Brooklyn Daily Eagle - September 7, 2010
In the past few weeks, Brooklyn has gotten a little wealthier—at least in theory. And its culture quotient has popped a couple notches, too. But the assets responsible for these surges are locked behind state of the art security on Red Hook’s waterfront.
In early August, Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS) opened its largest facility to date in one of two sister buildings owned by a local Brooklyn real estate developer.
A subsidiary of the Auction House, CFASS, which has locations in London and Singapore, does not actually have an auction element, but instead provides top of the line storage — and display services to facilitate sales, if needed — for valuable pieces.
A perfect fit might have brought more jobs for locals and working artists, but that’s not going to be the case. “You don’t need a lot of people to move art,” said Joel Weinberg, CFASS’s New York general manager, with a hint of disappointment. He leads a staff of five, two of whom have ties to the Red Hook art scene, plus a security team.
Weinberg hasn’t ruled out other opportunities for contributing to the local economy, as CFASS has finished only two of its six floors. Those two floors feature more than 100 private rooms, units of managed storage (larger space shared by smaller collections) and several viewing galleries, which offer clients a museum-quality venue in which to show their art.
The four unfinished floors have all their mechanicals in, but Weinberg said the company wants to stay nimble to unanticipated client needs. And he said local industry could play a role in the buildout.
But interested contractors should probably come with impeccable reputations. Weinberg said that one insurance representative described the facility as “art storage on steroids.” A beeping soundtrack of high-tech security accompanied a tour of the gleaming corridors. Purified, dehumidified air, kept at a constant 70 degrees, wafted overhead. The original gray, pebbled floors were buffed to a smooth finish. A multimillion-dollar elevator system, capable of carrying a classic Rolls Royce, bookends halls bathed in brilliant white and shimmering chrome, a kind of wainscoting that adds protection to the steel-enforced walls.
Hundreds of motion-sensor video cameras sprout from the ceilings and walls, inside and out. It’s no wonder that CFASS had a line of clients waiting to stow their Picassos and Pollocks.
But CFASS doesn’t intend to wall itself off from the community. “We’re going to try to develop a relationship with Brooklyn,” said Weinberg. He said CFASS might hire another five or six people as inventory grows. And the company already has formed a catering relationship with Kevin Moore of Kevin’s restaurant on Van Brunt Street.
In some ways, CFASS does seem to be the perfect tenant for Red Hook. With a 30-year lease, the wholly owned subsidiary of Christie’s international art business offers some protection from disruptive development that might raise rents aggressively.
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