Since no one will let us preserve the Empire Stores and Tobacco Warehouses just as they are, in a state of glorious decay, some professionals have been taking over the job. This is prime waterfront real estate, after all, and throughout the year we've been seeing different designs get thrown in to the ring—today, Mayor Bloomberg announced the winner. And so far, it doesn't quite look like the mini mall nightmare we were expecting. But give it time, give it time...
Bloomberg announced this morning that Midtown Equities won the bid to redevelop the waterfront warehouses, located near Jane Carousel and Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 1. The warehouses were originally built between 1869 and 1885 and have been vacant since the 1960s. The park added more details in their release:
"The adaptive reuse plans call for commercial uses including restaurant, event, retail and office space. This development selection marks another major milestone for the park’s long-term financial model with an additional source of revenue to be directed to the park’s maintenance and operations.
In addition, the board also approved a long-term lease with St. Ann’s Warehouse to develop a theater in the historic Tobacco Warehouse. The development will include performance space, administrative offices, multi-use community space that will be permitted by Brooklyn Bridge Park and outdoor public space that will be managed and maintained by Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The announcement also highlights the completion of a federal process that will allow for the addition of new parkland at Main Street in DUMBO. The parkland, currently a DEP water meter testing site, parking lot and DOT paint shed, will act as replacements for the proposed conversion of the Tobacco Warehouse and Empire Stores. Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and Architecture Research Office, the new parkland includes a mixture of passive and active recreation including 1,700 square feet of indoor educational space, public restrooms and park maintenance and operations space. The design features an expanded lawn, an improved entry and plaza at Washington Street, an improved dog run, outdoor community space and a bouldering wall."
Bloomberg stated this morning: “These redevelopment plans will bring even more new life and excitement to the DUMBO waterfront at Brooklyn Bridge Park, giving residents and visitors more places to work, shop, dine, and experience the arts." There will also be a massive West Elm takeover—we're told the retailer will be an anchor tenant there, and are relocating their corporate office as well as their two DUMBO stores, and opening an outdoor, waterfront coffee shop in the space.
But what about the peace and the quiet and the picnicking?
Construction is expected to begin in early 2014, and is expected to be complete in the fall of 2015.