Williamsburg’s Commercial Market
Chris Havens Aug. 8, 2013, 6 a.m.
Echoing the fully international nature of the Brooklyn market, aptsandlofts.com recently leased several spaces on Union Avenue north of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to retail tenants for new or enlarged businesses.
New Yorkers of Japanese, Chinese, South Asian, African and European descent took space at 568 Union Avenue to create bakeries, lounges, hair salons and restaurants. No wonder the market is strong—international retail is onto us!
Retail users have been swarming over the area, carefully choosing older buildings they can make cozy and cool. Modern space, if over 2,000 square feet, can be hard to lease. Most people come to Williamsburg for the atmosphere, not metal and glass.
Still, given the imbalance between demand and supply, if terms and sizes adjust to the market, everything will lease. For example, prime Bedford Avenue space between Metropolitan Avenue and North Eighth Street has hit $200 per square foot in some places.
Visit the area at night during the academic year and you’ll see why. Yet if you walk a few blocks east or west, or cross under the BQE to the south, things cool off. Metropolitan Avenue and Grand Street seem to be the alternative, and Kent Avenue is getting stronger and stronger as the waterfront blows up.
Office space seekers are nearly shut out of the market due to the lack of product in Williamsburg. So many conversions to residential use, teardowns and retail expansions have removed all but a small amount of office space from the inventory. Expect to pay in the upper $30s a square foot for awful loft space or near $50 per square foot for real office space, if you can find it—among the highest prices in the borough.
Nothing that can be built will soften the market for those who need 500 to 2,000 square feet, the average size range for all but a few Brooklyn tenants. There will never be enough space north of Flushing Avenue for all those who want to get in.