The growing popularity of e-commerce and same-day delivery has created a new type of need in commercial land development: the last-mile distribution center. To meet demands for speedy shipping, these facilities are most effective when located within city limits, like New York City, where there is access to both major traffic corridors and a high density of consumers. It’s also where land is extremely costly.

Distribution centers typically occupy dozens of acres. Property that size is incredibly expensive within New York City’s boroughs, leaving developers struggling to fit necessary fulfillment operations onto a considerably smaller site.

By building vertically, 640 Columbia in Brooklyn, NY will become the first multilevel e-commerce distribution center on the East Coast. Bohler assisted the design-build team in finding cost-effective site development solutions.

Rendering of 640 Columbia in Red Hook, Brooklyn

Rendering: Ware Malcomb

The development achieves functionality on minimal land by incorporating three stories into the building design and locating loading docks on two levels, totaling 371,000 SF of industrial space on less than five acres. Additionally, the project includes general offices, conference rooms, and a parking structure.

Bohler’s civil engineering design maximized the small site and overcame additional challenges such as accommodating the needs of full-sized trucks and minimizing the truck traffic’s impact on the surrounding neighborhood. Our team’s design included:

Ensuring Efficient Truck Circulation & Accessibility

Bohler ensured the site was easily accessible for semi-trucks, smaller box trucks, and passenger cars alike. We collaborated with the NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) to create access points from both sides of the site, a critical factor for effective operations. The dual access allows trucks and employees to enter and exit the site seamlessly while minimizing the impact on neighborhood traffic.

Securing Critical Curb Cut Approvals

To allow truck traffic to access the site safely and prevent traffic congestion, oversized curb cuts were also important to Bohler’s design. Though the size exceeded NYCDOT requirements, we worked closely with them to obtain approval for larger ones. A seemingly minor detail in the overall plan, the oversized curb cuts were key to optimizing the site.

Stormwater Design Challenges

High ground-water and a building footprint covering much of the property complicated stormwater utility design. To continue moving the project forward, Bohler collaborated with the detention pipe manufacturer to find solutions for the placement and material of the storm pipe.

The project’s prime location in Brooklyn provides convenient last-mile distribution access to millions of people, increasing delivery efficiency for a growing market.

Bohler’s creative design solutions and collaboration with NYC agencies enabled the project team to achieve effective distribution operations on a considerably smaller site than would typically be needed. Our extensive work on the project included civil engineering, permitting, and construction administration services.

Learn more about Bohler’s Manhattan office, our team of professionals and how we can help with your development needs.