Fulton Mall

Century 21 to Open in Fulton Mall

Department store Century 21 will open a new 125,000 square foot outpost in Fulton Mall, giving the retail corridor an upscale tenant to mingle with the current mix of affordable shops like Jimmy Jazz and Conway, The Wall Street Journal reported this morning.

Century 21 will be setting up shop in the City Point development, which, when complete, will feature 1.6 million square foot mix of retail and affordable housing, according to its website. The project, which is being developed by Albee Development LLC and designed by Cook + Fox, has already embarked upon its first phase: the construction of 50,000 square feet of retail.

fulton mall Century 21 to Open in Fulton Mall

Fulton Mall (photo from Wall Street Journal)

With Century 21 arriving to Downtown Brooklyn sometime in 2015, it will be the first new department store in the area since the 1970s, The WSJ says:

By landing Century 21, developers said they would be able to break ground this summer on the bulk of the City Point development—675,000 square feet of retail and commercial space and 690 new market-rate and “affordable” apartment units at Dekalb and Flatbush avenues.

The Century 21 deal could also set into motion a 680-foot-tall residential tower which, if completed, will be the tallest tower in Brooklyn. Developers Washington Square Partners and Acadia Realty Trust are planning to start building in 2017.

“We would not have moved forward without an anchor. Century 21 was what we really needed to make this project a reality,” said Paul Travis, project executive and president of Washington Square Partners, in an interview with The WSJ. 

City Point is a joint venture between the government and private interests to resurrect the department store heyday of Fulton Mall, which once gave Herald Square a run for its money in the 1920s and 1940s.

But many are crying “gentrification” at this private venture:

But the so-called revitalization of the Fulton Mall hasn’t been without controversy, as some have feared an influx of more high-end retailers that could make the street inaccessible to its traditional clientele.

The arrival of Century 21, which features high-end designer brands, but at reduced prices, could help strike a compromise.

“Fulton Mall…was always the place where Brooklynites came to shop and bump up against each other,” said Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, the local development corporation. “Century 21 is a discount department store for Brooklynites who want to be able to shop at discount prices.”

Mr. Travis said the rapid redevelopment of Downtown Brooklyn helped move forward City Point, a city-owned site that developers said is the first new commercial development in more than 30 years on the Fulton Mall.

With $20 million in federal funding (in form of a bond) from the government’s stimulus program, the developers decided to increase the retail size of City Point from 300,000 square feet to nearly 700,000 square feet.

drosen@observer.com