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More in store for Bushwick as warehouse conversion trend takes hold

In a rapidly changing area of Brooklyn, one property being marketed for retail could have a big impact on the neighborhood’s transformation.

A 30,000 s/f warehouse at 1160 Flushing Avenue, just steps away from the Jefferson L train subway stop, is currently being marketed for retail by Ripco Real Estate.

“I think it could be a game-changer,” said Andrew Clemens, a broker with Ripco, who along with Ben Weiner is marketing the property.

ANDREW CLEMENS
ANDREW CLEMENS

“It’s less than a block from the Jefferson Street L, and there’s already quite a bit of activity there. There are a lot of unmet needs in this neighborhood, and it’s unique and large enough to bring something of scale that could have a dramatic impact on the neighborhood.”

Clemens said the building could house multiple retail tenants or just one.
The warehouse is a block-through building with 185 feet of frontage on both Flushing and Jefferson Streets. The building is currently a clothing manufacturing business run by the building’s owner.

“There’s been tons of interest,” Clemens said. “Everything from restaurants, to dry- use retailers, to fitness concepts, to office users, nightlife, and art galleries.”

On average, deals in the area are getting done north of $40 ps/f for smaller spaces, and slightly less on spaces smaller than $10,000 s/f, said Clemens.

The area, sometimes referred to as Jefftown, has become increasingly attractive to investors and businesses. It is one subway stop from the Morgan L stop, the original apex of the Bushwick scene, and where Bushwick’s most popular restaurant, Roberta’s, is located. However, unlike recent developments in neighboring Williamsburg, don’t expect to see any J.Crew or Ralph Lauren stores popping up any time soon.

“He’s waiting for the right group,” said Clemens of the building’s landlord. “He definitely has the neighborhood in mind. It’s not going to be some sort of a Gap or something like that. It will definitely be something that has the look and feel of the neighborhood.”

That look and feel is hip restaurants, bars and nightlife that have increasingly been opening up around the formerly gritty area, which teems with tourists on the weekends photographing the popular street art that covers many of the buildings in the neighborhood.

1160 Flushing
1160 Flushing

On Wyckoff Street, Bushwick’s answer to Williamsburg’s Bedford Avenue, restaurants and bars have been rapidly popping up, in addition to recently-opened weekend flea market reminiscent of Smorgasburg, though on a much-smaller scale.

In June, Thor Retail Advisors announced that popular chain Blue Bottle Coffee was taking a 15,800 s/f warehouse space at 279 McKibbin Street, which it plans to use as a combination café, coffee roasting facility and bakery. Clemens represented the landlord,  McKibbin Holdings, LLC, in the deal.

Investor interest in Bushwick has soared in recent years.

According to a May report from Ariel Property Advisors, building trade topped $947,696,783 in the Bed-Stuy/Bushwick/Crown Heights bloc in the first half of 2015 and transaction volume was higher than any other Brooklyn neighborhood.

One of the biggest deals in Bushwick so far this year was the sale of 95 Evergreen Avenue for $33.7 million. Clemens is handling the leasing for the retail portion of the building, while Cushman & Wakefield is handling leasing for the office space in the building.

The industrial building, which was formerly the historic Schlitz Brewery, was bought by a partnership of Hornig Capital Partners, Savanna and Chelsea Village Associates.

Once the building’s current tenants are vacated, the building could be converted into creative loft office space.

Rendering of the new development planned for 95 Evergreen Avenue.  Rendering by Fogarty Finger Architects
Rendering of the new development planned for 95 Evergreen Avenue. Rendering by Fogarty Finger Architects

In May, plans were filed with the city for three different hotels in Bushwick — one by Toby Moskovits’ Heritage Equity Partners for a 144-key hotel at 232 Seigel Street, one by Riverside Developers, (the firm behind the William Vale Hotel on Wythe Avenue in Bushwick), for a 140-key hotel at 27 Stewart Avenue, and Yoel Goldman’s All Year Management for a 112-key hotel at 71 White Street.

Even crowdfunders are jumping on the Bushwick bandwagon — CityFunders just announced a project at 99 Scott Avenue in Bushwick, an event space could be converted to office space, a winery and a beer garden.

Meanwhile, the trend of converting warehouses doesn’t seem to show any signs of stopping. “A lot of people in the neighborhood are doing this,” said Clemens. “They’re converting warehouses into bigger and better uses. It’s more productive uses of these spaces.”

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