Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today broke ground on the new home of St. Ann’s Warehouse at Tobacco Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park, beginning construction on the adaptive re-use of the vacant space for theater and community use. In the coming months, Brooklyn Bridge Park will break ground on several new projects, including development sites and new parkland. In 2014, construction will begin on the Main Street and John Street sections of the park, including new passive and active recreation space; Midtown Equities will begin redeveloping the long-abandoned Empire Stores in the DUMBO section of the park; and construction will begin on a new residential building designed by Alloy Development and Monadnock Development in the John Street section of the park. Toll Brothers City Living has already begun construction on the Pier 1 development site. The Mayor was joined by Brooklyn Bridge Park President Regina Myer, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, St. Ann’s Warehouse Executive Director Susan Feldman, Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Veronica M. White.
“Today is another big day for Brooklyn Bridge Park – and the beginning of a great new chapter in the history of the Tobacco Warehouse and the St. Ann’s Warehouse performing arts institution,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The renovated Warehouse will house a multi-use space for artists, schools, and community groups and will be a wonderful addition to New York’s proud tradition of arts and culture in our public parks.”
“The renovation of the iconic Tobacco Warehouse will create a dynamic new cultural center in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and a transformative new home for one of New York’s most exciting performing arts organizations,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin. “St. Ann’s Warehouse will serve as a vital new community hub for artists, audiences, Dumbo residents and visitors from around the world.” “We have so many people to thank, most especially the Mayor and his fantastic colleagues and staff in City Government for never giving up on the Tobacco Warehouse and assuring its future life for generations,” St. Ann’s Warehouse Founder and Artistic Director Susan Feldman said. “Without them, I am convinced it would have fallen. The groundbreaking will be a true celebration we can share with our neighbors and with each other. It took more than a Village to save this place. It took our neighborhoods, City, State and the country, all working together.”
“Today’s groundbreaking marks the first of several milestones on the horizon at Brooklyn Bridge Park,” said Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park. “We are so pleased to be moving forward in our partnership with St. Ann’s Warehouse. Through this collaborative effort, we will breathe new life into the Tobacco Warehouse and create a unique cultural amenity in the park,” said Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park.
“After 35 years, St. Ann’s Warehouse is at home,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “Congratulations to President and Artistic Director Susan Feldman and Executive Director Andy Hamingson, along with the entire St. Ann’s Warehouse board and its chair, Joe Steinberg, for seeing the future of American avant-garde theatre right here in the historic Tobacco Warehouse. Susan, your years in wandering are finally over! Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and First Deputy Mayor Patti Harris, as well as Brooklyn Bridge Park President Regina Myer, for your support of this new space and your dedication to the cultural enrichment of New Yorkers. One thing is for certain — for decades ahead, the St. Ann’s audience will come to one of the most beautiful places on Earth, on the banks of the East River, to see exciting, groundbreaking music and theater productions with award-winning artists. Bravo!”
“I’m pleased that we were able to preserve the Tobacco Warehouse, ensure community access, expand Brooklyn Bridge Park, and find a permanent home for St. Ann’s Warehouse here in the DUMBO community it’s called home,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “From the local artists and community groups who will keep the community vibrant, to the New Yorkers and visitors who will have yet another reason to enjoy our spectacular waterfront, this is a real step forward for our community and our city. Thank you to St. Ann’s Warehouse, my colleagues in government, and all of the community members who worked together to get us here today.”
“I am delighted that St. Ann’s is moving forward with the development of the Tobacco Warehouse,” State Assemblymember Joan Millman. “St. Ann’s will maintain the original brick walls and iconic arches into the design of their new home. My congratulations to Susan Feldman and Regina Myer for their hard work and devotion to transforming this space for both artists and the public to enjoy for decades.”
“Brooklyn is home to the most creative people in the world who are on the cutting edge of the most exciting art of our day and St. Ann’s Warehouse is no exception,” said Councilmember Stephen Levin. “As we break ground today at the Tobacco Warehouse, we are providing a permanent home for St. Ann’s innovative work and further committing to Brooklyn’s role as a leader in the arts, while honoring our borough’s industrial past with an architectural design that respects this unique structure. I want to thank the many great partners who made this project possible and extend my congratulations to Susan Feldman and Andrew Hamingson on finding a terrific new home for St. Ann’s Warehouse.”
“Brooklyn Bridge Park deserves a world-class arts venue, and, with these plans, St. Ann’s Warehouse has excelled at meeting that need. I’m pleased that we were able to come together to make this a reality; it reflects the great value this administration and this City have rightly placed on the arts,” said Councilmember Domenic Recchia. “Smart investments like this will only add to the ongoing revitalization of the neighborhood, as well as the cultural capital of the City as a whole.”
Tobacco Warehouse will be the new permanent home of St. Ann’s Warehouse, which is currently housed in a transitional warehouse at 29 Jay Street. In 2010, St. Ann’s Warehouse was designated as the conditional leasee for the Tobacco Warehouse and launched a $27 million capital campaign to activate the space, $24.2 million of which has been committed. In its current, roofless state, the Tobacco Warehouse assumes a trapezoidal footprint made up of a rectangle and an adjacent triangle. With St. Ann’s Warehouse, Marvel Architects PLLC has designed an 18,000-square-foot enclosed building with a flexible performance space the size and signature style of St. Ann’s previous warehouse theaters; a second, 1,000-square-foot multi-use community space for local artists, educational and community groups; artists’ support spaces; offices, and a waterside lobby with many archways and access points to Brooklyn Bridge Park. The original brick walls are to be preserved and visible throughout the foyers, theater and Community Room. The 7,600-square-foot triangle space will be left open-air, and is imagined as a walled birch tree grove, to be landscaped by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and open to the public, through its many open arches, during Park hours. The original walls for the Triangle Garden will be experienced first-hand by park visitors seeking shelter from the wind or shade from the sun. It may also serve as an entranceway for the theater and Community Room from New Dock Street.
In early 2014, Midtown Equities will begin redeveloping the long-abandoned Empire Stores in the DUMBO section of the park. The adaptive reuse plan calls for commercial uses including restaurant, event, retail and office space. It will also feature a unique public passage way through the center of the building leading to a new public courtyard set inside the historic walls, and a new public open space on the roof. In addition, Midtown Equities is in talks with the Brooklyn Historical Society to include 3,200 square feet of exhibition space as part of the project to celebrate the rich industrial history of the borough.
Also breaking ground in 2014 is a new residential building designed by Alloy Development and Monadnock Development in the John Street section of the park. The residential building will include 47 apartments and cultural and retail space on the ground floor, including space to be occupied by the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, a premier cultural institution based in that provides exhibitions, cultural and environmental educational programming for children and families.
In January 2014, construction will begin on the Main Street and John Street sections of the park. At Main Street, renovated parkland will include a mixture of passive and active recreation including 1,700 square feet of indoor educational space, public restrooms and space for park maintenance and operations. The design will feature an expanded lawn, an improved entry plaza at Washington Street, an improved dog run, outdoor community space and a bouldering wall. New parkland, including pedestrian bridges over a tidal salt marsh, tree-lined pathways, and a 13,000-square-foot gathering lawn, will be built at the John Street site. Plans for this area also include a new pedestrian entrance at Jay Street.
This past summer, construction began on the Pier 1 development site. A joint venture by Starwood Capital Group and Toll Brothers City Living, the development will include a 200-room hotel, 159 residential units, 16,000 square feet of restaurant space, a 6,000 square-foot fitness center and 300 parking spaces. Designed by Rogers Marvel Architects, 1 Hotel and Pierhouse will feature a stepped façade of stone and metal, sculpted to embrace the unparalleled views of New York Harbor and the park.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is the beneficiary of significant capital investments from the City and the State, but receives no public funds for park maintenance or operations. The park’s development sites at Pier 1, John Street and Empire Stores are a critical element of the park’s financial plan that guarantees a stable financial footing for the park for generations to come.
Several new acres of parkland are scheduled to open in the coming months. Next month, BBP will open the uplands of Piers 3 and 4. Under construction since last year, the area will include the final connection of the parkwide greenway, landscaping, lawns, a granite terrace area and the first of the Park’s sound attenuating hills. Pier 2 will feature active recreation courts for basketball, handball and bocce, as well as an in-line skating rink, swings, picnic tables and restrooms. Pier 2 is scheduled for completion in early 2014.