Ten years ago, when I opened the first office of The Developers Group, which later merged into MNS, in Dumbo, most of the businesses in the neighborhood were arts or art related—architects and business owned by people who lived in the surrounding community. These were small businesses in the Walentas buildings on Washington Avenue and beyond. Downtown Brooklyn’s Metro Tech was mostly home to backend and support offices for JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and the Securities Industry Automation Corporation. In 2006-07, the Guttmans started converting 65 Jay Street into small loft office spaces with a first and second floor retail mall. As creative professionals started going there, it’s flourished.
Soon after, Jack Guttman and Adam Neumann launched the Green Desk concept in Dumbo that tapped Brooklyn’s office share market. This untapped office market proved a concept for developers and property owners, no doubt an inspiration to RFR Realty and the Kushner family’s recent acquisition of six buildings in DUMBO—1.2 million square feet of commercial space—from The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses).
Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Tech Triangle developed into its own destination, thanks to nurturing from the Bloomberg administration. This environment is now distinguished with hundreds of tech companies including MakerBot, a startup that makes three-dimensional printers, who leased the entire 21st floor of One Metro Tech.
Jack Guttman and Adam Neumann launched the Green Desk concept in Dumbo in 2008. Today, with just Jack Guttman at the helm, it’s expanded to Williamsburg and Greenpoint. The recent acquisition of a full block in Williamsburg between Kent Ave and Wythe and N. 11th Street and N.12th Street demonstrates investors’ confidence in the strength of the office market. Ultimately, it would be great if the developers here attracted a great anchor to replicate the Google effect, and suddenly other businesses will want to be within a few blocks of an anchor tenant that lures all the others there as well.