Signs of a pandemic-fueled market slowdown are obvious when looking at the top office leases in Brooklyn and Queens this year — six out of the 10 deals in The Real Deal’s ranking closed in January and February.
But in the few months before the pandemic took hold, several large leases were signed. The sum of top 10 deals in 2020 was 1.44 million square feet, a 20 percent increase from the 2019 total. That was mostly thanks to Whittle School’s 620,000-square-foot lease in Downtown Brooklyn, which was inked in early February. Amazon came in second with a 300,000-square-foot lease in Queens — the only deal in that borough that made the top 10 — that was signed in late February.
The full list of 10 largest office leases in Brooklyn and Queens for 2020 is as follows:
1. 181 Livingston Street, Downtown Brooklyn | Whittle School & Studios | 620,000 square feet
Whittle School & Studios signed a 20-year lease to occupy the entirety of the Wheeler, a 10-story new development built atop Macy’s department store on Fulton Street. Asking rents at the building, developed by Tishman Speyer, were between $60s and $70s a square foot when The Real Deal first reported on the negotiations in March 2019.
The Brooklyn school is part of the global network of schools operated by Chris Whittle’s for-profit educational organization. It’s slated to open sometime in 2021.
2. 66-26 Metropolitan Avenue, Glendale | Amazon | 300,000 square feet
The e-commerce giant has signed a lease to take over the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 109,000-square-foot space, plus the remaining 190,000 square feet of vacant space at Rentar Plaza, a 1.6-million-square-foot office, retail and warehouse complex owned by Long Island-based Rentar Development.
It was just one piece of Amazon’s expansion spree in New York in 2020: The company closed on its $978 million purchase of the 660,000-square-foot former Lord & Taylor building in Midtown from WeWork, and leased millions of square feet of warehouse space in the outer boroughs.
3. 150 52nd Street, Sunset Park | City Harvest | 150,000 square feet
The food rescue nonprofit signed a triple-net lease in January with DH Property, which had secured the site from Mark Karasick of 601W Companies. The site was then purchased by Prologis, a mega warehouse landlord, for $40.5 million. City Harvest plans to consolidate its operations (formerly located in Long Island City) and its corporate headquarters at the Brooklyn property.
4. 2 Hanson Place, Downtown Brooklyn | National Grid | 87,000 square feet
The London-headquartered gas and electricity provider signed an 87,000-square-foot lease on the 11th and 12th floors of the Atlantic Terminal office building, which is owned by Brookfield Properties. Asking rents at the building are around $60 per square foot.
5. 124 Ninth Street, Gowanus | Mother New York | 61,000 square feet
London-based advertising agency Mother signed a lease to move its New York office from Hell’s Kitchen to Roulston House Gowanus. The property formerly housed hundreds of artists’ studios, but was redeveloped into a 200,000-square-foot mixed-use complex a few years ago by Industrie Capital Partners. Mother paid $50 per square foot for its new space.
6. 186 North Sixth Street, Williamsburg | Quarters | 55,000 square feet
The German co-living firm Quarters signed a lease with Duke Equities to open a Williamsburg location, which began operations this month with 160 bedrooms in suites and duplex units. Duke Equities purchased the trio of buildings on North 6th Street, spanning about 68,700 square feet, from Boricua College in 2018 for $31.1 million.
7. 523 Fulton Street, Downtown Brooklyn | Brooklyn Hospital Center | 51,226 square feet
The hospital inked a 51,226-square-foot lease at RMC Assets’ 114,000-square-foot, three-story office and healthcare building in Downtown Brooklyn. The space will be used as administrative offices. The asking rent for the space was $55 per square foot.
8. 25 Kent Avenue, Williamsburg | Amazon Music | 40,000 square feet
Amazon’s streaming service arm signed a lease at the eight-story office-retail complex developed by Rubenstein Partners and Heritage Equity Partners. The company hopes to use the space as a studio or production space.
9. 34 34th Street, Sunset Park | United States Marshals Service | 40,000 square feet
The federal law enforcement agency signed a 15-year lease to move its New York City offices from Chelsea to Industry City. Lease terms were not disclosed, but the asking rent in the 16-building industrial and office complex ranged from $15 to $40 per square foot, according to Commercial Observer.
10. 25 Elm Place, Downtown Brooklyn | Goodwill | 30,800 square feet
The nonprofit renewed its lease for its Brooklyn office location at the former J.W. Mays department store. The deal allows the company to remain on the third floor of the building for up to 20 years at fixed rents. The property is located across from a Goodwill store at 258 Livingston Street.