Wythe Ave. Is Drawing One Too Many Meatpacking District Comparisons

Wythe Ave. is the epicenter of Williamsburg's development

Anyone who’s been in the vicinity of Williamsburg in the past few years could tell you that between Brooklyn Bowl, Kinfolk, the Wythe Hotel, and an ever-expanding roster of well-to-do neighbors, there’s a lot going on on Wythe Ave; it was even the catalyst for that preposterous Times trend piece about the “rivalry” between North and South Williamsburg! We heard recently that there are actually two new hotels going in within a few blocks of the Wythe, and apparently they’re part of a much, much larger development boom.

In their new issue, The Real Deal rounds up all of Wythe’s recent and forthcoming developments, and explains the situation like so:

First Bedford Avenue got a makeover, and then the waterfront. Now, the once-gritty Wythe Avenue is having its moment, with new rentals, hotels and restaurants popping up — and in a sign reminiscent of the Meatpacking District, black town cars line some blocks on weekend nights.

But the 20-block heart of Wythe Avenue — from the Williamsburg Bridge to the Greenpoint border — reveals that the transition hasn’t always been smooth. Some projects that stalled during the recession are still empty pits, even as others have resumed. “What’s happening is incredible,” said Andrew Barrocas, the CEO of brokerage MNS, which has two offices nearby. “Wythe is filling in the gaps.”

To name a few, we have the Matchett Candy Factory at 390 Wythe, once an art gallery and now a rental with $2,600/month studios; the branch of Soho’s La Esquina that moved into the diner space across from the former site of Zebulon (RIP); Cafe Mogador, an import from the East Village that opened in 2012; the 100,000-square-foot “office and retail space” that’s booting Vice from their current offices; a different forthcoming office space of which Barrocas said, “A lot of tech companies will be looking to plant their flag here”; and a whole lot of expensive apartment buildings, many of which were stalled during the recession but are since doing booming business. The article cites one apartment development on 50 North 5th St. (or 204 Wythe Ave) that opened last fall on the site of a former carpet factory with $2,600 studios and “a lobby that recalls a vintage steak house.”

None of it comes as a particular shock—the area had a lot of empty buildings and has been a development hotbed for a while now—but after a mention of the neighborhood’s new-ish clubs, Output and Verboten, we get another tentative Meatpacking District comparison, as Aptsandlofts.com’s David Maundrell tells the site, “There are hints of the Meatpacking District here, but these places aren’t snobby and snooty.” And we can see what he’s driving here; even when places are insufferably packed, the absence of bottle service and shitty door policies is still one of the very best things about Brooklyn nightlife. But two Meatpacking District comparisons in one article still seems a worryingly high ratio, doesn’t it? Realtors might do well to remember that to most people, that’s not a compliment.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

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