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Rendering showing a diagrid tower at 500 Kent Avenue looking southwest to lower Manhattan (Credit: Motiv Studio) Rendering showing a diagrid tower at 500 Kent Avenue looking southwest to lower Manhattan (Credit: Motiv Studio)
Back in 2009, when the Williamsburg waterfront was just becoming a destination, Con Edison demolished a nine-story electrical power generating station at 500 Kent Avenue. According to The New York Times, the imposing red-brick building was built in 1905 to produce power for the trains and streetcars of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company. After operating for 49 years as a Con Edison plant, it closed in 1999 following the footsteps of nearby manufacturing hubs such as Schaefer Beer, Certified Lumber, and Domino Sugar. Reportedly, Con Ed's attempts to sell the building had been unsuccessful and because of the extent of contamination, it was decided to tear the building down. “It is quite literally throwing this building into the garbage,” a preservationist told the Times.
500 Kent Avenue The demolished power station captured in 2006 (CityRealty)
500 Kent is located within Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) and looks out onto the Navy Yard's Barge Basin. Following soil remediation work, the site sat fallow as South Williamsburg upscaled around it. The Schaefer Landing development and its New York Ferry slip are just to the north. Just inland is Oosten, whose two-acre site once part of the Schaefer Beer brewery holds 216 condos currently priced from $995K. Across from it is 420 Kent Avenue, where a trio of Transformer-like rental towers developed by Elliott Spitzer are finishing construction. Across Division Avenue from the demolished power station is the Certified Lumber site which was rezoned in 2011 to allow roughly 800 units of housing.
Rose Plaza Rendering of the canceled Rose Plaza development planned for the Certified Lumber site. The 500 Kent site is on the far right. (Isack Rosenberg)
In June 2017, The Real Deal reported that Rabsky Group, the developer behind 26 West Street and 10 Montieth Street, was in contract to buy a 2.65-acre portion of the site for $50 million. According to the publication, 230,000 square feet can be built as-of-right and current zoning allows for manufacturing, office, and some retail uses. When Con Edison put the site up for sale, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams adamantly came out against a rezoning to allow residential uses.
Earlier this year, a pair of renderings emerged from the CGI firm of MOTIV Studio. Resembling a cross between Midtown's Hearst Magazine Tower and the Gherkin in London (both designed by Lord Norman Foster), they show a prismatic diagrid tower of about 35 floors topped with trees and a facade adorned with vegetated areas. The renderings appear to be new judging from One Manhattan Square rising in the distance, but it is unknown if the design is being seriously considered.
500 Kent Avenue Williamsburg (Credit: MOTIV Studio)
500-Kent-Avenue-03 Google Earth aerial showing the cleared site of 500 Kent Avenue (CityRealty)
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