By Roland Li
From New Jersey to Long Island, Brooklyn to the Bronx, Barry Fishbach has a broad view of the retail market.
Fishbach, an executive vice president of Robert K. Futterman & Associates, alongside partner David Rosenberg, has a specialty in so-called outer boroughs retail, along with work in the tri-state area. But with public transportation and shifting residential populations, former secondary markets have emerged as prime choices for national chains.
He recently completed two leases for PetSmart in Brooklyn, indicative of the shifting retail landscape.
PetSmart signed a 13,600 s/f lease at Acadia Realty Trust’s Canarsie Plaza at 8925 Avenue D, providing pet supplies in a location that Fishbach described as underserviced.
“There’s a void in that market for their services,” he said.
At 240 Atlantic Avenue near Downtown Brooklyn, PetSmart took 17,600 s/f, joining nearby Barneys Co-op and Trader Joe’s in a new retail strip. The space is in the ground floor of 225 Pacific, a condo development. Indeed, new residential stock in the area has mirrored the arrival of new retail, and often the two elements share the same buildings.
“We’ve identified downtown Brooklyn as a strong market for them,” said Fishbach, who was also involved in the much-lauded Shack Shake lease in Downtown Brooklyn. He represented Michael Chera of Allied Property Group, the landlord of 409-415 Fulton Street, where the burger chain took 2,600 s/f.
Fishbach grew up in Long Island and studied business administration at George Washington University. He began his career at First National Realty, later starting his own firm, Metcom Properties.
A turning point occurred when he joined Garrick-Aug Associates, where he met Robert K. Futterman. When Futterman decided to leave and found his own eponymous firm in 1998, Fishbach – along with a core group of other brokers from Garrick-Aug – saw it as a great opportunity. (Garrick-Aug would later close in 2007.)
Since then, RKF’s blue logo has appeared on many a storefront, and Fishbach has been a specialist in widening the brokerage’s business. He oversaw the opening of the firm’s first New Jersey office in Rutherford at the beginning of 2009, although he had already been active in the state for years. He now manages four brokers in New Jersey, along with a team in New York.
While known predominantly for its retail business, RKF also operates a significant investment sales arm, and Fishbach has been involved in some large deals.
In 2004, he brokered the $35.5 million sale of Forest City Ratner’s Flatbush Center, a 141,599 s/f shopping complex, where he represented buyers Alex Adjimi and Robert Cayre. He was also involved in Vornado Realty Trust’s $25.5 million sale of the former Caldor department store in the Bronx, as well as 10 acres of land in Shore Parkway, Brooklyn, purchased by Thor Equities.
Such sales arise from Fisbach’s existing knowledge of retail centers, along with his connections with landlords and property owners. Indeed, he attributes the bulk of his leasing business to cultivating relationships.
“It benefits from the relationships that I’ve established over time,” said Fishbach. “They call you when they have space available. I don’t have to call them.”
Currently, Fishbach sees plenty of room for the city and surrounding areas to evolve. Although supply is constrained in Manhattan, less densely developed areas have numerous possibilities.
While Williamsburg has seen recent skirmishes between Duane Reade and local retailers, Fishbach believes that the main deterrence in that area is size.
“The main thing holding Williamsburg back is that most of the spaces are small spaces,” he said. However, a few boom-era projects have begun to thaw, and may bring more large spaces to the area.
Fishbach and his partner, David Rosenberg, are also representing expansive new developments in Queens and New Jersey. They are the listing agents for the retail portion of the $800 million Flushing Commons project, as well as 80,000 s/f of retail at One Journal Square, a mixed-use development that plans to include the tallest residential towers in New Jersey. Construction has not yet begun on either project, but it is expected to begin shortly.
Fishbach is also working with Acadia Realty’s Downtown Brooklyn project City Point, a 1.5 million s/f, mixed-use project with around 520,000 s/f of retail. Construction of the first phase began last year and is expected to finish in 2012. He is also involved in Hudson Lights, a mixed-use development in Fort Lee, N.J.
The large-scale projects have not yet finalized tenants, but Fishbach sees many encouraging signs in the retail market.
“Things are positive. Retailers are optimistic. Landlords are optimistic,” he said. “Deals are happening.”
With relationships with numerous properties and clients, Fishbach seems poised to be at the forefront of the next wave of neighborhood changes.