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Breaking News: Williamsburg Is Becoming (Even More) Expensive

We know that the ‘Burg is crazy expensive. But now it’s also the most expensive retail corridor in NYC.

By James L. Knobloch October 10, 2016
Courtesy of NYCSub JMZ Marcy Av

In other news, the train is late and the Sheep’s Meadow is crowded in the summer. Now that those Earth-shattering revelations are out of the way, back to Williamsburg—specifically, Bedford Avenue retail corridor between Grand Street and North 12th Street.

Related: Hipsters Stranded In Transportation Purgatory: Will The L Train Shutdown De-Gentrify Williamsburg?

If Starbucks is the harbinger of gentrification, then Whole Foods Markets is the foreshadowing apocalyptic horseman of soaring commercial costs. According to a recent report, courtesy of the Real Estate Board of New York, Bedford Avenue is Brooklyn’s most expensive in terms of retail properties. Of the 15 properties covered, Bedford Avenue commands an average ask of $373 per square foot, which is the highest of them all, and a seven percent increase from the previous year ($347 per square foot).

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Photo courtesy of www.airbnb.com

According to senior managing director and principal Peter Levitan of Lee & Associates NYC, a firm that handles a number of commercial properties in the area, there’s a reason:

“The high price has to do with heavy foot traffic. Williamsburg is probably the biggest tourist destination in Brooklyn. There are other parts of Brooklyn, very cool and even more reminiscent of their histories, but they just don’t have the same attraction that Williamsburg has.”

And where there’s a Whole Foods, the other “horsemen” are sure to follow: namely, an Apple Store, and Equinox, a Flywheel Sports, and even an outpost of the trendy vegan eatery By Chole. As top, big name brands move in, demand—and prices—are on the rise.

“[Landlords] are like, ‘Oh my God, I can get $250 a foot? Okay I’ll move my business [to places like Bushwick],” said Peter Schubert, a partner at TerraCRG who’s marketing a property on nearby North 6th Street where prices have increased nearly 25 percent in the last year. “Demand is increasing because of the really high-quality tenants that are moving there. The supply side is because of increased pricing.”

North 6th Street, like much of Brooklyn, is feeling the residual effects of the influx of high-end, in-demand tenants. North 3rd Street got Ralph Lauren’s RRL, North 4th Street got an Umami Burger, and of course, the proposed Kent Avenue Trader Joe’s. It would seem that developers aren’t nearly asconcerned about the looming shutdown of the L train as the residents are, as the population in Williamsburg is expected to rise, thanks to “more than 4,000 residential units within the next year and close to 1,000 new hotel rooms over the next couple of years, according to Levitan.

“Many national retailers are coming to Brooklyn, so it’s benefiting from the growth and development that’s taking place,” says RKF’s Barry Fishbach.

It’s not increases across the board, however. One of the surprising exceptions is historically expensiveCobble Hill, where the average asking rent actually declined 10 percent from the previous year.

If these numbers are to be any indicator, one thing is clear—L train shutdown or not, “it” brands are continuing to flock to Williamsburg, and prices continue to rise. Don’t expect the influx of organic juice bars and trendy workout spots to slow down anytime soon.

James L. Knobloch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR James L. Knobloch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR James L. Knobloch

A creative professional with a sharp tongue and a big smile, taking on city living one slightly-veiled sarcastic comment at a time. Born and raised just outside of New Orleans, James is a living testament to his own mantra, “Southern hospitality is a privilege, not a right,” giving his work a unique, dry humor meets charm perspective.

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