Before it was multimillion dollar condos, Red Hook’s 160 Imlay was a site for shenanigans

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To the left, a rendering of the building once its renovation is complete. To the right, shenanigans there in the early 2000s.

Like many a Brooklyn building, Red Hook’s 160 Imlay St. has been converted from an abandoned industrial hulk to a residential condo development where apartments sell for over $5 million to former NFL linebackers. Unlike plenty of controversial real estate conversions, 160 Imlay solicited little pushback: to many it was an objective eyesore, crumbling at the borough’s edge, in great need of refurbishment, residential or otherwise. To me and a group of my friends, its conversion was the end of an era.

On Saturday nights year-round back in the early 2000s, we’d rally each other to trek to The Warehouse, as we called it,  and party in its pitch black labyrinth. In the early days, it was mainly backroom beer pong on the lower levels (the Solo cups were still there, the last time I went, covered in dust where they’d fallen); only later did we start making our way to the roof.

Sometimes, especially when security got tight, kids would get scared and turn back right in front of the building. Just mumble some excuse and walk back to the train, after coming all the way to the edge of Red Hook. By the end, I couldn’t really blame them. The construction crew strung lights through the place, put the barbed wire on the inside of the scaffolding and booby-trapped the stairs with wood planks. Once we made it to the roof, everyone was bloody, shirts were ripped, faces streaked with sweat and dirt. That was near the end of our time at The Warehouse, though. The beginning was beautiful.

Back in 2008 there was just a big hole in the fencing between 160 Imlay and her sister warehouse, so we’d walk right in through the front door. Sometimes 50 of us would pack on that roof, a bunch of 16-year-old kids drunk off our asses chucking empty beer bottles at the trucks in the yard behind the building, setting off their alarms like dominoes, throwing fire extinguishers down the shaftways and tagging nonsense on the walls. We’d tape 40s to our hands and climb 30 feet of rusted ladder to the top of the old water tower and dig the view. Once, my friend fell off what is now being advertised as the “Super Penthouse”. He shattered his humerus but came back the next week to paint his name on a crucifix-shaped wall-panel.

160 Imlay is baked now, with plenty of the apartments already sold. The era is over, but at least I got pictures.

A version of this article originally appeared on Mad Swirl.

All renderings via developer Estate Four. All photographs by author unless noted

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To the left, a rendering of the building once its renovation is complete. To the right, shenanigans there in the early 2000s.

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Photo by David Sugarman

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Historic photos of the both Dock buildings from a presentation.
Historic photos of the both Dock buildings.

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A historic image of one of the identical Dock buildings.
A historic image of one of the identical Dock buildings.

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The view from on top of the penthouse at various times of day back when it was just an abandoned rooftop tower.
The view from on top of the “Super Penthouse” at various times of day back when it was just an abandoned rooftop tower.

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