Brooklyn Could See Retail Boom

NEW YORK — With the billion-dollar Barclays Center — the long-awaited new New Jersey Nets arena — set to open its doors in September, the downtown Brooklyn, N.Y., retail market is heating up.

Commercial real estate brokers said retailers of all types are intensely exploring the neighborhood, lured by the significant spike in shopper traffic that is certain to result from the arena’s packed schedule of Nets home games, concerts and conventions.

“Everybody in the area has been anxiously awaiting the arena’s opening, and now that we’re six months out, we’re starting to see a lot more leasing activity,” said Geoffrey Bailey, VP of retail services for Brooklyn-based commercial brokerage TerraCRG, who predicts rent prices could as much as double on prime storefronts along key retail corridors.

Athletic giant Adidas has already planted its flag in the neighborhood. The company announced last month it will operate a 3,300-sq.-ft. shop inside the Barclays Center that will sell Nets official merchandise and include a direct street-level entrance. Nic Vu, VP of retail for Adidas North America, said Brooklyn is a major target for the brand.

“We continue to [see] strong consumer demand for Adidas within the greater New York metropolitan area, as demonstrated by the eight new store openings [we did] in and around the city in 2011 alone,” Vu said. “Brooklyn is one of our highest priorities in establishing a relationship with this community. [It’s an area] with a strong passion for sports and desire for authentic style.”

Ofer Cohen, president of TerraCRG, said the Adidas deal sends a confident signal to prospective tenants. “It really sets the tone for the kind of retail that would make sense, as well as the kind of consumer demographic you would want to attract,” he said.

Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the retail group at Prudential Douglas Elliman, said she anticipates a retail renaissance similar to the one surrounding the renovation of Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. “All of the retail around the arena just got better,” she said. “You’ll see the same in Brooklyn, which is a great thing for the borough. Brooklynites are starved for major brands and chains.”

And when it comes to creating an identity for the neighborhood, the Barclays Center provides a strong physical landmark, said Thomas Conoscenti, director of real estate and planning for the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “The arena is really going to solidify downtown Brooklyn as a destination, not just for Brooklyn residents but the entire region,” he said.

DSW and Payless ShoeSource currently operate units in the nearby Atlantic Center, and Consolo said everyone from Lucy and Lululemon to Y-3 and Intermix is looking in the area. Ronnie Fieg, whose sneaker shop Kith is located one block from the Barclays Center, said he is excited about the changes ahead. “It’s going to give the neighborhood a tremendous boost and bring in a lot of traffic,” he said. “I’m already seeing it happen.”

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