Brooklyn’s Morbid Anatomy Museum, the black corner building at Seventh Street and Third Avenue dedicated to the beauty of death, is having a hard time staying alive. The museum opened two years ago with a full-bodied program of salon discussions, film and lecture series and quaint exhibitions such as “The Kittens’ Wedding” featuring Victorian-costumed taxidermied cats from the 1890s, as well as the permanent exhibits of artifacts and preserved specimens. Despite critical acclaim, the non-profit institute needs at least $75,000 to keeps its doors open through 2017.
6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we take a tour of the Gowanus studio of Lite Brite Neon. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!
Among the manufacturing and arts tenants in the Old American Can Factory, a converted six-building industrial complex at the Gowanus Canal, is Lite Brite Neon, which has been described as “the darling of artists and designers.” And after touring their funky workspace/showroom, the description definitely fits. They were founded in 1999 in Brooklyn and have been creating neon art, signage, lighting, and displays ever since, in addition to preserving and restoring historic neon. 6sqft recently got an insider’s look at their colorfully gritty home and spoke to lead designer Wayne Heller about how the company functions and what makes neon unique.
When the area surrounding the Gowanus Canal was designated a Superfund site by the EPA in 2010, it seemed all but impossible that the contaminated, warehouse-laden neighborhood could get on par with the rest of Brooklyn. But recent years have brought major cleanup efforts along the 1.8-mile Canal, leading to new additions like a Whole Foods (quite possibly the first sign of gentrification) and subsequent interest from developers in creating higher end housing. This fall, reports DNAinfo, the Department of City Planning will launch a study to explore a rezoning of Gowanus that would allow for more residential developments in what is currently an industrial section.
Locals, however, have similar concerns to those who opposed the recent, controversial East New York rezoning–that it will only incentive developers, causing displacement of longtime residents, and that any affordable housing put forth in the plan would still be out of reach for the lowest income residents. They’ve therefore created their own redevelopment plan called Bridging Gowanus, which, as the Times notes, calls for “greater density and more affordable apartments in return for improvements and guarantees that preserve the precarious soul of the district.”
This two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment occupies the top floor of 335 Carroll Street, a Gowanus warehouse converted not long ago to rental apartments. Asking $5,317/month, the apartment has shed its former warehouse skin for a much more modern aesthetic, which includes a chic designer kitchen.
The location of this lovely Brooklyn townhouse at 357 Hoyt Street is a dream combination of breezy, funky Gowanus and quaint, historic and classic Carroll Gardens. Everything surrounding it is either pretty or cool (or both), and on top of being subway adjacent, the borough’s flagship Whole Foods market is within just a few blocks.
This enviable home is about as perfect as you can get if you’re a brownstone buff and you’re not looking for four stories or a big yard. At three stories and 2,360 square feet, it’s not huge, but space is used efficiently and it’s still more spacious than many apartments at its asking price of $2.9 million. Renovated to perfection, the home’s interiors – designed by mother-daughter design team McGrath II – have been featured in both the New York Times home and garden section (according to the listing) and recently on 6sqft.
After all these years of jokes about catching syphilis or turning into a green mutant alien, it’s hard to imagine the Gowanus Canal as a pollutant-free place, but beginning this year it will undergo dredging and sub-aquatic capping as part of the USEPA Superfund Cleanup plan. This also includes the Gowanus Canal Sponge Park, “an 18,000-square-foot public space that will be built with engineered soil to absorb (hence “sponge”) stormwater that would otherwise pollute the canal, as well as plants to break down toxins and floating wetlands,” as 6sqft previously reported.
But before the notoriously toxic canal turns into the Venice of Brooklyn, a group of microbiologists want to catalogue and draw attention to exactly what type of unseen organisms have accumulated over the past 150 years, as they feel it’s important for work at other polluted urban environments. To do this, they’ve created the BK BioReactor, a roving watercraft that takes samples from 14 specific points along the canal. This data has been turned into a “mobile library,” complete with an interactive map that shows which microorganisms are located where and how heavily distributed they are. For example, Atrazine, a herbicide affecting the hormonal system, is present in most of the sites, as is Epsilonproteobacteria, which inhabit the digestive tracks of animals.
Sometimes what you see is more than first meets the eye. That was definitely the case in the early ’90s when internationally exhibited artist Daniel Reynolds, known for his utterly mesmerizing life-sized “Drinking Birds” installation, purchased this 30-foot-by-90-foot mixed-use building on the south side of Union Street in Gowanus.
This listing, priced at $3.5 million, is unique in that its beautiful live and work spaces were designed with an artist’s vision, as well as in its creative pedigree and many possibilities for use. Included are three market-rate lofts, a roof deck and an artist’s workspace–an excellent investment on a prime Brooklyn block. Each loft offers unique hand-crafted marble baths, restored working fireplaces with stone mantles, stainless steel kitchens, and restored 19th-century tin detailing put to use in an unconventional yet breathtaking way.
363-365 Bond Street, via Lightstone Group
One of the Lightstone Group‘s two new rental buildings in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood is set to open Tuesday. The new residence at 365 Bond Street, along with its neighbor at 363 Bond (a year from completion) represent a $350 million effort by the developer to build 700 luxury rental apartments on the left bank of the Gowanus Canal. Designed to look like an historic brick-walled warehouse, market-rate apartments at 365 Bond start at over $2,000 a month for a studio and over $3,000 for a one-bedroom unit, according to the Wall Street Journal. Lightstone President Mitchell Hochberg says the project was inspired by the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood in Paris, known for a residential project near a similarly polluted waterway which helped create a “newly hip atmosphere.”
The Gowanus Canal isn’t the first place that comes to mind when one thinks about lush waterfront parks, but that’s exactly the vision behind the long-planned Gowanus Canal Sponge Park, an 18,000-square-foot public space that will be built with engineered soil to absorb (hence “sponge”) stormwater that would otherwise pollute the canal, as well as plants to break down toxins and floating wetlands. It was first conceived back in 2008 by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and Susannah Drake, principal at the landscape architecture firm DLANDstudio (who’s also responsible for the Queensway).
Now, seven years later, DNAinfo reports that state officials announced on Tuesday that construction has officially commenced on the $1.5 million project at the notorious Superfund site. The park will sit on city-owned land at the point where Second Street dead-ends at the canal. Workers are on site, digging out five feet of contaminated soil that will be sent to a special facility that handles toxic materials; during the next 90 days, the metal walkway will be installed; and plants will arrive in the spring.
Avery Hall Investments filed permits last week for an eight-story, 20-unit residential building at the corner of Third Avenue and St. Marks Place. The site is situated in the area where bucolic Boerum Hill meets the utilitarian factory lofts of Gowanus. The development at 125 Third Avenue will replace a one-story commercial building that Avery picked up earlier this year for $5.65 million according to city records. The team also recently broke ground on another Boerum Hill condominium at 472 Atlantic Avenue designed by the context-sensitive Morris Adjmi Architects.