Booming wine business buys into BankNote

The Wine Cellarage was founded five years ago in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood. The company’s revenue has increased 500 percent since moving to the Bronx’s BankNote complex. Photo courtesy of The Wine Cellarage

Since joining The BankNote three years ago, Lars Neubohn has watched his revenue balloon 500 percent. Now Neubohn’s balloon – The Wine Cellarage company – is taking flight.

In September, The Wine Cellarage inked a seven-year, 5,843-square foot expansion lease at 890 Garrison Avenue, The BankNote complex. Neubohn plans to open a wine store next year. The Wine Cellarage stocks and distributes high-end wines.

“The BankNote has been a great location for us,” Neubohn, the company’s president, said. “We have a long customer list of serious wine buyers. We have a logistical platform already in place. To keep growing, we need to enter retail. This expansion will allow us to do that.”

Counting its expansion, The Wine Cellarage will now occupy 22,343 square feet. Landlords Denham Wolf Real Estate Inc. and Taconic Investment Partners leased Neubohn the new space at $21 per square foot.

Denham Wolf and Taconic are dressing up The BankNote, a century old, 420,000-square foot complex of four buildings. They’re after creative and non-profit firms. The Lightbox-NY, Sustainable South Bronx and Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre are tenants, as are a number of studio artists.

“The Wine Cellarage has been a fantastic addition to The Banknote,” said Denham Wolf president Paul Wolf. “Lars Neubohn is not just our tenant, but our partner in the redevelopment of The BankNote and the revitalization of Hunts Point. We look forward to many more years of working together.”

Denham Wolf and Taconic bought The BankNote in 2007. Massive and stoutly constructed, the complex was named an official city landmark this year. Until 1985, it housed the American BankNote Company.

The BankNote’s $25 million renovation, currently underway, will include new elevators, lobbies and windows.

“I like to walk prospective tenants through The Wine Cellarage,” Wolf said. “It gives them a sense of security.”

Denham Wolf and Taconic are negotiating with a diverse group of prospective tenants in the food and garment industries, Wolf said. Meanwhile, the city has fallen on hard times; Wolf’s BankNote blockbuster is nothing if not ambitious.

Neubohn founded The Wine Cellarage five years ago in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood. The company has shifted its focus to encompass not only refrigerated storage, but also logistics. The Wine Cellarage holds, handles and ships to clients like Christie’s, the world’s largest wine auctioneer.

Six people work at The Wine Cellarage. Neubohn hopes to add three or four more in 2009. He’s applied for a state liquor license. The expansion gives Neubohn access to the complex’s pedestrian thoroughfare – exactly what the company needs to open a wine store.

Neubohn will extend The Wine Cellarage’s storage operation 3,000-square feet and reserve 1,000-square feet for retail.

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