Wednesday, April 04, 2012

WSJ: Brownstoner Investing In Crown Heights

Years ago, a local developer turned an old Studebaker building in Crown Heights into low-income housing, an unlikely redevelopment that was hailed at the time for marrying preservation and affordable units. Today, it was announced by the Wall Street Journal that the other Studebaker building in the neighborhood, the former service station at 1000 Dean Street just west of the shuttle tracks, is also slated for a radical transformation. Jonathan Butler, the creator of real-estate blog Brownstoner and the Brooklyn Flea and a guy who knows about as much as one blogger can about the changing shape of Brooklyn neighborhoods, has put together a mega-deal to pour $30 million into three industrial properties along Dean between Franklin and Classon. The WSJ reports that much of the space will be used for "mixed-use office space to house a mix of small businesses like Internet start-ups, food makers and light industrial manufacturers," hopefully employing 400-500 people in a couple of years. (no word on how much local hiring is in the works). Additionally, Butler and his partners (who include Goldman Sachs and the guys who brought you the Toren) plan to set aside some space for good times. Writes the Journal, "one section of the property will be used for cultural events and another section will have a food and beer hall that will feature food vendors from the Brooklyn Flea, a flea market held on weekends in Fort Greene and Williamsburg. Mr. Butler envisions that the 9,000-square-foot food hall will have five or six different food vendors." 

About 15 months ago, with new businesses including Thirst Bar and Compare Foods opening up in the area, Nostrand Park described the hitherto-light-industrial-but-starting-to-develop area bounded by Prospect, Atlantic, Washington, and Franklin as Four Corners (so named for its location, at the juncture of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Bed-Stuy, and Clinton Hill). At the time (as it does now), the area that still had many working junkyards, auto body shops, and live poultry butchers, but was also attracting wine bars, high-end residential development, and increasing numbers of creative-class types. With Butler's big-time investment getting under way this summer, one can only imagine that "Four Corners" will be turning a corner as all of these trends accelerate. Readers, any prognostications?


  1. It is huge!!! Very significant that the Brownstoner guy chose our neighborhood for this project; obviously he is very confident that it will work as are those who are financing it. It is big as the conversion of the Jewish Hospital into housing, which started it all.

  2. Perhaps the investors will pay to rebuild the Dean St stop on the shuttle train. Basically just a stairwell and rehabbed platform+new turnstile infrastructure. Though there's also the cost to the MTA, employing somewhere there 24 hours a day and redoing schedules. But a Dean St resident can dream, eh?!

  3. If you haven't bought in the neighborhood by now, it may soon be too late....


    By 2020, Atlantic Avenue in CH might end up looking like 4th Avenue in PS.

    1. As someone who until recently lived in CH and now lives just north of Atlantic, but before Fulton (and therefore crosses Atlantic all the time), I would be amazed if this happened by 2020. It would nice, but I wouldn't get my hopes up. Then again, I moved to Crown Heights in the summer of 2008 and unbelievable change has happened since then...

  4. Truly epic. And might also lead to the north part of Franklin getting all spruced up too...

  5. This is really interesting and exciting! Nick, I'm looking forward to reading the epic thesis on gentrification you will be able to write in a few years after you've finished doing all this research ;)

  6. This building is awesome, but man she needs some love. Glad someone like Mr. Butler is involved.

  7. Hi Everyone, just seeing this post and comments now...Thanks for all the positive feedback. Totally psyched to make this a great project and interested in everyone's ideas so keep 'em coming. Had no idea there was a Dean Street stop on Shuttle at one point...that's pretty cool. Paging Janette Sadik-Kahn!
    Mr. B

  8. This type of development is definitely interesting, but I think I speak for many concerned residents of the community by seconding Nick's notion that the most positive way to follow through with this change is by hiring locally. I also think that although more food and drink would be nice, a space that is inviting to all members of the community is extremely important.

    I suppose a multi-use facility that offers educational programs might be a dream, especially considering the proven goals of Butler's former partners (am i the only one who gets a malware warning when clicking on the Toren site? *shudder*).

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for using empty space and improving the local economy, but if we could affect the way our neighborhood changes in a sustainable way that won't skyrocket all our rents and further polarize the haves and the have-nots, Crown Heights could just go down in history.

  9. Very nice and helpful information has been given in this article. I like the way you explain the things. Keep posting. Thanks.

    property shop real estate