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DUMBO the right thing for Spike Lee

The Brooklyn Paper
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Acclaimed local filmmaker Spike Lee will set up an annex of his famed “40 Acres and a Mule” film company in DUMBO.

“Spike Lee is coming to 55 Washington Street in DUMBO,” a spokeswoman for Two Trees Management, the David Walentas-owned company that owns half the neighborhood, told The Brooklyn Paper.

Lee’s search for real estate in DUMBO was first reported by New York Magazine.

It’s no wonder Lee was seeking new space. Earlier this year, the “Malcolm X” director claimed that high rents had forced him out of his main office space at 124 DeKalb Ave., where he had been for 22 years, and into a smaller space he already owned around the corner on South Elliott Place.

“Got priced out, the rent raise was insane,” Lee told The Brooklyn Paper in April.

The director, who gave Brooklyn the starring role in his signature films “Do the Right Thing,” “Crooklyn” and “Jungle Fever,” affirmed that he still had a working and personal relationship with the borough in the April interview — though he now lives in Manhattan.

The building, where he will now work at the corner of Washington and Front streets, is one of DUMBO’s best addresses (the office of The Brooklyn Paper is also in the building). Workers are currently building out a sunlit-filled, spacious corner area in the building’s sixth floor, which, according to city records, is undergoing a $30,000-renovation.

Walentas is well known in DUMBO for being a hard-nosed developer as well as a patron of the arts. He frequently gives rent subsidies to artists — though it is unclear whether the millionaire Lee was the recipient of Walentas’s largesse.

Lee had converted his earlier 5,775-square-foot space on DeKalb Avenue from a firehouse to a studio, and now the real-estate firm CitiHabitats is marketing the building as a duplex for a cool $4.9 million.

A message left with Lee’s production studio was not immediately returned.

Updated 5:42 pm, October 2, 2008
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Reasonable discourse

Nadine Lefkowitz from Fort Greene says:
How could you not point out the incongruity of Lee stating he was forced out of 124 DeKalb by high rent when it appears he owns the property?

I think someone got some facts jumbled up.

Lee renovated the building DeKalb Avenue that he is now selling. Unless he sold it years ago and simply remained a tenant, high rent did not force him out. That storyline is a bit of BS... AND, if he's worried about high rents, DUMBO does not seem to be the obvious choice to relocate.

When he made the move to S. Elliot, he kicked out the not-for-profit theater production company that had been there for many, many years. Now he has he logo'd flag hanging from the building behind Mullane's Restaurant and other than the flag snapping back and forth in the wind, there does not appear to be much activity there.

Ever since he up and left for Manhattan, even with a foothold in FG, he has had very little apparent impact on the neighborhood.

Look, Lee goes where he wants. He has owned and continues to own many properties and is hardly the victim of landlords...what a joke. He IS the landlord. The narrative of being pushed out by high rents or getting "priced out" needs to be examined (and laughed at...frankly, it's hilarious!).

Please focus on the quality of your reporting. I know this is just the Brooklyn aper but come on already.

nl
Sept. 29, 2008, 11:33 am
Nadine again from FG says:
Sorry for the typos...

If Lee does not own 124 DeKalb, who does? Didn't he buy it years ago when he was flush with dough and FG was cheap? He owned lots of buildings in the neighborhood. He still owns the large building the production office moved to a good while ago. If he was paying high rent on DeKalb to someone (or a shell company ultimately owned by him?...come on, do some research for us please), why didn't make that move to the building he owns on S. Elliot ages ago?

He really should think about tempering his angle about getting "pushed out" and "priced out" if this is truly the language he's using because it is absurd on the face of it and kind of offensive. How dumb does he think we are? I would bet he has more money than anyone reading this article and anyone involved in getting it online or printed in the paper. He could buy the Brooklyn Paper if he wanted. Any "poor act" or "I'm a victim" stance appears to be blatantly hypocritical.
Sept. 29, 2008, 12:10 pm
José from Ft. Green says:
To Sarah Portlock,
In you article "DUMBO the right thing for Spike Lee." If your going to be a credible paper and taken seriously, get your facts straight FIRST...
This is the second time your paper got it WRONG!
1st) Lee had a lease until 2011 with the rents already established through 2011 which he choose not to exercise. With below market value rents. Maybe you should ask Lee why?
2nd) Lee did not convert the firehouse. The firehouse had already been converted before he became a tenant there.
(Owner for the last 27 years.)
Sept. 29, 2008, 9:10 pm

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