Even as rising real estate prices are pushing arts groups out of their Brooklyn neighborhoods, some dancers are benefiting. A new condominium project in East Williamsburg is using its enhanced revenue stream to help subsidize a dance center on its ground floor.
"When we initiated the project, we looked for a partner in the arts who was in danger of losing space or needed space," developer Derek Denckla said.
Together with architect Gregory Merryweather, Mr. Denckla has turned a one-story plumbing warehouse at 361 Manhattan Ave. into the Greenbelt, a development with eight floor-through apartments and a 4,000-square-foot space on the ground floor for dance rehearsals and performances.
The John Jasperse Company and Chez Bushwick, a dance center that offers low-cost rehearsal space, are in contract to purchase the space, where they will establish the nonprofit Center for Performance Research at Greenbelt. John Jasperse and Chez Bushwick will pay $650,000, less than half the market value for a comparable commercial space in the area, Mr. Denckla said. The revenue accrued from the sale of the condominiums, which have asking prices ranging from $715,616 for a 750-square-foot one-bedroom to $920,150 for a 1,060-square-foot two-bedroom, will subsidize the arts center.
The dance companies are aiming to move into the new space, which they helped to design, in January. The center, which also will be available for rent to dance groups, will be equipped with theatrical lighting, a column-free 40-foot-by-40-foot studio, a smaller space for rehearsals and offices, and seating for up to 80 people.
"We're growing," the founder of Chez Bushwick, Jonah Bokaer, said. "We need more space. This development will offer Chez Bushwick a permanent home."
Every apartment at the Greenbelt will have private outdoor space as well as a common roof deck with views of Manhattan and of the Brooklyn Bridge. The units will have ecologically friendly bamboo flooring and kitchen cabinets, and Richlite countertops made from recycled paper. The kitchens will be equipped with Energy Star-rated stainless steel appliances, and each apartment will have its own energy- and water-saving washer and dryer.
If the Greenbelt, which broke ground in January 2006, had been built according to conventional standards, it would have been completed months ago. But in contrast to many buildings marketed as "green," the project was constructed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's standards, and the developers will seek certification from the council's green building rating system. To qualify, projects must meet specific criteria for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.
Sourcing materials, such as 100% recycled gypsum board and 100% recycled steel I-beams, have caused delays.
"With green design, everything must be exact and interrelated," Mr. Denckla said. "If you change one thing — a lighting fixture, for example — it may impact a whole host of green design objectives." If it receives a certification, the Greenbelt will be the first mixed-use residential building in Brooklyn to meet the Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design criteria, Mr. Merryweather said.