We’ve known about the impending “injection of luxury” slated for Bushwick– the three- and four-story types have been popping up for a while now, and emerging residential plans are starting to look more and more like the glassy condominium buildings and fancy new high-rises of the Williamsburg waterfront and Lower East Side. The neighborhood got its very first boutique hotel earlier this year and continues to see the development of fancy-dorm-like compounds, Colony 1209 for one. Hell, Bushwick’s even getting its very own “European Village” (although not everyone’s ready to welcome the newcomers’ plans to “interrupt” the current order).
Developers, of course, are drawn to the neighborhood’s reputation as a grungy haven for artists and young creatives, a prospective diamond in the rough. As one real-estate guide, aimed squarely at investors and developers, put it: “Bushwick’s still-somewhat-gritty, blue-collar feel does lend it credibility among New Yorkers who find heavily gentrified areas like the East Village no longer edgy enough.”
While the neighborhood surrounding the artist community has been getting tonier for a long time, now developers are anticipating that the artist community itself will be in need of fancier digs.
Enter 199Cook, a new development from the Mann Group that will bring high-end commercial space specifically geared toward the arts to Bushwick with its newest neighborhood venture. The project involves the conversion of a 35,000-square-foot warehouse built around 1931, and it’s now being billed as a “collection of 28 creative studios, gallery spaces, and ground floor retail,” and will supposedly open its doors in February 2017. The Mann Group bought 199 Cook Street back in 2013 for $6 million according to public records.
Eric Mann, principal at the Greenpoint-based real-estate firm responsible for 199Cook, is the same developer behind another Bushwick warehouse-conversion at 383 Troutman, one that ushered in the The Grand Paradise, an interactive theater space with an indoor beach boasting five tons of sand and a cheeky, ’70s beach party-themed LARP-style production (which seem to be just so in vogue right now).
The new studio complex at 199 Cook Street is much fancier than anything we’ve seen in Bushwick yet– far surpassing even the slicker Brooklyn Brush Studios (which is certainly nice in comparison to the dank, illegally converted warehouse spaces of yore) and others that have popped up here in the last few years.
According to a statement released today by the Mann Group, one of the main aims of the new three-story development, which is located on the corner of Cook and White Street, is “to cater to the new emerging gallery scene that is in search of bigger and more dynamic spaces.”
Commercial Observer also caught wind of the project and quoted the Mann Group as explaining their vision for an “industrial arts complex,” with plenty of amenities for artists like washtubs and a new industrial freight elevator, but also pimped-out features like a “rooftop lounge” and a 3,000-square-foot restaurant in the basement. There’s even a fancy sculpture appearing in the renderings that kind of looks like a knockoff Jeff Koons or something.
“There is a tremendous demand for smaller studio spaces and large galleries in this area,” Mann said in the statement. “Bushwick is already home to an established art scene and there are several large, full-floor studio spaces, but there are very few options for the solo practitioner artist, architect or tech start-up looking to rent a smaller, affordable space.”
According to Mann, it was the artists he spoke to who helped him conceptualize the design. For example, 199Cook will have a loading dock and a large freight elevator to facilitate the transport of materials and works, which was inspired by the artists he spoke to who work with larger materials such as stone, sculptures, or other bulky items (Don’t tell me Jeff Koons dream choo choo is gonna be built here?!).
Mann explained to B+B over the phone that, in order to ensure that the new development will cater to new and existing artists in the neighborhood, he has spoken to many local artists “to learn about what their needs are.” He also acknowledged that, “a lot of them are being priced out of area, and there’s very little space available for smaller artists.”
However 199Cook plans to cater to more steadfast clients: “This is more for the individual artist who’s been in the neighborhood for years and wants to stay in the area,” Mann said.
According to the new website for 199Cook, the 28 studios will range in size from 346 to 920 square feet, and the building boasts five large gallery spaces too.
According to Mann, the studios will feature large windows to let in natural natural light, as well as industrial fans, and original hardwood floors. The building, which was purchased by the Mann Group in 2013, used to be a warehouse and manufacturing space, and the redeveloped design is supposedly aiming to keep and enhance the space’s industrial qualities with exposed oversize timber beams, vaulted brick ceilings, and original stone walls.
As of now, city records indicate that the building is still zoned for industrial/manufacturing use, which doesn’t exactly fit the bill for the gallery space and restaurant, for example. When asked, Mann told us that the building wouldn’t have to be rezoned. “As of right, we are changing the Certificate of Occupancy to Use Group 6, which allows for office space,” he said.
The complex will have an outdoor courtyard and plants, small trees, and lounge chairs on the roof deck, as well as a small kiosk out front serving snacks, coffee, and juice. Although Mann said he couldn’t give any names at the moment, he confirmed that he was in talks with several restaurants that were interested in establishing an outpost at the new development.
Of course, “new development in Bushwick” doesn’t exactly ring the affordability bell. Mann said that, although they hadn’t settled on exact pricing yet, the studios would probably go for about $40 per square foot annually (Commercial Observer reported that the Mann Group spent about $138 per square foot to convert the space) which is a pretty, pretty penny for artist-studio space in general. Industry City, a nicely made-over complex in Sunset Park, for example, leases studio space for an average of $31.80 per square foot per year. Bushwick, however, has become quite expensive– Brooklyn Brush Studios has spots available in September for between $44.63 per square foot and $47.69, also annually.
We’ll keep you updated as more details emerge.