DUMBO facing downtown

You’ve heard of the 421-a tax incentive program, despised by the de Blasio administration and abhorred by many locals, who view it as an antiquated tax break no longer applicable to since-gentrified areas. 421-a, however, is not the end all of tax breaks.

REAP stands for the Relocation and Employment Assistance Program, a relocation tax credit for relocating commercial and industrial businesses, excluding retail and hotels. REAP provides business income tax credits to businesses previously located outside New York, or below 96th Street in Manhattan, that are relocating jobs to the outer boroughs or specified areas above 96th Street.



BioLite is not your average Brooklyn maker company. The 45-person team is building a next-generation personal power grid by creating wood-burning stoves that generate electricity on demand. Located near the Manhattan Bridge in Dumbo, BioLite just received another $5 million in funding and financing.

When Brownstoner visited BioLite on a recent summer afternoon, the office was pleasantly humming with conversation about the “Off Grid Office” they’d built upstate near Hudson, N.Y. In the Dumbo lab, engineers measured the thermal output of a cookstove beneath an industrial air hood.

Jonathan Cedar, the company’s banjo-playing co-founder and CEO, says that “the craft of inventing and making physical things is the strongest skill set” of his team. It’s an aptitude that comes in handy when designing camping equipment that crosses over to infrastructure.



From Carroll Gardens to Bushwick, coworking is booming in Brooklyn. The number of these shared spaces has grown rapidly in the last few years, offering amenity-rich workspaces for creative freelancers, novelists, and coders alike.

The recipe for a coworking space is simple. Get a nifty name, lease a large commercial space, carve it up into areas of varying sizes with monthly — or even daily — rental fees, and offer lots of extras.

WeWork — one of the world’s largest coworking companies and currently valued at $10 billion —  is doubling down on the future growth of Brooklyn coworking. But they are by no means the only name in the game. A clutch of smaller companies — Dumbo Startup Lab, Makeshift Society, Cowork|rs, and dozens more — are also in the mix.


image via Knickerbocker Mfg. Co. Facebook

Brooklyn is no stranger to the garment industry. New York City’s historic Garment District was staffed largely by immigrants from Brooklyn and the Lower East Side, and many consider present day Sunset Park to be the center of garment making in NYC.

Small-batch Brooklyn menswear is taking it back to the borough’s DIY roots and contributing to the wider maker movement at large. Some brands have been keeping it old school since the beginning, while others are revitalizing old world methods of manufacturing.

Here are five Brooklyn-based men’s haberdasheries keeping their craft local. (more…)


Like its green tea red bean pastries, Paris Baguette has a certain je ne sais quoi. The quirky, Seoul-based chain opened its first Brooklyn location at 97 Court Street in April.

In spite of its vaguely theme-park feel, Paris Baguette is a decent addition to the block. Peter Schubert, Partner and Managing Director of Retail at TerraCRG, recently told Brownstoner that the northern Court Street area has become “one of the go-to corridors for national retailers entering the Brooklyn market.”

Schubert mentioned that commercial rents along the street average between $100 to $150 per square foot, with some getting close to $200 per square foot. That’s not an insignificant sum. But it may be a good investment for Paris Baguette, as it strives for international expansion. (more…)


Picture of JackRabbit Sports from its Facebook page

Have you ever been one of the first people to discover a band? All you want is for them to become successful, because damn it, they deserve it. Then they get a big record deal, and they don’t play small gigs any more. Now they’re playing stadiums. Everyone knows who they are, and no one cares that you knew them back before they were cool.

You really did want your favorite band to succeed. But now you can’t help but feel left behind.

A lot of people have similar feelings about Brooklyn’s popular running store JackRabbit Sports being sold to Finish Line’s Running Specialty Group, according to a recent piece in The New York Times.



229-macon-street-032113From the annals of the improbable: Caterer to New York City socials Serena Bass has bought a townhouse in Bed Stuy, according to a story last week in The New York Post. (Bass used to own Serena’s in the basement of the Chelsea hotel; her ex husband David Shaffer is also ex husband to Vogue chief Anna Wintour.) The only listing we could find for the property is for a three-bedroom rental, which was asking $3,200 but recently dropped to $3,000. Bass’ son reportedly paid $860,000 for the property at 229 Macon Street, above. Bass plans to hold catering and cooking classes in the townhouse, according to the Post. Ah-mazing.
Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark


Are any readers out there looking to start a design business? Lauren Stern, whose Carroll Gardens apartment was featured on Brownstoner’s The Insider last year, will be teaching a class on the business aspects of striking out on your own. Known for her “cozy, comfortable and warm” style, Stern worked as an interior designer at the firm Wilson Associates and as an event producer for Black Book Magazine before opening Lauren Stern Design in 2007. In addition to working on client projects, she is currently renovating her own house in Boerum Hill. “The Nuts and Bolts of Starting an Interior Design Business” will cover how to charge, the five phases of any interior project, and growing your business, as well as regulatory and legal requirements. The class, which costs $11, will take place at the Brooklyn Brainery at 515 Court Street in Carroll Gardens from 8:30 pm to 10 pm on Dec. 10.

Commercial real estate in Brooklyn remains strong, according to the latest report from commercial realty group TerraCRG. In the first half of the year, there were 563 sales worth more than $1.23 billion. That’s an increase of 50 percent in dollar volume over the same period last year, according to TerraCRG. Here’s why: Prices of development sites have increased. Development site transactions accounted for more than 15 percent of the total dollar volume. Not surprisingly, Downtown and Park Slope led in highest dollar volume of total sales, with Williamsburg and Greenpoint closely following. But surprisingly, the combined areas of Bed Stuy, Bushwick, and Crown Heights had the most amount of trades. Perhaps landlords see potential in those areas?

Not all of Brooklyn’s old factories have been turned into luxury condos; some still operate as factories, but on a smaller scale. Custom, niche manufacturing is thriving in Brooklyn, said The New York Times. From fresh bread to custom props for photo shoots, if speedy delivery and skilled workmanship are important, it is better to locate in Brooklyn than China. The executive director of the research institute Center for an Urban Future, Jonathan Bowles, said he is optimistic about this “revival of entrepreneurial manufacturing.” However, artisanal manufacturing employs only a fraction of the workers mass manufacturers do. The Navy Yard, for example, last year rented space to 275 businesses employing 5,800 people vs. the 15,000 employed in 1959. Nonetheless, the loss of factory jobs has slowed in Brooklyn. Between 2009 and 2011, Brooklyn lost just 1,205 manufacturing jobs. What do you think? Will artisanal pickles and custom furniture save our borough?
Small Factories Thrive in Brooklyn [NY Times]
Photo by wallyg

If you’re walking down 7th Avenue in Park Slope, you might experience sensations of dizziness or disorientation. This is due to the massive turnover along this commercial drag recently: The Brooklyn Paper notes that the main drag from Flatbush Avenue to 15th Street has 27 storefronts either empty or in transition. Since rents are going down and lower rents favor restaurants, says the article, this means more eateries are on their way in, changing the character of the neighborhood. Some residents bemoan these changes, while others are adding menus to their take-out drawers, but Steve Sommers, a local broker, notes that previously higher rents were too high. It was a bubble, but now all the hot air is getting let out, he told the Paper.
Seven Up or Down? [Brooklyn Paper]
Photo by Raphael Brion