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Last week we looked at how New York’s parking minimums are losing relevancy in today’s urban landscape. Today, we look at a few spots in New York City that have creatively repurposed under-utilized parking lots and garages into venues for dining, living and the performing arts.

1. The Exley

This Brooklyn bar was previously a deteriorating three-car garage before it was renovated late last year. We took a trip to the bar this past February, and discovered that owners Brandon Chamberlin and Matthew Ricke stumbled upon the abandoned auto body shop through a a dodgy, misspelled, Craigslist advertisement. The duo went on Smallknot, a crowdfunding platform, to raise $7500 for kitchen equipment to complete the bar, which they hoped would become a neighborhood place in Williamsburg along the BQE. The 600-square feet space is now packed on the weekends, a sign that the the industrial zone can become re-integrated into the neighborhood through adaptive reuse–even next to the BQE.

2. The Antiques Garage

Antiques Garage-Parking Lot-Chelsea-New York-Untapped CitiesSource: NYC Magazine

Bargain shoppers and antiques lovers probably know this by now, but for those who don’t, The Antiques Garage in Chelsea takes place in a two-story garage that functions as a flea market on Saturdays and Sundays. The establishment has been set up since 1994, housing eclectic antiques, decorative arts and vintage collectibles. The Antiques Garage arrived on the scene in the mid-1990’s with the rising art community in the Chelsea area. The Antiques Garage has remained in its original location ever since, but it was recently announced that the marketplace will be moving its business to an old H&H Bagel plant in 2014.

3. Gladstone Gallery 

1-Gladstone Gallery-Garages-Repurpose-Chelsea-New York-Untapped CitiesSource: Selldorf

Like The Antiques Garage, Gladstone Gallery was part of the newly developing community in Chelsea during the 90’s. Not only did the gallery take part in the area’s development, it relocated from Soho to an empty garage building on 515 West 24th Street. Owner and art dealer Barbara Gladstone welcomed this change, embracing garage spaces due to their convenient doors (makes it easy to move big pieces of art) and column-free space. Today, the 8,500 square feet gallery showcases contemporary art.

4. FreeCandy

1-Free Candy-Garage Space-Brooklyn-New York-Untapped CitiesSource: FreeCandy’s Facebook Page

This garage-turned-venue in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn hosts art viewings and music shows, displaying underground talent since its inception in the summer of 2011. The founder, Todd Triplett, had always dreamed of establishing a space dedicated to mixed-use art and performance to spur cultural revival in underserved areas of Brooklyn. FreeCandy is actually his second attempt at establishing an African-American arts center, after his first attempt failed in 2007 when the building he had invested in was taken by the city by eminent-domain.

5. Barcade Brooklyn

Brooklyn Barcade-Garage-Repurpose-Brooklyn-New York-Untapped CitiesSource: Guest of a Guest

This Brooklyn establishment blends two concepts together: classic arcade games and American craft beer. The arcade-bar pairing is an addictive combo, and its success has introduced Barcade offshoots to Jersey City and Philadelphia. However, the original Barcade in Brooklyn is the only one that’s been converted from a garage. In 2004, four longtime friends renovated a scrappy garage in the course of nine arduous months which can be found documented here. Here’s a tidbit: it only costs 25 cents to play games like Ms Pacman, Donkey Kong, Asteroids and many more. The game-bar organizes an annual chili cook-off to raise funds for the Brooklyn Community Foundation, a non-profit established to grow local giving and community service within the borough.

6. 66 East 11th Street

The garage space on 66 E. 11th St before it was turned into wellness luxury condos. Source: Google Maps

In 2011, New York developer Morad Fareed of Delos Living purchased an eight-story prewar building for $120 million, and converted the parking garage into six luxury condominiums. But what’s interesting is that the converted garage has become a comprehensive solution to better living for New Yorkers. According to Curbed, the listing claims to be the “first Wellness Real Estate residence in the world,” which aims to prevent poor health “through vibrant daily interactions with healthy living features” for its tenants. Fareed, a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, has Deepak Chopra and former Hilary Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe involved in the project as well.

7. The Park

The Park, a former 10,000-square-foot taxi garage is known for its lush atmosphere and innovative food fare (banana wontons, anyone?). Designed and built by Eric Goode and Sean Macpherson, the multi-chambered restaurant was opened in 2001. To differentiate themselves from other restaurants in the area, the duo aimed to introduce massive L.A. lounge-style dining to the area. Fun fact: Waiters don uniforms with the New Yorks City Parks Department logo on their t-shirts.

All this being said, the repurposing of transportation space is not new. The carriage house, the former abode for horses in the 19th century, was perhaps the first wave of such conversions. These stable-turned-houses are consistently in high demand, and many have been converted into luxury condos and office space. 

1 Comment

  1. Garth Steele says:

    Excellent post Joyce! Where I live, normally, garages are usually replaced with office buildings or offices. These are creative uses of a seemingly wasted spaces, I think I like The Park the best. Amazing.

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