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Iconic Ice Cream Factory at Foot of Bklyn Bridge May Shutter its Doors

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The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, located at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, may soon be shutting its doors. Photo Credit: nycgo.com

The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, located at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, may soon be shutting its doors.

Preliminary reports indicate that the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. will announce a new operator – possibly this week — for the concession that operates out of the almost century-old former fireboat station at 1 Water St.

The ice cream retailer is operated by Mark Thompson and owned by Buzzy O’Keeffe, who also owns the culinary landmark River Cafe a half-block away. “But with the Factory’s license with the city up, the Park Corporation put out a request for proposals last summer for an operator to run a “high-quality food and beverage concession,” according to the New York Post. “The new license holder would also have to pay for major capital improvements including expanded access to the mostly unused second floor.”

The shop opened for business just eight weeks after 9/11. As the New York Times commented at the time, “It’s a strange time to open an ice cream shop. Businesses are closing, the markets are struggling and the city’s spirit is subdued.”

The ice cream shop sits near the Brooklyn Bridge in a landmark fireboat house on a ferry landing, the oldest in Brooklyn. In the past, firefighters from the nearby marine fireboat station used the building for firefighting practice sessions. New York City for Dummies called its ice cream “the best ice cream in New York”, as did The Sunday Times and Frommer’s New York City.

The decision regarding the Ice Cream Factory is only one of several projects that the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. has been busy with. Last summer, it announced plans to build a permanent pool at Squibb Park, which sits just above Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park and is connected to the Park through Squibb Park Bridge. Subject to necessary approvals, NYC Parks intends to enter into an agreement with BBP for the development, operation, and maintenance of a pool and optional related amenities at Squibb Park.

The construction of a pool at Squibb Park is estimated to cost between $10-$15 million, the organization said in a release. One-third of the capital funding for the project will be funded by BBP; and the remainder will be raised publicly and privately in partnership with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. Midtown Equities and Alloy Development with Monadnock Construction, and DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners are also supporting the effort and have already dedicated funds towards the pool. A capital fundraising campaign is now underway to ensure the needed funds will be raised.

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