A short documentary by filmmaker Margarita Jimeno profiles architect Ole Sondresen and his plans for remaking one of the landmarked Pencil Factory buildings in Greenpoint into Kickstarter headquarters. It sounds pretty cool. The idea is to keep the building at 58 Kent Street — or what is left of it — as is and build a glass box on the inside in which the crowdsourced fundraising company’s offices will be housed. Or, as the copy for the film says, “Oleʼs design leaves aspects of the ruin in place.” The glass box will also bring light into the center of the space. The building’s insulation is made out of recycled jeans; Sondresen claims it is edible. “A ruin to me is a manifestation of our species battle with ourselves and our natural environment,” said Sondresen. “Do we celebrate the wonder of life and death like the Capuchin monks or do we bring in the bulldozers and start anew?”
Conversion Plans in a Greenpoint Historic District [Brownstoner]
The Citi Bike bike share program is moving its headquarters to Sunset Park, The Wall Street Journal reported. Citi Bike has leased a 39,200-square-foot space at 53rd Street and Third Avenue for about $20 a square foot. The three-story space will have room for bike repair, a call center, and parking for vans to transport bikes. Initially the bike share program thought it would find space in Soho, but Sunset Park offered industrial space and lower prices.
What’s the Deal [WSJ]
Photo of Navy Yard bike share station by Ben Fried for Streetsblog
DNAinfo reports that the City is looking to take away funding for Industrial Business Zones in its proposed budget cuts, which would mean many North Brooklyn businesses located in the zone might have to close up shop or move. The cuts would also take away funding from the East Williamsburg Valley Industrial Corporation, an organization that supports more than 300 industrial businesses in North Brooklyn. (Read our interview with the executive director here.) Filco, a refuse company in the neighborhood, is moving to New Jersey after losing some tax incentives with the city. They, along with other local businesses and Community Board One, have written a letter protesting the cuts to the East Williamsburg Valley Industrial Corporation. A rep from the Mayor’s Office for Small Business Services told DNAinfo that the Economic Development Corporation will offer other incentives to industrial businesses, and that the city may still consider scaling back the proposed cuts. About 40 percent of the area’s industrial workforce lives nearby. ”Our community needs these jobs,” said an exec with the East Williamsburg Industrial Corp.
Budget Cuts Threaten Future of Industrial Businesses in North Brooklyn [DNAinfo]
Photo by m_oliver
Wallabout is waking from its long slumber with several major developments planned, new retail in the works, and a newly hot residential real estate market, The Wall Street Journal reported. “And it isn’t just the loft buildings that are selling,” said the story. “Historic 19th-century wood frame houses, the backbone of Wallabout’s working-class housing stock, are getting scooped up. Doug Bowen, executive vice president at CORE, who has lived in the neighborhood for 14 years, estimated 18 townhouses changed hands in Wallabout last year.” The Journal credits the changes to new industry at the Navy Yard and spillover gentrification from nearby Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. Luckily some 40 residential buildings were landmarked as the Wallabout Historic District, so the character of the area will be preserved despite growth. Some of the new developments to come: the huge under-construction affordable development the Navy Green; the recently purchased (for $26.25 million) warehouse on Ryerson Street; Brooklyn Roasting Company moving into the old J.J’s Cocktail Lounge, as previously reported, which received a glassy renovation in 2011. The article also notes two Washington Avenue buildings are getting converted to residential use with street-level retail: There are two lofts available at 66 Washington with a coffee purveyor and importer in contract to take the ground floor retail space, and 64 Washington will house a wine store on the bottom floor and renovate the building into five apartments. Meanwhile, 73 Washington, a four-story unconverted building, upped its asking price from $1.5 million to $2.2 million.
Wallabout Refloats Next to the Navy Yard [WSJ]
Once a hub of wartime manufacturing, the Navy Yard will again serve as an incubator for jobs and technology, if the vision of Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. comes to fruition. First up on the list is Building 77, formerly an ammunitions depot. It is being repurposed as “factory space for brainiacs and their futuristic products,” according to an article in the New York Daily News. At the moment, only 10 percent of the tenants in the industrial park are high-tech. Some of them have been working on “bomb-proof underwear and fake ‘fish’ that generate electricity,” said the Daily News. New tenants in Building 77 are expected to create 1,500 jobs in the next five years. Currently, the 300 or so occupants of the Navy Yard employ 6,400. Many are in the fields of construction, architecture, film and media, such as Steiner Studios. Who would you like to see working at the Navy Yard?
Techies Coming to Navy Yard with Futuristic Inventions, Jobs [NY Daily News]
Navy Yard to Start Work on Building 77 [Brownstoner]
Photo via Google Maps
Already showing signs of acceleration, Gowanus could potentially be transformed into an area similar to Williamsburg when boutique hotel Gowanus Inn and Yard and Whole Foods open in the next few years. The Real Deal has the scoop: It interviewed six residential and commercial brokers about the future of Gowanus. “The area is clearly on the fast track to gentrification, with trendy stores and restaurants like Littleneck clam shack, Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue and the bakery Four & Twenty Blackbirds attracting attention, as well as new retailers like Whole Foods, Dinosaur Barb-B-Que and, yes, the hipster-sounding 40,000-square-foot Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club gearing up to open,” said The Real Deal. Despite destruction by Hurricane Sandy, prices have already spiked in the area in the past year: “Townhouses are now hitting the market for at least $1 million, whereas last year they had asking prices in the $800,000 range.” If a proposed rezoning to allow more residential development goes through, “prices will skyrocket,” according to Brenton Realty President Ruthanne Pigott. How do you predict the neighborhood will change? Will the infamous polluted canal put any damper on development?
Gowanus Gets Ready [TRD]
The gigantic Wallabout property on the corner of Ryerson and Flushing right across from the Brooklyn Navy Yard has been snapped up and will be developed into a hotel as well as retail and office space, according to a story in The Real Deal. Buyer Ryerson Equity of Borough Park is in contract for $26.25 million, according to the story. “The buyer expects to lease three floors to an entity that will operate a 200-room hotel, two floors to an executive suites company, and two floors to a gym, while the ground floor will be retail,” said the paper. “The sale went into contract Feb. 27 and is expected to close in mid-May…The plan also calls for a rooftop deck and bar, to be affiliated with the hotel.” A bidding war increased the contract price slightly above the ask of $26 million. Hotels are going into every Brooklyn neighborhood now; it should be interesting to see what effect this development has on nightlife in the area. GMAP
Clinton Hill Warehouse, Slated for Transformation, in Contract for $26M [TRD]
Huge Industrial Site for Sale in Wallabout [Brownstoner]
The new SHoP design for the Domino complex is not only ambitious in its community programming and architectural vision, it will also be specially constructed to withstand hurricanes and flooding. In fact, its clever flood-resistant design could serve as a model for other waterfront developments in the future. As a first defense, the buildings will be set back 150 feet from the waterfront rather than only 50 feet as originally planned, reported The New York Post. Parks and greenspace will take up the riverfront area. “The new parkland will use little pavement and ‘act as a sponge’ for heavy rains,” said the Post. In addition, the front entrances will be raised an additional three feet by adding stairs and moving the project more uphill. This will put the doors above the new flood plain heights recently established by the Feds following Sandy. Cul-de-sacs between buildings have been scratched, which will not only make the river more accessible but also decrease flooding from storm runoff. Sloping streets will allow storm water to flow right into the river. And as you might expect, building mechanicals will be located at least two stories above ground. “This project will prove that we can continue to do waterfront development in the city and not have to run from the water,” said SHoP Architects Principal Vishaan Chakrabarti. And speaking of architectural vision, by the way, did you see that architectural critic Paul Goldberger — formerly of the New Yorker, now at Vanity Fair — weighed in on the new design?
Developer: New Domino Project Could Weather Another Sandy [NY Post]
The Brooklyn Waterfront Gets a Radical—and Terrific—Re-Design [Vanity Fair]
Rendering by SHoP
The group that wants to convert the warehouse at 964 Dean Street to work-live turns out to be a group of artists currently using the space for studios. After they postponed their hearing before Community Board Eight in January, the group made their presentation Thursday, Curbed reported. Reaction to the proposal was mixed: Two board members were concerned a variance would pave the way for more high-end conversion later, a la Williamsburg. Others would like to see this and other projects include affordable housing.
Artists Want Crown Heights Warehouse as Live-Work Space [Curbed]
CB8 to Hear Conversion Request for 964 Dean Street [Brownstoner]
The same guy who argued zoning is to blame for high real estate prices in Brooklyn is back, this time at the New York Observer, where he takes issue with the new SHoP design for the Domino Sugar Refinery conversion. He argues that tall buildings right on the edge of the Brooklyn waterfront make no sense without medium-height buildings behind them, and implies the low-rise houses of Williamsburg and other parts of Brooklyn should be torn out to make way for medium-rise apartment buildings, much as Manhattan was remade in the early decades of the 20th century, both for aesthetics and to relieve overcrowding.
It’s not hard to see how it ended up this way. The rezonings took the path of least resistance between the pro-development wishes of the Bloomberg administration on the one hand, and the anti-growth attitudes of vast inland neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint on the other. Manufacturing districts, where there weren’t existing residents to bother, were upzoned. Development in established residential neighborhoods, on the other hand, was restricted. The result is an awkward hybrid that pleases nobody. There isn’t enough supply allowed to meet demand and temper the wave of gentrification shooting over northern Brooklyn, but what supply is allowed comes in the form of towers so out of place that they spark resentment throughout the community.
Meanwhile, The Real Deal isn’t happy with the SHoP design either, also citing height, but also because each building’s surface treatment is different from its neighbors. In any case, as the column savvily points out, it remains to be seen if the execution will live up to its promise on paper. So far, the community seems to like the SHoP design. What’s your take? Would the cure proposed by the Observer’s Stephen Jacob Smith be worse than the purported disease?
Warring Williamsburg Mandates Leave Waterfront Out of Whack [NY Observer]
A Look at Two Trees’ “Daring” Vision for Domino Sugar [TRD]
Two Trees’ Ambitious New Proposal for Domino [Brownstoner]
The Brooklyn Navy Yard is large, and hard to get a peek at as much of it is fenced off and faces the water. We all hear a lot about new manufacturing going on there, but few ever get to see it. Well, the exhibition and visitors center BLDG 92 at the Navy Yard is changing that. Starting February 22, it will begin a series of tours of factories in the complex for the public. According to BLDG 92′s website, “Factory Tours explore the Yard’s development today as a model of sustainable urban industry, and visitors gain a unique opportunity to witness a resurgence of new and traditional manufacturing.” The first tour is of IceStone, a company that transforms glass from landfills into countertops. The tour costs $15. You can read more about factory tours here and the IceStone tour here.
Photo by Kristin Brenneman Eno
Hurricane Sandy doesn’t seem to have dampened enthusiasm for Gowanus real estate. Last month, luxury residential developer Property Markets Group bought a Gowanus warehouse across the canal from the Lightstone Group’s controversial project for $14 million, DNAinfo reported yesterday. As of now, the firm said, it has no particular plans for the 25,000-square-foot property at 318 Nevins Street except to rent it out. Verizon has rented the building for decades and uses it as a hub for field technicians, but they plan to relocate to 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street, according to DNAinfo.
Luxury Residential Developer Buys Gowanus Warehouse for $14 Million [DNAinfo]
Photo by Leslie Albrecht for DNAinfo
The blog New York Shitty noticed what appears to be unpermitted construction and a stop work order at 74 Kent Street, one of the iconic, landmarked Eberhard Faber Pencil Company factory buildings in Greenpoint. The brick, German Renaissance Revival-style factory was built around 1904 or 1908 and sports the Eberhard star logo, according to the LPC designation report. The stop work order was issued Dec. 19 for metal studs installed on the roof without a permit. Just the day before, the building owners had requested a variance from Community Board One to turn the factory into residential apartments with a penthouse. A later update to the blog post noted the metal studs might have been put in place to give Landmarks an idea of the visibility of the proposed penthouse.
Now at 74 Kent Street: A Stop Work Order [NYS] GMAP
Photo by Landmarks Preservation Commission
When novelist Ben Schrank moved into a factory in Gowanus ten years ago, he had views all around and could see as far as central Park Slope. Since that time, buildings have risen all around, gradually shutting off air and light. In an essay that ran in yesterday’s New York Times, Cinder Block City, he describes a place that time forgot, for a while, and how it’s being changed by development.
On the Internet, on community watchdog sites, I watch the plans go up for all kinds of awful buildings…The Lightstone Group is trying to do just what the Toll Brothers realized was too foolish to try — put up a huge apartment building in a flood zone that is also a Superfund zone. Do they know that the Gowanus sends sewage into the basements of the residents already living here whenever there’s even an inch of rain? They know. They don’t care.
The Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center picked up the warehouse at 1102 Atlantic Avenue, between Classon and Franklin avenues, which also includes frontage on Pacific Street. The sale just hit public records for $4 million. The GMDC builds out industrial space for “small manufacturing enterprises, artisans and artists.” They currently operate four buildings in North Brooklyn. This is close to the complementary 1000 Dean project, and we expect many more changes for the small manufacturing district of Crown Heights in the near future. GMAP
Here’s the story of five friends in their 20s who rented raw loft space in Bushwick for $4,500 a month and built it out themselves for $17,000. The group includes two architectural designers, an advertising executive and two fashion designers. The design star of the apartment is the kitchen with its pickled birch cabinets, concrete counters and dangling lights. The article claims, and we find this hard to believe, that the materials for the cabinets and counters cost only $400. If so, we’ve all got a lot to live up to in our own renovations. Click through to the story and slideshow to see lots of photos. (Above, a photo of one of the many factory buildings in Bushwick — not the one in the article — that have been converted into residential space.) We hope they have a ten-year lease.
Making Family Out of Friends [NY Times]
Photo by rutlo
Slate has taken a look at Brooklyn artisanal manufacturing and pondered whether it could spread throughout the U.S. and revive our economy. The article notes two special conditions in Brooklyn that have fostered this new type of production: a local support infrastructure of shared kitchens, food blogs and markets such as Smorg; and a big pool of high-end consumers who can pay high prices for top quality goods. To go mass market, or at least nationwide, these businesses would have to grow big and Whole Foods-like, perhaps losing some of their specialness. But it is possible, as Whole Foods has shown. Even if they don’t go mass, if the nation winds up with a lot of small producers, that’s a good thing, the article concluded. Meanwhile, Forbes considered the other side of this equation in a story called “The Hollow Boom of Brooklyn: Behind Veneer of Gentrification, Life Gets Worse for Many.” (more…)
Developer Read Property has requested a zoning change from the Department of City Planning to allow its four-year-old plan for a huge residential and commercial complex at the Rheingold Brewery in Bushwick to go forward, the New York Post reported. “This is the very beginning of what will be a lengthy public-review process,” the Post quoted Mitchell Korbey, attorney for Read Property, as saying. “This is part of the ongoing revitalization and ongoing growth of Bushwick.” (more…)
After a delay because of legal issues, the retail development at the Empire Stores Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park is finally set to move forward. The park plans to request proposals from developers in the fall, said Brooklyn Bridge Park president Regina Myer at the Brooklyn Historical Society real estate lunch Tuesday. The Dumbo site is actually seven connected buildings totaling 330,000 square feet that once stored coffee.
Building of the Day: 53-83 Water Street [Brownstoner]
Legal Battle Over Tobacco Warehouse Continues [Brownstoner]
DOJ Weighs in on Tobacco Warehouse Feud [Brownstoner]
Two Lawsuits Over the Tobacco Warehouse [Brownstoner]
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