Endangered Buildings Initiative

Empire Stores

Empire Stores
Empire Stores

53-83 Water St, Brooklyn


Located in Brooklyn’s Fulton Ferry Historic District, the monumental Empire Stores at 53-83 Water Street dates from 1869, with additions by architect Thomas Stone in 1885. Its massive red-brick walls feature distinctive round-arch openings and iron shutters, characteristic features of port warehouses of the period.

The facility is State-owned and is located adjacent to a intensively-used State park. The park uses the stabilized walls of a formerly endangered historic building, the Tobacco Warehouse, as an outdoor venue for exhibits and entertainment.

The Empire Stores, however, is a much larger facility. Its huge scale, limited fenestration, and deteriorated condition pose reuse problems which, thus far have proven insuperable. In 2004, the Empire State Development Corporation issued a Request for Proposals and received several reuse ideas; however, no re-developer has yet been designated to implement a plan to preserve and reuse the Empire Stores.

Expressions of concern about the stewardship and future of this property should be sent to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation at Peebles Island, P.O. Box 189, Waterford, NY 12188-0189.

Neighborhood: Fulton Ferry
Building use type: Commercial
Condition: Poor
Architect/Builder: Thomas Stone
Year built: 1885
Style: Romanesque Revival
Predominant materials: Masonry
NYC Designation Status: Historic District
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