By Linda Collins
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BUSHWICK — At a Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce breakfast panel last month, the consensus was that Bushwick was not quite there yet to be called “the next hot spot” in Brooklyn, with one speaker even saying “we need a good five years.”
But at least one developer is betting on it happening sooner. The Hudson Companies’ condo development at Knickerbocker Avenue and Hart Street, known as The Knick, is certainly upgrading one corner of the neighborhood — not by constructing something new but by rehabilitating something old.
And it is attracting buyers.
On a recent tour with Andrew Jackson, project manager of The Knick for Hudson, it was learned that the 49-unit, three-building complex is now 75 percent sold and 65 percent occupied. In fact, there are only 10 or 11 units remaining unsold.
The buildings were vacant and boarded up and much of their upper floors had been demolished — they were basically masonry shells, according to Jackson.
“They’re not landmarked buildings but we really liked their historic look,” he said. “And so we did a complete interior renovation.
“We wanted to keep the [arched] windows and we rebuilt the cornices in some places. We also left as much exposed brick as possible and used some of the wide wood planks from the original joist of the building. They’re a big part of the feel of the architecture and the industrial character of the building. ”
Designed by Oaklander Coogan & Vitto Architects, the rehabbed buildings’ apartments also have their own central air and heating “so we wouldn’t have to cut holes under the windows for A/C units.”
Jackson said the decision to go condo was an easy one — “the rents in the area were not very high and wouldn’t justify all the construction expense” — but the timing was not good.
“We were reamed by the slump trying to sell units in 2010. The first buyers got some very good deals,” he said. “Now pricing is much better and, since January, sales have been brisk.”
The amenities may also be attracting buyers. In addition to the cyber doorman, package delivery room, fitness room, parking and bike storage, most of the units have private outdoor space, either terraces or patios, wood floors, high-end appliances and washer/dryer hookups.
The development and design team also worked with NYSERDA (NYS Energy Research and Development Authority) on green elements for the buildings, including green boilers, windows and walls and more, through its multi-family performance program.
“We wanted to keep tenants’ costs down as much as possible,” he said.
As for the street level, along Knickerbocker, there is 15,000 square feet of retail space, formerly home to a successful family-run supermarket.
“We’re hoping for a coffee shop and an organic market,” Jackson said, noting that it’s still a neighborhood with mostly bodegas and 99-cent stores.
David Alhadeff, owner of Future Perfect in DUMBO, designed the model unit furnishings.
Corcoran Group Brooklyn is handling sales.