Tepid top 11: Weak 2021 for Brooklyn and Queens office leasing

Outer boroughs face long climb to reach pre-pandemic levels

15 MetroTech Center (Brookfield Properties)
15 MetroTech Center (Brookfield Properties)

UPDATED 1/6/22: Brooklyn and Queens may be tired of playing second fiddle to Manhattan, but they do benefit from its spillover when office leasing on the island is hot. In 2021, it surely wasn’t. Not surprisingly, the story was similar in the outer boroughs.

Using data provided by Newmark, The Real Deal ranked the 10 biggest Brooklyn and Queens office leases by square footage. The two most populous boroughs couldn’t escape the work-from-home drag: Only three of the year’s top 10 leases broke 50,000 square feet, after every deal on the 2019 list did.

It was a particularly cruel last five months, as only one of the 11 largest deals was signed after July.

Brookfield’s 690,000-square-foot 15 MetroTech Center nabbed three spots in 2021, signing or renewing tenants for 133,000 square feet. For the second year in a row, Tishman Speyer earned the top spot with 181 Livingston Street, its modern crown atop an Art Deco landmark. Both buildings are in Downtown Brooklyn.

Government agencies remained a steady client, inking three of the year’s top 10 deals.

1: 181 Livingston Street, Brooklyn | St. Francis College | 255,000 sf

181 Livingston Street (Tishman Speyer)

The college, founded in 1859 by Catholic ministers from Ireland, signed the biggest outerboro lease of 2021 at 181 Livingston Street. St. Francis will take the fifth, sixth and seventh floors of the Wheeler, Tishman Speyer’s glass building above a landmarked, Art Deco Macy’s in Downtown Brooklyn.

This is the second year in a row that the Wheeler has topped our outerboro leases list. Last year, Whittle School & Studios signed a 20-year lease to occupy the entire building. The deal appears to have fallen through (Whittle did not respond to request for comment.)

2: 47-30 35th Street, Queens | NYC Department of Transportation | 192,080 sf

The Department of Transportation inked a lease for 192,080 square feet in Long Island City. The building is 345,000 square feet of recently renovated industrial space aimed at commercial tenants in the “maker economy.” No details were provided on the term of the deal, and leasing agent Nick Berger of Newmark didn’t respond to a request for comment. The landlord is Nuveen Real Estate, the investment arm of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America.

3 & 4: 15 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn | JLL, IRS | 51,000 sf, 49,000 sf

15 MetroTech Center

15 MetroTech Center (Brookfield Properties)

In February, JLL inked an 11-year lease for 51,000 square feet at Brookfield’s office property. On the same day, the Internal Revenue Service renewed its 49,000 square feet at 15 MetroTech.

5: 30-30 47th Avenue, Queens | NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene | 47,552 sf

The Department of Health swept up nearly 50,000 square feet at Atlas Capital Group’s the Factory in Long Island City. The former Macy’s furniture warehouse was recently renovated into 1.1 million square feet of full-floor office spaces. The sale was brokered by a Newmark team including Brian Waterman and Howard Kesseler.

6: Dock 72 | Food52 | 42,000 sf

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Rudin Management and Boston Properties cooked up a hot deal with culinary brand Food52 in October, as the company took a 42,000-square-foot lease at the trophy development in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The lease, which occupies the entirety of the building’s 13th floor, runs for 12 years. Asking rents are unknown, but CBRE pegged Dock 72’s rates in the mid-$50s and high-$60s in February 2020.

7: 148 39th Street, Brooklyn | Porsche | 40,000 sf

Porsche and Volvo sign leases at Industry City

Renderings of the Porsche showroom (Photos via Industry City)

The luxury carmaker inked a 10-year, 40,000-square-foot lease for the Industry City building. Esther Bukai of RIPCO brokered the deal for the landlord. Separately (see No. 9), Volvo took 20,000 square feet at the campus, redeveloped by Belvedere Capital, Jamestown and Angelo Gordon & Co. The ownership entity, which controls several of the buildings in Industry City, scored a $77 million mortgage from Blackstone in December, public records show. Justin Weiner of Belvedere signed for the owners.

8: 15 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn | HeartShare Human Services of New York | 33,000 sf

HeartShare, which offers services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, renewed its lease for 19 years at the Brookfield building. The group picked up 33,000 square feet in a deal brokered by Ken Myerson of CBRE and Brookfield’s Jesse Cooperman, Mark Kostic and Ross Hoddeson.

9: 645 Union Street, Brooklyn | Sonder | 29,000 sf

Sonder, a short-term rental firm based in San Francisco, booked 29,000 square feet in Gowanus. While the length of the deal is unknown, Sonder paid $70 per square foot. Red Pine Capital and Cayuga Capital Management are listed as the sellers.

Read more

273 Skillman Street, 83 Nostrand Avenue and 1358 Dekalb Avenue with Andrew Farkas of Island Capital (Google Maps, Getty)
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From left: 333 Johnson Avenue, 250 Livingston Street and 12 MetroTech Center (Credit: Google Maps)
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10: 148 39th Street, Brooklyn | Volvo | 20,000 sf

148 39th Street (HSS)

In July, another carmaker snapped up space at Industry City. Volvo grabbed 20,000 square feet in the turn-of-the-century building with views of the Statue of Liberty.

11: 630 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn | Revel | 15,000 sf

In February, the company behind the bright blue mopeds (and Teslas) zooming around the city picked up 15,000 square feet at the former Pfizer plant in South Williamsburg. Acumen Capital Partners owns the 575,000-square-foot building, where asking rents range between $30 and 50 per square foot, according to LoopNet.

UPDATED 1/6/22, 10:51am: A previous version of this article omitted Food52’s lease at Dock 72. 

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