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Midtown Equities JV to redevelop Empire Stores, vacant warehouse buildings in DUMBO

Mayor Bloomberg announced last week that the Brooklyn Bridge Park Board of Directors has selected Joe Cayre’s Midtown Equities, in partnership with Rockwood Capital and HK Organization, to redevelop Empire Stores, vacant warehouse buildings in DUMBO.

The adaptive reuse plans call for commercial uses, including restaurant, event, retail and office space. Home furnishings retailer West Elm has already signed a lease for more than 150,000 s/f of office and retail space and the Brooklyn Historical Society is expected to take 3,200 square feet of exhibition space.

The board also approved a long-term lease with St. Ann’s Warehouse to develop a theater in the old Tobacco Warehouse and authorized new parkland at Main Street in Dumbo.

Construction is expected to being in early 2014 with an expected completion of fall 2015.

“All across the waterfront, we are reclaiming and renewing areas that have long been abandoned or neglected, and Empire Stores and the Tobacco Warehouse are the latest examples of that work,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

“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. The expansion and success of the park is due in large part to our partnerships with New York State Parks and the National Park Service, and we are grateful for their help.”

The Empire Stores are a complex of seven contiguous four- and five-story historic warehouses containing approximately 347,000 gross square feet.

Artist’s rendering of the proposed redevelopment

The warehouses were built between 1869 and 1885 and primarily used for coffee storage until they were abandoned in the 1960s.

A team led by Midtown Equities will enter into a 96-year ground lease of the site. Their proposed building plan will feature nearly 80,000 s/f of restaurant, retail, and event space and 300,000 s/f of office space.

Over the course of the lease term, the guaranteed payments from the development site are projected to result in $60 million of net present value to help fund the maintenance and operations of the park.

Midtown will work with Studio V Architecture on the project. The deal paves the way for the development of 0.86 acres of new parkland in the northern portion of the park.
Currently a DEP water meter testing site, parking lot and paint shed, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and Architecture Research Officea mixture of “passive and active recreationˮ space.

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