What are the synergies between the retail leasing side, which is your area, and Crown Acquisitions, which is involved in buying retail real estate assets?
We’re looking at it from a market information standpoint. We can see where the next market is emerging. And that gives them the idea of where to invest. You also have a Chinese wall at the company. I may or may not be able to say I’m working with someone who is looking for a space in an area. We’re very careful about that.
What has the past year been like since joining Crown?
It’s been a whirlwind, servicing our clients and going out for new clients and building the infrastructure here and the staff. You know it’s always a little more hectic when you’ve moved and there’s change and you want to brand yourself. It has been mostly client services and building a strong foundation here.
How are you branding yourself?
We’re never going to be as big as C&W and CBRE. We want to offer the best of services. We understand retail and love it with a passion. Our success is the success that our retailers enjoy and feel after they do a deal. We look at ourselves as an extension of their team. We know what their criteria is and their concerns and goals.
Do you do deals within Crown’s portfolio?
It depends on where we are. If Crown has properties in some of the markets where we’re looking, our job is to identify any availability for our retailers and bring them every opportunity.
Brooklyn has become attractive for retailers. Whole Foods is coming to Williamsburg. The Fulton Street Mall continues to pick up major tenants. Are you doing deals in these areas?
We are doing deals in Brooklyn; we’ve been looking for spaces there on behalf of several of our clients. It’s an area of growth for many of our clients. It’s under-stored and underserved. Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Williamsburg, Park Slope—the residential population in all of these places has exploded, and those residents who would have had to come into Manhattan to shop are now more interested in shopping there locally. H&M has gone there, and Express. Many of the owners, as leases come up, are now able to do deals with quality national brands. Stores like J.Crew [rumored to be doing a deal in Williamsburg] will be able to service the new residents in a neighborhood that’s already drawing people in because it’s an exciting and great place with great restaurants and bars.
Which retailers are you working to bring to the borough?
That’s hard for me to say. You know who our client list is and the people we represent. Several of them. When Whole Foods did its deal, I think that opened people’s eyes.
What neighborhoods in Brooklyn have you been focused on?
The top streets for us would be probably Atlantic and Fulton. We’re looking in Williamsburg. Prospect Heights. We’re watching the landscape, seeing how it develops, how the synergies develop. You never want to lose the classic feel and character of the neighborhood and of the retail. That’s what will make these markets unique, if they keep their character and have unique stores or retailers—an eclectic feel with local purveyors, and mixing that in with these top chains. That’s what will make these Brooklyn retail markets thrive and draw people from in and out of the neighborhood. You don’t want it to be like a shopping mall situation.
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