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Bridge Park bike philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz will bring arts to Gowanus

The Brooklyn Paper
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The philanthropist funding a $40-million athletic facility full of fixed-gear bikes in Brooklyn Bridge Park is now throwing money at an innovative arts project in Gowanus — earning him street cred as Brooklyn’s coolest benefactor.

Joshua Rechnitz — who carries the wallet behind Brooklyn Bridge Park’s headline-grabbing indoor bike track project — now wants to turn a sprawling industrial building on the banks of the Gowanus Canal into a gallery and studio space for artists.

Rechnitz’s not-for-profit, Powerhouse Environmental Arts Foundation, bought the vacant $7 million former MTA powerhouse on Third Avenue between Third and Carroll streets last month, saying it will soon become a hub for creativity.

“It’s a beautiful building and he wants to save it — to ensure it will be used for art in a neighborhood where many artists and artisans live,” said his spokeswoman Maureen Connelly.

Rechnitz, who has a background in film and animation, made a splash last spring when he pledged the largest public park donation in the city’s history to build a bicycle velodrome featuring a 200-meter inclined track at Pier 5.

Neighbors are now cheering the Gowanus plan, calling the fiercely private, bikes-and-art-boosting do-gooder the coolest patron on the planet. His gallery space plan is an exciting addition to the already arts-centric industrial area, much like the nearby studios at the Old American Can Factory, longtime residents say.

“Sounds like a great new home for the arts,” said neighbor Linda Mariano.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:36 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

freddy from gowanus says:
No matter the backlash at the brooklyn bridge park...
if he dropped $7,000,000 on this good for him. And good for the gowanus.
Oct. 12, 2012, 10:53 am
Brooklyn Heights Resident from BH says:
I am reflexively against anything associated with bicycles and am therefore against the arts.
Oct. 12, 2012, 12:04 pm
manhatposeur from borkelandia says:
Get us more bike lanes! YAH!
Oct. 12, 2012, 1:16 pm
Rufus Leaking from Around says:
The 1% is good.
Oct. 13, 2012, 7:21 am
BrooklynNative from Williamsburg says:
Why not invest your money in things more important than another wasted "ART Space" for overgrown, overfed, spoiled adult children who have no talent. And who have nothing else better than to do than spend their time trying to be something they will never become. True artist. Which has nothing with this phony art spaces. We all know, real artists or those that need to artistically create never needed this. Its amazing how most of these so call artists he wants to attract can afford a $3000 rent and my question is why can’t they just rent a small space or wait maybe just a concept stay home and create like the rest of us have been doing. Why not invest in public art/music education for low income children of the city. Or even in education in general specifically Math and Science where we are poorly behind as a country. Invest in buying updated school books for kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate real art from the heart and soul like the next person but we need to really think about our children’s future and ensure they will be able to compete with India and China.Its pretty disturbing to see how our priorities as people are warped. In today’s world we have money going to projects to benefit overpriviledged “30 something” adults rather than children. Thanks for continuing to enable these trustafarians who think they have talent and are special. Where were the likes of Mr. Rechnitz, 15 years ago? Why now? Is it because Josh and Megan moved from Ohio to our urban little Brooklyn and want to make their marks. Oops their contribution and make Brooklyn cool and awesome.
Oct. 16, 2012, 4:53 pm
Frank G from West orange, nj says:
He is obviously reviving the neighborhood and sports for what it once was...
Nov. 20, 2012, 1:39 pm
Anonymous from Brooklyn says:
Most artists throughout the centuries and past decades have had financiers, high-end contacts, or nobility on their side. The wealthy are an integral part of the art world, and always have been. Where would Vincent be without Theo? Also the arts should not ever dumped or disposed of in lieu of other subjects. To do so would be a terrible loss, and ignorant of the different kinds of intelligence which, when married, create our best innovations. Without creativity, there can be no innovation. No matter the issue at hand, when it comes to dollars and cents, there will always be another way to spend money. On the larger scale this kind of argument has long bothered me, when so much anger is directed at an individual or a handful of individuals, and not at the larger issue of changing how our economic system functions. I would like everyone of means to be charitable
and for worthy causes of all kinds, but deriding one rich guy for not putting his dough in the pot of your choosing detracts from the argument of why we are lacking in those same areas. From this particular viewpoint, it also appears this family has given a great deal of funds to educational institutions and a number of other causes. I am not sure why a biking space and art space as a community space and a public project is a waste. Is the Metropolitan Museum a waste?
Nov. 30, 2012, 8:27 pm
Native from Brooklyn says:
Complain all you want, but this is way better than the alternative. It was originally purchased so it could be destroyed and turned into a co-op "village". At the very least, the structure will be preserved. Brooklyn has always been dynamic.. even Eastern Parkway was once a crown jewel which had nothing but doctors and lawyers living along its tree-lined promenades. When we were kids, all the spaces that are now occupied by Ohioans and Michigonians with mommy and daddy's loot were totally abandoned. You should know BrooklynNative from Williamsburg. Occupying and preserving our infrastructure is the most important thing, without it a place's true identity will be constantly erased.

Good for you, Josh the Bike Man, you saved something that would have been scrapped!
Feb. 8, 2013, 8:53 am

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