Friday, December 05, 2014

A Barclays Center boom or more of a mixed impact? Depends which retailer/restaurant owner you ask

Despite the general happy talk in The Barclays effect, in Capital New York,  the impact around the arena is more mixed, as landlords seek upscale tenants and some longer-term businesses get nudged out--though the main landlord has resisted the easy cash of Hooter's and some other national chains.

On 9/17/14, the Commercial Observer reported, in Two Years After the Barclays Center Opened, Which Local Businesses Have Won and Lost?, that "the impact it has had on small businesses appears to be mixed."

In other words, loss of smaller businesses and increase of larger ones, especially in the food and beverage category. Beneficiaries include Cake Ambiance and the Italian bistro Broccolino, on Dean Street, while EMCON Pharmacy and Victory Vision on Fifth Avenue nearby haven't felt a bump.

“It does seem that the streets and individual buildings that have benefitted the most are the ones that can be seen from the Barclays Center,” said Robert Perris, District Manager of Community Board 2. “It sort of requires a more adventurous arena-goer, someone who does their research ahead of time instead of getting to the arena and looking around and making a spontaneous decision where to go.”

Along Flatbush, bigger names

On 6/9/14, DNAinfo reported that Brand-Name Tenants Being Drawn to Flatbush Avenue by 'Barclays Effect':
Several New York-based brand-name retailers are moving just blocks from the Flatbush Avenue arena this year, including the urgent care center chain CityMD, popular Manhattan eateries Parm and Doughnut Plant and the hit burger franchise Shake Shack.
The national banking chain TD Bank, too, will find a home on the avenue — the company recently signed a lease for a corner commercial space one block south of the Barclays Center.
The Real Deal reported in early October that Junior's Cheesecake--before they decided not to sell their flagship building at Flatbush and DeKalb avenues--were looking at a space at 162-170 Flatbush Avenue purchased by the Pintchik family in 2005 in anticipation of the arena. It's next to Shake Shack.

“We’ve been approached millions of times by the likes of McDonald’s," said Michael Pintchik, but “We’re trying to keep it much more local and Brooklyn-centric.” Still, the space is is being marketed at a stratospheric $250 per square foot.

And more changes are afoot:
Fashion brand True Religion Jeans is subleasing the Viva Movil space, and other new entrants include Manhattan transplants Doughnut Plant and Parm. Across from the arena, Kenneth Schuckman of Woodbury, L.I.-based Schuckman Realty says he is about two months away from making an announcing about a 45,000 square foot retail space he’s marketing. Pintchik said his next-door neighbor, Joseph Zelik, plans to tear down his building and construct a new retail space. Zelik could not be immediately reached for comment. 
(I've previously reported on retail changes, such as the departure of Christie’s Jamaican Patties from Flatbush Avenue after 48 years. The former Yummy taco is now the Doughnut Plant, which just opened. The owners of Franny's, which opened in 2004, told the Village Voice that growth was slow before the arena--though I'd say it was happening--but has taken off since then.)

On BK Live, a mixed report

A Brooklyn Independent Media program, broadcast 9/15/14, explained that restaurants and bars are doing better than other retail outlets.

In an interview, Mr. Maurice of the long-standing Optical Solutions in Fort Greene, said, "for local businesses, it's nothing." But the manager of  El Toro Taqueria, which opened in October 2013, said "business has been great."

"Local businesses that are about to close, I'll tell them, you guys tried, but I guess it didn't work out," says the manager, Fuab. It's a little more complicated, since there can be a mismatch between aiming at residents and visitors, and those doing best likely manage to reach both cohorots.

"I'm here by the skin of my teeth," the optician said. "If my landlord, she wasn't compassionate enough, I'd be gone."

The guests were Terence Kelly (Barclays Center), Josef Szende (Atlantic Avenue BID), and Farid Ali (Bogota Latin Bistro, board member of New York Restaurant Association).

"I think the dynamic is very successful," asserted Kelly. "We do a lot to cross-market [with neighboring businesses]." By the same token, they want to keep money in house.

Ali, echoing one interviewee on tape, said, "Iff you're sitting on a failing business, you're not necessarily going to see a benefit [from the arena]." Or, perhaps, there's a mismatch.

Host Brian Vines suggested the retail mix was moving toward restaurants and services. Szende said there's a big difference between basketball games, which don't necessarily drive much business, and special events like concerts.

"I've gotten businesses that really placed a big bet on hoping the Barclays would make a huge difference and, I have to be honest, they have not seen a return," he said, adding that Atlantic Avenue businesses "could benefit from more marketing" to make them more visible to arena-goers, such as via a coupon book or shopping bag.

Ali also suggested more outreach, and said his wishlist included trolleys to major retail corridors like Fifth, Flatbush, and Atlantic Avenues.

Barclays Center a "start-up"?

Kelly referred to the "evolving process of having the biggest start-up in Brooklyn, in your backyard."

"Start-up, c'mon," responded host Brian Vines, pushing back. "You have more money than God, c'mon."

That represented not only pushback regarding the Barclays Center's curious rhetoric, but also echoed the claim by then-Yonkers Council Member Sandy Annabi, then an opponent of Forest City Ratner's Ridge Hill project, that the developer was "probably richer than God."

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