Bushwick

Historic Bushwick brewery set for redesign

January 15, 2020 Lore Croghan
Developers plan to adaptively reuse part of the landmarked William Ulmer Brewery complex. Rendering by DXA Studio via the Landmarks Preservation Commission
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A 19th-century Bushwick brewery will become an office and retail complex, after city Landmarks Preservation Commissioners approved the conversion on Tuesday.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve architecture firm DXA Studio’s adaptive reuse plan for two William Ulmer Brewery buildings — the Main Brew House and Addition at 71-83 Beaver St. and the adjoining Engine and Machine House at 35-43 Belvidere St.

The property is located in a section of Bushwick that was home to a dozen breweries in its beer-making heyday more than a century ago. The complex will be revamped to accommodate 10 or more commercial tenants, DXA Studio Co-founder Jordan Rogove said during a public hearing about the project.

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Its developers envision the renovated brewery as “an ecosystem of modern creative users with a shared sense of values and community,” says a posting about an art exhibition called the Chimney X Ulmer Arts that was presented at the brewery last summer.

The renovation plan was “very thoughtfully approached and executed,” Commissioner Anne Holford-Smith said before the vote.

Commission Chairperson Sarah Carroll called the adaptive reuse plan “incredibly exciting.”

The red building on the roof is a penthouse planned for the William Ulmer Brewery. Rendering by DXA Studio via the Landmarks Preservation Commission
The red building on the roof is a penthouse planned for the William Ulmer Brewery. Rendering by DXA Studio via the Landmarks Preservation Commission

In recent years, the brewery buildings have served as a storage facility. Before that, they were used for manufacturing following the closing of the brewery when Prohibition began in 1920.

The brick American Round Arch-style brewery was designed by Theobald Engelhardt, a German-American architect who was prolific throughout Bushwick, Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

The buildings that are being adaptively reused are part of a larger brewery complex constructed between 1872 and 1890. Other buildings in the complex are not part of the project.

The renovation plan includes the construction of a penthouse that’s a visual echo of small buildings found on Bushwick brewery rooftops in bygone days, which housed pumps and mechanical equipment. This penthouse will be clad with red copper.

This is an 1898 drawing of the William Ulmer Brewery. Image via the Landmarks Preservation Commission
This is an 1898 drawing of the William Ulmer Brewery. Image via the Landmarks Preservation Commission

The penthouse “will be beautiful and interesting,” Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron said before the vote.

The renovation plan also calls for the addition of signs with tenants’ names to the complex’s facade and the repainting of the name “Wm. Ulmer Brewery” on it.

The brewery buildings that are being redeveloped belong to MacArthur Holdings, Rivington Company and Brightsky Investments, the project’s website says.

Rivington Company’s founder Travis Stabler was the authorized signatory for the LLC that bought the L-shaped property for $14 million in 2018, city Finance Department records show.

Real estate developer MacArthur Holdings is headed by brothers David, Philip and Howard Katz, the firm’s website says. MacArthur Holdings owns the former American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Brooklyn Office, Shelter and Garage at 233 Butler St. in Gowanus, which was recently designated as an individual city landmark.

Brightsky Investments is a real estate investment company founded by Alvaro and Alejandra Rincon.

Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.


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