DUMBO

Look up: A DUMBO developer is growing trees on scaffolding

June 20, 2019 Lore Croghan
One place to get a good look at the Green Shed is the corner of Plymouth and Jay streets. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Developers in DUMBO are trying a new approach to scaffolding: beautification.

Greenery sprouted up above the sidewalk shed at DUMBO’s landmarked 42-50 Jay St. at the end of May. As it turns out, Alloy Development constructed a temporary sky garden, hoping to improve the aesthetics of the construction site.

“Sidewalk sheds are always really tough on the neighborhood,” explained Alloy CEO Jared Della Valle. “I started thinking about how to make this shed more hospitable.”

New York City requires all sidewalk sheds to be hunter green. The sheds are usually decried as eyesores by the communities in which they spring up, so Della Valle used the uniform color scheme to add a little charm.

In this view of the Green Shed, you can see Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet and GK Arts Center, which occupy the low-rise building at right. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

The “Green Shed” — designed by Future Green Studio, the Red Hook-based landscape designers behind the rooftop garden at the Empire Stores in Brooklyn Bridge Park — cost Alloy an estimated $75,000, Della Valle said.

“I wanted to make a nice gesture for the community,” he added.

This community — DUMBO — is Alloy Development’s home turf. Della Valle has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years and had his office here for 18.

After the sidewalk shed is dismantled — likely in fall 2020 — the plants (grey birch trees, meadow grasses and Virginia creeper vines, to name a few) will be moved to the property’s rooftop terrace.

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The firm is converting the historic property — once the site of a residential substance-abuse treatment center — into a 46-unit condo complex, using 168 Plymouth St. as its address. Alloy bought the property in June 2018 and closed on the $52.25 million purchase in March, according to city Finance Department records.

There are beautiful arches inside the property’s ground floor. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
There are beautiful arches inside the property’s ground floor. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

At the back of the property, there’s a walled-in space that’s going to be turned into a leafy courtyard, which Future Green is also designing.

Both 50 and 42 Jay St. were constructed by paint manufacturer John W. Masury & Son in 1891 and 1919-1021, respectively.

Outside DUMBO, Alloy is known above all as the developer behind the coming skyscraper at 80 Flatbush Ave. in Boerum Hill, a project that generated both fierce opposition and fervent support.

Within DUMBO, it is known especially for its four completed neighborhood residential projects. The condo conversion at 168 Plymouth St. is its fifth.

Some of its DUMBO developments are residential conversions of landmarked properties — no high-rise towers.

But even mid-rise development work is disruptive on DUMBO’s narrow cobblestone streets. The sidewalk shed garden is a gesture of goodwill towards the neighbors.

Alloy Development CEO Jared Della Valle says he built the Green Shed because he wants Alloy to be “a good neighbor in DUMBO.” Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Alloy Development CEO Jared Della Valle says he built the Green Shed because he wants Alloy to be “a good neighbor in DUMBO.” Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

As a developer, Alloy is “a change agent” — but wants to “be as friendly as possible,” Della Valle said. People have sent thank-you emails and stopped him in the street to say they like the temporary garden. “This upholds our reputation in the neighborhood,” he said. “I’m thinking about being a good neighbor in DUMBO.”

Alloy Development recently launched its marketing website for 168 Plymouth St. New York YIMBY reported that condo prices start at $1.4 million.

Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

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