BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Organizers with the Bedford-Stuyvesant Gateway Business Improvement District are seeking ways to bring retail diversity to Fulton Street, where commercial spaces abound from Classon to Troy avenues.
There are more than 80 vacancies within a 29-block radius, according to an analysis examining the state of retail in the district. Only 22 are listed on the market, creating a need for stronger partnership with property owners, BID leaders said.
The BID teamed with advisers at Larisa Oritz Associates to create a study that pinpointed issues affecting Bedford-Stuyvesant’s commercial landscape.
The study found potential for more than 48,000-square-feet of brand new retail space as a result of new residential developments under construction.
“It’s clear there’s a lot of change happening here in Bed-Stuy,” said Larisa Ortiz, principal of LOA.
Ortiz cited the desire to make Fulton Street more of a shopping destination rather than an area of “one-offs” where shoppers usually stop for a single errand or item.
Still, improvements to existing building conditions are needed to attract businesses to the dozens of empty storefronts, she said.
Out of the corridor’s 81 vacancies, 18 are in poor condition, 59 are deemed “average,” and only four were seen as “excellent.”
The analysis also recommended strengthening the “urban African Diaspora culture” of certain blocks while diversifying options in others.
The Fulton Street stretch from Bedford to Marcy avenues is known for national chain stores like The Children’s Place and Foot Locker, as well as a “submarket of African culture” including businesses like Charlie’s Calypso City.
Retail rental rates in that area are the highest in the BID, with prices at an average of $60 per square foot, according to the analysis.
Other “retail microclimates,” such as the strip from Tompkins to Troy avenues, are home to more restaurants and dining establishments that meet the needs of patrons that frequent local cultural institutions and sites like Interfaith Medical Center.
At a Monday meeting, some property owners cited an oversaturation of hair and nail salons as a cause for concern, along with a rise in real estate taxes.
Residents are also leaving the neighborhood to spend elsewhere because they’re unable to find certain goods, Ortiz added, referring to a demand for more grocery options and general merchandise.
The BID is working on creating a real estate committee to target the issues, as well as a mailing campaign to inform property owners of the potential for their buildings and lots.
“Bed-Stuy is very unique in that a fair number of property owners also own the businesses that are housed there,” said Michael Lambert, executive director of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Gateway BID.
“That’s a very good opportunity to really create something unique here — to not make Bed-Stuy like anywhere else and make it where people want to come from far and wide.”
Kiosks will soon pop up along the corridor with informational maps detailing stores located within the BID, and organizers have complied a list of businesses they would like to see fill the commercial vacancies.