Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is pushing hard for New York University to further expand in the borough, he said at the Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable luncheon today.
“NYU and their future belong in Brooklyn,” Markowitz told a crowd of real estate pros at the event, held at the Brooklyn Historical Society in Brooklyn Heights.
Besides, he quipped, “Greenwich Village is so 1960s.”
But Downtown Brooklyn, where NYU has recently expanded its presence, actually has “a similar vibe to Greenwich Village,” said Lynne Brown, NYU’s senior vice president for university relations and public affairs.
Much like NYU’s campus in Manhattan, Downtown Brooklyn has “no gates” separating students from the life of the city, Brown said.
The Polytechnic Institute of New York University recently leased 120,000 square feet of classroom space at 2 Metrotech Center and 15 MetroTech in Downtown Brooklyn. The university has also proposed plans for a Center for Urban Sciences and Progress in a former Metropolitan Transportation Authority headquarters building at 370 Jay Street.
“Brooklyn makes sense for us as a long-term bet,” in part because there is more space there for the university to build, Brown said. “We are putting a lot of our investment in Brooklyn, and we will be there for a long time.”
In addition to NYU, Markowitz said that Apple, too, “belongs in Brooklyn.”
He expressed outrage over recent reports of Apple’s reliance on overseas labor, and urged the technology company to open a manufacturing facility in East New York or Brownsville.
“There’s something wrong [with] not employing Americans,” he said.
Markowitz also bemoaned the recent closure of the Brooklyn location of Morton’s the Steakhouse at 339 Adams Street in downtown Brooklyn, saying that he is “disappointed.” But, he urged the borough to “move forward, from steak to seafood,” suggesting that perhaps a Legal Sea Foods or McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant could open in the now-vacant space. He also noted that the Poll family, founders of Long Island’s Riverbay restaurant, originally hailed from Brooklyn. “Maybe we can lure [them] back to Brooklyn,” Markowitz said.
Some restaurants that will soon open in Brooklyn include Sugar and Plumm and American BBQ and Beer Company. Both eateries are coming to 345 Adams Street, which is currently being redeveloped by Muss Development, the developer of the nearby New York Marriott.
Muss Principal Joshua Muss said today that a Panera Bread will also be coming to the site, and that all of the retail in the building may end up leased to restaurants.
He called the project “a happy ending,” recalling that when his company first started work on the hotel, the area “Was Not A Pleasant Place in the evenings.”
Other speakers at today’s roundtable included Bob Sanna, an executive vice president at Forest City Ratner Companies, and Brooklyn landowner Michael Pintchik, both of whom spoke about the under-construction Barclays Center. Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes also made a brief appearance.
When asked about the traffic impact of the new sports arena, slated to open in September, Sanna said Forest City Ratner is currently building event-day parking and working on a “transportation management plan” for the area.
But the company expects most people to access the arena by subway and train at the nearby Atlantic Terminal, he said.
“People are going to be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is going to be to use public transportation,” he said, adding that the site’s many adjacent subway lines are “a blessing and a curse,” because their presence makes excavation difficult.
Meanwhile, retail rents along Flatbush Avenue across from the arena now exceed $100 per square foot, said Pintchik, who owns Pintchik Discount Hardware in Park Slope and a number of other buildings in the area.
In a sign of the intense interest in area retail, the Flatbush Avenue site of 96-year-old Triangle Sports hit the market last week. Ofer Cohen, the founder and president of real estate service firm TerraCRG, which has the listing, told The Real Deal after the event that his firm has already gotten around 150 inquiries about the building.
For his part, Pintchik said he has plans to develop two six-story, mixed-use buildings along Flatbush near the arena.
When it comes to tenants, he said his company is “not big on fast-food chains,” preferring to “keep the local flavor” instead, with retail tenants who are “artisanal,” “independent,” “quirky,” or “edgy.”