A multibillion-dollar skateboarding company is building an indoor skate park in Greenpoint — but it won’t be for the public or for fans of the fastest growing wheel-based board sport in the world.
Vans, the California-based global shoe and apparel company, has leased a two-story warehouse on Franklin Street with plans to build a skateboarding laboratory for its clients and sponsored athletes.
The company, which is sponsoring the Jelly Pool Parties, is mum about its plans to transform the former Odwalla beverage distribution warehouse, only saying it would not sell any retail on the site and it was totally stoked to be in Greenpoint.
“We don’t want to compete with anyone else out who’s out there [by opening a retail store],” said Vans spokesman Chris Overholser. “We’re taking steps to raise our profile on the East Coast and elevate awareness of the Vans brand.”
A broker for the site confirmed that a store would not be built onsite and that Vans would use the building as a “private skate facility” for professional skateboarders and it would not be open to the public.
“Their lease calls for ‘private use’ only,” said Bob Klein, a broker at Kalmon Dolgin Realty, who assisted in the sale. “They want to test their skate products in their indoor park. You wouldn’t even know they’re in the building.”
The neighborhood is home to an avid skateboarding community, which has several outdoor spaces to practice in, including a new $400,000 skate park at Lorimer and Bayard streets funded by Assemblyman Joe “Acid Drop” Lentol (D–Greenpoint).
But there are almost no places to practice indoors save for Greenpoint’s legendary Autumn Bowl, which is closing and is perplexingly up for sale on eBay for $15,000.
Avid skateboarder Bogdan Dzyurak, who has endorsement deals with several skateboarding companies including Vans, believes the new Franklin Street building will be a welcome addition for professional skaters who have few options in the neighborhood to perform kickflips or acid drops — skating off the end of an object without using your hands — when the weather gets colder.
“Skateboarding in New York is more out in the open — if it snows, you’re screwed,” said Dzyurak. “Four months out of the year its cold out here.”
But amateur skateboarders and poseurs alike will have to look elsewhere for indoor parks and skate shops carrying low-top old-school sneakers that wear out at the toe after doing only a few quarterpipes.