BK office developers wish their projects were even bigger

Midtown Equities, Quinlan and others on hungry tenants, low vacancies
By Mark Maurer | June 17, 2015 10:35AM

Faced with an unanticipated wave of tenant demand for large office spreads in Brooklyn, developers are regretting not being more aggressive with their projects.

“I wish our building was five times as big,” Tim Quinlan, whose Quinlan Development Group is building a 257,000-square-foot office conversion at 41 Flatbush Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn, said Tuesday.

Jack Cayre of Midtown Equities, which is behind the proposed Dumbo office complex Empire Stores, echoed Quinlan’s thoughts. Office tenants are seeking as much as 100,000 square feet for a single space in Brooklyn, in sharp contrast to the market just a few years ago, the developers said during a panel at TerraCRG’s Only Brooklyn Summit at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Quinlan, Cayre, Heritage Equity Partners CEO Toby Moskovits, LIVWRK CEO Asher Abehsera and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s Tucker Reed gathered to discuss the booming interest in the borough’s office market.

“A residential developer for the last 10 years choosing to build office – it’s unheard of,” TerraCRG broker Dan Marks, who moderated the panel, said, referring to Quinlan.

High-profile tenants now in Brooklyn include Amazon and Etsy. These firms employ people that already live in the borough or are looking to move there.

Financial and health care firms are also looking from a break from high Manhattan office rents, Reed said.

Tenants often want to take half a building and sometimes, all of it, said Abehsera, who is co-developing the Dumbo Heights complex with Kushner Cos., Invesco and Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty.

Moskovits, meanwhile, is developing an eight-story Williamsburg office building at 25 Kent Avenue – the first Brooklyn spec office property in years. She secured a $70 million construction loan late last year.

“It’s hard to finance spec office buildings ground-up and it’s equally hard to buy in strange areas,” Moskovits said, “but the demand is there.”