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MAP: Smith Street Had More Than a Dozen Closings in the Past Year

 Top left: A vacant storefront at the corner of Smith and Warren streets; Top right: A row of vacant storefronts on Smith Street; Bottom left: the long-vacant
Top left: A vacant storefront at the corner of Smith and Warren streets; Top right: A row of vacant storefronts on Smith Street; Bottom left: the long-vacant "Burger and Smith" space; Bottom right: The recently-demolished Met Foods site on Smith Street.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

BROOKLYN — More than a dozen restaurants and boutiques on Smith Street — some of which helped turn the corridor into a Brooklyn destination — have shuttered in the past year as the area faces rent hikes, a decline in foot traffic and the arrival of chain stores.

In just the first few months of 2016, By Brooklyn and Dassara Ramen closed their doors, and last year saw the loss of local stalwarts such as Char No. 4, The Grocery, Sample and Teddy. 

"Smith Street is just in such a bad way right now," Gaia DiLoreto, the owner of By Brooklyn, a shop that focused on Brooklyn-made goods, recently told DNAinfo. The boutique closed April 23.

Here are the openings and closings along Smith Street from 2015 and 2016. Story continues below the map.

It's unrealistic for local shops to spend thousands of dollars on rent while sustaining a business in the area's heavily inflated market, said Patrick Watson, owner of artisanal cheesemonger and charcuterie Stinky Bklyn.

Smith Street between Atlantic Avenue and Carroll Street has an average asking retail rent of $139 per square foot, a 15.1 percent jump from last summer, according to a recent Brooklyn report from the Real Estate Board of New York.  

"Every time something rents for over $10,000 or $12,000 a month, the business lasts maybe a year or two," he said.

When Stinky opened in 2006, "the average rent was probably $4,000 a month," he added.  

DiLoreto, who opened By Brooklyn five years ago at 261 Smith St., said it wasn't a rent hike that forced her to close the business, but rather a loss of steady shoppers. 

"Even if I were to renew my lease, there's not enough [foot] traffic on Smith Street to support my business," she said previously.

The loss of eateries such as The Grocery and Char No. 4 appeared to signal the end of Brooklyn's "Restaurant Row." The Commercial Observer bid farewell to the old Smith Street with a story in July and Brooklyn Magazine pointed out the street's multiple vacant storefronts in March.

But the corridor that runs through Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens also saw new restaurants enter the neighborhoods last year. 

Cocktail bar Leyenda has drawn nightly crowds since it opened last summer. Fawkner, from the team behind Union Hall and The Bell House, also opened last year. DNAinfo reported that celebrity chef Anne Burrell plans to open a new eatery in the former Char No. 4 space. 

Smith Street wasn't always the "Restaurant Row" of Brooklyn, said Ryan Condren, a managing director for real estate firm CPEX. That shift only began to take place in the past two decades or so, he said. 

Now the corridor is beginning to attract retail brands such as Lululemon and MAC Cosmetics as well as high-end international franchises such as French eyewear designer Anne & Valentin and Australian tea company T2. On Bergen Street near the corner of Smith Street, Warby Parker is opening its first Brooklyn location. 

"I think it's just a natural progression that you see in any retail corridor," Condren said. 

That transition is also spurred by a neighborhood demographic that's getting older and settling down, both Condren and DiLoreto said. 

"The nightlife was much livelier," DiLoreto said. "It was a livelier population."

Business owners have been working to create a business improvement district for Court and Smith streets in hopes of boosting local shops and restaurants.

Stinky Bklyn's Watson, who is helping to lead efforts to form the BID, said they are still working hard and need more signatures to make it a reality.

"We're getting there," he said, "but these types of closings don't help."