Fifteen things you should know about DUMBO

Eye On Real Estate

October 26, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Nothing says “DUMBO” like a photo of Jane's Carousel, even when it's closed for cleaning and maintenance. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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Do you know the way to Gairville?

Of course you do. That’s what DUMBO was called, once upon a time.

The name was coined by Robert Gair’s company.

Back in the 1920s, it’s what Gair Company marketers called the area when the business had vacant space available in the buildings it owned there. The company had been a big presence in what is now DUMBO — until it relocated its manufacturing operation to the village of Piermont in Rockland County.

Between 1887 and 1914, the company had constructed at least 10 industrial buildings in the waterfront area just north of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Gair Company was a cardboard-box manufacturer, which in Robert Gair’s case was a really big deal.

He invented the corrugated cardboard box  — and a process for mass-producing it.

Anyway. There’s lots of stuff you should know about the neighborhood besides its long-ago name if you want to stay up to speed with what’s up in DUMBO. We’ve made a list for you:

#1. A pop-up shop for furniture maker Mark Jupiter now occupies the space where popular bookstore powerHouse Arena was located for a decade.
Two Trees Management, the landlord of 37 Main St., has posted a “for rent” sign in the window of the 6,257-square-foot storefront that the bookseller vacated last summer rather than accept a rent hike. Inside the cavernous space, unique handmade furniture — such as an ottoman on wheels — is now on display. The wheels came from an old coal cart.

Mark Jupiter’s workshop is nearby at 191 Plymouth St.

#2. powerHouse Books’ new shop is located at 28 Adams St. This new space is much smaller than the one the bookshop left behind, but it’s possible to host author talks and other events there anyway. That’s because its bookshelves have wheels, and can be rolled out of the way to make room in the middle of the shop to set up audience seating.

In the next couple months, powerHouse plans to open a café in a mezzanine that’s part of its 28 Adams space. Lattes and literature — many bookstores have found this to be a winning combination.

#3. DUMBO is currently considered the priciest residential neighborhood in the borough of Brooklyn.
Don’t be deceived by the easy-breezy atmosphere in the streets and the old-fashioned look of the century-plus-old industrial buildings. Mega-money gets spent for homes in this neighborhood.

According to PropertyShark.com, DUMBO’s median home-sale prices were $2.4 million in the third quarter of this year. They were more expensive than those in any other B’KLYN neighborhood and the fourth most expensive in the entire city. Only TriBeCa, SoHo and NoHo home-sale prices were higher.

#4. Don’t go looking for the Galapagos Art Space. It moved to Detroit.
The landmarked property it vacated, 16 Main St., is now referred to as the Stable Building. Its owner, Two Trees Management, has filled the building with art-gallery tenants.

When we stopped by the Stable Building the other day, one tenant, United Photo Industries Gallery, had an exhibition of photographer and cinematographer Mark Abramson’s works called “Two Face.” The imaginative, disturbing multiple-image photos in the exhibition are from the current Presidential campaign.

#5. Want to see relics from the historic Empire Stores coffee warehouses?
Step inside the 2 Main St. entrance of West Elm, the home-furnishings retailer that recently opened a huge shop in the landmarked warehouse complex on the edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

There’s a sculpture made of gears, wheels and pulley pieces that were found inside the multi-building complex, which developer Midtown Equities is meticulously restoring and converting to an office and retail property.

Inside West Elm, you will also see wood columns that were original to post-Civil War-vintage Empire Stores. They are first-growth pine beams — which have a higher fire-resistance rating than steel. See related story for photos of West Elm’s store layout.

#6. A century-old building that was a machine shop for E.W. Bliss Co. is out from under wraps.

Scaffolding and construction netting that had covered landmarked 51 Jay St. were recently removed. The building is nearing the completion of a historically sensitive condo-conversion process. See related story about 51 Jay’s model apartment.

Eliphalet W. Bliss was a bygone-era bigwig who stipulated in his will that the city could buy his Bay Ridge estate, Owl’s Head, for a cut-rate price if it were used as a park. Owl’s Head Park still exists today.

#7. A shop with serious staying power has been in DUMBO since 2000.

Long before artisanal chocolate became a Brooklyn Thing, Jacques Torres was turning out crave-worthy candy in this factory at 66 Water St.

#8. Some of the best French bread in New York City is sold at a DUMBO bakery that made a comeback after being wrecked by Superstorm Sandy.

The delectable loaves baked by Almondine’s chef Hervé Poussot have wound near the top of website Serious Eats’ annual list of NYC’s best baguettes on a couple different occasions.

During the October 2012 hurricane, floodwaters filled the basement of the bakery at 85 Water St. — which is where Poussot’s oven, marble-topped work table, fridge and freezer were kept. Insurance didn’t cover his losses.

An online funding campaign raised more than $28,000 to help him reopen his business. And a bake sale to which numerous fellow chefs donated pastries raised more than $10,000.

#9. At One John St., a new-from-the-ground-up condo development whose construction is nearly finished, the priciest deal that has closed to date is the $6,340,954 sale of Penthouse B, StreetEasy.com listings indicate.

City Finance Department records identify the buyer of that apartment as KMM LLC, with Katherine M. McConvey as member.

According to StreetEasy.com, there are more expensive condos at One John St. that are still in contract.

An outpost of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum recently opened in this Alloy Development and Monadnock Construction project, which is situated in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

#10. A living legend of the ballet world, Gelsey Kirkland, has a performance venue at 29 Jay St. The classically trained dancers of the Gelsey Kirkland Ballet Company perform at this 300-plus-seat theater, which is called the Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center.

Kirkland, who has been a dance teacher and coach since her 1986 retirement from the stage, joined New York City Ballet at age 15. In 1970, at age 17, she danced the lead role in a new production of “Firebird,” which famed George Balanchine choreographed specifically for her. Also, she was an American Ballet Theatre star, having been invited to dance in the company with Mikhail Baryshnikov after his 1974 defection from the Soviet Union.

#11. You missed your chance to buy the Clock Tower penthouse at 1 Main St. The glam triplex apartment, whose asking price was $18 million, has clock faces embedded in four circular windows.

The penthouse went into contract last summer, numerous media outlets reported. At this point, the “for sale” posting is marked “in contract” on listing brokerage Corcoran Group’s website. There is no indication in Finance Department records that the purchase has closed.

#12. Saint Ann’s Warehouse has an intriguing solo theater piece by Daniel Kitson called “Mouse: The Persistence of an Unlikely Thought” on its 2016-2017 schedule. The show opens on Nov. 9.
St. Ann’s stunning venue at 45 Water St., which opened a year ago, draws visitors even on days when performances aren’t scheduled.

In addition to having theater space, the renovated, pre-Civil War Tobacco Warehouse on the edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park has a garden inside roofless walls with dramatic arched doorways and window sills. The property is a magnet for photographers.

#13. The corner of Washington and Water streets is DUMBO’s Selfie Central. Daytime. Nighttime. All the time. We first noticed this phenomenon a couple years ago. It’s still trending strongly. Historic red-brick buildings on either side of a cobblestone street create a view corridor that leads straight to the blue-green Manhattan Bridge. So Won’t You Smile For The Camera? as the Steely Dan song goes.

A new spot that’s vying for selfie-snappers’ attention is in nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park, where an art installation spells out the word “DUMBO” in gleaming silvery letters.

#14. One of the neighborhood’s most picturesque historic buildings, 220 Water St., was constructed in the 1890s and originally occupied by the Hanan & Son Shoe Factory. A few years ago, it was converted into a luxury rental-apartment building.

#15. The retail offerings are starting to shape up in the former Jehovah’s Witnesses’ buildings that now belong to Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

A  coffee shop called Bluestone Lane has opened in DUMBO Heights, which is the Kushner Cos.’ name for the complex on Adams, Pearl, Prospect and Sands streets. Restaurants and bars that have posted “coming soon” signs in storefront windows include Dig Inn, Glaze Teriyaki and Taco DUMBO. An eatery called Untamed Sandwiches is set to open on Nov. 3. Exercise facilities that will be moving into the complex include Shadowbox, which is a boxing studio, and Row House NYC, which teaches workout classes with rowing machines. Yoga Vida has already opened.

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