Spotlight on Retail

CPtMuch of Brooklyn’s job growth has spiked on retail as a potent combination of critical mass and their spending power is attracting the biggest players to the borough.According to the Center for an Urban Future’s Jonathan Bowles, approximately 11,000 retail jobs have been added there since 2000.

“The state of retail in Brooklyn is in flux, it’s on fire,” says Tim King, founder of CPEX. “Retail has always been a tail wagging a dog, it doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Despite the new tenants, it’s still understored.  Jersey, on a per capita basis, has far more retail than Brooklyn, but we do have a seemingly insatiable demand. The supply will increase. One legacy of the current administration, some manufacturing areas would make better sense as residential or retail. Look at One Brooklyn Bridge—CPEX was hired to lease 75,000 square feet of retail space.”

A closer look at Brooklyn neighborhoods reveals vastly different retail environments, but the best examples have enjoyed the benefit of time to develop into models worthy of observation. While much of the retail growth has been organic as a response to community needs, the growth in certain neighborhoods has exploded due to the potent combination of traditionally low rents, and a robust population growth desiring quality local retail. Beyond Brooklyn’s great restaurants and bar scene, the fashion industry was among the first to take note, with international brands like A.P.C. and Paul Smith opening shop on Grand Street in Williamsburg, and Urban Outfitters and Barney’s Co-op coming to Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill. Jump to City Point today, where 50,000 square feet of retail is complete with tenants like A|X Armani Exchange. Phase two brings an additional 650,000 square feet of retail, with Century 21 and Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas as anchors. Other noteworthy examples abound as big brands like J Crew, Whole Foods, Anthropologie and many more discover Brooklyn and create a home here.y, on a per capita basis, has far more retail than Brooklyn, but we do have a seemingly insatiable demand. The supply will increase. One legacy of the current administration, some manufacturing areas would make better sense as residential or retail. Look at One Brooklyn Bridge—CPEX was hired to lease 75,000 square feet of retail space.”

The neighborhood to watch now will be the area surrounding Barclays Arena, which will produce 200 events annually. While the crowds are arriving nightly, there’s still no place for them to go after the show—as evidenced by the post-VMA’s exodus back to Manhattan. This remains a largely untapped opportunity, but hopefully the retail will continue to elevate the area rather than another be home to yet another 7-11. Some big plays have been made in purchases, but many of the owners are holding back thinking it will be worth more in a couple months.

“There were a few concepts that have come and gone, and there’s no question that over time 18-36 months, the arena area will become it’s own destination. You’ll go for culture independent of the arena,” says Tim King.

It’s critical for the ownership of Brooklyn’s retail to properly curate to maximize not only the rent, but also the value to the neighborhood.