Signs of life at 816 Washington (at St Johns) - Brooklynian

Signs of life at 816 Washington (at St Johns)

edited May 2015 in Prospect Heights
Longtime readers may recall that the former building at 816 Washington was completely destroyed by fire:

After years of court processes re: whether the landlord was guilty of arson and (if he was) whether he should have to build rent stabilized housing to replace the rent stabilized housing that burned down, I am pleased to report that we are suddenly getting a construction fence, as opposed to merely a perimeter fence with murals.

The light colored posts showed up yesterday.


No new renderings have been filed with DOB, so I believe we will be getting a building that complies with the plans submitted several years ago.


I have no word on whether it will be market or subsidized.


  • Oh, please, please, please, please, please don't let there be a Starbucks in the storefront.
  • For once, I'm on the anti-Starbucks bandwagon! While I generally support these types of establishments opening, especially in areas that are in dire need of such establishments, I think that Washington Avenue is fine, which would make the negative impact that a Starbucks would have all the worse. If Starbucks moves in, expect to see neighborhood staples (including the small Caribbean storefronts in the area and some of the newer cafes) close up shop. While I'm pro-gentrification, even I have my limits and I don't want to live in an area where middle-income residents who remain can't afford to eat out! 
  • Odds:

    3:1 Duane Reade
    4:1 Some bank
    5:1 Starbucks
    10:1 Chipotle
    20:1 T Mobile
  • All four corners of the intersection of Washington and St Johns are undergoing a radical transformation:

    The building at the SE corner is opting out of Section 8:

    The row of stores on the NE corner are for sale, and re-inventing themselves:

    The building at the NW corner has been essentially gutted and will soon feature an upscale, sit down restaurant:

    We might have as long as two years before this building is complete, so I can't even guess what we will get.   Talk to me in Spring 2016.

  • It's interesting that over the past few years the change on Franklin has surpassed Washington in terms of new businesses (at least that's my perception, haven't counted). I guess Washington is now catching up.
  • Why on earth would Starbucks make small Caribbean storefronts close up shop?  Are they allergic to burnt coffee?

    I think you need to take a serious second look at your ideas of cause and effect.
  • @eastbloc, I think the fear (and I don't think its an unreasonable fear) is that Starbucks would lead to rents going up in the area generally (there's not going to be direct competition between Starbucks and Caribbean storefronts, but that's not the point), which is likely to force some longtime storefronts to close/relocate. 
  • @Brooklyneya: you may be correct on that, though, I dare say, that Washington didn't "need" new stores to the same extent that some may feel Franklin did. 
  • edited May 2015
    You've got it backwards.

    Rents don't magically rise because Starbucks arrived.  Starbucks arrives because of increasing affluence in a community leading to a market for their products.  It's that rising affluence drives additional real estate demand and increases the rents.  Keeping Starbucks out isn't going to change that.

  • Washington does need new and better stores.  The supermarkets suck, the hardware store is terrible, the pharmacy pales in comparison to a modern Duane Reade.  An organic market would be nice, too.

    There's lots of room for improvement.  
  • It's interesting that over the past few years the change on Franklin has surpassed Washington in terms of new businesses (at least that's my perception, haven't counted). I guess Washington is now catching up.
    I've noticed that too, and my guess is that Franklin is on an express stop, whereas Washington is not, so that might make the real-estate that much more desirable.

    Given the turnover in that large building at the corner of Washington and St. Johns, I imagine that the gentrification tide is preparing to wash over those few blocks in the next several years.
  • edited May 2015

    Until recently, businesses in the immediate area had the optioon of not improving because the area provided a sufficient number of people of very limited means.

    Some of these residents live(d) at 781 Washington:

    However, as this building is renovated and becomes vacant, the local businesses are feeling the pinch.

    Additional residents live in the apartments above Coffee Bites, as part of a program operated by ICL:

    To be admitted to the program, one must be single, poor, unemployed and dually diagnosed with a substance abuse and psychiatric disorder.

    In NYC, this has the effect of the program serving predominantly people of color in their mid-40s to late 60s.

    Although the program has been in operation for over a decade, the residents are becoming "increasingly visible" as a result of the area becoming increasingly white and middle class.

    While I am not aware of this program being discontinued anytime soon, the participants are losing many of the low cost - low quality options that they rely upon.

    ...and are sitting ducks for landlords and neighborhood improvement types who would prefer a more profitable and sterile environment.
  • edited May 2015
    eastbloc: A Starbucks does nothing to stop that process, and in many ways, helps to speed that process up. Also, note, some affluent people would be more inclined to move to an area (its an extra perk/selling point for some) if they know there's a Starbucks nearby, which only adds to this process. Is keeping Starbucks (or businesses like Starbucks) out going to stop the process? No, but it could buy additional time. Ultimately, though, that's not the point I was making earlier. 

    Still, if Starbucks comes on the block paying $200 more in rent per month (just throwing a number out there) than the other businesses are currently paying (because the owner of a building knows that they can get more money out of a corporate, established chain), then that will likely have an upward impact on the rents charged by other property owners (of course, the effect you mentioned, which I argue is enhanced by Starbucks' presence, also plays a huge role here). 

    And Washington Avenue doesn't "need" anything else to me, though I wouldn't be upset if we got some additional/new stores.
  • edited May 2015
    Building is being built as per prior rendering


    Excavator now on site.   The hole for the foundation is next.    

    Longtime residents may recall that the debris from the prior building was pushed into the basement to make the lot level, so somewhere down there is a furnace.... 
  • Foundation is now complete.   
  • Concrete and steel is now rising above the fence line, and the obligatory sidewalk scaffolding has been erected.

  • Noticed some activity yesterday after the long lull in progress IMG_2839
  • I strongly suspect that this project is a low priority for the developer, because it has to become affordable housing, and there are more profitable sites to work on.
  • Now going up quickly, as a result of cinderblock construction.
  • dimensions of building now clearly visible as a result of steel framing. If anyone is around when it is light out, please insert photo.
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