Inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard

  • 3 min read

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation is at the forefront of modern urban industrial development. The Yard, which houses 400 plus businesses and more than 9,000 employees, has and continues to serve as an artisanal and industrial hub for not only the borough but the city at large. Bringing together a wide range of creative and talented innovators. 

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, a non-profit, is responsible for the development and property management of the Yard on behalf of its owner (the city of New York). BKNYDC recognizes the special role the Yard has played in both New York and American history. 

For generations the Yard has served as the “economic heart of Brooklyn” and prior to its more recent developments was THE place where the United States’ most iconic battleships were made (USS Maine, Arizona, and Missouri were all built at the yard). 

Given its great historical significance and recent revitalization, Heartwork could not have been more thrilled to collaborate with the BKNYDC as they work towards their goal of reaching 17,000 employees by 2020. We sat down with Tiffany Townsend Vice President of External Affairs to learn more about where The Yard has been, where it is, and where it is going. 

Can you share a bit about the vision for BNY and the unique community you are building? How does and could this influence the types of spaces and design for your clients?

We think of it a curating an ecosystem of tenant businesses around manufacturing, design, and technology/innovation.  In the next few years, the Navy Yard will grow from roughly 10,000 people per day (that we have now) to about 20,000. That’s a big leap and a relatively short period of time, but we are excited about fulfilling our mission to keep manufacturing in New York City and to focus on how we support the next wave of modern manufacturing that helps create and sustain middle-class jobs here.

We don’t really design spaces for our tenants, but rather build the buildings with spaces that can be customized to suit a tenants’ needs.

Can you talk about your role with the BNY and what types of businesses you target and why?

My role is VP of External Affairs.  Our team really engages the community and acts as ambassadors in a variety of areas.  We manage the branding and promotion of the Navy Yard, community relations, exhibits and programs, business services for our more than 400 tenant businesses, and fundraising as we are a non-profit organization.

When we visited your new office space, you mentioned that conference rooms are a hot commodity. What do you think drives this?

The integration of workflow is very important to the organization. In moving to our new home in Building 77, we have designed an open floor plan and incorporated elements of active design throughout the floor.  As an extension of that increased integration, we’re seeing the need for more quick huddles for teams and, therefore, an increase in demand for meeting rooms – and group workspace overall.

What is next for BNYDC?

In the near future, we will focus on fully opening our food manufacturing hub on the ground floor of building 77 and we are excited about the opening of the Wegmans grocery store on our site in late October.  In addition, we will fully lease our spaces at our Admirals Row development, which will include light industrial and office space. Beyond that, we are just beginning to set our sites on the realization of our Master Plan, which takes us into 2030.


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