s Hudson riverfront. Ford, Sephora, OXO and Gatorade are among Smart’s clients. Ken Fishel of Legacy Real Estate represented the tenant in the transaction, while the landlord handled the deal in-house. Smart Design appointed Kostow Greenwood Architects to lead the tenant fit-out.

Daedalus Design & Production will take up 35,000 square feet on the ground floor. The theater scenery and furniture manufacturing company will relocate from its current premises in Greenpoint, roughly 3 miles north of the Navy Yard. The deal was handled inhouse by BNYDC. 

The City of New York created BNYDC as a nonprofit in charge of managing the site in 1981. Last December, BNYDC announced that it had inked 162,000 square feet of new leases, as well as 81,000 square feet of renewals since the onset of the pandemic.

Another Brooklyn waterfront development project suffered a significant setback last September. The developers of Industry City withdrew their plan to rezone the 35-acre site along the East River waterfront in Sunset Park, due to political pressure.