Office Space Grows in Brooklyn's Hottest Neighborhoods

By Amy Zimmer on June 18, 2014 7:30am | Updated on June 20, 2014 4:21pm

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 Landlords are capitalizing on Brooklynites' growing desire to live closer to where they work.
Office Space Grows in Brooklyn's Hip Neighborhoods
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BROOKLYN — Filmmaker David Soll waited to sign the lease for a 550-square-foot space at Crown Heights’ new creative office building 1000 Dean until his purchase of a two-family wood-frame house in Bedford-Stuyvesant was complete.

The deals for his home and his work space just a 5-minute bike ride away, went hand-in-hand. Soll wanted his office close by so he could “pop in” for dinner with his wife and 22-month-old daughter and then head back to the editing room.

"I come home for 20 minutes between dinner and bedtime, kiss my kid, kiss my wife and then go back to work until 2 or 3 in the morning," said Soll, 33, who works in television, film and advertising.

A growing number of Brooklyn bosses and employees want to work near home in a bid to create better work-life balance, real estate experts said. Developers, in turn, are eyeing the borough's booming areas for opportunities to build hip offices for creative companies.

Like Soll, "younger dads who want to be closer to home" have particularly fueled demand for office space in Brooklyn, said Chris Havens, commercial director of aptsandlofts.com, who is the leasing agent for 1000 Dean.

Office jobs in the borough are on the upswing: They grew by nearly 6 percent — or 4,500 jobs — over the past year, Heidi Lerner, chief economist with Savills Studley noted, citing third-quarter data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The rise of Brooklyn office space is the "last piece of the puzzle," said Will Silverman of commercial real estate brokerage firm Savills Studley's Capital Transactions Group. "We love living here and dining here and raising our kids here. So why aren't we building our offices here?"

Here's a snapshot of what's happening:

Williamsburg

Many former industrial buildings near the waterfront at the neighborhood's northern end have turned into clubs and hotels, Havens noted, which is why the office project by Heritage Equity Partners project at 25 Kent Ave. — spanning the entire block between Kent and Wythe avenues and North 12th and 13th streets — might be a game changer. It could transform the neighborhood's dynamic into a 24/7 mixed-use area that goes beyond a "party environment."

The office building is being built from the ground up with no tenants in place — a move that shows the developer's faith in the demand. Havens, whose firm is working on the project, said rents are expected to fetch between $35 to $50 a square foot.

Another 500,000 square feet of office space is slated for the southern end of the waterfront in the former Domino Sugar factory.

Bushwick

Williamsburg residents are increasingly commuting to work further into Brooklyn rather than going into Manhattan, many real estate experts said.

At 215 Moore St. — about a block from the Michelin-rated Roberta's — a $29.5 million, 47,000-square-foot complex with five buildings and 170,000 square feet of buildable space, a competitive bidding process is under way and a contract is out, said Massey Knakal's director of sales Michael Amirkhanian. Nearby properties being marketed as potential office space are attracting interest as well.

"Now that investors and developers recognize that they can achieve office rents that rival where residential rents used to be in this area, the demand and value of these properties has been quickly increasing," he said.

Gowanus

Call it the Whole Foods effect. 

Now that the upscale supermarket is open on Third Street and Third Avenue, expect other upscale development in terms of retail and office space of the industrial area to follow.

Some heavy-hitting developers are now turning their sights to Gowanus, including LIVWRK and Jared Kushner's Kushner Companies, part of the team behind the massive, high-tech urban campus planned for Dumbo Heights, the former Jehovah's Witnesses Watchtower building where DIY giant Etsy just signed a lease for 200,000 square feet.

LIVWRK and Kushner are reportedly in contract to buy a roughly $80 million, block-long development site at 175-225 Third St. that allows for a commercial mixed-use project of up to 300,000 square feet, according to The Real Deal.

LIVWRK's Aaron Lemma declined to comment on that, but talked about other office projects in former manufacturing spaces his firm is working on, including an 80,000-square-foot building at 92 Third St. and a 100,000-square-foot building about six blocks away in Red Hook, at 160 Van Brunt St.

Lemma said he expects the projects will draw people who want to launch their companies in "areas that are about them and tell the story of their business," Lemma said. "These are the tastemakers, the innovators of products."

They want high-tech services in terms of connectivity and electricity, plus the exposed brick and beams of rustic, industrial chic spaces.

"They want their A-class building services in a more C-class look," Lemma said. "It's everyone's fantasy to have a loft — if you can't live in one, maybe you can work in one."

Crown Heights

The real estate industry is keeping tabs on 1000 Dean, the $30 million redevelopment of the 150,000-square-foot former Studebaker Service Station, which opened in April and is now 41 percent leased.

The project was the brainchild of Jonathan Butler, founder of the Brownstoner blog, who helped build Brooklyn's brand as a foodie destination with the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg. He is also working on the soon-to-open beer hall on the ground floor of the Dean Street office building, called Berg’n.

Richard Goodstein, founder of nC2, said it made sense to house his young architecture firm in the borough where he and his workers — and more and more of their clients — live.

"Much of our work is in Brooklyn," said Goodstein, who has several townhouse projects in the neighborhood.

With a growing number of high-end homes in Crown Heights, many were happy 1000 Dean had other plans, said Havens, the complex's leasing agent.

"The neighborhood is ecstatic that’s it’s not another luxury condo," he said.

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