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From strip bar to strip mall — Navy Yard pub to become Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway

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The scariest bar in Brooklyn is about to become home to two of America’s most ubiquitous corporate chains — a high-speed overhaul in Wallabout that’s skipping typical steps in the process of gentrification.

Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts and two other tenants will replace the bawdy J.J.’s Navy Yard Cocktail Lounge on Flushing Avenue, a century-old bar known as a haunt for local laborers and scantily clad dancers.

“It’s now going to be beautiful and fancy and nice,” said Mehrdad Shariati, who is revamping the rickety dive into glassy storefronts with his son Afshan. “The bar is gone but I’m trying to bring the best retail and restaurants,” said Shariati, whose family bought the building in 2010 for about $2 million.

The landlord said the fast food deal is almost sealed, and also hinted at the possibility of an IHOP or high-end eateries a la “Times Square,” but his broker declined to comment.

Lovers of New York’s gritty history despaired that a Dunkin Donuts could replace such a tawdry but beloved site — without at least first housing squatters, artists and boutiques.

Jeremiah Moss, the man behind the Vanishing New York blog, called the sleazy pub’s turnaround “hyper-gentrification — gentrification on speed.”

“It is so successful, so powerful, it no longer needs the artists and outsiders to do the front-line ‘dirty work’ of opening up neighborhoods and holding ground,” he said.

“Change is moving in just one direction in this city: to suburban chains, high-end shops and restaurants, and condo towers. That’s it.”

The nautical bar opened in the early 1900s at the corner of Washington Avenue, serving the men who built ships during the World Wars and devolving into a living room of lust before closing in 2010.

Before the dive closed, proprietor Steve Frankel contended that its reputation “as a den of sin is wildly exaggerated.”

Developers are increasingly eyeing Wallabout — the stretch from Classon to Carlton Avenues and Flushing and Myrtle Avenues — for high-rises. The Navy Green project, for example, replaces a former naval prison on Flushing Avenue. And further west, the city plans to bulldoze a slew of 19th-century homes for a massive supermarket.

But the gentrification hasn’t bothered all of the locals.

Jean Alcidas, a Navy Yard watchman for 24 years, used to frequent J.J.’s Navy Yard back when it featured adult entertainment, but saw the fast-food joints as a new lunch option in a sequestered area.

“J.J’s had a lot of pretty, half-naked females, and it was fun,” said Alcidas. “But Dunkin Donuts is better for me than a strip club.”

Reach Kate Briquelet at kbriquelet@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.

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Reader Feedback

Dave from Park Slope says:
Quote of the year: "Dunkin' Donuts is better for me than a strip club."

I'm pretty sure that Brooklyn now has all the Subways and Dunkin' Donuts it needs. And then some.
Jan. 26, 2012, 9:53 am
Moses from Park Slope says:
"Scantily clad" would not be hyphenated, while "19-century homes" should be.

On a larger level, I don't really get this story. The bar was closed. So Dunkin and Subway aren't the gentrifiers. Anything is preferable to a shuttered store. The question is, who did the landlord get interest from? Sounds to me like no one wanted the location.

Also, it's funny that no one in the story backs up the reporter's assertion that the bar was a den of sin. In fact, the only person quoted on the bar itself says that it's reputation was exaggerated.
Jan. 26, 2012, 10:44 am
phoenix says:
At least it is not another cheapas* bacon, egg, and cheese with a light and sweet coffee place.
Jan. 26, 2012, 1:34 pm
james p from fort greene says:
disgusting use of space. a strip club or anything else would be better then another dunkin donuts.
Jan. 27, 2012, 12:39 am
aaron from park slope says:
Additionally, the story annoyingly takes as gospel the thesis made by Vanishing NY
Jan. 27, 2012, 12:54 am
InTheSlope from Park Slope says:
Why not another f-ing arena? let's turn Navy yard into a s*it hole too..... com'on Marty get behind it for Brooklyn's sake.... O' I forgot you can't even get an Apple store, but Queens could..... you know Marty, Brooklyn can't be a 'world class city' w/o an Apple store in the NABE.....
Jan. 27, 2012, 2:22 pm
John from Fort Green says:
To simply reduce this building as a lightning rod of “hyper-gentrification” doesn’t reflect reality. I know that block reasonably well and this building has been bought only recently at the tail end of years of development on that block, including a trendy high-end organic only supermarket, two art galleries, a brick oven pizzeria, and at least two redeveloped upscale apartment buildings. The area has been predominately commercial and empty for decades and from what I can tell that building has been unoccupied for years with several closed store fronts, save one highly overrated bar.

A small business coffee shop would be better, but for all we know, it’s possible that only Dunkin Donuts and Subway have approached the owner yet. Regardless, I’d happily take a Dunkin Donuts over another empty shop, seeing as there are hardly any other places for me to get cheap coffee and a bagel in the area. This would bring more jobs as well as foot traffic in the area, which it severely lacks.
Jan. 27, 2012, 4:34 pm
LimestoneKid from Wallabout says:
I'm with James P, " a strip club or anything else would be better then another dunkin donuts".

If you're looking for cheap coffee and a bagel head up to John' Donuts on Myrtle or over to The Navy Yard Hero Shoppe on Flushing at Adelphi. There's also the Jewish restaurant that's housed in a trailer at the corner of Flushing Avenue & Hall Street.

I doubt DD & Subway approached the developer. It was more likely the other way around. I'm also pretty sure that the developer pitched the idea that the new film school that will be opening across the street from the storefronts in Steiner Studios would provide a lot of street traffic for them.
Jan. 28, 2012, 7:05 am
saturday says:
I'm gonna leave my house, pass by several "real food" establishments and go over to Flushing Avenue to eat Subways and Dunkin Donuts ? wth!
Jan. 29, 2012, 11:17 am
Real from Brooklyn says:
Nuthin' says authentic Brooklyn like Dunkin' Donuts and Subway. Yeah! Can we also get a Domino's to replace DiFara and an Olive Garden in the Al Di La space?
Feb. 1, 2012, 11:28 pm

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