by Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sep 28, 2012
Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) today released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the adaptive reuse of the historic Empire Stores Warehouses, located in the Empire Fulton Ferry section of the Park. The RFP seeks qualified developers for the long-term lease, rehabilitation and operation of commercial and retail development in the historic structures. Revenue generated by the development of the site – as set forth in the 2002 agreement that allowed the park project to move forward – will help fund the maintenance and operations of the Park.
“Brooklyn Bridge Park has become an iconic destination for people from around the five boroughs and around the world, and the adaptive reuse of Empire Stores will help ensure a stable financial footing for the Park for generations to come,” Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel said. “And by attracting private investment and new commercial and retail uses in a manner that respects the historic nature of the site, this project will create jobs and bring new visitors to DUMBO.”
“The Empire Stores warehouses have played a vital role in the development of the Brooklyn waterfront and it is important that these historic structures be preserved,” said Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park. “This development ensures that we preserve the long vacant Empire Stores and is critical to our ability to fund park maintenance and operations in the years to come.”
The Empire Stores are a complex of seven contiguous four- and five-story historic warehouses with an approximately 75,000 sq. ft. footprint and containing approximately 327,000 gross sq. ft. Constructed shortly after the Civil War, the Empire Stores played an integral part in the prosperous shipping activities that once dominated the Fulton Ferry portion of the Brooklyn waterfront. The warehouses were primarily used for storage of coffee beans and other raw materials, and subsequently housed the Custom Inspection Offices. As the shipping industry left the neighborhood, the warehouses fell into disuse and were vacated in the 1950s. Located in the heart of DUMBO, this site offers a unique and highly visible opportunity to transform a historic waterfront complex into an active retail and commercial destination in one of Brooklyn’s most dynamic neighborhoods.
The re-development of the Empire Stores is part of a larger effort to transform underutilized buildings and piers on 1.3 miles of Brooklyn’s East River Waterfront into an iconic park. The 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park project is the most significant park development in Brooklyn in over a century. The park has already proven to be a huge hit, attracting almost 90,000 visitors during an average weekend including 20,000 a month to Jane’s Carousel, located adjacent to the Empire Stores site. While the park is the beneficiary of significant capital investments from the City and the State, it receives no public funds for park maintenance or operations. The 2002 agreement catalyzed the transformation of the site from vacant piers to world-class park after decades of inaction. The public approvals allowing for the reuse of the vacant Empire Stores were granted in the original 2005 Brooklyn Bridge Park General Project Plan. At this point, BBP is now in the process of obtaining final approval from National Park Service to develop the property and expects to receive that approval before a developer is designated.
The RFP requires respondents to submit conceptual plans that demonstrate thoughtful adaptive reuse of the structures, responsiveness to the site design guidelines and a level of design that is on par with the investment made on the part of the public sector. The proposals must be responsive to criteria including the preservation of the structures, financial feasibility, design, green building components and the project’s responsiveness to the surrounding community. Respondents must also demonstrate the creation of a high quality year-round commercial and retail development that will attract and provide services to area visitors, residents and businesses. The site is eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, making it potentially eligible for Historic Preservation Tax Credits.
The responses to the RFP are due on December 10. There will be a site visit and information session on November 1.