Crown Heights has had the fastest retail gentrification that observers have seen in Brooklyn since Williamsburg back in its heyday.
With over 50 storefronts going upscale in the last three years, short term leases and low rents are giving way to $60 per SF stores and what I call ‘brunchification’.
Bars started the roll, Franklin Park on St. John’s Place being the most noted. Tellingly, a former ‘early-stage’ Dumbo entrepreneur Michael De Zayas, who founded the apparel business Neighborhoodies, is now rooted in Crown Heights North. De Zayas used to make customized hoodies and t-shirts emblazoned with your favorite neighborhood name, first at 45 Main Street then at 20 Jay Street in Dumbo. Now, he has one of the first ‘youth with a laptop’ hangouts on Franklin Avenue, Little Zelda’s, a tiny coffee shop, as well as a share in the cheese shop, WEDGE, next door, and not to mention the newly founded Hulabaloo Books just off Franklin Avenue.
While the majority of new stores are bars and restaurants, other services such as ‘organic’ groceries, wine stores and real estate offices have joined the party. Long-time residents tell me they await a first-rate dry cleaner. Generally confined to Franklin Avenue north of Eastern Parkway (where the 2/3 4/5 and S trains join in the best serviced station out of Downtown Brooklyn), there are also bars and restaurants on Nostrand, Rogers, Classon and Bedford Avenues.
There aren’t enough restaurants to serve the locals and visitors, making it difficult to get a dinner seat Thursday through Sunday at 8pm. More people from elsewhere are venturing to Crown Heights to hang out. Soon to come to the area is a light industrial building, an office building and a large music venue.
What’s next, mod dress shops?