Brooklyn’s trendy retail districts boom as Manhattan’s sit vacant


Manhattan’s struggling retail scene seems to get all the attention. It seems that for every fully or mostly leased, high-profile corridor like Broadway in Soho, there’s a stretch full of yawning vacancies — such as on Broadway in Tribeca.

But Brooklyn’s retail picture is rosier. Although wounded by pandemic shutdowns and the rise of online shopping before then, much of the borough appears in remarkably sound shape. You might not know there was ever a crisis if you stroll along 86th Street in Bensonhurst, John Travolta’s “Saturday Night Fever” stomping ground, which has few dark storefronts.

Now, a new report from the Real Estate Board of New York documents the retail resiliency in such trendy neighborhoods as Williamsburg, Cobble Hill, and Greenpoint. The data compiled from April to October found that strong demand “contributed to a depletion of storefront space in prime corridors as Bedford Avenue South in Williamsburg, Court Street, and Cobble Hill and Franklin Street in Greenpoint.”

The scarcity of available storefronts drove retailers to seek new locations in “emerging corridors” including Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, and Flushing Avenue in Bushwick.

REBNY also reports that surging tourism prompted national retailers and franchises to open stores or explore options in Downtown Brooklyn and Park Slope. Among them are: Burlington, Trader Joe’s, and Lifetime Fitness.

People walking and relaxing at outdoor tables in Greenpoint, NY.
A new report from the Real Estate Board of NY shows retail resiliency in trendy neighborhoods such as Williamsburg, Cobble Hill, and Greenpoint.

People walking through the streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The report found that strong demand “contributed to a depletion of storefront space in prime corridors such as Bedford Avenue South in Williamsburg.”

A picture of a neighborhood in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
The City Council voted to approve plans for Innovation QNS, a five-block mixed-use complex in Astoria.

People walking through the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Another report showed that surging tourism prompted national retailers and franchises to open stores or explore options in Downtown Brooklyn.

People walking past Cobble Hill Cinemas in the Cobble Hill neighborhood in Brooklyn.
People were seen walking past Cobble Hill Cinemas in Brooklyn.

It’s even helped lure brands from Manhattan, such as Japanese outdoor lifestyle brand Snow Peak, which moved from Soho to Williamsburg.

Astoria project approved

In the end, the City Council voted to approve plans for Innovation QNS, the five-block mixed-use complex in Astoria. We reported last week that the full Council might still nix it despite the blessing of its own zoning subcommittee.

But props to Council member Julie Won, who came out for the proposal after earlier saying that the earlier approval was “only preliminary.” Won had fought to have the project include more affordable housing units than the developers first offered.

It looks like a happy ending all around.  



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