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Gowanus 'Green Building' Owner to Open New Rental Space and Private Club

By Leslie Albrecht | January 31, 2013 8:52am

GOWANUS — The owner of a Union Street rental venue that's a popular spot for weddings is opening a new facility across the street that will host private parties and a members-only social club.

Akiva Reich, owner of The Green Building on Union and Bond Street, is planning a second rental space at 501 Union St. that he says will be a combination catering hall and community center. The new space will also house a private club called 501 Social.

Reich is building the new venue inside a former auto body shop originally built in 1931. When the renovation is complete, Reich says the building will be "magnificient," with a 50-foot skylight in the center of one room, and custom light fixtures designed by Jason Miller, who's known for his porcelain antler chandeliers. The building is expected to be ready for rentals late this spring.

There will be a 3,500 square-foot main hall with a bar, a 1,300 square-foot outdoor area, and a smaller cocktail lounge with a separate entrance. A 1930 Ford Model A roadster will be parked outside to give the building a "refined" feel, Reich said.

With enough room for 200 people, the venue will be rented for weddings, corporate events, bar mitzahs, and other private functions on weekends. Mondays through Thursdays, the new space will be the home of a social club where members can drink, dine and enjoy games like ping pong and bingo. Reich is also envisioning hosting art exhibits, and members-only parties for holidays like St. Patrick's Day and the Fourth of July.

The social club will be a "much more progressive version" of the private Montauk Club in Park Slope, Reich said. "The programming will be geared toward a much younger clientele," he said.

The new rental space will also be open to local community groups, nonprofits, and schools such as nearby P.S. 58 and the International School of Brooklyn. Reich, who lives Carroll Gardens, said community groups will be eligible for discounted rental rates.

Reich also has new plans underway at The Green Building, which he opened in 2008. The brick building, painted a distinctive emerald shade, has a red, white and green chimney and a 1929 pickup parked outside. It's become a favorite for Brooklyn couples looking for a non-traditional wedding venue.

With an open floor plan, high ceilings, brick walls covered by worn white paint and exposed beams, the 93-year-old building has a post-industrial flair that also appeals to location scouts for film and TV productions. The space has been a backdrop for music videos and for ads for H&M and LG electronics. Recently Norah Jones shot a concert there for the TV series "Live from the Artist's Den." This spring, Reich plans to launch a dance and theater performance series at The Green Building.

Like The Green Building, Reich's new rental space won't have any signs outside. He says The Green Building's low-profile look has worked well for him, and he hopes to create a similar sense of mystery around the new venue.

"When people are driving down Union Street and they're seeing crazy cars out front, but no signage, it creates this desire," Reich said. "They're dying to know what's inside. It's wanting something you can't have."