One BBP retail’s a waiting game

By Peter Kiefer | June 21, 2011 03:03PM

From left: Winick Realty’s Diana Boutross, One Brooklyn Bridge Park and Ian Levine of RAL Companies & Affiliates

Residents of One Brooklyn Bridge Park will soon — in theory — have a grocery store, at least one restaurant and a bicycle shop added to the offerings available to them in the voluminous ground-floor retail space. The question for the foreseeable future however is — when?

Ian Levine, COO and CFO of RAL Companies & Affiliates, the developer in charge of the site, said he is close to sealing a deal with a bicycle shop. He said he is particularly focused on getting a large restaurant operator into a corner space that boasts some of the best views of Lower Manhattan and is keen on signing a smaller neighborhood grocery store.

In April, two relatively large retail signings in the massive condominium conversion, at 360 Fulton Street, sparked a wave of reports that the available retail space, which is one of the largest contiguous available retail spaces in all of Brooklyn, was gaining traction.

Brooklyn Bridge Bark
, a posh pet boutique, signed for 1,760 square feet next to the dog park while Waterfront Wines and Spirits leased 1,170 square feet at the corner of Joralemon.

But since then, there has been nary a peep, a disconcerting fact considering the expanse of available retail space — 69,070 square feet square feet — that is still seeking tenants and the fact that we have entered into high season for that area.

Levine said he is more concerned right now with getting the “right” tenants rather than just filling the space. “Speaking personally, yes, it would have been great [to have more tenants] before this season, but you don’t want to jump the gun and have someone open something that is not experienced [at] operating a business. You don’t want a failed business down there,” he said.

“There has been a lot of tire kicking,” said Winick Realty’s Diana Boutross, who represented Brooklyn Bridge Bark and Waterfront Wines and Spirits in their deals.

Levine added: “It is a question of getting them down there to see the space and to understand the location. It is more of a job explaining the borough to a number of the retailers.”

With summer just getting underway in the area surrounding Pier 6, where Atlantic Avenue meets the waterfront, the Bloomberg administration is expecting a record number of visitors and foot traffic over the next three months, possibly tens of thousands more than last year at the Brooklyn Bridge waterfront. Levine and RAL have been aggressively marketing the retail space that anchors the 449-unit complex for the last three years.

The food concession stands selected to operate at Pier 6 this summer by the city-run Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation opened earlier this month. Those include the sandwich shop the Milk Truck, Bark Hot Dogs, a Brooklyn-based hot dog eatery, Blue Marble Ice Cream and Uncle Louis G’s Italian Ices.

Ellen Ryan, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which has oversight of the 85-acre waterfront park, said they were confident that One Brooklyn Bridge Park would fill the available retail space soon enough.