Vans opens indoor skate park in East Williamsburg
When the popular music venue House of Vans closed in 2018 after nearly a decade on the Greenpoint waterfront, many in Brooklyn — especially within the skateboarding community — were devastated.
Now, after a brief hiatus, the popular shoe brand has firmly reestablished itself in the borough with an indoor public skate park.
The space, which opened earlier this month in a former warehouse in East Williamsburg on the Bushwick border, is the first skate park operated by Vans.
The company’s senior marketing manager of action sports, Justin Villano, said the plan was always to return to Brooklyn — just in a slightly different capacity.
“It’s been a bit of a process, but the whole idea was just to continue to support skate culture, the community in New York and just make sure we didn’t just pick up and leave,” he said.
Vans Skate Space 198 — located at 198 Randolph St. — took inspiration from popular skating areas across the city, including Brooklyn Banks, situated beneath the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan.
Villano said the Vans team reached out to the community and to local skateboarders to listen to what they wanted the space to look like. “We brought everyone into the fold,” he said. “It wasn’t just a Vans-dictated direction on course design.”
For New York-based skateboarders all too familiar with harsh winters, Vans’ new indoor space could not have come at a better time.
“The Vans Skate Space is honestly amazing,” said professional skateboarder Beatrice Domond. “The fact that it’s indoors and also free for New York City skaters is great, and it’s bringing everyone together. In New York we tend to go into hibernation during the winter since there’s no space to skate. We don’t have to keep our hands in our pockets freezing anymore or wait until summer.”
Vans is calling the venue a “skate space” rather than a skate park, according to Villano, since it will also host events in addition to skating,
He said he expects it to be a cultural melting pot, where artists, skaters and everyone in the community can break bread. The space will host all types of gatherings, so long as they are rooted in skate culture, and align with the brand’s mission statement for creative expression.
“This is really built for and from skateboarding first and foremost,” Villano said. “Anything we plan to do in this space will stem from skate, whether it’s art or music. It’s a rolling document; we want to keep our ear to the ground and listen to what this community’s needs and wants are.”
“If you’re a skateboarder, you’re family to us,” he added, “and when you come to our house, you’re treated accordingly.”
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