The Real Deal New York

Red Hook warehouses draw artists, but development won’t follow

June 14, 2012 08:30AM

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From left: Gregory O'Connell, chief financial officer at the O'Connell Organization, and 480-500 Van Brunt Street

The empty-looking warehouses that line the streets of Red Hook are increasingly being leased and bought for creative uses and the neighborhood, perhaps best known for its Ikea, is becoming an artistic enclave, the New York Post reported.

The O’Connell Organization, which owns 50 properties and 1.3 million square feet in Red Hook, has leased out space to a wedding caterer, Mile End delicatessen’s production facility and two artists residences. Other artist groups pay below-market rates or nothing at all for O’Connell warehouse space. Some old facilities, including the Time Moving and Storage Building at 159 Pioneers Street, are even being bought by artists for exhibition space.

“It used to be that the guy who bought the warehouse [in Red Hook] would be a plumber, a contractor, using it as a workshop,” said Ken Freeman, senior vice president of Massey Knakal. “Now you’re seeing fewer of those types of buyers and more artists or creative types… They have the money; they want the space; they want the light and the funky feel of the neighborhood.”

While higher rents and prices have already begun following the creative types, a sudden development boom likely isn’t in the works because of a lack of available land and the neighborhood’s widespread commercial zoning. However, there are a handful of developments to watch. The Post names Industry City Associates’ 160 Imlay Street and another project at 82 Lorrainse Street as ones that could bring new residential units. Elsewhere, Aptsandlofts.com President David Maundrell said he’ll soon market a “large-scale” rental development and Knakal’s Freeman is marketing a handful of sites that have yet to draw substantial interest. [Post]

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