One of the borough’s most glorious indoor spaces — a veritable cathedral to retail — is going to host a flea market.
The landmark former bank space in the ground floor of the Willliamsburgh Savings Bank building in Fort Greene will house the Brooklyn Flea on Saturdays and Sundays starting on Jan. 9 — a substantial upgrade from the market’s current indoor winter space in DUMBO.
When the winter season ends, the flea will once again return to the outdoor space where it began in 2008, the cement fields at Bishop Loughlin HS a few blocks away.
“The [bank building] is a perfect match between antique vendors and an historic space,” said Eric Demby, the founder of the antique and crafts souk.
The news, first reported by New York Magazine, represents a change of venue on par with a band going from dingy clubs to an arena. Roughly 100 vendors will line both sides of the stylish cashier windows, and food may be served in the bank vault, according to Demby.
But just because there is a flea market on weekends does not mean that the space at 1 Hanson Pl. is now a run-of-the-mill bazaar with musty furniture vendors, dusty comic books and creepy guys leafing through old Playboys.
The owners of the landmarked space will still rent it out for roughly $15,000 a night for Manhattan-style corporate events and weddings appropriate for reality TV.
“Our business model is to maintain the exclusivity of the venue,” said Jennifer Blumin, the principal of Skylight 1 Hanson, the ethereal corporate name for the space. “The idea is not volume, but quality events.”
The deal with Brooklyn Flea is something of a surprise for a space that had long sought a high-profile retailer to locate next to the Atlantic-Pacific subway hub, the Atlantic Terminal Mall, and the future site of the Barclays Center.
And Brooklyn locations of Target, Lowe’s and Ikea make a fortune in their chaotic local outlets, so its no wonder that Apple and even Microsoft considered making the former bank building a Brooklyn flagship.
Then again, the economy isn’t doing so well. Perhaps in a more opulent time — like the 1920s, when the space was built — major chains would have been lining up to sign a lease in the landmarked space.
But even though a big tenant couldn’t be found, Demby said that his Mom and Pop vendors would create more than enough buzz for the building.
“We already activated a public space under the Brooklyn Bridge,” said Demby, referring to the flea’s outdoor site near the fabled span. “Now we’ll be opening up this one. We’re humbled by the opportunity.”
©2009 Community News Group
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