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Every other week, Jennifer Mankins, owner of the Bird boutiques, tells us about the new 2,500-square-foot store on Grand Street in Williamsburg that she’s getting ready to open. Up this week: a soft opening pop-up shop TODAY!

Despite a nap-inducing national holiday with lots requisite family time, we have managed to complete an insane amount of work over the last two weeks, and are opening half the store TODAY in the form of a holiday pop-up shop. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a major work in progress, but we are down to the fine details on the Grand Street side (missing light fixtures, cash/wrap under cabinets, dressing room and office doors etc.) and can now make a major push to finish the North 1st Street side by the end of December. A very big thank you to Bill Dorvillier, my contractor, and everyone on his crew, and of course Ole, Sarah, and Mark from Ole Sondressen’s office. We would not be opening on time without their tireless work and their above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty commitment to this project. I have never said this before, and have only heard it said once or twice by anyone, but I love my team and would highly recommend them to anyone and will miss working with them when this project is finally finished. (more…)

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Every other week, Jennifer Mankins, owner of the Bird boutiques, tells us about the new 2,500-square-foot store on Grand Street in Williamsburg that she’s getting ready to open. Up this week: Down to the wire, with only two weeks left before she goes live.

Two weeks and counting until I open the Grand Street side of the store for the holiday pop-up shop. I have ordered 7000 postcards announcing the December opening, I am set to install the holiday decorations by the artist Tamar Mogendorff after Thanksgiving and my retail computers are scheduled to be installed on December 1st. There is so much left to do, but Bill has about 4 different crews working round the clock to close up the front, so it may just happen.

The wood: Finally the reclaimed, milled pinewood planks have been delivered and are being installed on the walls. I love the sappy warm color, the grain pattern and mostly, the fresh pine smell. The whole store smells like Christmas. The planks were milled from industrial beams that were salvaged from a warehouse here in Brooklyn dating back to the turn of the century.

Exterior Grand Street: The storefront glass is installed. All of the sidewalk metal has been painted and the sidewalk glass panels sandblasted and installed as well as the tile on the bottom of the storefront. I had no idea the sandblasted glass would match the tile so well. I love it. All of the electrical wires for the door and the alarm system and cameras have been pulled. The last major thing we’re waiting for is the new door. It was delivered last night and they’re installing it tomorrow. (more…)

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Every other week, Jennifer Mankins, owner of the Bird boutiques, tells us about the new 2,500-square-foot store on Grand Street in Williamsburg that she’s getting ready to open. Up this week: inspired by the election, feeling Yes She Can.

Four weeks and counting. I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about the deadline, but after Tuesday’s election I feel like anything is possible. I think the store will be a work in progress well into January, but I still want to push to get it open as soon as possible. If people are going to do any shopping at all this year, it will likely be during December.

Exterior:
The white ironwork is finally really finished and we are just waiting for the new door and the new glass which should arrive next week. They welded and sanded and painted all of the storefront, including, by mistake, the solid brass balls that rest in between each arch. Those are one of my favorite details of the storefront, so I had them sand off all the paint to expose the brass. I mean if you have brass balls, you should at least show them off! They primed all of the sidewalk metal and the sidewalk glass is being sand-blasted and should also be ready next week. Additional security lights have been added on each corner of the N1st storefront, and the owner from Dokebi, the restaurant next door, has generously offered to move his sign to the other side of his building so it isn’t next to our door. (more…)

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Every other week, Jennifer Mankins, owner of the Bird boutiques, tells us about the new 2,500-square-foot store on Grand Street in Williamsburg that she’s getting ready to open. Up this week: a wrap-up of interiors, exteriors, mechanicals and designing the counter.

Slowly but surely we are making progress. December 1st is the tentative opening date for the holiday pop-up shop, which means we have six more weeks to finish the North 1st portion of the store. It is going to be close.

Exterior front:
All of the fluted glass panels have been removed. We will reuse them inside the store to cover the clerestory windows. The horizontal metal dividing bar has also been removed and all of the remaining small vertical metal bars have been patched and welded. We have decided to keep the store front white and we have selected a 100%recycled glazed blue tile to finish the storefront below the glass. Keeping water out to avoid the tile cracking is a concern. We are going to seal the tiles before we grout them, and leave a bit of room near the ground to avoid them sitting in water. Hopefully this should do it.

Exterior back:
The brick has been power washed and most of the graffiti has been removed. The electrical work has been completed so they are ready to install the exterior fixture as soon as I find one I like. I hate 99% of all exterior light fixtures so this may be a problem. This side of the building is pretty isolated and dark though, so the more light I can provide the better. (more…)

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Every other week, Jennifer Mankins, owner of the Bird boutiques, tells us about the new 2,500-square-foot store on Grand Street in Williamsburg that she’s getting ready to open. Up this week: a review of the store’s progress (including the dumbwaiter!), post-Paris trip.

After spending seven days in Paris for fashion week, I was anxious and excited to get back and see the progress on the store. Everything is moving quickly now so there was a lot to review and discuss.

Exterior front: The metal gates surrounding the store have been removed as well as every other vertical bar in front of the windows. The storefront is lighter and more open and accessible. It is beautiful. All the old grout around the glass sidewalk panels has been removed, and the metal frame has been cleaned and repainted.

Exterior back: The big antique metal gates have also been removed in the back. They are being stored onsite for now, because I think my landlords are going to salvage them and take them upstate. The small glass window has been removed and the frame measured for new glass. The plywood has been removed from the garage door opening giving a much better sense of how the finished storefront will look. We have some new graffiti back there and are trying to figure out what steps we can take to discourage this in the future. Is there a seal we can apply to the brick to make the paint come off easily? What about preventing acid etching on the glass? Will lights and cameras be enough? (more…)

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Every other week, Jennifer Mankins, owner of the Bird boutiques, tells us about the new 2,500-square-foot store on Grand Street in Williamsburg that she’s getting ready to open. Up this week: the contracts have been signed and the work begins.

Half of the wooden floor has been taken up and is being prepped to be re-installed in order to fill the areas that had been cut out by the last tenant. We thought if we simply filled the gaps with new wood, or even reclaimed old wood, it would be too patchy, so we are mixing the old-old wood, and the new-old wood for a more even effect. The crew is still getting used to the idea of sorting and separating material for recycling, instead of just hauling everything outside to the dumpster. I think they think we’re crazy. The original electrical panel was sitting on the interior brick supporting wall that is going to be partially demolished, so the electrician came and moved the panel and set up temporary power and light. The panel will have to be moved again when we get the new interior office walls built. (more…)

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Every week, Jennifer Mankins, owner of the Bird boutiques, tells us about the new 2,500-square-foot store on Grand Street in Williamsburg that she’s getting ready to open. Up this week: choosing a contractor.
Deciding on a contractor was much harder than I thought it was going to be. We actually had too many good ones to choose from. The main things we considered were cost, capability, schedule, and LEED work. We received the final bids last week from the three contractors, Sam, Evan and Mark. Sam has the most green-building experience, and his bid was in the middle price-wise, but this project would be the biggest he had ever done, he doesn?t have much of a crew, and has never done any LEED certified work. I was worried about how long it would take him to complete the project if he was doing a lot of the work himself, and we would have to rely heavily on sub-contractors who are notoriously not very loyal. The work he has done is great, and his passion for sustainable building is infectious. But I just didn’t feel like he was the right choice.

(more…)

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Every week, Jennifer Mankins, owner of the Bird boutiques, tells us about the new 2,500-square-foot store on Grand Street in Williamsburg that she’s getting ready to open. Up this week: getting money back from the government, part 2, and finding a new contractor.

One of the contractors dropped out of the bidding a couple of weeks ago, but we received the preliminary bids from the remaining three contractors. Two bids were almost identical, around 330k, and the third was much lower, almost half. It was easy to see who had done their homework — who had fully researched the cost and availability of specified materials; who had broken down the bid in the detailed way we requested; who had taken the extra time to source alternative materials that he thought would work well with the project. Last week, the fully detailed, amended bid sets were sent out to the three contractors, and we’re waiting for the final bids now. In the end we will probably have to cut some of the scope of the design to get the project down closer to my original budget of 250k, but hopefully not too much.

When you last heard from us, we had just learned that with the extra due diligence from our architect and project manager, our tiny project had been reconsidered and approved by NYSERDA. The next step was to have a meeting between all interested parties: Gwen, the OPC (outreach project consultant) representing SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation, the company hired by NYSERDA to manage many of their projects); me, the client; Mark, the project manager representing the architect; Stephanie, the project manager representing the client; and Lorey, the TA (Technical Assistance) representing the engineering firm hired for the fundamental commissioning. (Phew! Deciphering the acronyms alone has been a bit of work.) (more…)

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Every week, Jennifer Mankins, owner of the Bird boutiques, tells us about the new 2,500-square-foot store on Grand Street in Williamsburg that she’s getting ready to open. Up this week: getting money back from the government, part 1.

In order to obtain LEED certification, we need a commissioning agent, an engineer that oversees our energy systems. He or she is hired to optimize our energy performance, to ensure that our HVAC works at maximum efficiency, for example. Since hiring a commission agent is mandatory, and not cheap, Mark Peterson, our project manager, began looking for an engineering firm early on in this process. Most of the firms he contacted said not to bother sending any information because the job was too small. But with some persistence, Mark found three firms who were interested. After Ole, our architect, completed the initial floor plans, Mark sent out packages to these engineering firms, explaining the project and our goals. While waiting for them to review the plans, he contacted NYSERDA to determine which of their programs would best fit our needs. (more…)

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Every week, Jennifer Mankins, owner of the Bird boutiques, tells us about the new 2,500-square-foot store on Grand Street in Williamsburg that she’s getting ready to open. Up this week: the decision to pursue LEED certification.

While we’re waiting to hear back from our contractors, whose bids are due today, I’d like to address why we decided to pursue LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. This has been the most common question we’ve received from blog readers so far. Considering our small scale and the administrative and financial costs, this is a fair question.

The answer can partly be found in a conversation I had with Mark, our project manager and a LEED accredited professional, at the beginning of the project, when we first considered registering with the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

He explained that when the USGBC formed, back in the early 1990s, there were no rules or standards for implementing environmentally sustainable building practices. The LEED rating system, developed by the USGBC, produced an evolving set of guidelines that allow everyone client, architect, contractors to work together toward a common goal. (more…)

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Every week, Jennifer Mankins, owner of the Bird boutiques, tells us about the new 2,500-square-foot store on Grand Street in Williamsburg that she’s getting ready to open. Up this week: Contractor Walk-throughs. For a larger set of plans, click through.

Two weeks ago, Ole (architect), Mark (LEED specialist) and Stephanie met with four different general contractors to walk through the space and talk about the bid process. Ole had prepared the preliminary pricing sets an initial set of design plans for the space, which include most of the materials that we have picked out. They are similar to what are called ‘bid sets’, but less detailed. The main reason we decided to do this, to go with a less detailed set of drawings, is time. While the contractors begin to look at the design aesthetic, the major building themes and materials, and become familiar with the LEED requirements, Ole and I can settle on the finer details. Plus, this first phase may actually narrow the field after reviewing the plans and learning about LEED, some contractors may not still be interested.

Because the LEED specifications are so new, three of the four potential contractors have never completed a LEED certified job, and Mark’s concern is that these contractors really don’t know what they’re in for in terms of management and paperwork. To facilitate the bidding process, Mark put together an extensive booklet outlining the LEED requirements particular to our project and specifying exactly how we wanted the bids formatted. This will make it easier to compare the different bids, and ensure that the contractors have addressed all the issues.

We scheduled the walk-throughs for an hour apart, starting at 2 pm. The first to arrive was Danny, a contractor we had previously met during the bidding process for our recent 5th Avenue store renovation in Park Slope… (more…)

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Every week, Jennifer Mankins, owner of the Bird boutiques, tells us about the new 2,500-square-foot store on Grand Street in Williamsburg that she’s getting ready to open. After a break in the publishing schedule last week, the dives back in this week with a discussion of the different materials being considered for the project…There’s nothing like a looming store renovation to send my normally out-of-control magazine habit well over the top. Dwell, Architectural Digest, Domino, Metropolitan Home, Wallpaper, Elle Décor, Martha Stewart Living, Ready Made, Real Simple, you name it, I’ve been reading it. After a million articles, it was finally time to start putting some of that inspiration into a project of my own.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous as I headed over to Ole’s office to see his preliminary designs… (more…)