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Downtown Brooklyn progress report: Is gritty, groovy Grove Alley gonna get its big break?

Welcome to Grove Alley, where developer Bushburg Properties plans to build retail spaces in a new apartment tower. Photo by Lore Croghan

Eye On Real Estate

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The grooviest alley in all of Brooklyn, gritty Grove Place, may be about to get its big break.

Bushburg Properties bought a site at the dead end of the grimy-chic block-long street – which the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has been promoting in an attention-grabbing campaign. The developer plans to put snazzy retail spaces on the alley side of an eye-popping apartment tower envisioned for the site.

The project gives Bushburg “the opportunity to establish a pedestrian connection between Grove Place and Nevins Street in the hope of activating the urbanistically significant alley,” architect Stephen B. Jacobs Group's website says about the planned development at 8-16 Nevins St., for which the firm did the designs.

Websites such as New York YIMBY (which means Yes In My Back Yard) and Brownstoner.com are buzzing about renderings Jacobs Group posted of the mixed-income rental apartment building, which reveal a lit-up crown and a cut-out space a few floors below the top of the 28-story tower.

The most eye-catching of the renderings shows Grove Alley by night with strings of white lights hanging overhead – just like there were at a street party the Partnership hosted last summer. Metal fire stairs on the side of a building in the alley are lit up like some stairway to Heaven – which hasn't happened yet in real life – and walls of several other buildings are covered with bright murals – which has happened in real life, thanks to the Partnership's hiring of artists to do the job.

Go here to see the renderings. The architecture firm wouldn't give us images to publish or speak about the project.

“At the owner's request, we are delaying releasing any information,” a staffer said.

But no matter. Jacobs Group's website told us what we want to know – which is that pending city Buildings Department approvals, Grove Place will be getting storefronts that will further the Partnership's aim of turning the single-lane street off Hanover Place into an edgy little commercial corridor sandwiched between Fulton Mall and Livingston Street.

That Mona Lisa smile …. Muralists have painted Grove Place's walls. Photo by Lore Croghan

“I think it is transformative,” said Katie Lyon, the services manager of the Court-Livingston-Schermerhorn Business Improvement District, which is part of the Partnership. “Getting a tenant inside the alley – just one destination retailer – is really going to be a game-changer.”

The Grove Place promotional campaign is her brainchild, as we've previously reported.

Lyon revealed to Eye on Real Estate that the developer and architect met with her and her Partnership colleagues twice last winter, at the developer's request.

“They called and said, 'We really like this Grove Alley concept. Could you explain it to our architect?'” she recalled.

Hey Mister DJ … in Grove Alley. Photo by Lore Croghan

The developer's decision to make the 8-16 Nevins St. project into Grove Place's retail anchor is gratifying.

“To me, it's a cool realization of a vision we tried to put forward in the market,” Lyon said. “The developer embraced this.”

These buildings at 8-16 Nevins St. will make way for a new apartment tower with stores that open onto dead-end Grove Place. Photo by Lore Croghan

Other things are percolating. One property owner has cut a storefront window into the alley-side facade of his building. There are investors making deals to buy some of the buildings, she has heard. Groups want to host events in Grove Place.

“There's a lot of enthusiasm around that block,” she said.  

By the way, an LLC connected with Bushburg Properties bought 8-16 Nevins last year for $16.69 million, city Finance Department records indicate. Joseph Hoffman, who heads Bushburg Properties, signed the deed.

 The Nevins Street 99-cent store gives its customers fair warning. Photo by Lore Croghan

May 7, 2014 - 12:00pm


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