The Real Deal New York

Apple eyes BAM South, Williamsburg for first BK store: Sources

By Adam Pincus | December 06, 2013 10:44AM

The high-tech retailer Apple is taking a close look at two locations in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene and Williamsburg neighborhoods in its quest to open its first store in the borough, several sources said.

The location of the popular technology company’s Brooklyn debut has been a source of intrigue for years. As far back as 2008, brokers were speculating the company would open its first store in sites including City Point, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower, the Municipal Building or at the former Salvation Army location in Williamsburg at 176 Bedford Avenue. None of that came to pass.

Now, the firm has taken a close look at Two Trees Management’s planned 381-unit rental project known as BAM South at 286 Ashland Place, in Fort Greene, two blocks from the Barclays Center, two sources said.

Meanwhile, two additional sources disputed that information, and said in fact the firm was looking closely at 247 Bedford Avenue, in Williamsburg. RedSky Capital and Joel Schreiber’s Waterbridge Capital purchased the building in 2012 for $66 million. It is across the street from a future Whole Foods location.

Neither Apple nor the brokerage that represents it, Dallas-based Open Realty Advisors, responded to a request for comment. David Walentas, a principal at Two Trees declined to comment. A person with knowledge of BAM South said that while Two Trees reached out to Apple years ago, and they are in contact with the retailer’s local representative, it has been months since their last communication, and “nothing is going on.” Peter Braus, a managing principal with Lee & Associates NYC, which is representing 247 Bedford, would not comment on who his firm is — or is not — negotiating with.

“We would love to have Apple, but at the same time we are negotiating with lots of tenants who would be great for the project and great for Williamsburg,” Braus said. There was speculation that J. Crew would move to that building, but the clothing retailer did not, and instead inked a deal for 151 Court Street in Cobble Hill.

Apple currently has five Manhattan stores: its first opened at 103 Prince Street in Soho in 2002, and its flagship at the General Motors Building at 767 Fifth Avenue opened in 2006. Apple’s only New York City store outside of Manhattan is in General Growth Properties’ Staten Island Mall. The store opened in 2005.

Some say Walentas’ site would be a natural fit for the retailer’s first Brooklyn store; with a high-profile, glass-walled facade, it would project the modern look of the Fifth Avenue location. An early rending by the project’s architect TEN Arquitectos even uses the Apple logo.

In addition, Two Trees has a long track record for bringing major retailers to Brooklyn, including Barneys Co-op, West Elm and Urban Outfitters.

Meanwhile, the Bedford Avenue site, a brick loft-style building built in 1930, more closely resembles Apple’s first store in Soho, constructed at about the same time. The Williamsburg building has about 15,000 square feet available on the ground floor fronting Bedford Avenue, with an asking rent of $250 per foot, and additional selling space available on a lower level for $50 per foot, Braus said. The landlord has inked deals in the building at North 4th Street with restaurants Parm and Umami Burger and is near a deal with Sweetgreen, Braus said.

Asher Abehsera, CEO of the Midtown-based development firm LIVWRK, who is not involved with either project, believed the Fort Greene site was a natural fit, pointing to the modern look and high-profile location.

“If you are Apple and you want to come to Brooklyn, you need to do something significant. You need your first flagship to be a ‘wow’ space,” Abehsera said.

  • Anyone want to venture a reason why Apple has snubbed the trendiest borough in [hipster] America?

    • Tim

      because they know most brooklynites go to manhattan every day for work and can buy their chinese made crappy products there before heading home.

      • Isn’t this true of Staten Islanders as well? Yet they have an Apple store in Richmond Mall.

        Based on demographics, Brooklyn would be third largest city in the US if the NYC boroughs weren’t joined as one political entity.

        I find it odd that Apple doesn’t have a few locations in Brooklyn already, let alone even a single one.

        Potential locations? Downtown Brooklyn/Fulton St, Park Slope, Williamsburgh, Kings Plaza, and maybe Red Hook.

    • Granny Smith

      Because they know most hipsters know how to fix their phones themselves and probably wont pay $150 just for apple to inspect it.Let alone fix it for double that………

    • Angela Wyman

      Because the L train (Bedford and N 7th) in Williamsburg goes to 8th Avenue and 14th Street in five stops. The Apple Store is 14th St and 9th Avenue, just a one block walk. Also, we have Mikey’s Hookup on 6th St which does much better repairs and service than the Apple Store based on my experiences. Lastly, the sidewalk guy on Bedford charged me $20 to repair my iphone.

  • Steve Jobs’ Ghost

    Because I said there would be an Apple store in BK over my dead body…

  • Faye Barth

    OK, I live in Brooklyn. Williamsburgh would be a LOUSY location for an Apple store, as it is a PITA to get to for anyone outside of that neighborhood. The area in Fort Greene, near Barclays Center (a major transit hub, including many subway lines and the LIRR) makes a lot more sense.

  • Moses kestenbaum ODA

    Williamsburg would be the best choice