Saturday, December 21, 2013

Nets said to plan practice court, training facility in Sunset Park industrial district; a new DUMBO? (nah)

The Brooklyn Nets are planning to build a new practice court, and training facility in Sunset Park, at 148 39th Street, just west of Second Avenue (and near Costco) along the waterfront in Industry City, reports the New York Times in Nets Look to Get Both Feet in Brooklyn. The article builds on a 10/30/13 report in NetsDaily, which estimated the investment at $50 million.

Assuming the deal goes through, the Nets by fall 2015 also will move their front offices to Brooklyn, thus changing their off-court center of gravity from New Jersey to Brooklyn, and leading to the probability some players, seeking convenience, would finally move to Brooklyn rather than live in Manhattan or New Jersey.

The location is a straight shot down Fourth Avenue from the Barclays Center, a little more than three miles.

The impact on Sunset Park

The Times, I think, goes a little far in predicting the impact on the area:
The neighborhood is in an intriguing state of transition. Sunset Park is home to a large Latino population as well as Brooklyn’s Chinatown. With the impending move, the Nets have inserted themselves into a Brooklyn neighborhood that has reinvented itself several times in the past few decades, and seems poised for more change to come.
...In the past few years, the buildings have begun to attract artists drawn to the affordable studio space. More recently, the landlords committed to a full-out renewal of the complex. The buildings now house a mixture of artist studios, light manufacturers, technology firms and other creative-minded tenants, many of whom moved in within the last two years. On a recent morning, people carrying portfolios and artists’ tubes trickled into Industry City from the direction of the 36th Street subway stop.
Map from Pratt Center report
While there's indeed room for new businesses and creative attractions in Industry City, it's far from any upscale residential population.

It's not close to a working-class residential population, either.

Keep in mind that both Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue are highways separating the residential population (Fifth Avenue is the spine of the Latino shopping district, Eighth Avenue the Chinese one) from a significant industrial zone, with some 33,000 workers, as indicated in the graphic at right (click to enlarge).

So even if  the team opens a Net store and offers basketball clinics, it's doubtful that "the area could aspire to be something like Dumbo, a neighborhood about five miles away that has been transformed from a gritty outpost to a creative, high-priced hub."

DUMBO was essentially empty, with few industries operating and no residential population when artists began to transform the district. Still, NetsDaily reported:
Jamestown Properties is hoping to turn the 40-acre site into Brooklyn's version of Manhattan's Meatpacking District. The Nets training facility is intended as the anchor of that plan.
It's certainly possible that Jamestown can transform the site somewhat, and create some destinations, but the Meatpacking District has the advantage of proximity not only to transit but to upscale residential neighborhoods.

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