The building that houses two of Williamsburg’s more prominent businesses is hitting the real estate market.
Brooklyn Bowl and Brooklyn Brewery share property located at 61–71 Wythe Avenue, and the current owner of the space is working with Manhattan real estate firm Eastern Consolidated to sell the premises for a reported $50 million. Don’t panic just yet, Bowl Train fiends and beer geeks: Both Brooklyn Bowl and Brooklyn Brewery are 100 percent leased until 2021 and 2025, respectively, and neither business is looking to relocate anytime soon.
“We knew this was coming, and it was no surprise,” says Brooklyn Brewery co-founder and president Steve Hindy. “We were expecting the owner would be trying to sell the property. We didn’t realize he’d put it on the market right away, but whether it’s sold or he keeps it, the lease is still in effect. We’ve been planning to make a move in 2025.”
Brooklyn Brewery leases the warehouse property located at 97 North 11th Street, but the brewery tasting room, brew house, and offices are not associated with this current deal. “The part that’s for sale is a garage entrance off North 11th, and it goes into what is the fermentation and packaging part of the brewery, which is contiguous with Brooklyn Bowl,” clarifies Hindy.
Brooklyn Bowl co-founder and co-owner Charles Ryan declined an interview request but stated, “We have a long-term lease and have no plans to go anywhere.”
Directing the sale are David Schechtman and Chad Sinsheimer of Eastern Consolidated, who are aware of the exclusive value of this property, both in monetary and cultural terms.
“It’s important that people know we’re selling the buildings — we’re not selling the two iconic businesses,” says Schechtman. “But boy, people have already dubbed it the ‘Brooklyn Bowl and Brooklyn Brewery Deal.’ ”
“Brooklyn Bowl is one of my favorite places to frequent for shows, and I have brought my daughter there many times for kids’ dance parties,” says Sinsheimer. “But I would like to think that whoever is involved with the potential acquiring of this may want to keep these guys on. They are part of the reason Williamsburg is so fun and popular, and are one of the main drivers of the appreciation in the area.”
“That question of ‘may want to keep them on,’ it’s much stronger than that,” Schechtman quickly adds. “They ain’t going anywhere! We are selling these properties subject to their leases and it’s imperative for people to understand that….Nobody can interrupt [their leases]. I’ve known Pete Shapiro for fifteen-plus years — nobody is touching his business.”
That’s good to hear, considering how the blocks surrounding Brooklyn Brewery and Brooklyn Bowl have seen a number of venue closings due in part to real estate shakeups in the last two years. 285 Kent, Death by Audio, and Glasslands have all closed their doors, and though Brooklyn Bowl’s nightly programming differs from the DIY shows thrown in the former, beloved performance spaces, its location is just as desirable to both music fans and developers looking to move in to the area.
Brooklyn Brewery and Hindy have already begun planning a brewery in Staten Island (commencing construction in 2017 if all is permitted) and are looking in Sunset Park and areas in North Brooklyn for other possible locations. When they opened the Brewery’s Williamsburg doors in 1990, rent was $3 per foot and the warehouse was a former matzoh bakery — a far cry from today’s current market value and appreciation. Referring to the mid-2000s industrial re-zoning and redevelopments put forth by Mayor Bloomberg, Hindy is self-aware with respect to both his business and the political climate that shapes it.
“We’re victims of our own success,” he says. “But what’s disappointing is this whole area was designated as an industrial business zone, and the idea was it would be kind of a refuge for industrial businesses. But under the Bloomberg administration, they allowed commercial development in these industrial business zones. So if you’re a developer, you can make a lot more money with a nightclub or hotel rather than a brewery. I think we’re the only industrial business left. Now we have the Wythe Hotel across the street, two different clubs within the block, and there are three hotels within three blocks from the brewery. So that’s the way it goes.”
There have been no public announcements regarding prospective buyers, but Sinsheimer notes the global reach and interest in the property.
“If I were to say to you ten years ago, ‘There are people calling from Korea to develop a corner in Williamsburg on Wythe!’ — you’d laugh at me. Now we’ve got four of the seven continents covered in a week. That’s impressive.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 23, 2015