Junior’s fails to bite, so owner hunts for local tenant near Barclays Center

Cheesecake maker opted out of Flatbush Ave. space in September

From left: Ofer Cohen And 166 Flatbush Avenue
From left: Ofer Cohen And 166 Flatbush Avenue

Before the proprietors of Junior’s Cheesecake made an emotional decision to stay put in Downtown Brooklyn, the pragmatists at the iconic bakery were sweet on the idea of relocating to a spot across from the Barclays Center in one of the borough’s hottest retail strips, The Real Deal has learned.

With that deal now dead, the space directly across the street from the arena is now on the market and the landlord is on the lookout for a tenant with a similar hometown-hero cachet.

“We’re looking for a great food tenant,” said Michael Pintchik, who bought the property at 162-170 Flatbush Avenue in 2005 hoping plans for the arena would come to fruition and raise the area’s fortunes. “We’ve been approached millions of times by the likes of McDonald’s, and it’s not that I don’t have a lot of respect for that corporation,” he added. “We’re trying to keep it much more local and Brooklyn-centric.”

After Junior’s tapped Massey Knakal earlier this year to market its home at the corner of Dekalb Avenue and Flatbush Avenue Extension, company owner Alan Rosen made what he reportedly called an “emotional decision” to reject a developer’s $45 million offer and stay put.

The confectioner was all set to take the space between Shake Shack and what was then the flagship store of the Jennifer Lopez/Verizon collaboration Viva Movil.

“Junior’s was actually going to be taking that space but at the last minute decided not sell the property downtown,” Pintchik said.

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Now TerraCRG is marketing the 3,700-square-foot space at 166 Flatbush Avenue, asking $250 a square foot in what is one of the borough’s premier retail corridors.

“Basically there are three corridors,” said Ofer Cohen, president of TerraCRG. “Sort of the primary one in Brooklyn is the Fulton Mall. Then you’ve got Bedford Avenue and across from Barclays. These are the areas fetching $200-plus.”

Rents across from Barclays have risen dramatically with the arena’s opening.

“The further away from the arena you go, the lower the rents,” Cohen added. “[166 Flatbush] is the closest. It’s directly across the street.”

The area is quickly changing. Fashion brand True Religion Jeans is subleasing the Viva Movil space, and other new entrants include Manhattan transplants Doughnut Plant and Parm.

Across from the arena, Kenneth Schuckman of Woodbury, L.I.-based Schuckman Realty says he is about two months away from making an announcing about a 45,000 square foot retail space he’s marketing.

Pintchik said his next-door neighbor, Joseph Zelik, plans to tear down his building and construct a new retail space. Zelik could not be immediately reached for comment.