A Prefab Tower, More Downtown Retail, NYU-Poly Air Rights Among Topics Discussed at Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable

February 8, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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And BP Markowitz Wants A Seafood Restaurant,

Housing for 55 & Older

By Linda Collins

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Borough President Marty Markowitz has a list of suggestions for those in the real estate and development fields in Brooklyn.

He made it clear at the Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable quarterly luncheon on Tuesday that they should be helping push for an NYU applied sciences center at 370 Jay St., they should be seeking to put a seafood restaurant like Legal Seafood or McCormick & Schmick’s where Morton’s The Steakhouse was at 339 Adams St. (“Brooklyn is surrounded by water and there are only a handful of great seafood restaurants.”), they should be pushing Apple for a manufacturing facility in either East New York or Brownsville (“The company doesn’t manufacture a thing in the U.S.”), and they should be developing housing for people 55 and over.

In his as-usual-pro-Brooklyn remarks he also noted that the borough is now the editorial capitol of the world, with a dozen or so magazine editors residing here, including those from Good Housekeeping, Interior Design, Tennis, Harvard Business Review, Forbes Life, Playboy, Bride, People, Redbook, Glamour, Martha Stewart Living and Wine Spectator, among others.Joshua Muss

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, who said he felt a special connection to the roundtable because his mother was a real estate broker years ago, also had some positive news for attendees: Last year the borough had the fewest murders since 1963.

This was the first of the roundtable’s four quarterly events for 2012 — its sixth year — with proceeds benefitting its host, the Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS). In 2011, the luncheons raised $92,000, which a grateful president, Deborah Schwartz, said would go toward education and programs.

The remainder of the roundtable focused on the four invited speakers, including Lynne Brown, senior vice president for university relations and public affairs at NYU; Joshua Muss, principal of Muss Development; Michael Pintchik, president of Pintchik and an owner of decorating, paint and hardware stores; and Bob Sanna, executive vice president at Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC).

Powerful Design Team Assembled for Prefab Residential Tower

Sanna, who was providing an update on the construction of the Barclays Center and FCRC’s residential plans for Atlantic Yards, said of the 32-story prefab residential tower the firm plans to build that a “powerful design team with architects and experts in prefabrication” has been assembled.

“We are building a code-compliant contemporary building but doing it a little differently,” he said, noting there is not a lot of precedent for a very tall, urban-located prefab building.

“Our intention is to use technology that exists now,” he said, adding that a half dozen meetings have already taken place between the design team and the Department of Buildings.

As for building Barclays as a horizontal construction, it was “eye-opening,” he said.  “We wanted the concourse level to be the entrance. It changes the experience for everyone.”

Mike PinchukSanna said FCRC’s main response to those expressing concerns about traffic near the arena was pointing to the “special connectivity we have with the subway system” and its safety and accessibility  — the best way to enjoy the arena.

We Want to Keep the Retail Local, Artisanal, Not Big Box

Pintchik, who was invited to discuss the revival of retail in the area of Barclays and Atlantic Yards, said his firm is a major property owner along the Flatbush Avenue corridor from Grand Army Plaza to Atlantic Avenue.

Pintchik started out with paint and hardware stores at Flatbush and Bergen Street and did not become a property owner until a fire occurred and a landlord didn’t want to be involved in restoration.

“So we bought the building and restored it ourselves,” he said, adding, “Every year after that we bought a building and restored it.”

Noting the changes he’s seen along the corridor over the years, he said, “The recent acceleration has been quite remarkable. Now the offers far exceed the available space.”

His firm has plans to develop at least three new projects along that Flatbush corridor: one primarily retail and two that will be mixed-use.

“We want to be able to offer larger spaces, from 750 to 1,000 square feet, keeping a local flavor,” he said. “We want more artisanal tenants, not big box stores.”

How does he compete with big box stores? “We make up for it in service and personal contact,” he said, pointing out that the business will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year.

NYU is Rockin’ and Rollin’ With Poly

“We’re rockin’ and rollin’ with Poly,” said Brown, noting that NYU in 2008 realized it was “underweighed on engineering and applied sciences,” leading to the the merger. NYU provided a $50 million loan to Poly to enhance its facilities with a goal of attracting students nationally and recruiting top faculty as well.

The 120,000 square feet that NYU-Poly has leased in MetroTech is “swing space,” she said, for Poly’s computer and electrical engineering programs while the school renovates its older buildings.

Questioned about the the 9,000 square feet of available air rights the school has acquired at MetroTech, she quipped, “There is a season….”

“We do develop real estate, yes, but our focus is academics,” she continued. “Tthe air rights are available, but it’s the academic dynamic that calls upon the need for more facilities. It has to make sense.”

What does make sense to NYU is being in Downtown Brooklyn.

“We’ve told our faculty, if they want to grow more, then let’s look at Brooklyn.”Lynne Browne

345 Adams St. Retail FloorsWill Be Mostly Restaurants

Muss, who spoke about how his firm first became involved in the acquisition and transformation of the first two floors at 345 Adams St., said, “We were there [with the Marriott Hotel] before anybody and looking around at the buildings nearby we knew we needed to upgrade the neighborhood.”

Noting the three eateries that have already signed leases — Sugar and Plumm, American BBQ and Beer and Panera Bread — he made the announcement: “We are expecting at this time that 345 Adams will almost completely be restaurants. We really think it will be a magnet for people for evenings and weekends, not just for weekdays. We are delighted with the usages.”

To reserve a space for future Roundtable programs, contact Keara Duggan at [email protected].

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