At 480 Van Brunt Street at Beard Street stands a block long red brick warehouse that was home from 2006 to 2020 to a Fairway Market on its ground floor and residential and commercial tenants on the upper floors. The supermarket became a Food Bazaar in August 2020.
This imposing building was built for William Beard in 1869, the developer of Erie Basin, as a waystation to store goods coming and going from ships.
The building was acquired by the Brooklyn Wharf and Warehouse trust in the late 1800s, and after that quickly went bankrupt, by the New York Dock Company in 1901. It was a bonded warehouse, meaning that it was a secured building in which the government allowed goods to stored or manipulated duty free - the duty, or tax, was paid when the goods left the building.
The building, which has had several names over time, was used early on as a place to sort and store cotton. The building was built with thick brick walls to be fireproof, and has withstood several large cotton fires.
It stood unused for many years before purchase by local developer Greg O'Connell.
In 2006, a sensitive renovation and conversion was completed by the O'Connell Organization. This changed the building's structure, adding new windows to the western side, inserting glass windows into what had been open aperture protected only by steel doors. The largest change was to punch a hole in the roof and down several floors to create an atrium. Apartments on the upper floors are entered via a hallway around this atrium. The addition of an elevator and roof deck changed the profile of the roof.
The Fairway Market opened on the ground floor in 2006. The news that it was coming emerged in late 2001 as O'Connell sought to rezone the property from manurcaturing. The led to rezoning up to Beard Street.
The prospect of Fairway's arrival, the idea that Red Hook would have a full supermarket, a gourmet supermarket, changed the brand of Red Hook for realtors and jump-started an intense period of gentrification.
Corcoran Realty listed their first Red Hook building, a block north on Beard Street, before the store even opened, their broker saying to PortSide's founder Carolina Salguero "isn't it exciting what's happening in Red Hook?" to which she responded "what's happening?" and was told "Fairway is coming."
The founders of Fairway, the Glickberg family, sold Fairway, and a cycle of equity firms then over-expanded the chain, sucked money out of it and ran it into the ground. During the intense arrival of the COVID19 pandemic in NYC in Spring 2020, Fairway went bankrupt, and stores were bought by other chains. The Red Hook community was concerned about losing the supermarket during the pandemic. The Red Hook transitioned into being a Food Bazaar during August 2020.
The founding of PortSide NewYork is related to the prospect of the arrival of Fairway. We were to have been located on site, with our flagship MARY A. WHALEN, serving as a floating dock for tugboats coming to shop at the store, something which would boost the store's gross and provide us significant revenue as PortSide would get 10% of the gross receipts of purchases by boats that docked at our facility to shop. We testified at rezoning hearings in favor of the proposed Fairway because it would serve the working waterfront by making provisioning of workboats much easier.