Dumbo Art Space St. Ann’s Mulls Manhattan Move

On Oct. 9, at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Dumbo, Rosanne Cash sang songs her father, Johnny, recommended she learn 36 years ago, in a concert marking the venue’s 30 years of existence. Ms. Cash also performed there in 2006. If she reappears in another three years, she will return to a venue in an entirely new location. Maybe even in Manhattan.
St. Ann’s Warehouse, the art space that has paid precisely $0 in rent since it moved into the Walentases38 Water Street in 2001, is moving.

“We’d love to stay in Dumbo,” said Susan Feldman, the Warehouse’s president and artistic director. “We would love to be able to stay in Brooklyn, but we’re also going to look in Manhattan.”

St. Ann’s is being displaced by the Walentases’ controversial 17-story Dock Street residential development, which the city finally approved in June over howls of protest from some neighbors, who, despite the developer’s inclusion of a middle school, deplore the building’s height and proximity to the Brooklyn Bridge. (This month, those neighbors filed a lawsuit against the city for approving the development.)

One person the Dock Street project is not controversial with is Ms. Feldman, despite its role in her displacement. After all, when St. Ann’s first relocated to Dumbo from Brooklyn Heights in ’01, it was only planning on staying nine months. Thanks to what Ms. Feldman called the Walentases’ “enlightened development” practices, her organization has been allowed to stay on rent-free.

“The Walentases are working with us to find a space,” Ms. Feldman told The Commercial Observer. “We always knew that at some point it was going to be developed. So they’re helping us move, and they’ll support us in our move, and it’s friendly.”

Ms. Feldman has hired nonprofit specialist Paul Wolf, of Denham Wolf Real Estate Services, to scout out about 15,000 square feet of space, which, in an otherwise exceedingly tenant-friendly market, is more difficult than it might seem, given the Warehouse’s unusual space needs. Requirement No. 1: 25-foot ceilings. Requirement No. 2: columns spaced as close to 50 feet apart as possible.

Worst comes to worst, the Warehouse could buy a development site and put up a second incarnation of its current digs.

“The building we’re in right now is fairly inexpensive to build,” Ms. Feldman pointed out. “It’s just a cinder block building.”

drubinstein@observer.com Dumbo Art Space St. Ann’s Mulls Manhattan Move