New York is no stranger to reinvention. But the changes that have taken hold in Dumbo, even in just the last five years, have taken the neighborhood to a once-unimaginable place.
When artists began trickling into the post-industrial Brooklyn area in the 1970s, they found massive concrete warehouses and postcard views. But the stone-lined streets were desolate.
Today those same streets are teeming with tech workers, hotel guests, diners and shoppers spilling out from swanky hotels, restaurants and high-end retail. Meanwhile, the skyline is dotted with rooftop bars and pools.
Since the Empire Stores — a coffee warehouse-turned-food hall and mall — opened in 2016, everything has ballooned. That includes the debut of the exclusive members-only Dumbo House — a branch of Soho House tucked discreetly inside the Empire Stores building — and massive restaurants like the 8,500-square-foot Cecconi’s Dumbo and the even bigger 13,000-square-foot Sugarcane.
Down the street, meanwhile, is 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, a nearly 200-room luxe eco-hotel that is also home to the trendy 150-seat restaurant the Osprey.
On Front Street, meanwhile, the first full-service grocery store, the 16,000-square-foot Dumbo Market, opened in April.
And that’s not even including all the residential projects. Developers and investors have funneled so much cash into to Dumbo that some say the neighborhood may be oversupplied, especially as the market softens.
Robin Schneiderman — head of business development for Halstead and Brown Harris Stevens Development Marketing, the first of which is active in the neighborhood — said rentals likely have a clearer path than condos in the area.
“The story really is, can Dumbo absorb all these new apartments?” he said.
Schneiderman noted there’s a sense that Dumbo is quickly approaching capacity.
“Everything is basically developed,” he said.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses, once among the largest property owners in the area, began selling off their holdings in the early 2000s, paving the way for some of the projects that began remaking the area, including the condo conversion One Brooklyn Bridge Park and the office mega-complex Dumbo Heights.