In 2003, then Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared that “New York City should not waste its time with manufacturing. If you are a pharmaceutical company or a steel company, you do not need to be here.”
So ended an industrial era. Once the nation’s fifth most productive industrial area, Brooklyn bid adieu to its factories, their workforces and said hello to residential developers then anxious to reclaim nearly 40% of New York City’s rezoned industrial land.
Since 2000, the entire United States has lost about 30% of its manufacturing jobs. New York lost 58% of its industrial work force during the same period.
Developers snapped up abandoned factories and derelict buildings like the old soap factory that Kirkman Lofts turned into upscale living space. Craft brewers, artisans and other small-scale manufacturers have been prompting the borough’s resurgence although with vacancy rates of about 4% in industrial properties, finding space and keeping business afloat remains a challenge.