by John Brian Shannon
Aside from his full-time duties as the Mayor of the largest city in the United States, his tireless work on the C40 Cities initiative, and countless other good causes and charities, Mayor Mike apparently spends much of his time transforming run-down parts of the city into artistic and park-like settings for residents and visitors alike to enjoy.
For over a century the East River was rows upon rows of chemical plants, coal or oil-fired power plants, fish processing plants, ugly warehouse buildings and the Navy Yard. Which, in a rapidly growing city, was perfectly normal business for a couple of centuries…
But Mike Bloomberg decided that part of his mandate was to turn those obscenely ugly and heavily-contaminated landscapes into beautiful park settings for the enjoyment of citizens and visitors to NYC.
Let me be the first to say that Mayor Bloomberg has shown amazing vision and leadership — and combined with his contact list of angel investors — vision and leadership has turned into reality, and if anything seems to be gathering momentum.
This artist rendering shows what the view will be like from the rooftop of the first image in this article.
It just shows what can be done when a visionary and determined person gains political office. Many such projects have begun, are presently in-progress, or have already completed, during the stewardship of Mike Bloomberg.
From obscenely contaminated, ugly and dangerous industrial wastelands, to world class, open city spaces which are a joy for all who visit. What’s not to like?
“All across the waterfront, we are reclaiming and renewing areas that have long been abandoned or neglected, and Empire Stores and the Tobacco Warehouse are the latest examples of that work,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “These redevelopment plans will bring even more new life and excitement to the DUMBO waterfront at Brooklyn Bridge Park, giving residents and visitors more places to work, shop, dine, and experience the arts.”
“Much like the recently announced John Street development deal, these plans represent yet another critical step toward securing the long-term financial stability of Brooklyn Bridge Park,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation Chairman. “This investment will ensure additional office, retail and cultural space that will strengthen this public-private partnership while adding additional park amenities that will promote healthy economic development in Dumbo, an already burgeoning arts and technology hub.”
“Brooklyn Bridge Park is a prime example of our city’s commitment to sustainable design and development,” said Veronica M. White, Parks and Recreation Commissioner. “The transformation of these formerly vacant stores will open up usable space for the community, and help to ensure that the park will continue to be well maintained for years to come.”
“This is an historic moment for Brooklyn Bridge Park,” said Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park. “In addition to securing the park’s financial stability, these long vacant warehouses allow us to recognize the important part our park plays in the history of the Brooklyn waterfront. We are also thrilled to be moving forward on re-energizing the Tobacco Warehouse and integrating even more new parkland into the northern portion of the park. The development of Empire Stores and the Tobacco Warehouse will be a boon to Brooklyn Bridge Park and the larger DUMBO community, creating a new “it” space and showcasing some of the best that Brooklyn has to offer locals and out-of-towners alike. I hope this project will result in much-needed commercial space for Brooklyn’s growing creative economy. I am further pleased to see that St. Ann’s Warehouse, which I have long been investment proud to support, will benefit from this agreement with a quality performance space for artists and arts-lovers alike. Truly this promises to help all of Brooklyn prosper and reinforce our borough’s pre-eminence in the creative and technological arenas.”
The Tobacco Warehouse Theater and surrounding area is a good example of an unwanted building turned into a useful and welcome space.
“Having activated found spaces for cultural use in Brooklyn since we began in 1980, we are excited to be able to do so once more—this time making a permanent home for the arts and community events in one of the city’s most awe-inspiring locales,” said St. Ann’s Warehouse Founder and Artistic Director Susan Feldman. “We look forward to transforming the Tobacco Warehouse into a welcoming place where artists, audience members, city residents and visitors can gather all year long.”
“We are thrilled about this opportunity to realize our longstanding dream to rebuild the Tobacco Warehouse as a home for St. Ann’s Warehouse,” said Joseph S. Steinberg, Chairman of the Board of Directors of St. Ann’s Warehouse.
“St. Ann’s Warehouse is one New York City’s most exciting performing arts organizations dedicated to bringing cutting-edge work from all over the world to adventurous audiences,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Levin. “We are delighted that with today’s vote the Tobacco Warehouse will be an iconic home for the organization, artists and visitors. We also look forward to opening new exhibition space that will be an exciting new destination to learn about the borough’s dynamic past, present and future.”
The Prime Developer of the project is Midtown Equities. Midtown Equities is a privately held real estate investment and development company that is headquartered in New York. With a portfolio of more than 100 properties in the retail, office, residential, industrial and hospitality sectors, the firm actively acquires, develops and leases properties ranging from urban redevelopment projects to commercial centers. With a focus on prime retail properties, Midtown Equities maintains holdings in urban markets including New York, Washington D.C., Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as abroad.
JOHN BRIAN SHANNON
Mayor Bloomberg Breaks Ground on the Hills, New Public Park on Governors Island (mikebloomberg.com)
- Midtown Equities Awarded Empire Stores Development Project on DUMBO’s Waterfront (prweb.com)
Million Trees NYC homepage [presently at 757,386 trees planted] (milliontreesnyc.org)
New York Restoration Project. Yoga in the Park. [Bette Midler] (www.nyrp.org)
- C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group homepage (www.c40cities.org)
City of New York Parks & Recreation homepage (nycgovparks.org)