Brooklyn experts gather at 5X10 Talks to discuss what’s next

May 7, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Lexy Funk, of Brooklyn Industries, was one of the five panelists who spoke at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership's 5X10 Talks. She recreated a discussion with a drunken British ghost underneath the Verrazano Bridge to describe what she thought was coming to the borough. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese.
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A few of Brooklyn’s biggest tastemakers got together to discuss what’s next for the borough during the second annual 5×10 Talks hosted by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP) at BRIC Media House on Wednesday night.

So what’s next for Brooklyn?

According to the borough experts who spoke at 5×10, Brooklynites can expect food, beverages and clothing products made with real ingredients; materials made consciously with the environment in mind; luxury experiences; and a more polycentric city — all while still holding on to that old-school Brooklyn charm that will never go away.

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Those are the collective ideas of Vishaan Chakrabarti, principal of SHoP Architects; Lucas Barclay, SVP of Operations for Tough Mudder; Lexy Funk, CEO and co-founder of Brooklyn Industries; author Bernice L. McFadden; and Brooklyn Brewery’s brewmaster Garrett Oliver.

“True to our mission, tonight is a culmination of our efforts to showcase all that is happening in Downtown Brooklyn,” said Tucker Reed, president of the DBP. “The seeds of greatness have always been present here in Downtown Brooklyn.”

One of the biggest differences coming, according to Chakrabarti, is that the city will no longer have the traditional hub-and-spoke characteristics where everyone commutes to Manhattan. Instead, he said it will be spread out throughout the boroughs with tech, fashion and media centers all over.

Chakrabarti used his latest project, the Domino Sugar factory, as a good example. Where the East River used to be almost a de facto border, he thinks it will become more central. As a result, SHoP has tried to build something that adds to the Brooklyn skyline and increases the public park space while utilizing the waterfront better.

“This notion that we all work in one place and commute there is running its course,” Chakrabarti said. “There are eight subway lines underneath the East River. What are the odds of a ninth in our lifetime? It’s very hard to build that infrastructure. We have to think of a different way of using the territory of the city.”

Funk and Oliver’s talk tied into each other with this idea of leaving a smaller carbon footprint and getting back to basics of making real food or beer with real ingredients.

“When I grew up, I used to think that this was cheese,” Oliver said as he held up a prepackaged slice of yellow American cheese. “Little did I know that I was living in the Matrix. That’s not real cheese. It’s edible plastic designed to taste like cheese. People expect things of our products, and they expect those things to be real.”

Barclay discussed his company, Tough Mudder, which operates 10-12 mile, non-competitive running events that feature obstacles with names like, “walk the plank.” Despite the fact that the company started in Brooklyn it has never held a Tough Mudder event in the borough or even in New York City. That will change as it introduces its first “Urban Mudder” on Randalls Island this July.

Of course those things that makes Brooklyn great, its history, its people and its energy, are going to continue to be trends going into the future.

“Brooklyn — frontier, haven, muse, final resting place, historical register,” McFadden said. “Before Brooklyn was known for its beer and kombucha, before it became posh to live here, home of celebrities, it was Manhattan’s unsophisticated sister that few wanted to visit.

“Brooklyn — my home, my hood, the birthplace of Biggie Smalls, Barbara Streisand, Jay Z, Woody Allen, Spike Lee and me. Magical Brooklyn where the impossible becomes possible.”

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