When Joffrey Ballet School was looking for a new space, they searched all over Manhattan south of 120th street and in Brooklyn neighborhoods of Dumbo and Williamsburg. They consistently encountered two problems — price and finding space that met their physical requirements.
“We need large open spaces with high ceilings,” says Lee Merwin, the school’s director of operations.
But such spaces in Manhattan have become increasingly scarce. “Many arts organizations are moving out of Manhattan into the outer boroughs because the rent is simply becoming unaffordable,” he says.
The boutique Zipper Building, at 47-10 – 47-16 Austell Place in Long Island City, suited their needs.
They also liked the fact that at less than 60,000 square feet, the Zipper Building didn’t swallow them up. That’s what also resonated with David Yang, co-founder and creative officer for the Coalition for Queens (C4Q), when he was looking to relocate from another Long Island City location.
“We wanted our new space to become a hub for tech,” he says, “with the ability to create flexible environments for us, including students having 24/7 access.”
To accommodate their physical requirements, Yang and his team have worked closely with Vanbarton Group, the building’s management. “It’s been invaluable to be able to work directly with management but also with their team of designers, engineers, and contractors.”
Of course, being in Long Island City is another amenity — close to transportation, and in the middle of the City’s most booming development.
“There’s an incredible number of families moving into all the new high rises in the area,” says Merwin, “which is exciting for our after-school programming.”
Yang likes the bustle of the area. “For a building of this modest size there’s a lot of activity, from our students coming in and out, the ballerinas from Joffrey, and the food production with [fellow tenant] Dr. Smood,” he says.
Indeed, the Zipper Building is a bustling center of mixed-use commercial and cultural activity that greatly adds to LIC’s growing vibrancy.
“There’s a vibrant dance and arts community in the area,” adds Merwin. “In many ways it’s similar to Williamsburg before Williamsburg became Williamsburg.”
Zipper Building @ Austell Place, which is located between 27th Street and Skillman Avenue, is close to Hunters Point Avenue subway station and the Hunters Point Avenue LIRR.
Currently, two bays on the ground floor are available, which can be leased individually or combined. On the third floor, three units are available, ranging from 2,000 to 12,000 square feet, with ability to divide to suit potential tenant’s needs and communal spaces including a conference room and pantry.
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