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Artists Plan to Convert Crown Heights Parking Garage Into Concert Venue

By Gustavo Solis | March 5, 2014 3:27pm
 Five friends are transforming this auto body shop on Dean Street into a large multi-use complex to promote the arts and build community.
Global Square
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CROWN HEIGHTS — They're building it and hoping you’ll come.

A group of artists are gutting a former parking garage on Dean Street and converting it into a multi-use complex they hope will include a bar, restaurant, performance stages, rehearsal spaces, showers for musicians to use after shows and a large outdoor area.

Global Square will host everything from block parties and rock shows to poetry readings and art exhibits, said organizers including Charles McMickens, the restaurateur behind The General Greene and Heritage Wines.

They hope the more than 7,000-square-foot space at 893 and 897 Dean St. between Classon and Franklin avenues can serve as affordable rehearsal space for musicians, too.

“The only limit is what we can fit in the space,” co-creator Sydney Freggiaro said.

Freggiaro joins three artists — Hassan Christopher, Šara Stranovsky and Kyla Ernst-Alper — who came to New York from all over the country and practice a wide range of disciplines. Some of them left behind their jobs and homes to be a part of the passion project.

McMickens brought the group together and said his goal is to create a space that promotes the artists as well as the local community.

The rest of the group shares his view.

“Clubs and bars pop up, but they don’t necessarily build community,” said Hassan, a professional dancer and choreographer with 20 years experience. "We have this wonderful space and we want to share it with the community," Freggiaro echoed.

Although they don’t plan to open until September, Global Square's organizers have already begun to engage the community through social media. They want local residents to have a say in what goes on their menu of pizzas, as well as their events calendar.

Global Square already has pizza ovens that were previously used by the closed Lower East Side restaurant Pulino's, according to their website.

The complex sits in a manufacturing district of northwest Crown Heights that's undergoing dramatic change, with some decades old auto body shops and warehouses being converted into multi-use spaces.

Down the block from Global Square, 1000 Dean Street, between Classon and Franklin avenues, is turning into a beer hall that will be operated by Brooklyn Flea.

Last March, a group of artists proposed converting an abandoned warehouse into rental live-work units, but the plan was rejected by the local community board, whose members said the complex would be a gentrifying force.

McMickens, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, said he's conscious of the changing dynamics in the neighborhood and that he wants to preserve its history. He said he's a close friend of the family that ran the garage, Dean Street Parking, and that he plans to incorporate their history into Global Square.

Members of Global Square approached Community Board 8 this week to introduce themselves and get a better sense of everything they need to do before their planned September opening. CB8's liquor license committee said they were excited about the project but wanted to know a lot more.

Freggario said she had a bright outlook on Global Square's future.

"I am inspired to work on this every day," said Freggario. "To be a part of something this unique, you can't pass it up."