Two Years After the Barclays Center Opened, Which Local Businesses Have Won and Lost?


Barclays Center
Inside the Barclays Center.

When the Barclays Center opened in Downtown Brooklyn two years ago, some thought the arena would reinvigorate a section of the borough that had yet to capitalize on its potential, while others believed the neighborhood’s small businesses would meet their demise.

As the arena prepares to celebrate its second anniversary and host an expected 300 events annually, the impact it has had on small businesses appears to be mixed. Some of the stores that survived the seismic shift brought by the 18,000-seat venue report an uptick in patronage, while others remain unaffected.

Dan Marks, the vice president of investment sales and leasing at TerraCRG Commercial Realty Group, believes that overall, there has been a net gain for the business community.

“I think it’s only helped all businesses around,” Mr. Marks said, “though each business is different and some can respond better than others to the changing fluctuation of people night to night.”

“Fashion Week was a big event at the Barclays Center, the Islanders are coming next year, the Nets are already here,” he added. “That brings a tremendous amount of people and awareness to the area.”

Some businesses were not equipped to adapt to the changing environs. According to one news report, roughly 100 local shops shut their doors in the Barclays Center’s first year.

Robert Perris, the district manager for Brooklyn’s Community Board 2, which includes the Barclays Center, corroborated that the type of businesses in the arena’s immediate vicinity has changed.

“It does seem that there has been a loss of some smaller businesses and an increase in some better capitalized businesses,” Mr. Perris acknowledged. “Some properties had been underutilized for awhile, and have now drawn attention from larger businesses.” These include a branch of restaurateur Danny Meyer’s beloved Shake Shack, which opened its third Brooklyn location in August at 170 Flatbush Ave. and Doughnut Plant, now located at 245 Flatbush Ave. Another well-known eatery, Patsy’s Pizzeria, has signed a lease at 450 Dean Street.

“I think it’s only helped all businesses around,” Mr. Marks said, “though each business is different and some can respond better than others to the changing fluctuation of people night to night.”

But some businesses that survived the shakeup have thrived. Cake Ambiance at 452 Dean Street was in business when the Barclays Center was merely a development daydream. When the family-run desserts destination opened five years ago, “there was hardly anything around here,” manager Josel James explained.

“This was nothing but sand,” Mr. James added, pointing to the massive arena. Mr. James said Cake Ambiance has become 20 to 40 percent busier since the Barclays Center opened, and the business has chosen to capitalize on game nights.

“What we do is we go down there, and we offer free samples,” Mr. James said, which in turn lures the crowd to the shop.

Giuseppe Piazzolla’s Italian bistro Broccolino, located at 446 Dean Street within view of the arena, has benefitted from its proximity to Barclays. The 38-seat restaurant, which opened in May 2013, experiences an uptick in patronage before and after events.

“Two hours before [an event], when we usually don’t have so many customers, we have a lot of customers … and after the event,” Mr. Piazzolla said. “The good thing is, it doesn’t affect the locals because the locals come from 7, 8 to 10 p.m., which is the time that the event is on.”

Mr. Piazzolla, who is also opening a pizza parlor next door to Broccolino, said that he pays between $4,000 and $6,000 dollars in monthly rent for his space.

Mr. Marks said that asking rents in the immediate vicinity of Barclays Center hover between $100 and $150 per square-foot, but can run over $200 per square foot directly across from the arena. TerraCRG facilitated both the Patsy’s and Doughnut Plant’s leases. Mr. Marks referred to the area as undoubtedly one of the borough’s top retail spots.

Yet, not every small business owner has benefitted. EMCON Pharmacy at 49 Fifth Avenue has not changed its hours since the arena opened and closes at 6:00 p.m., before most events begin. Manager Caesar Bhagroo said the only change has been “on the way home, there’s a lot more traffic.”

And Luba Kolesnyk, whose son is the owner of Victory Vision at 30 Fifth Avenue, said there has been “no difference, absolutely not” in business.

“Maybe restaurant, something food yes, but nothing optical stuff,” Ms. Kolesnyk said.

Mr. Perris also emphasized, “Which commercial streets have benefitted has been uneven.”

“Fifth Avenue seemed to develop first,” Mr. Perris observed. “And Flatbush Avenue is now getting more attention.”

“It does seem that the streets and individual buildings that have benefitted the most are the ones that can be seen from the Barclays Center,” Mr. Perris said. “It sort of requires a more adventurous arena-goer, someone who does their research ahead of time instead of getting to the arena and looking around and making a spontaneous decision where to go.”

Ultimately, Mr. Marks pointed out, what is happening around the Barclays Center is a microcosm of what is happening throughout the borough.

“People really want to have their brands here,” Mr. Marks said. “People are choosing to live here over other parts of New York City. This will continue to increase over the next decade or more.”