Brooklyn’s building it and business will come: The promise of boro’s ‘tech triangle’

December 6, 2012 By Linda Collins Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Some Brooklyn Realtors and developers believe the Barclays Center will attract more companies and residents to the borough. Others believe the Brooklyn Tech Triangle will do it. One, David Behin of MNS, believes it’s the Brooklyn Flea.

Behin and others were speaking at the Future of Brooklyn Summit that took place last Friday at the Brooklyn Marriott.

Sponsored by Bisnow and a long list of firms, the event attracted close to 640 attendees and featured two panels of speakers as well as a keynote address by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

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All the panelists — there were 14, including moderators — and Markowitz, of course, concurred that Brooklyn is “the place to be.” 

“We’re seeing a lot of people who want to live in Brooklyn, who work in Brooklyn and who want to stay in Brooklyn,” said developer David Von Spreckelsen of Toll Brothers City Living.

“Brooklyn is the most dynamic market in the city,” said developer Stephen Benjamin of The Dermot Company, who also said, “I think Brooklyn has now achieved city status. It’s the Brooklyn Nets. It will never be the Queens Nets.”

Among the attractions, in addition to Barclays, the Nets and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, are the price gap, access to subways, size of unit space and the types of jobs available in the borough now.

Of the price gap: “Yes, it exists. Per dollar there’s a better deal in Brooklyn than in Manhattan,” said Jamie Wiseman of Cayuga Capital Management.

Of choice: Wiseman also said, “It’s definitely choice. It used to be that Manhattan was the place to be but now there’s a real choice.”

Of access to subways: Behin said, “I think you have to look at the subways as a factor. Look at all the subway lines serving Barclays.

“My own commute is 15 minutes from Williamsburg to our office in Manhattan,” he added.

Of space: “You’re seeing a different kind of building now,” Behin said. “Besides larger units there are amenities, like a doorman, a gym.”

And more and more neighborhoods are experiencing gentrification, noted John Horowitz of Marcus & Millichap, ticking off Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

Of jobs: Stephen Palmese of Massey Knakal said, “There are different kinds of jobs in Brooklyn now with the Tech Triangle.

“There used to be 500 people biking from Williamsburg to DUMBO, now it’s up to 3,500,” he said.

“People want to be closer to the action,” said Von Spreckelsen, who is seeing positive response to his firm’s plan for a residential/hotel development in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Asked by moderator David Pfeffer about future trends, panelists identified several: the demand for townhouse development, the notable wealth of the newer buyers, and adults who have young children but still want to have fun in the trendy areas of Brooklyn.

Panelists in the second session of the summit were asked by moderator Deborah Levinson to focus on what plans and vision they held for the future.

Andrew Kimball of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp., Tucker Reed of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Tom Montvel-Cohen of the DUMBO Improvement District all spoke of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle and the need for a longterm plan to build up the area.

“This will not only be significant for New York City but for the country,” said Reed, who noted that there are 30,000 tech jobs today but it is hoped there will be 60,000 by 2015.

“We need to figure out every possible way to find the real estate to bring the tech companies here,” said Kimball. “The Watchtower empty buildings…that’s a travesty. Those buildings need to be filled with creative business types.”

Commented Jason Muss, “The focus must be on connecting the Navy Yard, DUMBO and downtown, creating jobs, creating office space, creating pedestrian walkways between them.”

Montvel-Cohen, “We need civic leadership to evolve along with that. We need pub- lic investment of all kinds to move forward.”

Speaking of Forest City Ratner’s vision for the future, Melissa Burch said she firm will be focusing on the success of the Barclays Center and the residential development at Atlantic Yards.

She said she has noticed a retail resurgence along Flatbush Avenue since the opening of Barclays and sees the arena as a catalyst in attracting commercial office space.

Asked about an earlier plan to develop a high-rise office building at the arena site, she responded, “We need a tenant first. We are on a hunt.” 

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