St. Ann's could be taking over Tobacco Warehouse
by Andrew Pavia
May 07, 2013 | 1709 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A rendering of the proposed additions to the Tobacco Warehouse in DUMBO.
A rendering of the proposed additions to the Tobacco Warehouse in DUMBO.
A new proposal would give DUMBO's Tobacco Warehouse to St. Ann's Warehouse, which would in turn renovate the historic building for use as a performance space.

The design envisions an 18,000-square-foot enclosed building with a flexible performance space the size and style of St. Ann’s previous DUMBO theater. A separate 1,000-square-foot space would be used as a community room for local artists and education and community groups.

The original brick walls will be preserved and be visible from the foyer, theater and community room. A flat roof would not impede views of the Manhattan or Brooklyn bridges.

The proposal also calls for leaving 7,600 square feet open as a walled birch tree grove – the warehouse currently has no roof or windows - that will be open to the public.

The site is currently parkland, and would have to be ceded to St. Ann's. In a statement, St. Ann’s explained the parkland would not be forgotten.

“The National Park Service conversion process will allow for the preservation and adaptive re-use of the Tobacco Warehouse and neighboring Empire Stores in exchange for replacement parcels that will expand Brooklyn Bridge Park at its northern boundary,” read the statement.

The park replacement parcels are located in the Main Street portion of the park on Plymouth Street between Washington and Adams streets.

The amount of land totals 37,617 square feet and consists of an indoor Department of Environmental Protection water meter testing site, a parking lot on the street bed of Washington Street, and a Department of Transportation paint shed.

Regina Myers, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park praised the proposal.

“Our partnership with St. Ann’s Warehouse captures a critical component of what makes Brooklyn Bridge Park such a wonderful place,” she said.

“This design for the Tobacco Warehouse opens up so many possibilities for people to enjoy the building and the park all year long,” added St. Ann's artistic director Susan Feldman.

Not everyone in the community is on board with the project.

“I think there are a lot of people that don’t want to see St. Ann’s go there”, said Doreen Gallo, executive director of the DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance. “A theater doesn’t need to be there.”

She notes that the warehouse is currently a revenue booster for the park itself. Weddings are very popular there given the view of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and the skyline of lower Manhattan.

“This is a beautiful spot that is going to be overdeveloped,” said Gallo, who added that some in the community are considered getting the Tobacco Warehouse classified as an urban ruin, protecting it from development.

Gallo did say St. Ann's Warehouse has been a good neighbor in DUMBO over the years. The group is currently operating out of a transitional warehouse at 29 Jay Street, and was housed at 38 Water Street prior to that.

The Community Board 2 Land Use Committee voted in favor of the plan 13-0 with one abstention, and the full community board was scheduled to vote on it this week as part of the land use review process.

However, Gallo doesn't think it's a done deal.

“I don’t think it's over yet,” she said.

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