Q+A: Jamie Ginsberg, Empire Stores General Manager
Who hasn't been amazed with the views, the architecture and the atmosphere of Empire Stores? Jamie Ginsberg fell for this building years ago, and this love brought her back as the General Manager of Empire Stores. In recognition of Jamie's contribution to DUMBO, we are honoring her with a 2019 Dumbo Dozen Award. We sat down with Jamie to learn more about her journey and whats next for Empire Stores.
Empire Stores is such a beautiful building; it's no wonder you fell in love with it. What's its history?
Empire Stores was an old coffee warehouse, built in the late 1800s. Ironically, there is no shortage of coffee in Dumbo today
And how did you end up working at Empire Stores?
It was a bit serendipitous, actually. I was hanging out in Dumbo with a bunch of friends several year ago, and I walked by this building and said to myself: “That’s such a cool building; I want to manage that building one day.” Several months later, I got a phone call–Empire Stores was looking for someone who was familiar with Brooklyn, who preferably lived in Brooklyn, to manage the building. I came for the interview, I again fell in love with the building, and I was obviously so happy that I got the job.
As far as how I got into commercial real estate... I majored in Business at Skidmore College. After college, I worked in the entertainment industry briefly for Frances Ford Coppola’s production company. Following that, for about 5 years, I worked for a high end boutique jewelry company where I managed both the production and sales lines. I realized the jewelry industry was not for me so decided to change careers. I was not exactly sure what I wanted to do and luckily for me a close family friend was then working at one of the major Temp Agencies.
She placed me in jobs in a variety of industries ranging from Finance to Fashion. It was a great experience. I was then placed in a Commercial Real Estate Management office in Soho . Within a week, I knew it was the right fit. Something just clicked. I have been in Commercial Real Estate ever since. I started off on the Leasing and Asset Management side and then switched over to the Operations side.
What does the job entail?
As a General Manager, I am responsible for all operations of the building.
What is your favorite part of working in this building?
Not only do I think this is the coolest building in NYC; there are many things, like the vibe, the view, the tenants, the people that make it incredible. There is something about this building that makes you feel good–it's different than any other commercial building I’ve worked at or been in. If I am having a bad day, I’ll just go up to the public roof terrace to take in the view for a moment. It’s really hard to be in a bad mood after that! It's an awesome place to work, and obviously the neighborhood, DUMBO, is amazing.
As the General Manager, I give a lot of tours and show many people around. It never gets old to see the look on people’s faces when they come into the building; it's like they've never seen a place like this before, and that's because there is no place like it. Also, everyone who works here is so proud to be working here; they're invested in the success of this building.
Everyone who works here is so proud to be working here; they're invested in the success of this building.
How does Empire Stores reflect DUMBO'S personality?
I think Empire Stores reflects Dumbo’s personality perfectly as it is a great representation of mixing the old with the new. This building has been part of DUMBO since the late 1800s, but now revived, has this vibe: it's cool, it's hip; just like the neighborhood
How has Empire Stores impacted DUMBO?
So much variety, talent and creativity has been brought to Dumbo through the tenancy at Empire Stores. And of course more food options. We have a wonderful mix here.
It also serves as a connection between the park and Water Street. I love standing in the lobby and watching all of the people (and some dogs); locals, tenants, tourists walking through from one side to the other.
There is a vibe here in this building that makes you feel good–it's different than any other commercial building I’ve worked at or been in.
What do we have to look forward to at Empire Stores?
Well, TimeOut market is going to open this Spring and that is very cool – it's going to bring more food options to Dumbo. Food kiosks, different concepts both on the first floor and on the fifth floor. On the 5th, they’ll have outdoor seating where you can dine and enjoy delicious food and take in the amazing view. All the restaurants, retail stores and offices that we have here are always doing cool things. We also host various pop-ups and local artists in Empire’s lobby throughout the year. More will develop, because the tenants here are so creative. It's really come together to be a great place, a great destination.
What is your favorite spot in DUMBO?
My favorite spot in DUMBO?... I have two. Brooklyn Bridge Park is one. I do love that park. My second favorite spot in DUMBO is on the rooftop here; it is just amazing and it would be my favorite spot even if I didn’t work here.