Greenpoint’s landmarked event space Polonaise Terrace could become four-story retail and office building

exterior of polonaise terrace in greenpoint
Developers are hoping to transform the aging, unused Polonaise Terrace into a more cohesive three-story retail and office space, the exterior of which they say they will keep as close to to original as possible.
Susan de Vries

Greenpoint’s iconic event space Polonaise Terrace, which most recently housed Brooklyn Bazaar, will likely be converted to a four-story retail and office space, according to plans filed by developers. 

The circa 1898 structure — made up of a one-story and two-story building — at 144 Greenpoint Avenue is located inside Greenpoint’s historic district, meaning developer 144 Point Break LLC — with principals Jeremy Katz, Philip Katz and Howard Katz — has to get the green light from the Landmarks Preservation Commission before making any changes. The LLC bought the building in July 2021 for $6.25 million. It has been vacant since Brooklyn Bazaar failed to renegotiate a lease at the end of 2019.

Attorney for 144 Point Break LLC Frank E. Chaney, building co-owner Philips Katz and architect Ray Dovell presented the plans for the new development to Community Board 1 in October. The team said they want to do an interior gut renovation of the existing building, enlarge it to four stories and install a new facade that is modern but respectful of the fabric and character of the historic district.

polonaise terrace facade
The 1989 building has lived several lives as a row of stores, a theater, and an event space, and is “hard to make sense of,” developers told Brooklyn Community Board 1. They hope to do a full gut renovation of the building. Susan de Vries

The new development will be a commercial building with retail stores on the ground floor and office space on the second and third floors, plans show.

Dovell told Brooklyn Community Board 1 members this month that the building had been significantly modified overtime, having transformed from its initial use as separate stores to being combined into a theater and event space in its most recent iteration, and due to modifications “it’s very hard to make any sense of it.”

He said there is no historic fabric or ornamentation behind the facade, but added the new development would keep the original structure as much as possible. “We are doing our best to reuse all of the existing structure and then we will use it to convert for the new components.”

Responding to community board members on the planned development’s color, Dovell said the team chose gray as they thought it would go better with surrounding buildings. The rectangular shape of the building and the design of the windows in the rendering look more like the original building in the circa 1940 tax photo than does the current building, although the gray brick is contemporary.

polonaise redevelopment rendering
A rendering of the developer’s plans for the aging structure, which they hope to transform into a four-story office and retail space. Image via PBDW

Polonaise Terrace was originally built in 1898 by Charles Heidelberger and designed by Wilson and Dassau. Over the years, the cornices and other original detailing have been removed. It opened as Polonaise Terrace in 1961, and by the time it was designated as part of Greenpoint’s historic district it had been covered with a blind arcade of aluminum, and a false front of stucco and aluminum had been erected over the two-story portion.

After the Polonaise Terrace’s closure in 2013, a wedding and event space that predominantly served the area’s Polish community, the building sat empty for three years. In 2016, after being kicked out of their Williamsburg location to make way for a new BMW store, Brooklyn Bazaar moved into the flamboyant space. Brooklyn Bazaar stayed at the location until November 2019, when the landlord at the time refused to negotiate beyond a month-to-month lease, Brooklyn Bazaar owners Belvy Klein and Aaron Broudo said in a statement at the time.

outside of polonaise terrace
The building has had a long life, and developers say they want to revive it while keeping it in sync with the rest of the neighborhood. Susan de Vries

“We’re out (again). After three years and thousands of shows, events, fundraisers, benefits, podcasts, weddings and everything in between, Brooklyn Bazaar’s stay at Polonaise Terrace is coming to an end. We are extremely bummed to announce that Brooklyn Bazaar will be closing its 150 Greenpoint Avenue location at the completion of our current lease, which expires on November 30, 2019. We have tried endlessly to negotiate a new lease extension and term but the landlord has been ridiculously unreasonable, with their final offer only being a month to month extension – which makes programming (from tours to weddings) and operation essentially impossible,” the statement read.

The new building owners will now present their plans to LPC at a meeting on Tuesday, November 15 seeking a certificate of appropriateness to move forward with the work.

This story first appeared on Brooklyn Paper’s sister site Brownstoner

Correction 11/14/22, 3:23pm: This story originally said the developer planned to build a three-story building, rather than a four-story building. We regret the error.