A major retail expansion is under way in Brooklyn, especially in Red Hook and downtown. The emergence of more retail stores comes in response to rising local incomes, growing demand for quality goods, and a national consolidation of retail into urban areas to avoid high energy costs, experts say.
After more than six years of planning, next week consumers will descend on New York City's first Ikea store. The furniture outlet is at 1 Beard St., on a 22-acre site along the waterfront in Red Hook, and it includes a 6.5-acre esplanade. The 346,000-square-foot store will feature a 450-seat restaurant, a Swedish food market and cafe, a children's play area, baby care rooms, 50 room settings, three model home interiors, home delivery, and design consultation. The Swedish retailer has arranged for New York Water Taxi to provide free service to and from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan every 40 minutes during store hours, and it will run shuttle buses to the three closest subway stops.
Ikea operates 270 stores in 36 countries, and it will employ 500 new workers at the new location, according to the company. It is the second major retailer to open in the neighborhood: In May 2007, Fairway Market opened a 52,000-square-foot store on the ground floor of a pre-Civil War former coffee warehouse at the foot of Van Brunt Street.
"The Ikea store opening in Red Hook is a gem of store in the midst of a developing former industrial neighborhood," a vice president of the retail services group at CB Richard Ellis, Noel Caban, said. "Although Ikea cannot take the credit for pioneering this — Fairway was already there — its innovative product line will do quite nicely with the young and growing population of Brooklyn. I would not be surprised to see in the near future a BJ's wholesale store opening in the neighborhood."
Luxury retail also is sprouting up in downtown Brooklyn and on DUMBO's historic waterfront. Later this year, Trader Joe's will open in the former Independence Savings Bank building at the corner of Court Street and Atlantic Avenue. In 2009, Brooklyn's long-awaited Whole Foods Market is scheduled to open on Third Avenue and 3rd Street in the Gowanus area.
Demolition work has already begun on the parking garage of the Gallery at the Fulton Street Mall to make way for City Point, a development of Acadia Realty Trust, PA Associates, MacFarlane Partners, Rose Associates, and Washington Square Associates. The project, serviced by 12 MTA subway lines and one of the largest new developments in the borough, will include retail, office, parking, and a mix of affordable and market-rate rental apartments. The complex will have more than 500,000 square feet of retail space and will be the only structure in Brooklyn with storefronts on four major streets.
"With a population of 2.5 million and with many still forced to do much of their shopping in Manhattan, Brooklyn is one of the most 'under-retailed' cities in the nation," the president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Joe Chan, said. "National retailers, specifically department stores, apparel, home goods, and electronic stores, have realized the unmet retail demand in the borough and have expressed interest in locating in downtown."
"Since 2000, the median household income and median home value have significantly increased, particularly in the collection of communities surrounding downtown Brooklyn. Since February 2003, average home prices have increased 71%, and median home prices increased 93%. Brooklyn's median household income increased by 30% between 2000 and 2006," Mr. Chan added.
The growth of retail into urban centers is part of a national trend. "With economic growth uncertain and price of gasoline clearing new heights of cost, more retailers are seeking urban settings to continue their march into dense urban settings", the president of the Troutbrook Company, Marc Freud, said. "With the enormous interest in 'green transportation,' whether it be walking or cycling, Brooklyn and Queens downtown retail marketplaces are becoming the destination shopping meccas for consumers hard hit by soaring gasoline prices. It is becoming a much better economic choice to hop on the subway and do some shopping than to steer your car to the mall in New Jersey or Westchester."
Mr. Freud added: "Upscale shops are quickly expanding their presence in the once tertiary locations of downtown Brooklyn, taking advantage of the new, well-heeled Brooklyn residents and travelers. With the enormous destination shopping mecca of City Point and the redevelopment of the Fulton Mall in Brooklyn, the next wave of retail development will provide the critical mass that is sure to make downtown Brooklyn a retailing juggernaut."
As I reported last year, JCPenney is scheduled to open its first location in Brooklyn on Fulton Street. It is expected to occupy the retail space presently leased to Conway, directly across the street from Macy's. Later this year, Morton's Restaurant Group is expected to open in Muss Development's New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. According to the president of Brooklyn, Marty Markowitz, discussions also are being held with representatives of Apple and Nordstrom.
"Downtown Brooklyn has been experiencing its own development renaissance, both in residential and retail development," Mr. Caban of CB Richard Ellis said. "Target is in discussions to open a second location, a stone's throw from its phenomenally successful store at the Atlantic Center Mall. H&M, Morton's, and others will be joining the neighborhood along with three new hotels, two mixed towers, and an urban park — all surrounded by the affluent communities of Park Slope, Boerum Hill, and Brooklyn Heights."
"The surge in large-format retail construction we are experiencing in the outer boroughs right now shows that despite the recent economic downturn, retailers still have an interest in opening new stores in these under-retailed areas," the chairman of Triangle Equities, Lester Petracca, said.
Another speculator retail location is the 33,000 square feet of retail space on three levels available at the newly renovated One Hanson Place, across the street from Atlantic Terminal, the third-largest mass transportation hub in New York City. The location receives more than 40 million visitors a year and has 370,000 square feet of retail and 400,000 square feet of offices, as well access to 10 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road. The retail will be located on the former banking floor of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank.
To meet the demand of new residents in other sections of the borough, extensive retail destinations are planned and under construction, especially in the East New York and Sheepshead Bay neighborhoods.
In October 2002, Gateway Center opened in the East New York section of Brooklyn. The $192 million retail development represented the largest economic development project in the borough outside downtown. Gateway Center tenants include the national retail chains Babies "R" Us, Bed Bath & Beyond, BJ's Wholesale Club, Home Depot, Circuit City, Marshalls, Old Navy, Staples, and Target. The 640,000-square-foot retail center is a development of Gateway Center Properties LLC, a partnership of Related Retail Corporation and Blackacre Capital Management.
Construction is under way for the second phase of Gateway Center, a new community with affordable housing, retail stores, and a new public school. The Nehemiah Spring Creek Houses at Gateway Estates, a new 227-acre mixed-use community, will consist of affordable housing for nearly 7,000 people, more than 100 units of housing for seniors, a public school, and a 625,000-square-foot retail center. Gateway II will feature well-known national retailers and numerous small retail spaces.
To meet the needs of residents of Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, and Gravesend, a joint venture of Acadia Realty Trust and PA Associates is planning to begin construction on Sheepshead Bay Station Plaza. The 240,000-square-foot center will be spread over four floors and contain parking for approximately 750 cars. It will have a mix of local and national retailers. The center is on Sheepshead Bay Road at Voorhees Avenue, directly across from Exit 8 of the Belt Parkway; the shopping center is also adjacent to the elevated subway station served by the B and Q subway lines.
With a growing and thriving population, expect more and more retailers to set their sights on opening retail throughout Brooklyn, especially in downtown, in Williamsburg, and on the waterfront.
Mr. Stoler, a contributing editor of The New York Sun, is a television and radio broadcaster and a senior principal at a real estate investment fund. He can be reached at [email protected]