For a few years now, Crown Heights has experienced the same influx of new residents—primarily white artists, young professionals, families, and entrepreneurs seeking affordability—that previously “transformed” Williamsburg, Fort Greene, and Park Slope. So it wasn’t all that surprising when, two years ago, Brownstoner publisher (and Brooklyn Flea co-owner) Jonathan Butler, along with the developer BFC and Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group, purchased, for $11 million, the former Studebaker Service Station on Dean Street, a mammoth industrial site that has now been transformed into a creative and entrepreneurial hub, with a beer hall featuring Smorgasburg vendors forthcoming.
The 150,000-square-foot space was dubbed 1000 Dean Street. Over the past two years, the space has been converted to house offices and studios; as Brownstoner itself reports, on its opening day (today), the building is about half-leased. Twenty-four tenants will be moving in over the next couple of weeks.
The anchor draw of 1000 Dean is the 9,000-square-foot beer and dining hall on its ground floor. Berg’n is slated to open next month with four Smorgasburg food vendors—Pizza Moto, Ramen Burger, Mighty Quinn’s, and Asia Dog. The bar will feature beers from around the world as selected by Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver, as well as a full coffee and pastry bar. There will also be an 80-seat outdoor courtyard and an 800-square-foot event space for private functions.
Two years ago, when Butler was asked why he purchased the building, he told the Observer that it “came down to the building itself.” He noted that Crown Heights represented a rich investment opportunity—”the building caught my eye and I started thinking about the numbers a little bit,” he said.
But, as the Observer pointed out, it was the ongoing gentrification of the surrounding neighborhood that sealed the deal. Margaret Anadu, vice president of the Urban Investment Group, was quoted as saying: “It’s a pretty incredible neighborhood where there’s been some residential investment yet it still has a fair amount of warehouse space that’s underutilized.”
And Butler was quick to point out that Crown Heights is favorably positioned, geographically: “We’d love to draw as many people as possible who live in the neighborhood, but it also has proximity to other neighborhoods.” The About page of 1000 Dean’s website mentions that the space is a short walk from Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Bedford Stuyvesant, and Park Slope.
This all sounds great, right? And 1000 Dean probably will be exciting and fun. But the combination of excellent location and underutilized industrial space has been the catalyst for widespread change in other neighborhoods. To a large extent, as long as Brooklyn’s population continues to grow, this kind of turnover, and the accompanying hand-wringing, is inevitable. There’s already small-but-vocal opposition to Brooklyn Flea, especially in Park Slope, where the Flea displaced a local, less hip flea market. “If you wanted to find a ground zero for hipsterdom, it might be the Flea. I don’t think that would be wrong,” the Flea’s other co-founder, Eric Demby, told BKLYNR last fall. Not to get breathless about it, but let’s hope 1000 Dean augments what’s already going on in Crown Heights, and isn’t a trojan horse.
Follow Phillip Pantuso on Twitter @phillippantuso.