The Empire Stores have been deteriorating for a while and the scaffolding has been up for a year without evidence of any repairs. In an article from the New York Post last week, the mid-19th century Empire Stores on Water Street is listed as one of the 10 endangered buildings worth saving.
“Over the decades, they have been abandoned, flooded, vandalized, and torched. Owned by the State Parks Department, they’ve been studied (and neglected) since the late 1970s – even while David Walentas has totally redeveloped DUMBO. Surely something good can be done with this great space in one of New York’s hottest neighborhood? Perhaps the state should ask advice from Walentas.”
David Walentas of Two Trees Management held the rights for the redevelopment of the warehouse building in the 1980s, before the Empire State Development Corporation handed the site over to his rival Shaya Boymelgreen in 2002. Then in 2006, the state claimed that Boymelgreen did not move quick enough, and incorporated the plans for an arts venue as part of the Brooklyn Bridge Park. According to the BBP Project Plan (Page 14, PDF), the Empire Stores warehouses “would be rehabilitated and adapted for reuse with a mix of commercial and retail uses. The former warehouses would be rehabilitated to contain a mix of commercial, retail, and office uses that will complement the unique character of this industrial waterfront structure. Approximately 398,760 square feet of space would be provided by this development.” With political and funding controversies aside, it may take until 2012 to complete, but the final picture of the plan looks like it will have plenty for Brooklynites to enjoy.