By Dennis Holt
BROOKLYN — Although the distance isn’t quite correct, it could be called Muss Mile —- the part of Adams Street that stretches from the north side of the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge down to Willoughby Street.
Newcomers to Downtown Brooklyn may not be that familiar with Joshua Muss and his Muss Development LLC, but Muss and Bruce Ratner are the two developers who have made the most significant changes to Downtown Brooklyn.
Muss brought us the first new hotel in Brooklyn in 50 years, and it was a frustrating struggle to get it built. Patience and probity prevailed. Then Muss brought us the second hotel — an extension of the first — and before you knew it, the combined 667-room hotel became one of the largest in the city.
Years ago Muss and I were discussing his first development and looking west at the Supreme Court Building. He said, “I wish I could tear it down … we’re isolated over here from that part of Downtown, the Heights and Montague Street.”
He didn’t spell out his plans, maybe wasn’t even sure of them himself at the time, but look at what he has quietly done. The second hotel building gives a large critical mass to the area and permits the hotel to compete with others for large exhibitions. Muss reached out to Chicago to convince Morton’s the Steakhouse to come to town and then started looking at 345 Adams St., that ugly city office building on the Willoughby Street corner.
I don’t know if anything like this happened, but I can see Muss standing, looking at 345 Adams St. and musing about the prospects of developing the first two floors of that building into a retail destination — not only for his hotel customers and the office workers above the hotel but just about anybody else.
That is what he has done. When Sugar and Plumm and American Barbeque & Beer Co. open their doors next fall at 345 Adams St., this part of town will become a retail destination. With Panera Bread and Shake Shack also opening soon, there will be a lot of reasons to get over there.
The whole place could have been an even more awesome presence. A few years ago, Muss wanted to build a new office building at the Boerum Place-Fulton Street corner. That didn’t pan out, but that undeveloped site is still there. And so is Muss.