Courtesy Dekalb Market (top), Urban Space (above, below)
Low-price, low-rise, low-impact, the new DeKalb Market in Brooklyn is far from low-key. The modular market opened on July 23 and sits on the site of the planned second phase of the CityPoint development in Downtown Brooklyn. The market is made up of a lego-like fortress of shipping containers re-appropriated by 22 local companies as cafes, restaurants, retail outlets, and even an internet radio station. The repurposing of both the site and rectangular storage units is the brainchild of UK-based Urban Space developed with Young Woo & Associates. Urban Space has been championing container constructions for 30 years and is behind successful public spaces and temporary markets including the famous Camden Lock in North London and Union Square Holiday Market in Manhattan, as well as retail, leisure and residential developments. “This is the first of its kind in the US,” said Urban Space's Jessica Tolliver. “We really focus on going into areas that are not being used to full potential and putting something there for the community to enjoy.”
On the former site of the Albee Square shopping center between Willoughby and Fulton Streets, the containers are stacked two-high to form a gateway, and they drop to one story along the perimeter of the one-acre lot, which also accommodates a temporary weekend fair. The container vendors include a diverse mix of established and start-up companies, like Robicelli's cupcakes and Cuzin's Duzin doughnuts. The vendors each leased their new hubs for one year and could individualize the container interiors. Due to delayed permits, they spent the past two weeks frantically painting, cladding, and soundproofing their cabins to meet the grand opening deadline. Anticipating a warm reception, the partners of Urban Space aim to extend and expand the container community. “This is the big intro,” said Tolliver, and, she hopes, the beginning of a rectangular revolution.