Lumber lofts! Developer plans studios over his waterfront wood warehouse

Lumber lofts! Developer plans studios over his waterfront wood warehouse
Photo by Aaron Short

A room with a waterfront view could be yours — if you don’t mind the smell of lumber in the morning.

The owner of a former Williamsburg lumber factory wants to turn the Kent Avenue warehouse into a loft space for artists to raise money for a stalled 754-unit housing project at the same site.

Last week, buildings officials issued permits approving developer Isack Rosenberg’s $3.1-million plan to convert the second and third floors of his Certified Lumber factory at S. 11th Street into 30 units. The first floor would remain a warehouse.

Rosenberg has not set a price for the units but an ally said that the apartments will be competitive to market rate.

“Anyone, no matter race or religion, who has a good credit history will be able to rent there,” said Gary Schlesinger, Rosenberg’s colleague.

But neighbors say renters would be crazy to move in there.

“It smells oily and acrid whenever I walk by there,” said Deborah Masters, who lives in a loft building across the street. “From an environmental point of view, I wouldn’t want to be on that property.”

Rosenberg’s larger plan for the waterfront site is a $400-million housing and retail complex called Rose Plaza on the River.

Last April, the City Council approved a rezoning plan that would allow Rosenberg to build residential towers of 18, 24 and 28 stories. The project would include 240 below-market-rate units.

But the site has sat vacant for more than a year as Rosenberg has tried to secure financing to build.

Now, Rosenberg hopes to attract artists and Orthodox Jewish tenants to live in his former factory with month-to-month leases — a stopgap measure to generate revenue for Rose Plaza, according to a source close to the developer.

The conversion work could be finished by December, if state environmental officials sign off on the plan.