Why It’s Inevitable That Tech & Creative Tenants Will Take Over Downtown Brooklyn


Downtown Brooklyn’s transformation is well under way.

Long the home to government, legal, health care and education uses—visited by Brooklynites only when necessary—the neighborhood is now the true crossroads of our borough. Ten thousand apartments and hotel rooms are complete, in the pipeline or being assembled. Six live performance theaters are in place or coming—BAM’s three, plus Theater for a New Audience, Roulette and BRIC; Barclays (BCS) Arena surpassed 1 million visitors in record time.

Downtown Brooklyn has among the highest concentrations of transit options of any area in the city. And the area is surrounded by fine neighborhoods, now admired worldwide, with a food scene to match.

Did you know that Brooklyn is the second or third most populous “creative” county in the USA. New York County, Los Angeles County and Kings County. Cook? Dade? Fuggedaboutit. Boston and S.F. have a fraction of our population. Brooklyn’s ratio of Mac to PC users is the highest in the city and likely the metro area as well. The tech and creative talent already live in BK. They increasingly want to work here.

At the same time, government, NPO and legal uses are declining in the area, leaving vacancies for residential and new economy office uses. State Parole is leaving. The Human Resources Administration left. The Department of Design and Construction is gone. Tort law is less and less lucrative. Entry-level health care, still coming, will shrink with the Long Island College Hospital closure and is going to be priced out of the area soon, as are many NPOs today.

Of the four office mainstays of DTB, only education is growing. Luckily the latter is a seven-day and -night use, both youthful and value-added.

Yet press attention is paid to marquee deals at MetroTech—Tough Mudder taking 72,000 square feet at 15 MetroTech, The Department of Information and Technology coming to 2 Metro, Makerbot at One.

At the same time, we are seeing smaller tech and creative go to Court Street, Willoughby Street and even Fulton Street. DUMBO is sold out. Williamsburg is oversold. If tenants want to stay within the brownstone ring around Downtown Brooklyn, it’s the only place to go for space.

There are options beyond Downtown Brooklyn that tenants like: Gowanus (already tight and also connectivity-challenged), the Sunset Park Waterfront, and now Crown Heights with 1000 Dean under way. These areas will grow and get their share, yet Downtown Brooklyn’s location will get the most new tenants because it still has the space.

While it’s not always easy to convince creatives to look at Downtown Brooklyn, some of us have done so. There are killer views in high-speed 24/7 HVAC modern space to retro prewar office tower space to funky walkup small-building space opened up to the four walls. The area has the inventory.

Mark my words: I believe Downtown Brooklyn will be nearly sold out of affordable space under 5,000 square feet by the end of the year. Landlords, get moving.