Tobacco Warehouse Renderings Revealed

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On Monday evening at Brooklyn Borough Hall, Brooklyn Bridge Development Corp. head Regina Myer revealed the only two responses to the group’s RFP for the Tobacco Warehouse. The two plans, submitted by LAVA/Volcano Love, a Prospect Heights-based cultural organization, and St. Ann’s Warehouse, the longtime tenant at Two Trees-owned space across Water Street, drew (predictably) lots criticism, ranging from those opposed to any adaptive reuse of the Civil War-era ruin to those who want to make sure that whatever is built there doesn’t stick out above the existing structure. As Brooklyn Heights Blog reports, there was also push-back from politicians about a process that only ended up eliciting two proposals. Check out the BHB post for more details and the Brooklyn Bridge Park website to download the presentation.

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  • Seriously? Another trapeze school? They already do that on Governor’s Island in the warmer months and it seems like there are more appropriate sites for something like that on the sports/recreation piers elsewhere in the future park. While I am not opposed to structures rising above the roofline of the existing warehouse, certainly they could integrate a whole lot better than the addition of a pyramid and a trapeze cage.

  • Very exciting. And I noticed the Brooklyn Flea is a potential subtenant.

  • you’d think they’d be able to raise some of that needed revenue from this site… not sure these ideas get them there (altho I’m not against either). they just hired consultants to work on the revenue thing, I dont see why this isn’t a piece of that puzzle.

  • also, the word I’ve been hearing for a long time is that the BBDC wants St Ann’s to get the space and drafted to the RFP with them in mind. that may be true or not, but it’s become conventional wisdom now and I wonder if they shouldn’t get those same consultants to draft the RFP too.

    I dont think the city has ever been that great at making the most of these situations. This place, govenors island, that Maritime building I walked by an hour ago.. If these building were in, say, San Francisco or London….

  • bfarwell

    Uh… pyramid what? I’m all in favor of unusual architecture, but that doesn’t mean I think Vegas would look good on the brooklyn waterfront.

  • It would be great if they used this space to different venues. It would make a great dance space for night time.

    I’m all for that.

  • I always thought the interior space would make for great basketball courts. That could be implemented tomorrow without the millions spent on “consultants”.

  • The LAVA proposal has some great elements but the pyramid and other structure above the roofline? Looks stupid. And inappropriate. I am all for creative reuse but it should have respect ofr the original structure as well. This just feels like , oh, let’s show everyone how trendy and quirky we can be.

  • I suppose a small performing arts space, this is not a real theater, is a good idea for the TW.
    The builders will have an uphill battle to gain public support because the building looks so great now as is.
    It is such a nice venue, with or without tents, as is.

  • Various factors here: not a great time to RFP for arts use, given lack of dough in that community. St. Anns can get the money, and is experienced sharing a space with others. Can the Prospect Heights group get the 2mm needed?
    Issue Project and Roulette doing capital and endowment campaigns now. Easy to propose, hard to execute.

    St. Anns is a BK institution and should be taken care of.
    State won’t allow them in Empire Stores, so this is only option in dumbo they can raise the money to occupy. Believe me, I know.

    They haven’t been able to build a real ‘house’ as they have been temporary tenants since their founding. In Warehouse they could do the stage, backstage, green room, rehearsal space, lighting, seating they should really have. This would benefit other users big time.

    While the RFP might have been slanted and quick, if it wasn’t you’d get 200 useless proposals for stuff that could never be funded and no one wants

    BKLYN is event and arts venue challenged, which these groups are trying to change

    the location limits you to certain kinds of events
    please recall hip hop festivals, NIKE corporate, the burger taste off and many other things have been done here
    so fantasy of leaving it as it is not a reflection of reality already being used

    go St. Anns Warehouse!

  • Minard, i love your posts but leaving it as it is not an option cause it looks good not happening anyway
    while it was hard to get a seat the BIG LEBOWSKI showing this summer, was great to see BK movie do the same numbers as Bryant Park that is what public spaces are for! not too just look good

    And St. Anns has tremendous public support already, and more coming, cause what they do is special

    and with them, space will be available to many others too

  • Chris, sounds like you’re admitting the process was slanted in St Anns favor. Is that right? Who is to say they’d get 200 useless proposal. This is the kind of stuff that drives people crazy.

    I’m a little confused about how this is the ONLY space available to St Ann’s. If they can raise 2mm, they have options. I can think of several brooklyn-based arts groups — Theater for a New Audience comes to mind — that has no space of their own and makes it work.

  • Donald Brennan

    It’s not a great time for RFPs for hotel and condo use either – and that’s why they haven’t issued them. Not sure why the thinking is different for this site. This site is also not required to generate profit, which in turn might be used for maintenance.

  • I think Wallentas likes the idea of St Ann’s staying in DUMBO, it adds some cultural cachet. All of that is fair. I don’t see why the arts group could not be accommodated in the far larger Empire Stores complex next door, which is totally vacant, totally ignored. The Tobacco Warehouse could thus remain a quirky, unique open-to-the sky venue.
    I don’t understand why the Empire Stores could not be rehabbed to house St Ann’s in one small corner of their cavernous interiors.

  • Ringo, the need and desire is for arts and performance space, which is how the site has been used for years, generally. So of course RFP looks slanted. And yes, if you spent six months on a wide open RPF you’d get 200 apps, 99% useless. I has happened before.

    In order for St. Anns to raise money and use govt. capital money for the theater, they just have a twenty plus year lease or own. No one, no one in dumbo or vinegar hill will do that. St. Anns retained one of the finest brokerage consultants in the city to help them find space. Really no options. I helped look to, really nothing else.

    Minard, the new york state office of historic perservation SHIPO will NOT allow any changes to Empire Stores interiors (seven separate spaces bounded by brick walls) unless necessary for circulation or code 9 they are on record saying no removal of beams. To put St. anns in Stores you’d have to gut an interior. So can’t be done.
    Don’t think this wasn’t explored. I agree it would be better, but NYState won’t allow. Sorry.

  • Chris, I’ve been to a wedding there and a couple of corporate events so I know they’ve used the space to throw off money before. I question the most basic issues here. Who says “the need and desire is for an arts space” — I mean that stuff drives me nuts. You could build a glass performance space in the space left in the old condo footprint, with restaurant. It could make money from day 1.

    I don’t know. It sounds like there was no interest in exploring options other that St Ann’s so why bother with the RFP at all? 200 apps with 99% useless means there would be 2 useful ideas. 95% useless means there would be 10 useful ideas. But, ouch, maybe it wouldn’t be St Ann’s???

    And I say this as a longtime fan of St Ann’s.

  • Ringo, i agree that RPF’s should be wide cast. Generally city RFP’s are tight cause they know what they want.

    The need and desire is for an arts space means no one particularly wants a plain vanilla event space for weddings, corporate events and music, or thinks that is the best use for historic space in a residential area.

    The other issue is finance – there is no money to be borrowed for event spaces as their is non bankable stream of income.

    The community, those in the Heights in favor, and DUMBO’s history, is arts.

    Restaurants right now are taking built space. Doesn’t pay to build a store when you can rent one for nothing with kitchen in place.

    Money is not the goal here, but right use.

    I don’t know what you mean by a ‘glass performance space in the old condo footprint’