Music Hall, Lounge, Pizzeria and Ben Stiller Join Industrial Block's Boom

By Meredith Hoffman on September 25, 2013 8:31am | Updated on September 27, 2013 4:45pm

BUSHWICK — This neighborhood may be known for its quick changes, but one block is fast-forwarding through an even more rapid boom than the typical Bushwick street — from an industrial strip to a packed nightlife and culture hub in a matter of months.

A music hall, a giant lounge with an urban garden and a pizzeria are all headed to Troutman Street between Wyckoff and St. Nicholas avenues — and they follow the 2-week-old Rookery bar, the 4-month-old upscale A.P. Cafe and the block veteran Bodega wine bar.

Plus Ben Stiller can be spotted shooting his latest film on the block this week, amid the bright array of street art the Bushwick Collective started just last year.

For the street's entrepreneurs, the sudden popularity of the block near the Jefferson L stop brings both a sense of camaraderie and a financial boost.

"It's a movement. We're not competing because you can only help the other businesses," said Ramon Moralejo, who is opening a bar-lounge called Lot 45 with a 2,500-square-foot urban garden for outdoor drinking come October. "There are no residences where you could cause a nuisance. It offers a small section where you can create a social environment."

Moralejo — who is filling his space with antique chandeliers, eclectic cushioned furniture and a bar top made from a reclaimed bowling alley — is capitalizing on the industrial vibe, he said, by playing on "the idea of some rich kid whose parents have kicked him out and he drags out their furniture and finds a warehouse."

"It's organized chaos...like a huge apartment or studio. We had to do something that made it feel more cozy," Moralejo said of the warehouse, where the garden will have a gate allowing revelers to peer out on the street where Bushwick Collective artists paint. "You can see people work without having to be on top of the artists."

Just two doors down from Lot 45, Giorgio Voglino is also within weeks of opening a pizzeria, restaurant and music venue (which he has not yet named) inspired by the "rough but cool" industrial strip.

"I love the garage vibe of the neighborhood," said Voglino, a native Italian who lives in Manhattan but said Bushwick was a wiser move for a new business due to cheaper rents and potential growth.

A music hall is also set to open across the street from the pizzeria, sources said, but when the venue's owner Charles Kaim (who owns Maracuja bar in Williamsburg) arrived at the building Tuesday afternoon he declined to comment on his plans.

Landlord Pietro Gargagiano, who bought the buildings with Lot 45, the Rookery and Voglino's pizzeria at the end of 2011, said he'd waited for the right renters to help transform the block from its industrial use.

"I held out and waited for the right fit," he said.

And the proliferation of businesses has only helped bring more clients, said the owner of A.P. Coffee, Hugo McCloud.

"Everything's happening really quickly," said McCloud, who ran his wood workshop in his space prior to opening the cafe. "It's great because I'm a part of it. But this time next year everything will be open and the prices will go up...This block will be harder to get for a new business."

In the meantime, the entrepreneurs on Troutman Street are bonding over their lucky strike.

"We're all taking a risk on a place in its infancy, but with risk you see what's happening," Moralejo said, looking around as the film crew followed Stiller down the street.

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