Brooklyn Heights

Famed apothecary chain coming to Montague Street

Tenant moving into Corcoran storefront revealed

October 21, 2013 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The secret is out.

The tenant that’s taking Corcoran’s coveted corner storefront on Montague and Henry Streets is an East Village apothecary whose blue astringent lotion was a favorite of Andy Warhol’s.

Kiehl’s, which was launched in 1851 and family-owned until 2000, will start store construction on Nov. 1 on the ground floor of 124 Montague St., architect Daniel Allen told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

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“The store won’t be ready in time for Christmas, but it will open soon after,” said Allen, who is a principal of Allen + Killcoyne Architects, which does the designs for Kiehl’s stores east of the Mississippi.

It will be the first stand-alone Brooklyn store for the upscale retailer, which touts its iconic Blue Astringent skin lotion as a product Warhol regularly bought at its original Third Avenue and E. 13th Street store, which was a few blocks away from the famed artist’s Factory.

Word got out months ago that Corcoran would be vacating most of the ground-floor space in the handsome two-story Montague Street building. But until now, only those closely involved in the lease deal knew the identity of the incoming tenant.

By landing Kiehl’s as a tenant, landlord Glenn Markman – a  commercial real estate broker at Cushman and Wakefield in Manhattan – gets the best of both worlds for his building in the heart of Brooklyn Heights’ most sought-after retail corridor.

Kiehl’s shops, whose natural skin-care and beauty products are considered must-haves by legions of upscale New Yorkers, have the charm and personality of an independent entrepreneur’s boutique.

At the same time, Kiehl’s is a credit-worthy tenant, having been sold to the U.S. subsidiary of Parisian cosmetics giant L’Oreal in 2000. Since then, the French company’s  financial clout has fueled Kiehl’s expansion worldwide; it now has hundreds of stand-alone stores and counters in department stores.    

Corcoran is keeping enough space on the ground floor for an entrance to the building’s second floor, where it will continue residential brokerage operations, as the Eagle previously reported. The firm is opening a Brooklyn headquarters office at One Pierrepont Plaza.

The entry door of its 124 Montague office will be on Henry Street, Allen said.

Kiehl’s shop will be 1,200 square feet in size, with its front door located where Corcoran’s is now, on a diagonal right on the Montague and Henry corner of the building. Over the summer, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission okayed the use of awnings on the building exterior – which Corcoran has – with the Kiehl’s name on them, the architect said.

The Montague Street store will be similar to Kiehl’s Upper East Side shop, he noted.

The store, on Lexington Avenue, has quirky decor that’s typical for Kiehl’s. In one corner there’s “Mr. Bones” – a human skeleton – to remind shoppers of Kiehl’s origins as an apothecary. By the front door there’s a vintage motorcycle – because former company owner Aaron Morse used to display bikes from his  personal collection to entertain husbands while wives shopped.

Kiehl’s is “patient” as a hunter of prime store sites, Allen said: “They like corner locations.”

Company president Chris Salgardo always has the final say in site selection.

A call to Kiehl’s New York City headquarters was not returned by deadline.

A handful of storefronts are in play on Montague, where demand for retail locations is expected to really heat up as the anticipated summer 2014 re-opening of the Bossert Hotel draws closer. For now, rents are $125 to $135 per square foot for corner locations.

The landlord of 112 Montague St., which Starbucks departed more than a year ago, is holding out for a tenant with a Triple-A credit rating. Next door to his building, the storefront which Radio Shack recently vacated is for rent. So is 76 Montague St., the red-brick building that furniture store Design Within Reach is expected to move out of in February, unless a last-minute lease extension is negotiated.

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