Vice Media Drives Out Independent Venues in Brooklyn…

A number of independent music venues near 2nd Street and Kent Avenue in Brooklyn are shutting down. Most recently, Glasslands announced that they would close down at the end of 2014. Death By Audio is shutting down next month.  285 Kent shut down towards the beginning of the year.

These venues faced a number of difficulties, both obvious and not-so-obvious. This includes rising lease prices, unwilling landlords, and in the case of Death By Audio and Glasslands — Vice Media.

Vice Media signed a lease for property surrounding these venues during the summer, and they’ll eventually move into the entire 75,000 square foot warehouse space.

Both Gawker and Billboard say they have sources that directly tie Vice Media to the closure of Death By Audio and Glasslands, who have declined comment. Indie theater indieScreen has also been displaced.  The writing is on the wall, but other media outlets are saying they’re “unsure” of Vice’s involvement in venue closures.285 Kent’s Ric Leichtung told Gawker:

“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.”

This is what Vice had to say about the matter to Billboard:

“Brooklyn is our home and we’re already hard at work developing a freaky, space-age utopia that will give today’s creative visionaries a place to produce astonishing stories and leave their indelible thumbprint on the annals of history.”

In September, the Commercial Observer published a story on Vice’s new lease.  They interviewed Drew Conner, who brokered the deal. The article says the property owners had to agree to terminate existing leases, empty their properties, and create a space big enough for Vice.

Conner said: “It would be one thing if all of those … traditional Williamsburg tenants were being replaced by JP Morgan’s digital media group,… But that wasn’t the case. It’s Vice.”


Nina Ulloa covers breaking news, tech, and more. Follow her on Twitter: @nine_u


11 Responses

  1. danwriter

    So, a $2.5-billion media organization, which is already changing how news is gathered, parsed and distributed, and employs hundreds of workers, is moving into space once occupied by a performance venue that closed 10 months ago and a couple of others that are of dubious legality? I heard Greenpoint and Astoria are looking for singer-songwriters.

      • Anonymous

        That’s a good point except for the fact that “traditional Williamsburg tenants” were actually not the venues but lower income families and businesses that got displaced by the gentrification that happened and is happening at an exponential rate.

        People want to blame Vice but it’s all the landlords who are happy to sit on these properties till top dollar is paid.

        That’s capitalism, it has very little to do with anything else.

        Vice got a 6.5M$ tax break to keep business in the city and not go to LA. They have hundreds of millions invested in them and hold properties across various media outlets and mediums. Vice is a brand, nothing more nothing less, they don’t owe anything to anyone at this point except their investors.

        Once upon a time people were squatting in Soho, Chelsea, the Village, Dumbo etc. Those are all high rent districts now all things considered. This is nothing new.

        • Nina Ulloa

          i never said these venues were “traditional Williamsburg tenants”. i’m very aware of gentrification 😉

        • Nina Ulloa

          It may be “nothing new”. But that doesn’t mean we say “oh, that’s just how it is” and don’t discuss it.

        • danwriter

          There are some pretty complex dynamics affecting all indie-level businesses in Billyburg — gentrification is just one of them. Laying the demise of a few dodgy ones on Vice moving in is specious, at best. And Rupert Murdoch’s stake is 5%— hardly controlling ownership. Other investors include global marketing group WPP, Hollywood and Silicon Valley investors, and Viacom former chief executive Tom Freston. Dislike Vice for the reasons many do — low employee pay and freelance rates — but don’t pin the closure of a few already-tanked indie venues on them.

        • GGG

          Not that I’m disagreeing with you in general but a large part of that Kent Avenue area was/is warehouses that were sitting unused for years or questionably safe apts/loft spaces. Before it became gentrified to the degree it is now, it was still a shitty area when a lot of those clubs, art spaces popped up. So that’s one part of Williamsburg you can actually say white kids didn’t kick out too many old school residents. Move in a block or two, sure, you’re back to that, but those warehouse spaces were just nothing.

  2. Friend of Williamsburg

    Drew Conner and all 12 of his chins brokered the deal with the Markowitz Brothers. Has anyone seen his DashRock LLC website?