Over the course of the past year, Eli Hamway and his partners at Industrie Capital evicted hundreds of artists from the turn-of-the-century warehouses at Ninth Street and Second Avenue in Gowanus. Now they’ve begun converting the buildings to office space and kicked off leasing for the project.
Thomas Roulston constructed most of the brick buildings between 1904 and 1921 to accommodate his growing grocery business. He owned the largest chain of grocery stores in Brooklyn in the early 1900s, with 230 locations across the borough and Long Island, according to Brownstoner’s Suzanne Spellen. Industrie Capital has borrowed his name to market the development, which is called Roulston House. And PR reps for the project have sent along some interior and exterior renderings. The Wall Street Journal was the first to write about the leasing.
The complex will have a main address at 94 Ninth Street and host 200,000 square feet of Class A office space and 70,000 square feet of ground floor retail. With the help of Morris Adjmi Architects, the developers plan to preserve and restore the property’s exposed brick and heavy wooden beams. The largest of the linked buildings is four stories and features 15-foot ceilings. A single-story warehouse that has 25 foot ceilings and skylights will likely house a restaurant or bar with a private roof deck. Asking rents start around $45 per square foot.
Roulston House hopes to attract tech, advertising, and media tenants (or TAMI in real estate parlance), just like the ambitious new office building at 25 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg. The renovation will add bike storage, shower facilities, common areas, interior lounges, and parking, and is aiming for LEED certified status.
Tenant fit-outs for the office space are expected to start in late 2017.
Industrie Capital kicked out nearly 500 artists from the buildings, beginning in September 2015, according to DNAinfo. Painters, musicians, cartoonists, and filmmakers have been forced out of the Roulston warehouses, which were some of the most affordable studio spaces in Gowanus. The last tenants had to move out by September 30, Hyperallergic reported. Several artists told the blog that they were leaving the neighborhood or moving upstate to towns like Hudson, because the going rate for studio space in most parts of New York City has simply gotten too expensive.
When we asked the developer’s PR team about the evictions, they sent along the following statement: “We are extremely supportive of creative tenants, which is why we chose to redevelop Roulston House to today’s creative office standards, including a new and attended lobby, security, new elevators and new building systems, as well as a host of other modern amenities in a well-lit, comfortable, and energizing environment…We look forward to delivering an exciting project that will further promote and elevate a diversity of innovative tenants who want to work in Brooklyn, and specifically in Gowanus.”
Hamway’s company signed a 99-year lease on the warehouses for $21.2 million in April 2015. The firm expects to spend $90 million renovating the property.
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