A Starbucks-owned Italian bakery is opening in Red Hook in the former Golten Marine machine shop, a nice metaphor for a neighborhood that, if developers get their way, will soon resemble Battery Park City.
Princi, a Milan-based chain in which Starbucks invested last year, will open an 18,000-square-foot mega-center at 160 Van Brunt Street. Despite its cavernous size, the space will not be open to the public, at least not immediately. Instead, it will act as a base of operations for goods to be sold at Starbucks’ Reserve Roastery, a three-year-old “coffee experience” that one can investigate in disgusting detail here. The Reserve Roastary currently operates in Seattle, with plans to expand to Manhattan next year and Chicago in 2019.
Prior to its new life pumping out artisan-baked breads, the hangar served as a ship repair shop, where mechanics spent long, grease-covered hours rebuilding engines and drive systems for watercraft from around the world. But as the number of ships docking in New York Harbor began to peter out in the Nineties, things began looking bleak for Golten as well.
According to the Red Hook Star-Revue, the area enjoyed huge amounts of ship traffic in the Seventies, with around 120 vessels docking daily. By the time the facility closed in 2014, that number had dwindled to just 13 ships per day on average. Engineers from around the world who had spent decades working in the shop on Van Brunt Street, which opened in 1945, were crushed by its closing. “I’m devastated. When you spend 42 years here, that’s all your best years. Now it’s over,” said Ivo Sisic, who served as Golten’s general manager at the time.
The bakery will open just up the street from a shiny new Tesla dealership, and several other mega-projects loom on the horizon. On Richards Street, Thor Equities is threatening a 7.7-acre office and retail development atop the location of a former sugar refinery, though it has yet to secure permits from the Department of Buildings. Thor did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its plans for the site.
The Italian firm Est4te Four also had plans for a 1.1 million–square-foot development called Red Hook Innovation Studios, though that project seems to have hit a wall. The Star-Revue reports that the developer sold five of its waterfront properties to a private equity company for around $110 million in May, and that some of the warehouses will now house e-retailer distribution centers.
Est4te does continue to own property at 160 Imlay Street, which it is converting into seventy luxury condos and ground-floor commercial space, as well as 202 Coffey Street, which it intends to make into a cultural programming space.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 5, 2017