Of Burgers and Theater Districts


Earlier this year, the Five Guys shop at Fulton and Flatbush, paying $125 per square foot, closed due to insufficient business. Across the street from a top-grossing McDonald’s, Five Guys couldn’t make it. At nearly the same moment, Shake Shack made a deal for $200 per square foot across from Barclays Arena.

What will we see in retail changes around Brooklyn’s theater and arena district, on and around Flatbush Avenue from Fulton to Pacific Streets?

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So far, change is incremental—as is often the case with retail, where below-market tenants have leases in place. Tony Roma’s at 625 Atlantic Avenue is under construction, and there’s a big expansion of the Vitamin Shoppe at Fourth and Atlantic, as well as the StubHub on that block. Not much action so far.

While Barclays is the whale, there are seven elegant theatrical dolphins now in place: BAM Opera House; BAM Harvey; Fisher Theater; BRIC House; Roulette, the new music facility in the YWCA building; and Theater for a New Audience. Additionally, the best art house in Brooklyn, BAM Cinema, will be adding screens when the BAM South Site on Flatbush is built.

We now have a theater district, thanks to BAM, the city of New York and the other leadership organizations like BRIC, TNA and Roulette. We haven’t had such a plethora of legit theater seats since Fox and Paramount closed long ago.

Many are wondering how these spaces will transform Downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene, Boerum Hill and Prospect Heights retail. Residential high-rise is underway, yes, but what will come on the ground level to match these fine theaters and our hot arena?