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Home furnishings retailer opens milestone store in historic space


West Elm opened its 100th store, at Empire Stores, in Brooklyn, New York. It is the first tenant to officially open in the restored 19th-century coffee roasting facility and warehouse.

Located in Brooklyn’s Fulton Ferry Historic District, Empire Stores dates from 1869. Its massive red-brick walls feature distinctive round-arch openings and iron shutters, characteristic features of port warehouses of the period. The home furnishings retailer also has located its corporate headquarters within the building.

An active partner in the restoration, West Elm helped lead conversations about how to best reinvent the facility to reestablish its active role in community life.

The building, which received LEED silver certification, incorporates architectural elements from the original structure, including storied schist walls and arched brick windows. It is expected to have seven floors of private and public spaces, including corporate offices, a rooftop park, restaurants, and retail stores.

Similar to the headquarters space, the store architecture and design aesthetic pays homage to the original warehouse, incorporating salvaged materials into its design features, from a uniquely patterned floor featuring reclaimed support columns to a mural of the Brooklyn Bridge made entirely of reclaimed pine.

“At our core, West Elm is a start-up Brooklyn brand,” said Jim Brett, president of West Elm, a division of Williams-Sonoma. “So we were happy to support our hometown by making an early commitment to Empire Stores as its anchor tenant. And we were fortunate to connect with the right development partner in Midtown Equities, who shared our vision and willingness to invest in our community."
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