Back in July 2010 we wrote a blog post about a beautiful old garage-turned-storage-facility at 1000 Dean Street between Classon and Franklin in the Northwestern corner of Crown Heights known as Crow Hill. (Turns out it was formerly the Studebaker Service Station!) At the time, we wrote, “In our opinion, the no-man’s land south of Atlantic Avenue on western edge of Crown Heights is the most interesting, untapped area of Brownstone Brooklyn.” We didn’t give the building much more thought until the following summer when we noticed on the Massey Knakal listing that the asking price on the building had been reduced by almost 15 percent. At the time, the market for creative office space had recovered big time, with both Dumbo and the Navy Yard operating at almost full capacity. We printed out a map and drew a one-mile radius around 1000 Dean Street and confirmed that several neighborhoods with populations chock full of creative professionals were within walking and biking distance: In addition to Crown Heights, there was Bed Stuy, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and even bits of Fort Greene and Park Slope (barely!).
It turns out that there’s a reason that the blocks bounded by Grand, Franklin, Atlantic and Bergen had not changed much in recent years while the surrounding areas had attracted tons of investment: M-1 zoning, which means no residential development. The silver lining as someone looking to invest was that both demand and asking prices were accordingly lower than they otherwise would have been. Over the coming weeks, we reached out to the Urban Investment Group, a division of Goldman Sachs that has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in low-income neighborhoods in recent years, and found a receptive financing partner. From there, we joint-ventured with BFC Partners, a prolific developer with a thirty-year track record building affordable, market-rate and mixed-use projects around the city. (Hello, Toren.) Next, we connected with two active Community Development Entities, Waveland Ventures from Austin, TX and United Fund Advisors from Portland, OR, who saw strong potential for the project to generate jobs and economic activity in this area and elected to allocate New Market Tax Credits to the project. Finally, we sought the input and support of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, the Empire State Development Corp., the Brooklyn Borough President’s office and Council Member Letitia James.
Lastly, as the article in today’s Wall Street Journal reported, we closed ten days ago on the 155,000-square-foot, three-building complex for $11 million. (To get around paywall, simply type “Crown Heights Deal Puts Blogger to Test” into Google.) When all’s said and done (meaning the renovation), the group will have invested close to $30 million in bringing this piece of Brooklyn’s industrial past back to life; in the process, we hope that some of the neighboring landlords will be inspired to start investing in their own underutilized properties. We’re in great hands on the design side, too: We’ve hired the Selldorf Architects to oversee the renovation of the building, which will include all new windows as well as a new core of elevators and bathrooms. (You can look forward to some fun renovation blogging over the next year.) To top it off, the Brooklyn Flea is going to be creating a 9,000-square-foot food and beer hall on the Bergen Street side of the project (photo on the jump) that will feature a number of popular food vendors from The Flea and Smorgasburg.
As for the rest of the building, we’re just starting to think about tenants. In our dreams, the main building will be a mix of large and small creative tenants drawn from the immediate and surrounding neighborhoods, including food producers, tech start-ups, artists, writers, furniture makers, jewelry makers, etc. We’re hoping to start officially marketing the spaces later this year. In the meantime, if you think you might be interested in setting up shop in the building–whether it be for 500 or 5,000 or 50,000 square feet–we’d appreciate your filling out this short survey that will help us start to form plans for how to divide up the space and will put you at the top of the list to be contacted when the time comes. GMAP
We look forward to–and appreciate–all input and advice as the details for the project start to take shape.