The Real Deal New York

Scenester shopping

Bushwick retail mall sees uptick in leasing

September 01, 2012
By Guelda Voien

Shops at the Loom

Shopping malls are exactly the kind of thing that hipsters love to hate. So when Shops at the Loom opened in 2009 amid the warehouses and abandoned buildings of Bushwick’s Knickerbocker Avenue, it seemed unlikely that its 21 small retail spaces would ever be filled.

But the 25,000-square-foot converted pillow factory is now almost fully leased, according to owner Bushburg Properties. And the locals certainly seemed to be embracing the place at a charity event there on a recent Thursday night, when The Real Deal found a scene not unlike that of a Lower East Side nightclub: competent DJ, attractive young revelers, even a Marc Jacobs bag that was almost certainly not a Chinatown knockoff. The event, a fundraiser for the Manhattan Skateboarding School, took place at the North Brooklyn Collective, a newly opened bicycle store that serves as the Loom’s de facto anchor tenant.

Laura Vivoni, who handles marketing for Bushburg, said that there’s been a recent uptick in retail leasing activity. “We were surprised,” she said. “Even from a few months back, we are getting more and more interest.”

In the past four months, the Loom has leased a total of five spaces, including the North Brooklyn Collective store. Other new tenants include the dessert shop Henson’s Canteen, a tattoo parlor, a pet supply shop called Bushy Tails and the Studio at the Dark Room, where photographers can pay by the hour for studio time.

When the Loom first opened for business in 2009, only 30 percent of the spaces were occupied. Now, only one 500-square-foot space remains available, Vivoni said, and its asking rent of $3 per square foot is far higher than the $1 per foot Bushburg initially asked for spaces in the complex.

The improving economy has no doubt played a role, and Vivoni noted the growth of the arts scene in Bushwick, which has helped propel foot traffic. “We have a very eclectic style and it goes well with the direction in which Bushwick is heading,” she said.

Another factor in the Loom’s success may be the presence of residential apartments on the second floor, which serve as a built-in customer base. At least some of the commercial tenants, such as a Laundromat, were brought in as a convenience for the residents, Vivoni said.

Still, the Loom isn’t totally immune to hipster scorn. At the recent charity event, one visitor glanced up from a 22-ounce Tecate Light to remark that the complex, in her opinion, is still “a work in progress.”