Nitehawk: Not a Movie, a Movie Theatre

nitehawk-marquee

Rendering of the marquee of the new Nitehawk Prospect Park theatre.

Already something of a fixture in central Williamsburg, the owners of the dine-in movie house Nitehawk are giving a $10-million overhaul to Park Slope’s old Sanders Theatre (more recently the Pavilion), on Bartel-Pritchard Square at the Northwest corner of Prospect Park, and later this year the Nitehawk Prospect Park will open, with first-run, classic, rare, and independent movies onscreen and drinks and dinner delivered to your table. We can’t wait. 

Looby Rendering 300w

Rendering of the restaurant under a screening room in the Nitehawk Prospect Park. Architects: Think! Architecture and Design.

The new Nitehawk will have seven screening rooms, vs. the three at the Williamsburg venue, and four of those will have 35-mm projectors, allowing for the screening of rarely shown films that are not available in today’s more common 70-mm and digital formats. And, there’s the food. Besides popcorn, you’ll be able to watch the movie while eating from a menu offering such non-traditional movie noshes as spinach-artichoke empanadas, paella risotto balls, and burrata crostini, which features roasted acorn squash and poached pears; or try a specialty item like the I, Tonya, made with shredded pork knee (ouch!), American cheese, and gremolata aioli. The owner of the Nitehawk,  Matthew Viragh, plans to offer a menu that’s different, but not unlike, the offerings in Williamsburg, so there should be more filling entrees like the sausage and pepper hoagie, the meatloaf sandwich, the Nitehawk burger, and the fried chicken sandwich. For drinks, there’s coke and root beer, and also a well-stocked assortment of whiskeys, scotches, tequilas, rums, and more. Wait service takes your order before or during the movie, and a good time is had by all.

Renovations are well underway at the Sanders, a landmarked building originally built in 1928 to replace the Marathon Theatre (opened1908). The 1,516-seat Sanders had a fifty-year run as a movie and vaudeville house. The Pavilion opened in 1996 as a three-screen multi-plex, and in the early 2000s underwent a second renovation, carved into nine screens.

Sanders Theatre ext 300w
The Sanders Theatre, from long ago, via Cinema Treasures.

The building was sold in 2006 and the new owners, Hidrock Realty, devised plans to build a six-story condominium over the theatre and the adjacent one-story building (that once housed The Park House Restaurant and then Circle’s bar and Mexican restaurant), a plan eventually approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The owners of the Nitehawk approached Hidrock about replacing the Pavilion, and in 2016 Hidrock sold the theatre to 188 Prospect Park West LLC, which immediately announced the closing of the Pavilion and the coming of the Nitehawk. Leading the renovation is Think! Architecture and Design, headquartered in Metrotech. The LPC has just approved a new marquee sign proclaiming the Nitehawk. 

 

At a time when digital viewing on multiple devices has taken over our consciousness, it’s getting harder and harder to find any outlet showing the many, many great films that have not yet been and perhaps never will be digitized. We’re excited that the Nitehawk is working to expand the number of venues for such films, and we plan on taking advantage of them, and the burrata crostini, too!


 

East Brooklyn—Ready for Prime Time, or Not Quite?

It’s been almost two years since a rezoning of Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood jump-started a wave of speculation and, to a lesser degree, development throughout the area and sent a shudder of gentrification worry down the backs of those already living there. Last summer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called for next-door Brownsville to be similarly rezoned to attract new affordable housing to that neighborhood. So, how’s it all working?

dcp_overview_map_05102016 from NYC gov

A map of the East New York Rezoning District during planning. The final boundaries are almost identical.

 

The initial rezoning of East New York came out of a plan by Mayor Bill De Blasio to rezone about fifteen neighborhoods throughout the city, also including Bushwick and Gowanus in Brooklyn. To rezone any neighborhood, the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is charged with studying each neighborhood and submitting proposals to the city council for approval. So far in Brooklyn, only the East New York proposal has been approved.  Elsewhere around the city, plans have been approved for East Harlem and Far Rockaway.

Brownsville Library, via Historic Districts Council

The Brownsville Library Building

As a part of the rezoning plans, the mayor and city council included a mandatory inclusion housing rule (MIH), requiring all residential development in each zone have a certain percentage of rental units be offered at below market rates, based on several formulas that can be imposed by the city council. A few developers that specialize in what is considered affordable housing by those for whom affordable is not an issue have taken advantage of as many of the city’s available subsidies as possible. Those that accept the subsidies must set aside many of the units for affordable housing units. How much the rents will be will depend on which subsidy the developer takes.

Since the rezoning, for-sale prices in East Brooklyn (East New York, Brownsville, and Cypress Hills) have risen sharply, and several developments are underway. According to an article months ago at citylimits.org, prices had risen from about $35 per square foot before the rezoning to over $40 per square foot by July 2017. And, mortgages have become harder to get for low-income buyers since the rezoning.

Mixed Use, Pitkin Ave cropped

Pitkin Avenue, East New York, showing a strip of mixed-use properties.

There has been a small rash of speculation, with investors buying property in the hopes of making redevelopment moves in the future. Much of that activity has taken place peripherally to the rezoned area, with the speculators hoping to avoid the MIH restrictions should the area really take off. But many owners have overpriced their properties, and those are sitting on the market with no nibbles.

So, two years into the rezoning, the amount of actual development is meager. Despite the activity just described, the overall jump-in rate is small. East Brooklyn, it seems, isn’t quite ready for a wholesale boom like downtown or even the low-rise efforts burgeoning on the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill corridor along Lafayette and Dekalb Avenues.

Typical ENY Block cropped

Like most of Brooklyn, Brownsville, East New York,, and Cypress Hills holds a mix of single-family, multi-family, and apartment block buildings.

But what about current residences? According to the real estate Web site Trulia, the average income in East New York is $32,165. Based on the standard income qualification of 40x the rent, an affordable housing price for current residents is $804.13, How many of the new affordable rents will be under $1,000? Under $1,200?  According to the MIH rules, there should be some, but how many investors will drop multi-millions into a development to collect those rents?

New development is a good thing, but for those who are in the crosshairs, it’s never comfortable. New York City has plenty of luxury housing. The fact is, developers are running out of low-buy-in areas to develop. East Brooklyn seems to be the current target area, thanks to the EDC’s rezoning plans. We applaud Mayor De Blasio’s efforts to create and maintain affordable housing. In East Brooklyn, we just don’t see it happening in earnest overnight, or any time soon.


 

Red Hook on the Ri$e

king-and-sullivan-st.jpg

Row houses 2018 style at King and Sullivan Streets in Red Hook

The old-time quaintness of Red Hook long ago made that area one of our favorite Brooklyn neighborhoods. The waterfront, the rows of low-rise homes everywhere along the narrow streets, the old warehouses along the end of Van Brunt Street and, now lost to IKEA, Beard Street gave it the feel of an industrial coastal town, while the mid-rise “Houses” projects remind us that this is an urban neighborhood that’s been marginalized by city planners for more than seventy years.

City planners be damned, the neighborhood is now eyed by other planners, those that plan residential development. Investors are in, with new construction and redevelopment projects completed at 160 Imlay Street, King & Sullivan, and many others large and small dotting Van Brunt Street and its environs. In October, dna.info cited a Propertyshark report in declaring—shockingly to us–that Red Hook is now the most expensive real estate market in Brooklyn!! We’ve got to stop and think about that for a moment.

Pioneer St. Use

The older row houses along Pioneer Street and most others in Red Hook keep history alive and well throughout the neighborhood.

The Red Hook we know and love is that quaint section of waterfront described in the first paragraph. Our fond recent memories are of riding our bikes past the red brick Red Hook Houses on Lorraine Street and the red brick factories and warehouse buildings on Van Brunt and Beard, lounging by the huge public pool at the Sol Goldman rec center, listening to fantastic Latin beats while eating burritos and enchiladas from the food trucks on Bay Street, the kids playing in the park while parents barbeque dinner, watching baseball and soccer games in the fields on Bay and Columbia Streets, checking out the harbor and the fishermen along the hook at the foot of Columbia Street, enjoying the art shows of the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (BWAC) at the foot of Van Brunt Street, and visiting the Waterfront Museum barge docked by the Waterfront Garden at the foot of Conover Street. And after that, maybe having a quick quaff at Sunny’s, Fort Defiance, or any of the many, many great places to chill and nosh in the nabe. There’s always been plenty to do and see in Red Hook.

So far, the new developments have been respectful of the neighborhood in terms of scale. There are tasteful, modern designs, like King & Sullivan, and those less so, in which we’d include the row at 82-86 Lorraine St., if asked. Those that restore and repurpose the larger buildings rather than tear down and rebuild are the ones we like most. The New York Dock Co. building at 160 Imlay Street is an example of this, and we applaud the mindfulness put into the exterior of that project (Charlie & Co., Architects). Other new buildings and/or facades look entirely different than those of their predecessors, but within scale and with well-considered designs add interest to the surrounding streetscape rather than detract from the overall aesthetic. (Our example would be the just-mentioned King & Sullivan.)

We have a few worries about the future of our favorite neighborhood. If rising prices push out the old-time residents, if we lose BWAC or  the wide-open harbor views, it would be something of a tragedy. There’s talk of relocating the Red Hook Container Terminal to Sunset Park and developing that 80-acre site with up to 45,000 (!!) apartments. That certainly seems out of scale with anything nearby. No plans have yet been produced, so heights and breadths are unknown. The waterfront itself could be lost to all but the new condo owners.

NY Dock Bldg resized

The New York Dock Co. building on Imlay Street is a great example of how to restore the old commercial stock while maintaining the area’s character.

The Most Expensive designation includes the sales prices of the new apartments. How much the prices of the existing older one and two-family buildings lining Richards, Visitation, Dwight, Van Brunt, Wolcott and all the other streets in Red Hook have risen is less impressive. The area was flooded out during Hurricane Sandy, and that experience has helped the new developers plan for the future, but has kept individuals from feeling the love for the low-lying neighborhood. Prices are up, but homes here lag behind those in nearby Carroll Gardens and in Cobble Hill by significant amounts per square foot (for reasons that include the lack of public transportation and other factors besides potential flooding). Many can be had for less than the price of the shiny new apartments around the corner. That said, the average sale prices for these homes has risen sharply, with many selling over $2M.

The neighborhood has almost fully recovered from being devastated by Hurricane Sandy, which inundated the entire waterfront area and much of the neighborhood, and now Red Hook, which has been labeled up and coming numerous times in the past, is again a neighborhood on the move, especially in terms of real estate prices.


 

For a Secure Future, Brooklyn Church is Selling its Air Rights

One of Brooklyn’s many nicknames is, “The City of Churches.” Yet, as time passes, the general migration of people from one area to another sometimes results in shrinking congregations and distressed parishes. In Carroll Gardens there are several former churches that are now condominiums. In Clinton Hill, one very notable church has taken a different tack.

550-Clinton-Ave-Project Rendering

A rendering of the proposed complex at 550 Clinton Avenue.

The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew is in the process of selling its air rights to a developer who hopes to use them to erect a twenty-nine-story mixed-use condominium on the block. The church, the largest Episcopalian church on Long Island, hopes to use the money it receives in return to make long-needed repairs and provide future stability.

This parish has a long history, dating back to the nineteenth century. As New York City’s population swelled in the early-to-mid 1800s, many residents chose to move to Brooklyn, where housing was cheaper and spaces bigger. Some members of Trinity Church in downtown Manhattan established a Brooklyn church of the same name. After some years, the effort became too great and Trinity church was decommissioned and re-established as St. Luke’s Church. The initial St. Luke’s building was erected in 1841 and was added to over the years. It was heavily damaged by fire in 1887 and razed to make way for the current church, which was constructed between 1888-1891. Another disastrous fire, in 1914, ravaged the new building, and this was repaired and the building improved and rededicated in 1915. St. Luke’s Church merged with another local Episcopal church, St. Matthew’s, in 1943.

StLukeEpis1915Int

The interior of the church of St. Luke and St. Matthew, circa 1915.

In 2012, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the church gave its space to the organizers of the Occupy Wall Street event in a successful effort dubbed Occupy Sandy. St. Luke and St. Matthew’s was a beehive of activity, serving as a warehouse and distribution point for Sandy relief supplies and a kitchen for cooking meals to aid the victims and feed the relief and reconstruction workers.

Just before Christmas of that year, on December 23, fire once again damaged the church, this time an incidence of arson, in which someone deliberately poured gasoline on the front doors of the church and set them afire. Two entrances and the narthex just beyond them burned, and the damage from those fires has yet to be repaired today.

The sale of the church’s air rights to the developer, Jeffrey Gershon/Hope Street Capital, would require the buyer to make the needed repairs to the church. Gershon/Hope Street is planning to construct the mixed-use condominium on the block. Given the air rights transfer, the plans are for the new building, designed by Morris Adjmi Architects and to have the address of 550 Clinton Avenue, to rise 312 feet behind the church, on Vanderbilt Avenue, with a five-story section wrapping around onto and along Atlantic Avenue to Clinton Avenue. But, the church has been landmarked since 1981, and according to an article in The Architect’s Newspaper, the developer’s first presentation of its plans to the NYC Landmark’s Preservation Commission (LPC) was met with some resistance.

The commission was unhappy with the man-made materials chosen by the developer to make the repairs to the church, which would be less durable than the stone used to build the church in the first place. A second glitch is in the design of the new building, which the commission feels is not in keeping with the character of the surrounding neighborhood. (This despite the location being about a block from Pacific Park, a new, in-progress mid-rise apartment complex, the tallest of which, to our knowledge, is twenty-three stories.) The commissioners asked the developer to address these concerns and re-present at a later date.

Occupy Sandy Relief at St L and St M

The church was used as a distribution center for relief supplies after Hurricane Sandy.

The reality is that large-scale residential development is overrunning Brooklyn like the floodwaters of Sandy, and there is no end in sight. Busy Atlantic Avenue seems like an obvious conduit along which to build, and doing so could avoid, or at least postpone, similar construction sprouting up within already developed low-rise neighborhoods while simultaneously adding value to the homes in those areas.

Perhaps with some architectural adjustments, the LPC will be satisfied, the plans will be approved, the development will move forward, the church of St. Luke and St. Matthew will get its repairs and secure future, and somewhere, someplace in Brooklyn, a small parcel of land will be saved from a mega-construction project that could alter the face of a neighborhood.

Happiness all around, just the way we like it.


 

Brooklyn: Hollywood East?

Brooklyn: Hollywood East?

BSE Strip

Like television? So do we, and, it seems TV likes Brooklyn. Broadway Stages, the biggest film studio company in Brooklyn that you’ve never heard of, is growing faster than the famous literary Ailanthus tree. Most Brooklyners know about Steiner Studios, the long-time resident at the Navy Yard, and many have heard of CineMagic, and there are Kaufman Astoria and Silvercup in Queens. But there is perhaps a dozen or more smaller studios that are busy handling interior shots for the many TV shows and movies being shot in New York, and Broadway Stages, one of the biggest of those, is getting bigger.

Broadway Stages is home to interior shots for such TV hits as VEEP, Mr. Robot, Master of None, Blacklist, Blue Bloods, Madame Secretary, and many more. The company already has a half-dozen locations dotted across Greenpoint, with others in Long Island City and Middle Village, Queens. Now, according to the Real Deal, they are growing further. The studio, headquartered on Meserole Street in Greenpoint, will be combining six single-lot buildings on nearby Kingsland Avenue into one, increasing the floors of those one-, two-, and three-floor properties to six to and the usable floor space to 101,623 from 41,233. The reconstruction is scheduled to begin in the spring and take a year or more to complete.

In a separate purchase, Broadway Stages last month wrapped up a deal with Exxon-Mobile to buy a large empty lot around the corner from the Kingsland Avenue properties, at 378-392 Greenpoint Avenue. That deal, at $10.2 million, gives Broadway Stages another 160,000 (+/-) buildable square feet for further expansion down the road.

New York TV production has increased dramatically in the past decade, and Broadway Stages is taking advantage and getting ready for a lot more right here in Brooklyn.

 

 


 

2018 in Brooklyn: What to Expect

2018 in Brooklyn: What to Expect

Happy New Year to all! The past year was interesting inside and out of the real estate market, and it appears early on that the New Year will be no less so for Brooklyn real estate.

We’ve looked at sales data from the third quarter of 2017 and compared it to the previouTompkins Pls quarter and the previous year, and we can say that, while things aren’t moving as wildly as in the previous two years, the local market is holding steady.

 In the third quarter of 2017, multi-family homes in Brooklyn, those of two-to-four families, sold for an average of $421 per square foot. In our neck of the Brooklyn woods, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope and the surrounding neighborhoods, the average prices per square foot were at the high end, with Cobble Hill leading the pack at about $864/sq. ft., followed by Carroll Gardens, $800, Boerum Hill, $719, and Park Slope, $693/sq. ft.

 Compared to the 2nd quarter, Cobble Hill was up 32.92%, from $650/sq. ft., Carroll Gardens was up 28.82%, from $621, and Park Slope was down 13.7%, from $803. However, in the Slope, twenty properties were sold in the third quarter vs. just six in Q2, and larger samples tend to pull averages down. Apparently, no multi-family homes sold in Boerum Hill in all of Q2.

 A year ago, the third-quarter 2016 price-per-square-foot list looked like this: Boerum Hill, $658; Park Slope, $826; Gowanus, $763; Clinton Hill, $709; and Carroll Gardens, $679. Cobble Hill tied with Williamsburg at $625.

 Like the stockKane St Doorways 300 w market, real estate prices don’t go straight up, or down. Based on what we see, the Brooklyn housing market should continue its generally steady rise in 2018, with areas a bit further away from downtown seeing prices rise more percentage-wise than in the recent past, and those closer to Manhattan holding steady, with average fluctuations based on the number and the quality of units changing hands.

 We wish you all a prosperous 2018 and believe it will be another good year for the Brooklyn real estate market.


 

 

 

The Kings Theatre, A Treasure Restored

The Kings Theatre, A Treasure Restored

Deep in the heart of Brooklyn lies one of the most magnificent treasures in all of New York City: The Kings Theatre in Flatbush. Built as a grand movie palace by the Loew’s Corporation, the theatre first opened in 1929, when going to the movies was a social event, and the rich and the poor mingled in the lobby and sat in egalitarian style in the auditorium. The original design firm, Rapp & Rapp, modeled it after the Paris Opera House, with a nod to the Palace of Versailles, including many Baroque and Rococo elements as well as details in the then-popular Art Deco style, such as the wall sconce pictured below.

Kings_Theatre_Interior Alexandra Silversmith 400

Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, auditorium

The theatre rode high during the golden age of movies in the ’30s and ’40s, and presented vaudeville shows along with the movies. The palace deteriorated along with much of the surrounding area in the ’50s and ’60s before closing in the ’70s. Immaculately restored in a two-year-long renovation, the theatre had its ribbon-cutting in 2015 as a live-performance venue, with Diana Ross performing at the grand reopening, and the glory of the heyday of movies is back in Brooklyn. Acts and artists as varied as tKings_Theatre_Light smlhe Russian singing group the Turetsky Choir, hip-hop artist Sean Paul, the country musician Jason Isbell with the 400 Unit, various comedy shows, and many more popular acts now perform on the Kings Theatre stage on a regular basis.

The building is owned by the city these days, and operated by ACE Theatrical Group, which conducted the reconstruction led by the architectural firm Martinez + Johnson. The effort cost approximately $95 million. It’s definitely worth a trip out Flatbush Avenue to check out this gorgeously restored gem.

Kings_Theatre_Flatbush_finished_Exterior Jim Henderson 400

 

Photo Credits:

Top: Lobby of the Kings Theatre: By Moucheraud (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 . via Wikimedia Commons

Auditorium: By Alexandra Silversmith (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Art Deco wall sconce: By Professorcornbread – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44433911 , via Wikimedia Commons 

Exterior: By Jim Henderson (Own work) [CC BY 3.0  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons


 

 

A New Crown Jewel for Crown Heights?

A New Crown Jewel for Crown Heights?

The City Council has approved the redevelopment plan for the Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights, a plan that would transform the armory into a sports and recreation center and add the development of a 414-unit condominium project, with 250 of those units earmarked as low-income housing, as well as office space for non-profits. The project would be a public/private partnership between the NYC Economic Development Corp. (NYCEDC) and BFC Partners, a private development company. The plan seems worthwhile, but like all development projects both public and private, there are (at least) as many against as there are for the project. Interior 1, captioned

On paper, including in the architects’ renderings, it’s a great use of the armory space, with basketball courts, a soccer field, and a swimming pool on (and in) the former military assembly floor. This would be paid for by the city. The city, though, would make money from the sale of the condos, which would defray the cost of the recreation center. However, many local residents see the project as a new phase of gentrification that could put their futures in the area at risk. Some politicians and advocacy groups feel it is inappropriate to turn city-owned property over to for-profit companies to make millions from.

In mid-November, the LegalInterior 2, captioned Aid Society filed a lawsuit against the project. Their public statement said, “From the start, this project has been flawed and offers little relief for the residents of a neighborhood that’s suffering from gentrification and skyrocketing rents. …Land that is fully owned by the public should serve an exclusive public purpose. Until the Bedford Union Armory development plan reflects that, we will continue to oppose it on behalf of our clients and other low-income New Yorkers who are in desperate need of affordable and permanent housing.

Despite the lawsuit, the approval by the City Council this month puts the project one step closer to becoming a reality. There are many more steps to be taken. Stay tuned.

Industry City: The Rise, the Fall, the Resurrection

During the last decade of the 19th century, Irving T. Bush built a massive warehousing complex along the Gowanus Bay on land inherited from his father. The Bush family had owned an oil refinery, which Irving’s father sold to Standard Oil, and when he died, Irving received a huge inheritance. He bought the land back from Standard and began building warehouses to store the many products that were coming into and out of New York Harbor at the time. He soon built addition800px-Bush_Terminal_Fairfield_North_aerial_-_1958 resized w captional larger buildings and rented space to companies that needed it and added huge piers, each of which could accommodate the docking of four large cargo vessels and all the cargo they unloaded.

 After some years of success, Irving expanded his operation to include shipping the products he and his tenants were storing, adding more buildings and a network of railroad tracks, including a huge rail yard, and was soon loading and unloading products and materials to and from at least eight regional railroads, including the Baltimore & Ohio, the Erie-Lackawanna, the NY Central and others. He even had his own railroad company, the Bush Terminal Railroad (BTRR). Bush built a line of tracks from the terminal to existing Pennsylvania railroad tracks. At least two of the terminal railroad tracks curved past the warehouses and ended right at the water, where groups of entire cars were pushed onto car floats that were then guided across the harbor by tugboats to New Jersey, from where they carried their goods across the country.

 By the end of World War I, the terminal spread over twenty city blocks, has seven piers along more than 3,000 feet of waterfront and held more than 100 warehouse and manufacturing buildings, its own railroad, and upwards of 25,000 workers.

 Irving Bush died in 1948, and soIC Mini Golf w captionon after, external factors led to a fall-off in the shipping portion of the Bush Terminal Company’s business. Bush Terminal Company sold the buildings in 1963. The port remained active until 1974, while the buildings remained almost fully occupied by a rotating series of tenants through the 1990s.

 In 1956, a huge explosion rocked the entire neighborhood. Sparks from ironworkers making repairs in one of the pier sheds ignited materials below and the fire soon moved to coils of fuse material that exploded. The blast was felt miles away. Ten people were killed and hundreds injured.

The complex changed hands more than once, and finally sold in 1983 to a group that changed the name to Industry City. Today, Bush Terminal’s physical plant has been resurrected. Industry City is a sparkling wonder, with hundreds of tenants that include artists, design, media, retail, manufacturing, and technology companies, along with government agencies, non-profits, and of course, warehouse space. It’s also an entertainment venue, with such events as the Brooklyn Crush Wine and Artisanal Food Festival and Rock and Roll Playhouse, a free summer concert series, a brew festival, Table Tennis Tuesday, and many other events throughout the year.RR Car in IC captioned

That said, much of Industry City is currently empty or underused. The current owners have recently begun the process of rezoning the complex and its immediate area to allow for additional businesses to come in, to convert up to 272,000 square feet to hotel space, and renovating 387,000 square feet for academic use, 900,000 square feet for retail space, and 43,000 square feet for event space. The entire process up to the beginning of the work could take eighteen months or more.

For now, the area retains its industrial flavor, and the railroad tracks remain embedded along First Avenue, curving every block into one of the docks built between the wings of Bush’s original buildings.

 

 

BAM: Brooklyn’s Gold- Standard Venue

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), at the edge of Downtown Brooklyn in Fort Greene, is the oldest continuously operating performance arts center in the country. It is a world-class institution with venues in multiple buildings, presenting programs of theatre, dance, music, opera, and movies by highly regarded, internationally known performing artists and companies, attracting audiences from around the world.

The original academy, opened in 1861,BAM Concert Hall 1908 w caption 400w
stood on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, now the site of a mid-rise apartment building (180 Montague Street). Built for the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, it had a 2,000-seat theatre and a smaller concert hall. Contemporary luminaries including Edwin Booth and Ellen Terry performed there, and music and theatre productions professional and amateur filled its stages for over forty years.

In 1903, an early morning fire destroyed the Academy and a good portion of the block. It had become a major institution by that time, and a push to build a new structure began immediately. The architectural firm of Herts & Tallant, which had designed the New Amsterdam and Longacre theatres in Manhattan, won the contract to design the Academy, and the current building opened in 1908 with a performance of the Metropolitan Opera starring Enrico Caruso and Geraldine Farrar.

The new Academy had a Beaux Arts façade and two side-by-side main theatres, the Concert Hall and the Opera House with one grand lobby across the front of both. In addition, a gBAM Opera House A Hughes 400wrand ballroom graced the second floor. The institution thrived until World War II, when all attention and resources were given to the war effort. Afterward, the entire Borough experienced a decline as the returning soldiers married and moved out of the city to the new suburbs in Long Island and New Jersey. Attendance and programming at the Academy declined.

That ended in 1967 with the appointment of a new executive director, Harvey Lichtenstein. Under his leadership, the Academy slowly but surely returned to city-wide, national, and international prominence. The concert hall was reoutfitted as a full-fledged theatre and renamed the Helen Carey Playhouse, and in 1983, the annual fall Next Wave Festival began. This world-renown series features contemporary and cutting-edge theatre, dance, and music from around the world, featuring the likes of Peter Brook, Steven Reich, Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Pina Bausch, Robert Wilson, and literally hundreds of other first-class artists.

The physical plant has blossomed, as well. The ballroom was converted to a black box theatre in the 70s, and then to its current use, the BAMcafé, in 1997. The playhouse received a BAM Harvey Theatremakeover into a multi-screen movie house, the Rose Cinemas, also in 1997.  The 874-seat Harvey Theatre (Formerly the Majestic, renamed for Lichtenstein) on Fulton Street debuted in 1999, and the BAM Fisher theatre on Ashland Place opened its doors in 2012.  A brand-new space, the BAM Karen, is under construction as part of a new 31-story tall residential complex at 300 Ashland Place, across the street from the main building, which is now known as the Peter Jay Sharp building.

The rejuvenation of the Academy has spawned a growth or arts and arts-related organizations in the immediately surrounding area, and this section of downtown and Fort Greene is now an arts mecca, which in turn has attracted more people and other support businesses, including many restaurants and other stores. The entire area is in full-flowered renaissance, in no small part because of this great institution.