Brooklyn Players: BQX May Make Brooklyn a Winner

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“Dumbo has the densest creative worker population per square foot,” Asher Abehsera, the chief executive officer of LIVWRK, said at Commercial Observer’s “Brooklyn Renaissance” panel this morning.

Over 200 people from the world of real estate attended CO’s event at 55 Prospect Street, a building owned by Kushner Companies, LIVWRK, RFR and Invesco (Jared Kushner, the chief executive officer of Kushner Companies, owns Observer Media which publishes CO.)

In addition to Abehsera, the panelists included Michael Rudin, a vice president at Rudin Management Company, Jack Cayre, a principal of Midtown Equities, Timothy King, the managing partner of CPEX Real Estate, and Erik Manley, the general manager at global design and strategy firm Frog. Jonathan Mechanic, the chairman of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson‘s real estate group, acted as moderator.

Amongst those spotted at the event were Peter Hennessy of Cushman & Wakefield, Daniel Rice of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, Jeff Winick and his daughter Danielle Winick of Winick Realty Group and Sacha Zarba of CBRE. Dan Marks and Peter Schubert of TerraCRG were also in attendance.

Cayre recalled playing “marriage counselor” to the State Historic Preservation Office and the Landmarks Preservation Commission while trying to win approval for the expansion of nearby Empire Stores. The 400,000-square-foot retail space is a former coffee warehouse between Main and Old Dock Streets in Dumbo that Midtown Equities is redeveloping.

On the other hand, Rudin spoke about plans to target Brooklyn-based businesses and Manhattan companies at the 600,000-plus square-foot office building Dock 72 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard that Rudin Management is constructing with Boston Properties and WeWork.

Sure enough, with an influx of residential and commercial developmentand with retail rents increasing in eight out of 15 corridors, according to the Real Estate Board of New York’s new Brooklyn retail report, which CO was first to coverBrooklyn is becoming more of a destination. But does this spell easy access for the borough? The panelists seem to think so.

Rudin for one said that the Brooklyn-Queens Connector or the BQXwhich would run 16 miles from Astoria in Queens to Sunset Park in Brooklyncould be a “game-changer for the entire Brooklyn waterfront.”

According to him, the proposed streetcar line will alleviate a lot of problems for employees and visitors in Brooklyn. He said that the BQX would also run a dedicated shuttle system around a one mile walk from the Brooklyn Navy Yards, which would be beneficial for tenants of Dock 72.

Abehsera chimed in to advocate for the connector so visitors from Queens would no longer have to cut through Manhattan to reach Brooklyn. He also stressed the need for better schools in the borough, as more families move in and “the boundaries of Park Slope keep expanding.”

The food was plenty at 55 Prospect as guests ate and networked before the panel.

Timothy King of CPEX Real Estate, left, and Aaron Lemma of LIVWRK.

There was a full turn out on the eighth floor of 55 Prospect Street, where the event was held. Photo: Gonzalo Marroquin/PMC.

Michael Rudin of Rudin Management Company, left, with Danielle Winick and Jeff Winick of Winick Realty Group. Photo: Gonzalo Marroquin/PMC

The Manhattan Bridge, leading into Lower Manhattan, was in full view. Photo: Gonzalo Marroquin/PMC

Al Spagnolo of SGA shows off his firm’s virtual reality renderings of a project. Photo: Gonzalo Marroquin/PMC