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August 03, 2006

The DUMBO Report: Super-Informative Storefronting Edition

A Vision of Progress: The soon-to-open BoConcept Storefront

It's August. It's hot as blazes. And nobody is doing any real work. So I had time to do some ACTUAL REPORTING for this edition of The DUMBO Report. This involved getting on the phone with several "very reliable sources" (read: brokers) who know almost all there is to know about the real estate happenings in this quaint little Brooklyn burgh by the river. Today's report may bring shock and awe so, please, if you are enjoying an icy cold Frappuccino while you read, do exercise some caution.

Items I Feel Reasonably Comfortable Reporting On As 'Factual':

It would appear that the news of Whole Foods and their purported move to DUMBO has been greatly exaggerated. At the very least, the rumor is nowhere near confirmable. My source had a conversation with Chase Wells, Whole Food's Brooklyn real estate man, and Mr. Wells said that the massive, overpriced grocery chain doesn't "have any interest in DUMBO." If that weren't enough, Two Trees is diving up the old ABC Carpet & Home space (on Jay Street) into smaller retail and industrial units, so there is no room there for a WF. Nor is there a space big enough in the Jay Condo first floor retailplex. That leaves only one other space with enough square footage, and my source has said that this owner has told him that he (the space owner) has not been contacted. Brokers have been known to play tricks with the truth, of course, but some of the logistics make a Whole Foods invasion of DUMBO an unlikely gambit at this stage. I guess the guys at Foragers can breath easy, for now...

The large space next to West Elm on Front Street (between Main and Washington Streets) is indeed being prepped to become a BoConcept store, the not quite overpriced upscale-ish cousin of Ikea. Residents and visitors alike should prepare for nearly 50,000 square feet of neo-Danish design knockoffs and plenty of espresso wood tones (dark dark brown is the new black). When will all of this happen? "Soon" is the best answer I could get. As those of us living a stone's throw away are well aware, crews have been working feverishly, knocking down walls, building window frames and generally creating a good deal of dust.

Across the street, in the retail space at 70 Washington Street (at Front and Washington), Two Trees is working its collective tail off to land the one tenant DUMBO may need more than anything: a high end apothecary where patrons can buy their mustache waxes and pomades and various other sundries. According to my source, "David has stretched himself to do the deal, and there is a lease out." That's David Walentas, in case you're scoring at home. It's not a "done deal" yet, but the wheels are in motion. One thing I can report with certainty is that it is NOT Bigelow Chemists, the infamous West Village landmark. It is, however, an entity that is equally "plush."

Probably the best news of all is that Chase Bank will, after all, be opening a branch in DUMBO (I, for one, am thrilled, as I've not cashed a check since I moved from the East Village, seven months ago). As best I can determine, the bank will be "next to SuperFine," on the Front Street side of the Jay Condo retail space.

Assorted Rumors and Rumblings:

-More proof that the Jay Condo retail space will be indistinguishable from a strip mall in Shaker Heights, Ohio: There may be a second DUMBO Starbuck's going into the first floor of the fast rising condo complex. Oh, Thank God.

-Something is afoot with the Empire Stores space, which has been, for fifty years, nothing but a magnificent ruin. One source tells me this: "Empire Stores didn't end up going to Walentas, I've heard Boymelgreen. The folks at the park are pretty positive it's happening." Well, if the folks at the park said it, then...

-Some sort of clothing store will be opening at 117 Front Street, in the 1000-square foot space between Foragers and the hardware store. That was originally supposed to be a book store, but the deal, according to one broker, "crapped out." Oh, do people still read books?

The DUMBO Report never sleeps, so check back often.


Wow... Lots of juicy information! Thanks for doing the research. I'm dying to know how this neighborhood is going to shape out. There's so much going on... everyday there's something new. I'll be going there on Sunday for the Thai Chili Crab Festival, can't wait to see all the "goings" on.

More DUMBO scoop: High end spa and beauty boutique going in the Retreat building on 2nd floor. Don't know when they're opening though. Saw construction when I used the bathroom at 147 Front. Hopefully they do brazilian bikinis so I can get them done when I'm home. I still have to trek to Manhattan for them because I haven't found a place in BK that's clean. B-I-G...

Oh yeah, that reminds me. There a re a few other venues opening up on the second floor of 147 front...Wi-Fi cafe, restaurant, and pilates/yoga studio.

Anyone know if the book store on the way to Bubby's not happening? It says Fall 2006 but it seems like no one has been working on it at all...

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