Bushwick already has art galleries, fashionable young folks, and weed-strewn open spaces that rival the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea (we’re looking at you, High Line) — and it could soon have its very own “grittier Chelsea Market,” according to one real estate broker.
Andrew Clemens is courting tenants for a massive warehouse near the Morgan Avenue L train station in hopes of converting the site into a shopping attraction that matches the neighborhood’s manufacturing character
“The idea is to keep it gritty and keep the industrial feel that it has now, but there will be storefronts and glass to give it a retail presence,” said Clemens, who hopes the first tenants will set up shop within 12 to 18 months.
North Development Corp. purchased the one-story building, which takes up the entire block bordered by Morgan Avenue and Bogart, Harrison, and Ingraham streets, for $12.15 million this summer.
Under the company’s plan, several existing industrial tenants will stay in their current spaces, while the remaining two-thirds of the site will host restaurants, bars, shops, and studios — business that are a perfect fit for Bushwick’s growing residential population.
“There’s a demographic of people who have disposable income, but there’s no services in this part of town,” he said. “I see people walking around with Trader Joe’s bags because they are shopping on 14th Street [in Manhattan].”
Clemens said he is in talks with several would-be renters including an organic grocery store “that already has a couple of locations in Brooklyn.”
The developer is considering adding a second story atop the building to double the space — and Clemens hopes to attract a hostel or indie movie theater as a tenant.
When finished, the new retail hub won’t be the first shopping complex in the area to be borne out of an old warehouse — the Loom, a converted textile mill that houses a handful of businesses, a coffee shop, a yoga studio, and the Bushwick Food Co-op, opened in 2009 between Knickerbocker and Flushing avenues and Thames Street.
But unlike the Loom and the Chelsea Market, which don’t offer much in terms of curb appeal, Clemens plans to open a number of storefronts around the perimeter of the building.
Bushwick residents and business owners were surprised by the mall plan — but said it has potential if it’s done right.
“If it’s slick and corporate, I don’t think this neighborhood will go for it,” said Heather Rush, co-owner of the Pine Box Rock Shop bar around the corner from the warehouse.