02.14.2011 – Sprawling Pfizer Plant in Brooklyn Sold – CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS

Sprawling Pfizer plant in Brooklyn sold

Surprise buyer plans to convert the 660,000-square-foot facility to light industrial and commercial use; sale leaves several large parcels unsold.

By Benjamin J. Spencer
February 14, 2011 2:11 p.m
 Two years after abandoning an attempt to redevelop its sprawling former manufacturing complex in Brooklyn, drug giant Pfizer announced Monday that it had reached a surprise agreement to sell a piece of that property to Acumen Capital Partners of Long Island City.

The 660,000-square-foot plant had been sitting vacant since 2008, when the Manhattan-based company ceased operations in the South Williamsburg neighborhood where it had begun operations in a small factory in 1849. At the time of the closing, 600 jobs were lost, a fraction of those employed at the plant in its heyday.

The buyer is Acumen Capital Partners, a Long Island City-based real estate investment firm specializing in buying empty buildings in the outer boroughs and converting them for light industrial and commercial use, as it now plans to do at the Pfizer site. The conversion should bring jobs back to the area.

“This is great news,” said Carl Hum, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “The track record that Acumen Capital has—it’s great at coming up with creative uses for buildings. It’s at the forefront of urban architecture.”

According to its website, Acumen emphasizes environmental sustainability when redeveloping properties, which could mean big changes for the aging plant. In Long Island City last spring, Acumen put a 40,000-square-foot vegetable farm on top of a six-story former auto plant on Northern Boulevard that it had bought a few years earlier.

In 2007, Pfizer sent out requests for proposals for its Brooklyn site, looking for construction of affordable housing, and job creation. Owing to the recession, the company was unable to identify any attractive proposals.

In a press statement Pfizer said: “We were subsequently approached by a party interested in acquiring only the existing manufacturing facility and adjacent parking lot,” a total of about eight acres. The statement went on to note that with the sale to Acumen it “would leave intact all of the vacant parcels north of the manufacturing building for future development.”

“We’re very excited about this project and the benefits it will bring to the neighborhood,” said Pfizer spokesman Christopher Loder.

Pfizer closed the 660,000 square-foot plant in 2008, resulting in the loss of 600 jobs in Brooklyn and setting off a debate over the future of former factory properties in the borough. Mr. Loder said Pfizer’s plans for the approximately five acres of remaining parcels, scattered north of the plant, still include the option of affordable housing.

“Although I wish Pfizer could have found a way to stay in its hometown of Brooklyn, I am thrilled that Acumen is helping to bring more light industry to our borough,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz in a statement. “This new facility will generate much-needed jobs, and attract the sort of innovative companies and artisans that redefine their craft every day.

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beejmckay

"The crew of the 'Rose Noelle" sits at Constable Godinet's dining table, enjoying a breakfast of whiskey and ice cream." Name's Beej. I'm a writer, filmmaker, amateur guitarist and drummer, and sometime photographer based in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

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