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Luxury conversion has DUMBO upset at the Walentases

for The Brooklyn Paper
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DUMBO titans David and Jed Walentas, who pride themselves on having developed the neighborhood as a hub of creative culture, will alter a piece of that culture by converting a loft building filled with artists and non-profits into luxury rental apartments.

Tenants at 25 Washington St. have been told that they must vacate within the next few months so that the Walentases’ Two Trees Management can move forward with what it says is a long-standing plan.

“The expiration dates for the leases at 25 Washington St. are not new,” said company spokeswoman Barbara Wagner. “They were plainly presented in the lease documents signed many years ago.”

But many tenants and neighbors think that the Walentases — who started buying property decades ago, in what was then a forsaken warehouse district, and tranformed it into one of the city’s artiest neighborhoods — are finally cashing in on their carefully engineered creation.

“Our friend Walentas has never cared about building a community. He just wants more money, the maximum amount of money,” said Doreen Gallo, executive director of the DUMBO Neighborhood Association, which last butted heads with the Walentases over the development company’s Dock Street project, which includes a school and the neighborhood’s first affordable housing, but was criticized for being too close to the Brooklyn Bridge (see page 3).

Such development, and the conversion on Washington Street, has some thinking that the Walentases have changed.

“This neighborhood was once an oasis for artists and non-profits,” said Adam Rich, the executive director of Kids Creative, a non-profit organization. “The businesses getting kicked out of this building aren’t going to stay in DUMBO.”

Two Trees intends to have approximately 100 rental apartments at the location. The conversion from commercial to residential will begin in spring of 2010.

This move by the developer is not unexpected, and Jed Walentas offered little sympathy to the displaced.

“People’s leases end all of the time,” he said. “People come, people go.”

At 25 Washington, they’re going. And Gallo thinks it’ll hurt the neighborhood that the Walentases basically built.

“We’re disappoint­ed,” said Gallo. “Walentas manipulates the market in whatever way is advantageous to him. He lures businesses in with incentives and then disposes of them when they’re no longer needed.”

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Reader Feedback

Booyah from Fulton Ferry says:
Jed is an ass. It's not slander when it's true.
Sept. 29, 2009, 2:18 pm
al pankin from downtown says:
nothing lasts forever...he was kind enough to let them use his property all these years, he never signed it iver to them.
Sept. 29, 2009, 3:52 pm
john from danver says:
im happy im out of this building.i just moved to green desk and its far better.
Sept. 29, 2009, 10:50 pm
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
Pleeeze! Just like Dumbo was a "artists' oasis," before that it was an empty wasteland. It was the Walentas' who brought the artists in -- and gave them decent leases for many many years.

The Walentas have been very generous to the arts community. Consider 70 Washington: when it was converted to condos a few years back, many artists were relocated nearby.

But, yes, at some point, neighborhoods change.
Sept. 29, 2009, 11:18 pm
moving out from DUMBO says:
BYE BYE Walentas. After the third unexpected re-location (trust me we didn't know from the beginning), we are leaving DUMBO for good as are at least three of the other creative businesses we know at 25 Washington. I'm sorry it took us this long to stop being pawns in the Walentas master plan.

I agree that neighborhoods change, in fact I'm excited to be moving on. Just a word of warning to the luxury renters, as soon as it makes sense to sell your apts to the highest bidders, the Walentas will do just that
Sept. 30, 2009, 10:39 am
jan from dumbo says:
welcome to the real world, where businesses actually like to make money once in a while. these "artists" should be grateful for having had cheap rent for years upon years ... grow up, stop the whining and move on.
Oct. 3, 2009, 10:43 am
isaac from dumbo says:
if you want to stay in the area, check out www.green-desk.com
Oct. 5, 2009, 9:46 pm

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