Chelsea gallery Luhring Augustine recently purchased this warehouse at Knickerbocker and Ingraham for two million dollars. Photo by Devvon Simpson for BushwickBK

A former 99-cent-store distribution warehouse will soon be home to the storage space of a high-end Chelsea gallery. The owners of Luhring Augustine purchased the 10,200-square-foot warehouse at 25 Knickerbocker Avenue for two million dollars, marking Bushwick as an emerging art business center.

Luhring Augustine will be doing extensive renovations on the building to house artwork, and the result will be "a nicely designed Chelsea-like viewing space," said senior preparator Donovan Barrow, including polished concrete floors, skylights, and climate control.

"The new building is primarily going to be our storage facility, but we hope to have at least a quarter of the space dedicated to exhibitions," said Barrow. A 2,500-square-foot exhibition space would be a first for Bushwick, though it’s not clear if it will be open to the public or just collectors.

The Morgan L train stop and the short car commute will provide easy access from Manhattan, noted Barrow.

Barrow said that much of the gallery’s small staff not only lives in Bushwick and Ridgewood, they own their homes. Barrow uses his house’s two-car garage as his studio. The gallery’s registrar, Mark Jetton, and the senior director, Natalia Sacasa, recently purchased homes in the area. It seems investing in the Bushwick area long-term isn’t just a trend, but a growing priority in the art world.

“Everyone seems to be interested in the neighborhood," Barrow said. "Many of the gallery staff are artists and some have had active involvement in the area over the past few years."

Jetton, a painter, is thrilled that his employer is investing in Bushwick. "It’s exciting to see the neighborhood grow so quickly, and to watch them become a part of it." Jetton himself has lived in Ridgewood for three years, and bought a home on DeKalb Avenue near the Linden Hill Cemetery.

"There is a lot of communication and mutual respect between the gallery owners and the staff," Barrow said.  Luhring Augustine featured the artwork of gallery staff in Luhring Augustine Presents (2008), in which Barrow was included.  Likewise, the gallery listened to the recommendations of its artist-rich staff when it came time to buy a warehouse.

"The concentration of artists in the area was definitely a selling point," Barrow confirmed, "so it made sense for the gallery owners to invest in and become a part of the community, contributing to its artistic development. They saw the writing on the wall."