By Nathan Place and Tobias Salinger
A developer’s plan to turn an East Williamsburg warehouse into a retail development is stoking familiar concerns about gentrification. North Development Corp’s idea for what its realtor calls “a grittier Chelsea market” at 74-92 Bogart St. may alter the character both of the manufacturing neighborhood where it’s located and that of nearby Bushwick.
Andrew Clemens, the director of retail leasing at Massey Knakal, declined to name specific companies interested in opening spaces at the site. He also didn’t rule out a residential development on the plot, though that would require a zoning change through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.
Residents concerned about Bushwick’s potential change from a proud working class community with a thriving arts scene to one with greater inequality and more rent-squeezed tenants are watching this development closely.
Leah Archibald of the nonprofit East Williamsburg Valley Industrial Development Corporation said residents of Bushwick can look to recent history to find out what’s to come. She said the 2006 rezoning of the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront shuttered hundreds of industrial businesses as development pushed rents up.
Seen this way, the bustling warehouses of East Williamsburg just might determine the shape of gentrification in Bushwick. And the development on Bogart Street, which Clemens said he expects to be up and running by the end of 2014, will be a telling indicator.