The Lobby

JLL Hires Amanda Bokman for New York Office

Amanda Bokman.

JLL has hired Amanda Bokman as a managing director, Commercial Observer has learned.

Based out of JLL’s New York office, Ms. Bokman will focus on new business development and tenant representation, and will work closely with Robert Martin, the firm’s vice chairman and head of brokerage, according to a press release issued by the company. Read More


For Retailers, a Kings County Presence Can Now Trump a Manhattan Debut

Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg.

National and international retailers until recently may have been commitment-phobes when it came to opening stores in Brooklyn, but that fear has been nearly quelled as mainstream chains like Whole Foods, J.Crew and H&M establish presences in the borough. And now that the big boys of retail are joining creative entrepreneurs, international and national brands have grown increasingly comfortable bypassing Manhattan and breaking into the New York City market via Brooklyn, especially Williamsburg.

Take the London-based record store Rough Trade, which since November has sold albums, served food and drinks and hosted concerts and exhibitions to crowds at Rough Trade NYC, at 64 North Ninth Street in Williamsburg. And then there’s European luxury kitchen goods company Cucina & Tavola, which recently opened its first New York City store at Williamsburg’s 235 Grand Street. In addition, Urban Outfitters’ concept store, Space Ninety 8, debuted in April at 98 North Sixth Street in the same neighborhood. Read More

Lease Beat

Three New Retail Deals at Brookfield Place

An interior rendering of the retail space slated for Brookfield Place.

J. Crew, Paul Smith and Posman Books have all signed leases at Brookfield Place, leaving the retail portion of the renovated property about 85 percent leased, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Posman Books will open its fourth location in a 2,000-square-foot space at the development. The bookseller also operates shops in Grand Central Terminal, Chelsea Market and Rockefeller Center. J. Crew is expected to open a 6,859-square-foot store, while English designer Paul Smith’s location will be approximately 2,555 square feet. Read More

Lease Beat

J. Crew Paying $90 PSQ Plus $3.5M in Improvements for W’burg Store

234-236 Wythe Avenue.

Global apparel chain J. Crew has signed a 6,000-square-foot lease in Williamsburg at $90 per square foot and has agreed to pay millions of dollars in significant improvements to the property, a source with knowledge of the deal told Commercial Observer.

The New York-based chain is bowing in a single-story warehouse building at 234-236 Wythe Avenue, near North 4th Street. There is speculation that the retailer will build a multi-level store as it did in Cobble Hill. Read More

Legal Disputes

140 Franklin Crunch Lease Dispute Heads to Court

140 Franklin Street

Next week, the case against a real estate company which is in negotiations to bring a Crunch Gym to a Tribeca residential condominium heads to court, and the decision could make or break a gym lease at 140 Franklin Street.

On Wednesday, March 12, the court will conduct a hearing to determine whether to grant the 140 Franklin Street condominium board’s application to prevent Lily Realty from signing a lease with Crunch, pending the trial. There is currently a temporary restraining order in place prohibiting Lily Realty from executing any lease with Crunch. That order expires upon the court’s decision, which will be issued following next Wednesday’s hearing. Read More

Brooklyn Issue

A Spec Office Building Signals W’burg’s Transformation Into a 24-7 Destination

Williamsburg's still-evolving waterfront. (Credit: Mark Stinson)

Williamsburg’s real estate success story has mostly centered on its residential boom—until now. With a new speculative office tower planned for the Brooklyn neighborhood and high-profile retailers preparing to set up shop, the former industrial area and hipster haven is becoming a hotbed of major league commercial activity.

The neighborhood has been abuzz over, and not always happy about, its residential development, which, with many more projects on the horizon, continues to overshadow the commercial market. There are more than 6,100 residential units in the pipeline, according to data compiled by MNS in January.  Read More

Lease Beat

Emily Thompson Flowers Signs Lease at South Street Seaport

211 Front Street

Emily Thompson Flowers, a high-end floral arrangements designer, has signed a five-year, 850-square-foot retail lease at 211 Front Street, located on the corner of Beekman and Front Streets in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport District, The Commercial Observer has learned.

The space features 12-foot ceilings, with roughly 60 feet of exterior wraparound frontage and floor-to-ceiling windows, brokers Read More

Coming Soon

Whole Foods on Track for Mid-2014 Williamsburg Opening


After securing a $45 million loan from Meridian Capital Group to finance the development of Williamsburg’s first Whole Foods, the healthful grocery Goliath is targeting a mid-2014 debut.

The 35,000-square-foot store at 240-242 Bedford Avenue is part of a 150,000-square-foot development that will take up a full block of North 4th Street between Bedford Avenue and Berry Street. The project will also include a New York Sports Club and luxury rental apartments. Read More

Brooklyn Beat

Downtown Brooklyn Home to Fine Apparel Shops

The newly announced J.Crew lease arranged by CPEX tops off the growth of fine apparel shops in one of Brooklyn’s chicest neighborhoods, Cobble Hill.

Well, British novelist Martin Amis, singer-songwriter Norah Jones, actress Lili Taylor and other talented residents think so. With French-born professionals in town on corporate rotation—and founding multimedia arts centers like Invisible Read More


Frank Gehry to Design Facebook’s New Offices at 770 Broadway

770 Broadway

A-list starchitect Frank Gehry will team up with Facebook on the design of the social media kingpin’s “big,” “open” and “cozy” new offices at 770 Broadway in New York.

Mr. Gehry is currently working with Facebook on the expansion of its Menlo Park, California headquarters. The 100,000-square-foot Village office will share certain elements–collaborative spaces, an uncluttered floor plan, an abundance of white boards and videoconferencing rooms–with the West Coast mothership but, per an announcement by Facebook’s New York engineering team site director Serkan Piantino, also “be distinctly Big Apple in design.” Read More

ICSC 2013

Retail on the Rebound: Spirits High at ICSC Event

(Credit: LeVar Thomas)

In 2009 and 2010 “you could have rolled a bowling ball down the aisle” at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon conference “and it wouldn’t have hit anybody,” Massey Knakal executive vice president of retail leasing Benjamin Fox told The Commercial Observer.

But when an estimated 33,000 real estate professionals converged upon one million Read More

Lease Beat

Men’s Apparel Brand Bonobos Signs Soho Lease


Bonobos, an e-commerce men’s apparel brand, has signed a 1,500-square foot lease at 35 Crosby Street in Soho, it was announced today.

“This is a great location with many original details and a lot of character,” said Justin Fantasia, associate at RKF, who represented the tenant, in a prepared statement. “Bonobos will garner plenty of foot traffic while maintaining a destination feel off of the hustle and bustle of tourist-heavy Broadway.” Read More


Up, Up and Away: Retailers Pushing Boundaries on Upper East Side


National retailers are pushing north from 72nd Street on the Upper East Side, chasing changing demographics and searching for value, according to several brokers active in the market. Both 86th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues and Madison Avenue north of 72nd Street have seen strong activity and booming lease prices.

“I did deals up there 10 or 15 years ago and was hard-pressed to push $110 to $120 per square foot,” said Patrick Breslin, executive vice president of global retail at Studley. “Today, if you can find good real estate on Lex on 82nd to 85th, you’re looking at $400, $500, $600 per square foot.” Read More

Lease Beat

Lovely Bridal Shop Waltzes into TriBeCa With 10-Year Lease


Here comes the Lovely Bridal Shop after signing a 10-year lease at 182 Duane Street in TriBeCa.

The 2,500-square foot ground floor space, between Hudson and Greenwich Streets, features an additional 2,000-square-foot lower level.  A small backyard patio sits behind the all-glass doors that line the rear of the lower space, giving the shop a tucked-away, oasis-like feel that the owners sought, brokers involved with the deal said.

“This space just blew them away,” said Ross Kaplan, with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, who represented the tenant with Kate Cohen.  “When they walked in the door they fell in love.  It was just what they were looking for because it’s got a great feel to it, very clean-looking, with great ceiling heights.” Read More