Will a popular Gowanus establishment soon be pushed out of the neighborhood?
Flexible office space provider Knotel is a part owner and future tenant in a ground-up mixed-use development planned for 473 President Street, along with developers Cogswell Lee, GLUCK+ and MCP President Street LLC; construction is expected to wrap in 2019, the company announced Monday.
As it happens, this is the address of the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, the often-packed bar that has attempted to make the retirement-community game a staple of the Brooklyn nightlife scene.
Will the new development mean that Royal Palms has to leave?
“Nothing’s happening with our space,” said Ashley Albert, who co-owns the bar with Jonathan Schnapp. She had just gotten off a flight from Chicago, where they are planning to open a new Royal Palms outpost, and was just hearing the news. Later, she spoke with the landlord.
She had been taking calls from concerned customers, she said — in particular, one who had booked the space for a future wedding and was now concerned that she would have to find a new venue. She reassured them that they were going nowhere, at least for a few years.
The development will be happening in what is essentially half of the building at 473 President Street, Albert said, which also occupies the address 514 Union Street. “When we signed the lease in 2012, it was with Jimmy Ribellino, a self-made guy who had his dye-cutting factory here in the warehouse,” Albert said. “It was always separated, and he owned both.”
“We were trying to work with the landlord to see if we could buy the building,” she added. “We thought we were going down a path, so this is all new information to us — like, I guess we’re not doing that!”
The mixed-use development will include office, retail, a community facility and parking, and span somewhere between 130,000 and 187,000 square feet, according to a press release from Knotel.
The company confirmed via email that demolition will be involved in the development, but did not say what would be demolished. They would not confirm a start date for the project.
In September 2014, the building sold for $17 million to Mcp President Street LLC. “It was devastating for us,” said Albert. “This was our first project and we did not have in our lease a right of first refusal.”
Royal Palms’ lease ends in 2022; it stipulates that if Gowanus gets rezoned before the lease ends, they are guaranteed two years rent at market rate; if it doesn’t get rezoned they are guaranteed five years at market rate. “So at a minimum, we’ll be here to 2024,” she said.
And she’s putting a positive spin on their future neighbors. “We’re excited about the idea of having all of these new people,” she said about the future tenants. But she’s worried that it might push the smaller businesses out of the neighborhood.
“It would be a shame to watch all of us get squashed.”
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