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Brooklyn Bridge Park Plans to Breathe New Life into Empire Store Warehouses

By  Janet Upadhye and Jill Colvin | October 2, 2012 2:36pm 

DUMBO — It’s hard to miss the sprawling red brick structure near the carousel on the waterfront at Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Empire Stores warehouses were built shorty after the Civil War and often stop park visitors in their tracks as they gaze up at the historic structure’s large arched windows, decorative masonry stars, and ghost-like interior.

But the one-time coffee bean storage facility will soon be reincarnated to serve a new purpose. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation recently called for proposals from developers for long-term lease, rehabilitation and operation of the site.

“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 in a press release.

And the revenue generated from the development will help pay for the upkeep of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

It is yet to be seen what will come of the site that has been vacant since the 1950’s. But it seems that the space will not be turned into luxury condos with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline. The corporation makes clear in their request for proposals that the space will be used for retail and commercial use. 

“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,” said Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel.

They also call for developers who will 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.”

Proposals are due Dec. 10, 2012.