Daily Inspirations and Adventures

Williamsburg Update

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A few random Williamsburg tid bits . . . right in time for your trip!

Saw this in Daily Candy today . . . maybe we can try it. 

Maison Premiere’s Outdoor Garden
The renowned oyster bar encourages absinthe tipplers to take it outside to a French Quarter-inspired drinking yard with 52 seats, cast iron gates and columns, oil lanterns, and hanging plants.
Why: Summer calls for alfresco imbibing.
When: Mon.-Thurs., 4-11 p.m.; Fri., 4 p.m.-midnight; Sat., noon-midnight; Sun., noon-11 p.m.
Where: 298 Bedford Ave., b/t Grand & S. 1st Sts., Williamsburg (347-335-0446).

2011 Cheesemonger Invitational Friday night?  The East River Ferry goes right over to Long Island City!

Also . . . according to today’s Wall Street Journal they are turning the bottom of our building into a nursery school.    Not sure how I feel about a bunch of crazy kids and their crazy parents running around my home . . . but hopefully it will look nice and make our building look a little less abondoned.  🙂

 JULY 7, 2011

A Williamsburg Warehouse Lives On

Waterfront Building Designed by Cass Gilbert Lands Tenants, Nursery School


Apartment rentals at historic former warehouse in Williamsburg, above, are nearly complete and the building has leased ground-floor space to a for-profit nursery.

A for-profit nursery school has signed a 20-year lease for space in a historic Brooklyn waterfront building designed by Cass Gilbert, architect of the Woolworth building in Manhattan.

The River School, which currently operates in Jersey City and on West End Avenue in Manhattan, will occupy 8,000 square feet of ground-floor space in the warehouse building at 184 Kent Ave. in Williamsburg. The school expects to open this fall or early winter.

Above the school are six stories of apartments with views of the East River and Manhattan that rent from $2,000 a month for a studio to $4,000 for two-bedrooms. A three-bedroom on the top floor with two baths and 1,200 square feet of space and renting for $6,000 a month is the only apartment not taken.

Richard Kresch, the founder and owner of the River School, said he learned about the Williamsburg property from his landscaper, who also does work for the owner of 184 Kent Ave. “We like the idea of the school being on the water and all the history surrounding it, which will in itself will be a terrific learning experience for our kids,” said Dr. Kresch, a child psychiatrist for 37 years.

The school will have space for 100 children from the ages of 2 months to 5 years, and Dr. Kresch said he is banking on the new families in the neighborhood to fill the seats. “We attract working parents, a lot of Europeans and Asians, in the banking and engineering fields and we accommodate their schedules by being open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” he said.

The former warehouse, covering 425,000 square feet, was once described as a skyscraper on its side. It was opened in 1915 as a distribution center for Austin, Nichols & Co., then among the largest wholesale grocers and later the owner of Wild Turkey bourbon. Having outgrown its space in congested Manhattan, Austin Nichols chose the Williamsburg waterfront for a giant new facility, attracted largely by its easy access to transportation.

The waterfront and easy access remain an attraction for the complex today. Without service interruptions on the L train, the site is 20 minutes door-to-door from Union Square in Manhattan. The waterfront has a public esplanade maintained by the building owners, JMH Development. A few minutes from the building is a stop for the new East River Ferry, subsidized for now with $9.3 million from the city, which offers commuters trips to Manhattan for $8 round trip.

Within walking distance of the Kent Avenue site are the former properties of the F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Co.—now turned into housing—and the former home of Domino Sugar Co., a building site that has been the focus of a contentious battle among housing advocates, preservationists and elected officials in Brooklyn.

For its warehouse at 184 Kent Ave., Austin Nichols selected Mr. Gilbert to design the $1 million structure which would make vast use of reinforced concrete and was complete with a railroad track running down its middle. Mr. Gilbert had won acclaim for numerous designs, including Manhattan’s U.S. Custom House and the Woolworth building, which was the tallest in the world when it opened in 1913.

In its latest iteration, the Kent Avenue building underwent a three-year renovation designed by SLCE Architects. The building had been approved as a landmark in 2005 by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, which declared it “one of the largest and most significant structures on the Brooklyn waterfront.”

But the designation was overturned by the City Council, stoking fears that condominiums would be built on the site and engulf the old warehouse. Instead, the building’s owners sold the property to JMH Development, which decided to seek status as a national historic place and to qualify for federal tax credits for its renovation.

The developer still was allowed to build a level of penthouses on the roof and to punch a hole in the center of the building to create a courtyard area. SLCE partner Robert Laudenschlager said he wanted to maintain the integrity of the building, both for aesthetic reasons and to obtain the tax credits. Most challenging in the re-design, according to Carlos Talacios, an associate with the firm, “were the many unknowns such as the placement of steel and holes that had been cut in concrete slabs.”

In addition to space for the new school, JMH is building out 10,000 square feet of ground-floor space and hopes to attract a destination restaurant, a gourmet grocer and other stores that will bring amenities to tenants. Other buildings on the same block are also advertising retail space for rent.

Written by bevanddara

July 7, 2011 at 11:36 am

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