NEW YORK—Rents are climbing in Brooklyn, and real estate deals made in the first month of the year have those in the industry optimistic about 2012.
“Brooklyn’s real estate future is truly bright,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz on Tuesday. Markowitz congratulated NYU-Poly on its recent expansion, bragged that various publications have recently featured Brooklyn as a prime destination, and advocated for more seafood companies in Brooklyn.
“Another company that belongs in Brooklyn is Apple,” said Markowitz. “Last week I challenged Apple CEO Tim Cook to do something else besides an Apple store, and that is a manufacturing facility in Brooklyn.”
Markowitz spoke at the first of four yearly Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtables, a quarterly meeting of industry professionals at the Brooklyn Historical Society. Attendees expressed a positive outlook for 2012, predicting a turnaround from previous years.
Barclays Center and Surrounding Real Estate
Bob Sanna, executive vice president at Forest City Ratner Companies, spoke about the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn, and surrounding real estate growth.
The Barclay’s Center will open in September and be ready for the start of the 2012–2013 NBA season, according to the company. The project has been plagued with controversy, including accusations that Forest City Ratner hasn’t delivered on an agreement to employ local workers. People who lived on-site and were allegedly forced to relocate, were also unhappy.
Sanna highlighted the center’s connection to public transit with a story from a recent tour.
“I entered from the arena plaza level,” he said. “I walked downstairs and got to the blue wooden barricade that keeps the public riding the trains away from the construction work. I opened the door, and there were the 2 and 3 trains 10 feet away. It was just a moment that showed so much conductivity of this project to the public infrastructure.”
Several trains will connect directly to the center, and nine lines service the immediate area—the 2, 3, 4, and 5 Atlantic Avenue station, a nearby B, and Q Atlantic Avenue station, and the D, N, and R Atlantic Avenue—Pacific Street.
Sanna also described innovative building techniques the company is using for nearby housing, such as prefabricated modular housing for buildings as high as 32 stories.
“If we as an industry don’t take advantage of technology such as innovation modeling and lean delivery techniques … it would be a mistake,” he said.
Other speakers included Michael Pintchik, president of Pintchik Associates Ltd., who described development plans for Flatbush Avenue around Barclay’s Center. Prices have already topped $100 per square foot, he said.
The next roundtable will be May 1.
Paul Saunders, residential buildings owner
I don’t have any vacancies. It’s hot. To me, Brooklyn has always been hot, but it’s just the fact that the tenants that I do have, they come from all over the country. They’re young—under 30—and with the state of the economy, just want to come to New York to give their dreams a shot. I think that’s what helps fuel Brooklyn.
Robert Hebron, Associate Broker, Ingram & Hebron Realty
I do strictly commercial office leasing. There is activity in the market—we just signed a few small leases—and I have a larger showing today for about 10,000 square feet. I’m optimistic. In 2011, it was modest. People were afraid to make any significant moves, and we’re coming out of that.
Andrew Jackson, Project Manager, Hudson Companies
We build apartment buildings, and I expect that we’re going to start a couple new projects for the first time in a few years, because we think that we can sell them, and the projects that we’ve been trying to sell for the past years are finally selling out. We’re seeing signs that the market is picking up.
Thomas Conoscenti, Director of Real Estate & Planning, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
So far it’s been a really strong office market. The MetroTech Center, there’s been over 150,000 square feet that’s been leased this year. That’s really exciting to us at the partnership, and a sign that more office hens are coming out of hibernation.