What will the impact be from enormous growth of apartments and anticipated office space explosions in Downtown Brooklyn? With over 5,000 new apartments built or being built in hot retail and tightening office markets in and around Downtown Brooklyn (DTB), what can we expect in Cobble Hill, the Heights, Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, Dumbo, Vinegar Hill and beyond?
We are already seeing increased subway ridership on weekends and new restaurant growth throughout this area – including brunch options on MetroTech Commons and new bars opening their doors.
Fort Greene, already retail-space challenged, is seeing turnover to higher end shops, as is Cobble Hill’s section of Court Street, which now boasts a women’s shopping district of bridal shops, stationery stores and more that extends onto Atlantic Avenue and Smith Street. In turn, this has helped spur the explosion of retail rents in the neighborhood.
The change continues to Cobble Hill’s border with Brooklyn Heights, where the stretch of Atlantic Avenue between Clinton and Hicks Streets – once a relative culinary backwater – now has eateries such as Colonie Restaurant, a high end watering hole. Walk a bit further up Henry Street to Montague Street and you’ll find even more local, ethnic and chain dining options. Head even farther north, through DUMBO, and you’ll find that Vinegar Hill is now home to two restaurants on Hudson Avenue and has a new bar in the works.
This area south of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, especially along Washington Avenue, has seen some gentrifying, as well, with food venues and newly available retail space. Intense competition for office space in DUMBO has led to record low vacancy rates there, possibly the lowest since the World War Two industrial boom.
The return of retail rents to pre-Lehman highs can be connected to a more affluent population with more disposable income moving into the new apartment buildings being built throughout Brooklyn’s downtown, northern and waterfront areas. More of these high-rises are coming, including 29 Flatbush, the 55-story project at Schermerhorn, and the Stahl Real Estate and Avalon Bay buildings behind MetroTech, which themselves have over 1,000 units. Two new hotels nearby are also opening, following the two Sheraton properties. The Bossert at 98 Montague may become a boutique hotel, bringing the first high-end Heights hotel in decades.
Flatbush Avenue is a place to watch, with the Verizon-occupied building at 395 Flatbush Extension between Dekalb Avenue and Fulton Street finally leasing up its formerly vacant spaces, TD Bank coming to 4 Dekalb across the street, Dekalb Market’s success (electronica dancing at Willoughby and Flatbush? Sign me up.) and two new restaurants under way at Myrtle and Flatbush Avenues.
I call this area Flattery (a portmanteau of Flatbush and Tillary). It now boasts a wine store, a just-sold mega-site tentatively called Oro II, a thriving office property at 325 Gold, and the Prince Street Green-Desk.
Brokers also predict increasing prices in the retail and residential spaces in the communities around the central core, as DTB grows its population, in turn causing retail change as many more old time stores are priced out.
A sprinkling of tech tenants like MakerBot and Sollega have agreed to venture into DTB office buildings, although the area is not their first choice, as their workers commute from nearby neighborhoods. Soon, Brooklyn’s booming tech sector will follow, given the lack of alternatives. That means the employees – who live in Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Kensington and adjacent communities – will spend more of their money in and around DTB, rather than in Manhattan. That infusion of cash and community investment will, in turn, spread throughout the entire greater downtown area.
Taken together, these commercial and residential real estate trends feed on each other, and will transform DTB and the surrounding areas over at least the next five years.