I’m a Manhattan guy. This isn’t for any reason other than loving the island of Manhattan more than the other boroughs including Brooklyn – Midtown (where I work), Chelsea (where I live), Downtown (where I run), and everywhere in between.
However, I respect Brooklyn’s hype and appeal. The sense of neighborhood in Fort Greene, Williamsburg and Dumbo. I haven’t spent a lot of time in Bushwick or Redhook but apparently both destinations also have a significant allure. When my dad is calling me on a Sunday asking if I want to go to Redhook with him, something is clearly up. A lot’s changed since Biggie & Tupac rapped “Where’s Brooklyn At” in 1995; 21 years later, Brooklyn is undeniably cool.
On Tuesday, myself and a few colleagues took members of the Forest City Ratner (“FCR”) leasing team on a tour of the “new” Brooklyn; that is early 1900s buildings currently undergoing significant redevelopment and repositionings. FCR knows Brooklyn better than any other real estate developer. They developed MetroTech long before Brooklyn was rediscovered and more recently they developed the Barclay’s Center.
This is what we saw:
41 Flatbush – The Pioneer Building: Quinlan Development and BLT, the owners, dub it “the most accessible building in Brooklyn.” They’re not wrong. We took the 4 train from Grand Central, got off at the Nevins Street station, and walked two minutes to the building. Super easy, only 20 minutes total from 200 Park Avenue. Once inside, we were taken up to the 9th floor, which is their marketing floor. The floor has high ceilings (13 feet) and very good light. All of the floors are 27,000 sq. ft. which is a good size for many users. When speaking to the building’s agent, we learned that prospective tenants come from all industries – tech, finance, government, etc. With taking deals in the low to mid $50s, this is the best value compared to the redevelopments in Dumbo. While the lobby and rooftop terrace are not yet complete, they both will be very cool as well.
Dumbo Heights: In real estate lingo, the talk on our tour was that the buildings comprising Dumbo Heights (there are 5 of them) “have great bones.” Specifically, we went to 55 Prospect Street and 77 Sands Street. At 55 Prospect we saw Frog Design’s space, which was very cool with lots windows/light and over 16′ ceilings. While a few the floors in the building have challenging ceiling heights and views, the lobby is awesome and 77 Sands Street, which we saw next, has a roof deck for all tenants. The retail also feels really good. There is Bluestone Lane coffee open now and many other fast casual restaurants opening soon. The two major tenants at Dumbo Heights are Etsy and WeWork, which each have their own buildings. We didn’t see Etsy’s space on our tour, but apparently it’s spectacular – http://www.businessinsider.com/inside-etsys-new-perk-filled-office-2016-6
10 Jay Street: Out of everything we saw on Tuesday this building is the furthest from completion, but is a project that is sure to be excellent. I am one of the leasing agents for the building so recognize my bias, but the building, unlike Dumbo Heights, sits on Brooklyn Bridge Park and is literally next to the East River. The views of Downtown Manhattan are unbelievable. Originally constructed in 1897 as a sugar refinery, 10 Jay Street joins the booming Brooklyn commercial real estate market as a 200,000-square-foot redevelopment for office and retail use. We signed our first deal with a media company, Translation, earlier this year to occupy 35,000 sq. ft.
Empire Stores: So many smart decisions were made in the planning of this building. The most impressive aspect of the building is the integration between the office tenants and the public. For example, behind the lobby where office tenants and guests check in will be a market, similar to Chelsea Market, with tons of food and beverage options. West Elm is operating there now – both their ground floor retail and office space is finished – and the overall area is alive with excitement. Before, during and after touring the building, it’s so clear why tenants would want to work at Empire Stores and why people would want to live in Dumbo. I’m not one of them, but I get it.
The above tour took three hours and was extremely informative. While we only saw 4 buildings, there are countless other major development projects happening throughout Brooklyn. If interested in learning more about the Brooklyn office market, please reach out to me. I am part of CBRE’s Brooklyn market practice group and our firm has spent a significant amount of time and money building our Brooklyn market information. Even if a company doesn’t actually move across the river, the question “What’s happening in Brooklyn” is coming up more and more.