It’s no secret that Vice Media is expanding and soon will take over every part of South Williamsburg not owned by or J Crew or Two Trees. Still, the owners of the clubs that have been displaced by Vice (Death By Audio, Glasslands, 285 Kent) have been very tight-lipped about why they are shuttering. We reached out to Glasslands yesterday and haven’t heard a peep. What’s with all the secrecy?
Gawker tracked down Ric Leichtung, the guy who ran the now defunct 285 Kent and got an answer:
The landlord’s been waiting for a pay day like this for years. The landlord’s made little headway on bringing the building up to code to host legitimate businesses, opting for these really short term 2 or 3-year commercial leases to illegal loft spaces and quasi-legal establishments like 285 Kent so that the landlord could easily kick them out or wait for their leases to expire and cash in when they found a buyer.
Current tenants are still discreet because they’re still under that landlord’s roof, but really the writing’s been on the wall for a while. Bedford Avenue’s been gentrifying for more than a decade, and a major corporate buyout like this is as depressing as it is predictable… No one should really be surprised here.
So there you go. No one is surprised. Still, it’s a hard pill to swallow given Vice‘s history of cashing in on Williamsburg’s independent cachet:
Conner, the broker who paired Vice with the landlords of its soon-to-be sprawling new offices, is making amends to himself by rationalizing that Vice is Brooklyn enough to displace fellow borough mainstays without it being too gauche. Here he is talking to the Observer:
“It would be one thing if all of those … traditional Williamsburg tenants were being replaced by JP Morgan’s digital media group,” Mr. Conner said. “But that wasn’t the case. It’s Vice.”
Of course, the differences between “JP Morgan’s digital media group” and Vice are very much in the eye of the beholder.