Brooklyn’s Micro-Cconomy

How the borough will look in five years 

Behin_David_Apri2012If Brooklyn was not a borough of NYC, it would be the fourth largest city in the United States. As the borough of Kings slips out of Manhattan’s shadow, we see that the pillars that most define cities (sports, cuisine, world class homes—job creation!) are already in place in Brooklyn, or are rapidly underway. This quarter, I’m exploring these pillars in residential, retail, office and industry and how they’re developing here.

Historically, Brooklyn was a commuter economy, the first suburb of New York City—not a destination where people dined, shopped, worked and educated their children. Residential real estate has acted as a driver sparking commercial/office and retail commercial/office development, satisfying peoples’ demand to work and shop close to home. The new Brooklyn isn’t just anecdotal, new numbers back up the argument for a changing landscape underscored by explosive job creation.

Brooklyn companies created almost half of the city’s new jobs over the past 12 years, four times more than Manhattan and more than any other borough, according to a study by the Center for an Urban Future, reported earlier this summer by the Wall Street Journal.

“The borough’s jobs grew by 19% from 2000 to 2012, fueled by retail, health care, technology companies, design firms and manufacturers,” said Jonathan Bowles, the center’s executive director who cited numbers from the State Department of Labor. “More than 15% of the City’s private jobs are now in Brooklyn, while Manhattan’s share has dropped to 60% from 65% in the same period.”

Now, we’re seeing this cycle play out in places like Crown Heights, where lifestyle developer Jonathan Butler had over 50 prospective tenants come through in the first two weeks to view space at 1000 Dean Street. He had, at presstime, term sheets out to five prospective tenants. “We’re seeing a mix of creative tenants looking to locate from both Lower Manhattan and Dumbo as well as a bunch of local businesses that see the new building as a chance to take their efforts to a new level and get their first office space,” Butler tells The Behin Report. 

Thus far, the potential tenants include video editors, booksellers, food producers and yoga teachers. Butler adds: “With the vacancy rate in Dumbo somewhere around 1% and the residential market thriving within a one-mile radius of the building, there’s no question in my mind that demand for this type of converted industrial space in Brownstone and North Brooklyn far outstrips supply right now. I also won’t be surprised to see absorption rates in Sunset Park ticking up in the coming months.”

With millions of non-residential square feet in Sunset Park, Greenpoint, Red Hook and the Tech Triangle, we’ll be looking at a very different Brooklyn in five years time.