In recent years, Brooklyn's waterfront has morphed into a breeding ground for start-ups, tech agencies, and boutique manufacturing. Now the massive Industry City complex in Sunset Park could emerge as the next creative hub in the borough joining other booming neighborhoods to the north such as DUMBO, the Navy Yard, and Williamsburg. Crain's reported that Jamestown Properties, a real estate management and investment company, which owns Chelsea Market and the Milk Studios Building in Manhattan, is teaming up with Angelo Gordon and Belvedere Capital to purchase the sprawling 6.5 million-square-foot Industry City site. The developers hope to turn the 17 buildings on the property into a mix of office, studio, and warehouse space to accommodate a variety of uses including local manufacturing, media, and film and television. A 50,000-square-foot space in Industry City is already home to Makerbot, the company that manufactures 3-D printers. Jamestown has hired Andrew Kimball, who recently stepped down from his post as CEO and President of the Navy Yard, to run the new Industry City complex when it is complete. Kimball has been instrumental in reviving the 300-acre, city owned shipyard into a flexible workspace for for urban manufacturing, media, and the arts. Several of the buildings were damaged from Hurricane Sandy and will require substantial repairs. Michael Philips, Chief Operating Officer of Jamestown, said that they might need to spend hundreds of millions to rehabilitate the buildings on the property.
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Proposals galore! Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) is moving full speed ahead with its plans to develop parcels of its 1.3-mile waterfront expanse. In September, the Park released a Request for Proposals seeking a developer to restore and makeover the crumbling Empire Stores warehouses into a lively mixed-use development consisting of office, commercial, and retail space, while also preserving the integrity of the massive historic structure. Ten prominent developers submitted proposals to overhaul the brick and timber building made up of seven connecting warehouses. And now Crain's has revealed about half the list of developers vying for this project with heavy hitters such as: Jamestown Properties (behind Chelsea Market and Milk Studio), Two Trees (run by the Walentas family who has transformed DUMBO and is redeveloping the mega Domino Sugar Refinery site), Acumen Capital Partners, Robert A. Levine (of colossal residential building, One Brooklyn Bridge Park), and Midtown Equities (Crain's reported that their proposal is the current front-runner). The proposals envision a variety of uses for the Empire Stores buildings from cultural and artisan office space to a rooftop urban farm and terraces. Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, is hoping to grant the winning proposal a 99-year lease. This development, like the Rogers Marvel-designed Pierhouse residential and hotel complex, will generate money for the maintenance and operation of the park.
Another residential high-rise will soon join Brooklyn’s rapidly changing skyline. In response to Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Request for Proposals in December, nearly a dozen teams submitted designs for the vacant John Street Development Site at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO. Now BBP has released renderings from the eleven contenders, showing a wide range or proposals. The vacant 96,000-square-foot parcel, located at the corner of Pearl and John Streets, can accommodate up to 130 residential units, 101,000-sq-ft of residential space, and a whopping 110 parking spaces. The BBP is hoping that this new development will serve to create a more active and integrated northern entrance to the park, and perhaps more importantly, produce revenue for the hefty maintenance costs of the park. The BBP has also called for LEED certification and a “high-quality, visually appealing residential development.” The group declined AN's request to name architects involved with each proposal, so for now, all we have are the renderings. Hang on tight, the winning proposal will be announced this summer. In the meantime, weigh in on your favorite in the comments below.
After implementing a few small changes to the original design, Alloy Development has won the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission to build the first set of townhouses in DUMBO. The developer modified the height of the five-story residential complex by eliminating a screen on the roof level that was designed to keep out noise and maintain a certain acoustic level in the penthouse units. Now the 3,000-square-foot project needs the approval of Department of Buildings, but AJ Pires of Alloy anticipates that they will be able to break ground by this summer. (Rendering: Courtesy Alloy Development)
Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood is home to many a loft, but few, if any, townhouses make up the neighborhood streetscape. Curbed reported that boutique development firm and architect Alloy Development plans on building five adjacent, 6-story houses at Pearl Street in place of a graffiti-covered garage. But these won’t emulate your typical 19th-century Brooklyn-style brownstone, they will include a single facade built of ductal concrete fins with wood on the ground level. “While these are the first townhouses in DUMBO, we’re hoping to bring the same level of thoughtfulness and care as we have to the other projects,” wrote AJ Pires, executive vice president at Alloy, in an email. Alloy has been behind other residential projects in DUMBO including two warehouse conversions at 192 Water and 185 Plymouth Streets. According to the Brooklyn Paper, some preservationists, are not pleased with the proposal. They not only want to keep the colorful graffiti-covered garage, but have also expressed concern that the chosen materials—concrete and wood—will not mesh aesthetically with DUMBO’s predominantly brick facade buildings. These same questions came up last week when Alloy presented its plans to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Overall, the feedback was positive, but Alloy will return in a few months with revised plans.
Another Announcement at Brooklyn Bridge Park: Rock Climbing Wall Could Rise Under the Manhattan Bridge
It seems as if a day can’t go by without a new announcement from Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Brooklyn Paper reported Tuesday that park planners are pushing for a free bouldering wall to be built beneath the Manhattan Bridge. The proposal calls for a ten to 12-foot-tall climbing wall at Plymouth and Washington streets. This fits within a larger vision to develop the park area by Main Street by expanding lawn space, designing a new entry plaza, and relocating the dog run. This news comes right after philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz announced he was abandoning plans to build a velodrome, a complex for cyclists, in the park. As planners delved into the project, they found that the mounting costs of construction exceeded Rechnitz’s $50 million budget and growing concerns about flooding as a result of Hurricane Sandy added another layer of complexity to the design. Rechnitz, however, is still on the hunt for the right location for his velodrome in New York.
For those in the market for prime waterfront real estate, there is something brewing in DUMBO. Today Brooklyn Bridge Park issued a Request for Proposal for a development on a vacant parcel in the north section of the park right next to the Manhattan Bridge. This site, located in what will be called the “John Street Section,” is approximately 9,600 square feet and will accommodate up to 130 residential units (with a maximum height of 130 feet) in addition to over 100 parking spaces and retail on the ground floor level.
“The addition of the residential development at the John Street site represents a critical element of our park maintenance plan,” said Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park, in a press release. “This development will not only benefit the DUMBO community, it will further activate the northern end of the park.” This development will join the sprawling Toll Brother’s project, The Pierhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park, a 200-room luxury hotel combined with 159-residential units designed by Rogers Marvel Architects. We'll see what kinds of proposals surface this March when the deadline for the RFP is due.
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation issued an RFP last week seeking qualified developers to revamp the post-Civil War Empire Stores warehouse in DUMBO, according to Crain's. The adaptive reuse project, originally drafted in 2002, has been postponed several times over the last decade due to a lack of developers willing to address the building’s “scary structural issues.” Proposals, which are due on December 10th, could add up to 70,000 square feet and two additional stories to the existing buildings. Projects must be community friendly and address design challenges at the intersection of preservation and sustainability.
On the night of June 3rd, 2012, Tom Fruin’s newest sculptural artwork, Watertower, was installed on a rooftop near the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO. The colorfully constructed Watertower features approximately a thousand pieces of foraged plexiglass mounted on a steel skeleton. The monumental patchwork of colored glass also includes an interior and exterior ladder and an operable roof hatch. The great amount of plexiglass used for the piece, which measures 25 feet in height and 10 feet in diameter, was collected all throughout New York City. The use of recycled materials is not new to Tom Fruin Studio, as Watertower is the fourth scavenged artwork of the "Icon" series dedicated to creating tributes to the world’s architectural and sculptural icons using reclaimed materials. Now a part of Brooklyn’s skyline, Watertower will be illuminated from within, allowing it to be visible from Lower Manhattan, FDR Drive, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges at night. Starting June 7th 2012, Fruin’s sculptural tribute to the New York water tower will glisten with daily light shows by digitally-controlled light sequences from dusk till morning for a year.
Tour New York's design hot spots! Open House New York (OHNY) opens up scores of the city's most important building for public tours every year, and now it's doing the same for architect's offices. OHNY will open a variety of offices for self-guided public tours in four of the city's most creative design centers: DUMBO, The Brooklyn Navy Yard, Varick Street, and Red Hook. The first tour of Dumbo (also sponsored by Two Trees Development, the DUMBO Improvement District, and The Architect's Newspaper) is schedule for Saturday, February 25 from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. You will gain unprecedented access to some of the most creative design firms in New York, but you must sign up on the OHNY website. The day will end with a reception at a Dumbo design space with the participating architects. To see a full list of participating firms and to register, click here.
If you’re in DUMBO this week and catch a glimpse of a shirtless man hanging off a tree, don’t freak out. VAMOS Architects has curated an installation of photographer Robert Holden’s series The Treehouse, as part of New York Photography Week. The large-scale photographs depict semi-nude members of a rainforest commune, set against industrial buildings, rooftops, and scaffolding in DUMBO. The series is meant to let New Yorkers contemplate an alternative lifestyle, according to the artist’s statement. “It shows a commitment to live a life away from chaos, from monetization and find happiness carrying our existence where the highest value is not money or objects that define our status and class,” writes the website Yatzer, which declares that Holden’s subjective documentary approach “makes us reserve an immediate ticket through Kayak.” The Treehouse consists of 49 photographs tucked away in dark alleyways and splashed onto the sides of tall buildings. VAMOS worked with over 20 entities, including Brooklyn Bridge Park, Two Trees Management, St Ann’s Warehouse and Powerhouse books, to get permissions for the installation. The series is on view through May 31, 2011. Upon closing, the installation, which was designed to be zero-impact, will be disassembled and donated to other art projects and schools. "Sometimes architecture is not about building," said Evan Bennett, principal of VAMOS. "We hope the installation's brief life in the neighborhood inspires people to experience their place in the city in new and thoughtful ways."
The satellite art fair Verge is ruffling a few painted feathers at galleries in Williamsburg. After the announcement last week that the Miami-based art fair was coming to the borough in an event coinciding with the Armory Show from March 3 to 6, several Billyburg gallery owners balked. The event, called Art Brooklyn, would conflict with Brooklyn Armory Gallery Hop, which Williamsburg Gallery Association has held the past seven years. Recently, the not for profit Best of Brooklyn helped hype the annual event through Brooklyn Tourism and smART Brooklyn, an initiative of the Borough President’s office promoting the borough’s gallery districts. “I’m opposed to smART joining forces with Verge. It was using its resources to help us and for whatever reason they chose to support Verge as opposed to Williamsburg,” said Tatyana Okshteyn, founding member of the gallery association and director of Black and White Gallery. “It will divert traffic and we were the ones who started that night seven years ago.” With the support of the DUMBO developer Two Trees and Brooklyn Tourism, Verge looks poised to garner a lion’s share of borough’s art crowd audience. Two Trees has shown itself to be a generous supporter of the arts, which doesn’t play badly with their own real estate interests in the area. Okshteyn said she has no problem with Two Trees' support. This makes sense to the former businesswoman turned art dealer. Her gripe is with Best of Brooklyn. "Why divert resources for a new comer who is an out of town entity, that will primarily have non-Brooklyn galleries," she asked. Borough President Marty Markowitz sees the art fair as win-win for all the gallery districts. In a statement he said, "It's exciting that Verge will present its first-ever Brooklyn art fair during Armory Week, when thousands of artists and art lovers from across the globe converge on our city." Last night, members of the gallery association aired their concerns with representatives from Verge and Best of Brooklyn at regularly scheduled association meeting. Alun Williams, director of Parker’s Box Gallery, said the Verge representative was receptive but non-committal to holding back on having events during the Armory Gallery Hop. “We hope they don’t have any significant event. There might be a late night party and that would be OK for us,” he said. Randall Harris, director of Figureworks Gallery, said that Williamsburg traditionally holds their own Armory afterparty. “I don’t have a concern with them doing an event, but I certainly didn’t want smART and the borough president to focus all their energies on Verge.” “Personally, I feel an art fair in Brooklyn is a bad idea," concluded Harris. "If Brooklyn is an innovator, I think they could come up with another idea, instead of yet another satellite art fair. Having said that, Verge has done this before. I can only wish them luck."