Businesses in DUMBO, Brooklyn Create a Sense of Place in an Unlikely Space

DUMBO Brooklyn, or the District Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, went from a manufacturing no-mans-land to a booming start-up hub and hipster haven in just a few short decades. In the 1970s, you could buy a square foot of land here for under six dollars. Today, you’ll need to shell out $1,000 for the same square foot. How did DUMBO transform itself from the ruins of the industrial revolution to the hip, cool, waterfront neighborhood it is today?  


It should come as no surprise that New York City’s start-up-hub was in fact, created by the ‘OG start-up mogul’: David Walentas. Raised poor in Rochester, N.Y., Walentas was no stranger to hard farm work and delinquent tendencies. Despite his rascal demeanor, he finished his degree in mechanical engineering in 1961 and went on to clean septic tanks in Greenland. Following a trip to visit his brother in Madrid, he soon found himself in Casablanca hanging out on the wharf looking for a ship to take him and his new white Volkswagen back to New York. A Danish freighter landed him on Brooklyn’s west shore in 1962. Like a precursor for things to come, Walentas would leave the squalor of this part of the city only to return four years later with the burning urge to become a real estate developer.

Fast forward to today and the beautiful, sun bathed, waterfront properties of modern-day DUMBO. Breaking briefly from the history of the neighborhood, what is it that draws so many tech moguls to this neighborhood? First and foremost, DUMBO has space. Space that Manhattan can not provide. Tech startups, notably Etsy, have the space and freedom to develop and branch out in a unique area just minutes from the heart of new York City: Manhattan. Now, following this commercial boom, DUMBO is not only an entrepreneur’s dream locale but also a wealthy residential hotspot-- affiliates of Donald Trump are now buying up pieces of DUMBO with the intention of creating luxury residences.


But how did David Walentas truly redefine this overlooked area of New York City? It was a veritable industrial wasteland surrounded by crime-afflicted areas, how did Walentas convince business to move to Brooklyn? Walentas has been known to attribute his success in part to the artists’ of the time who told him DUMBO was the next big thing--they had even named it DUMBO as a way to alienate developers and to keep the community amongst themselves. It took a man like David Walentas to see the beauty through despair and to capitalize on it, in true entrepreneurial fashion.

David Walentas befriended an affluent New Yorker, Jeff Byers, and sought funding through  his wealthy connections and co-founded Two Trees Management Firm, a real estate firm. The firm went on to buy properties all over New York City as well as Atlanta and Baltimore. Yet, Two Trees Management Firm only knew true DUMBO success after the controversial suicide of one of its founding members, Jeff Byers, as well as the aide from pro-development mayor, Rudy Giuliani who made it easier for developers like Two Trees to buy up DUMBO properties at a relatively low price. Two Trees hopped on the opportunity and geared it’s commercial properties towards startups. With short-term leases and lowered credit requirements, DUMBO was poised to welcome young entrepreneurs with open arms. With tech startups come businesses and affluence, and soon, DUMBO was booming.


Today, with the brand new Brooklyn Bridge Park situated on prime New York City waterfront as well as a plethora of chic coffee shops and hip classes, business in DUMBO is truly flourishing. Refurbished warehouses serve as homes to tech giants and its renovated cobblestone streets, relics of its post-industrial past, are now lined with art galleries and hipster boutiques. The brainchild of a true visionary, DUMBO is proof that sometimes success takes a particular sense of perception-- who would have thought in the 1970s that DUMBO would be the modern, exclusive, trendy Brooklyn neighborhood it is today? Although now this particular neighborhood rents at about the same price as Manhattan, it is still a world apart. Echoes from the past through its’ architecture, the space for businesses to truly grow, and the culture that only Brooklyn can supply, DUMBO is the place to be for anyone willing to take the plunge into the [mostly] lucrative world of startups. Or, live like Walentas, and keep your eye out for other industrial wastelands to transform in a matter of mere decades. In case you don’t discover the new DUMBO, sign up to this blog to keep yourself informed on all things business and travel!

New Year, New Look, New Direction.

2019 is here! 

With the onset of a new year comes the arrival of opportunity, change and new directions; a relinquishing of the old and an embrace of the novel, exciting things yet to come. 

It is with that preface that I allude to the changes to come concerning this blog.

Up to this point, the blog has been an outlet for random writing advice, suggestions for improving effectiveness through grammar mindfulness and a mashup of whatever else.  That hasn’t really served us well or proven useful for you, and I’m willing to accept that and listen.  What you have expressed interest in, is more unveiling of the adventures that occur between the posts and amidst the client deadlines.  

Many of you know the backstory: an entrepren-her with a background in politics who ditched the conventional to live what she learned and learn from that what she gains through living.  How can I utilize what I’ve learned from university, hone it and apply it to my passion for business?

The decision to become a content writer came by serendipitous happenstance: a friend wanted a paper proofread, another needed help writing her real estate newsletter and marketing emails and yet another needed guidance with writing an eBook series.  One document here and there? No problem. Seven documents later and you’re getting invoiced.

In developing content for friends and colleagues, I discovered a pattern: the fundamentals of sound urban planning and great content writing are essentially one in the same: at the heart of both lie a strategic plan providing guidance for construction and direction for development, leverage for smart growth that is profitable and sustainable, and a product that is both beautiful to the senses and useful to the intended stakeholders.

I very quickly found this approach, when followed consistently, produced great content and great cities.  It has worked for developers of commercial real estate and it has worked for myself, a developer of commercial content. 

This is great... but this isn’t what you want to read. What you have expressed interest in, however, are the stories of local adventures that happen outside of my client meetings.  The tours through Le Marais in search of the best croissants traditionnel when I’m in Paris meeting with clients about a blog content project.  The photos of the glaciers of Iceland while writing newsletter copy for a client in Manhattan.  The delicious dumplings in DUMBO before heading to Prospect Park, Brooklyn for a meeting with powerhouse real estate magnates.

It is these adventures you crave, as you’ve expressed they allow you to live the world through our eyes, and it is these adventures we will give you.


Going forward, this blog will be a resource for reading the world a la the voice of the Anglophone- Francophone perspective.  Life, through the fast lens of transatlantic content writers jet-setting, occasionally adulting and otherwise doing whatever it takes to pursue great copy.

What to expect:

-stories of the expat life. 

-empowering words for women entrepreneurs. 

-introspective journaling from digital nomads, aspiring creatives and guest bloggers who live their dream and write great content in between. 

-possibly content writing tips? Who knows. Maybe, if we’re not too busy being globetrotting dynamite divs.


À bientôt! <<See you later!>>