Landlord looking to redevelop Vice event venue in Williamsburg

307 Kent
Developers want to erect a nine-story mixed-use office and medical facility building at 307 Kent Ave.
Renderings by S9 Architecture

Developers are looking to build a nine-story office and community facility where media company Vice currently operates an event space, reps for the building owners told Community Board 1’s Land Use committee Monday.

The owners of the single-story warehouse at 307 Kent Ave., between S. Second and S. Third streets, want to replace the space currently rented by event company Villain — which Vice Media bought in 2018 — to better fit the north Brooklyn nabe, according to one of the building’s landlords.

“We are looking to figure out what works best in this space now, considering that a warehouse just doesn’t seem to fit the community,” said Lily Blank.

Blank’s father bought the space in 1983 together with business associates under the moniker 307 Kent Associates. 

The new building is planned to rise 151 feet and comprise 8,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor, 21,500 square feet of community facilities on the second and part of the third floors — which the developer intends to become medical facilities — and another 63,500 square feet of commercial offices on floors three through nine, according to James Bright, a spokesman for the developers.

The building would have ground-floor retail, along with medical facilities and commercial offices above.Renderings by S9 Architecture

The lot is across the street from the old Domino Sugar Refinery currently being redeveloped by Two Trees to the west, and abuts a row of four-story residential buildings at its rear.

The developers do not own the adjoining building at 295 Kent Ave., but the rezoning application extends to that lot as well, and the owners of that building, Ya Zhou Wen Hua Enterprises, would be permitted to construct a similarly sized structure if the application goes through, according to Bright.

Kent Associates are looking to get their application through the city’s lengthy land use review process by the end of this year, starting construction in early 2021 and wrapping in 2022, according to Bright.

Event and production company Villain — owned by Vice — currently rents the space.Google

Villain would have to move out some time before construction starts and they would still be allowed in the new building under the new zoning, but Bright said the owners are currently in discussion with the media company, which is headquartered just around the corner on S. Second Street.

“Nothing is finalized yet, but we’re certainly open and honestly would prefer [Vice] because they’re in the neighborhood and they’re a good tenant,” Bright said at the meeting.

Vice Media did not return a request for comment.

In 2019, the company went through a reorganization under new chief executive officer Nancy Dubuc, who took over from company founder Shane Smith in 2018, first laying off some 250 people in February — or about 10 percent of its workforce — and another 15 people from at cable channel Viceland in August, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Before that process kicks off, the developer has to submit an Environmental Impact Statement to show how the development might impact the surrounding area, and the Department of City Planning will hold a meeting in Manhattan to hear from the public what the developer should look into, such as air quality, transportation, and potential hazardous materials below the development.

The meeting will be at DCP’s City Planning Commission Hearing Room, 120 Broadway, Concourse Level, New York, New York, 10271 at 2 pm. Written comments can be submitted to the department through Monday, Feb. 24.