Downtown

City Point’s developers amp up their search for retail and restaurant tenants

Eye On Real Estate: They're planning a Brooklyn-centric food hall and a dining terrace, too

November 25, 2014 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Shine Bright Like A Diamond (Thank you, Rihanna, for that lyric): This is what the new shops and restaurants at City Point will look like. Rendering by CookFox Architects/Neoscape
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Food, Glorious Food — the developers of mega-project City Point hope it will be a major customer draw.

“Food is the fourth anchor,” Chris Conlon, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Acadia Realty Trust, told Eye on Real Estate during a recent visit to the 1.8 million-square-foot mixed-use complex on Downtown Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall.

Acadia and Washington Square Partners are co-developing the retail and office portion of City Point — an irregularly shaped site bounded by DeKalb Avenue, Gold Street, Willoughby Street, Flatbush Avenue Extension and Fleet Street.

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For those with short memories, Albee Square Mall formerly stood on this city-owned site.

Conlon and Paul Travis, managing partner of Washington Square Partners, dished up details about their leasing campaign.

City Point will have a 26,000-square-foot food hall the developers plan to fill with 40 or more vendors who hail from Brooklyn or elsewhere in New York City. Most of the vendors will do their cooking onsite.

There are four or five big restaurant sites to fill. One of them, which is 7,000 square feet in size, will also have a mezzanine-level outdoor dining terrace overlooking as-yet-unbuilt Willoughby Square Park.

The two execs will probably be ready to announce a deal with a food-hall operator in the next 30 days.   

They are in the throes of constructing City Point’s commercial “podium,” which is five stories tall and also has a concourse (in other words, a basement) and a sub-basement.

They plan to have the podium space ready to deliver to tenants in early 2015 so interior construction can get started. They expect business openings in early 2016.

Two other developers are constructing apartment towers on top of the podium. A third developer is in contract to acquire air rights for 650,000 square feet of residential development on a vacant piece of City Point land that’s next to the podium. See related story.


THE LEASING CAMPAIGN IS IN HIGH GEAR
  

At this point, there’s 100,000 square feet of retail space on the ground-floor and concourse that’s available for rent.

Other people might call the latter the basement. But the word “concourse” was used to refer to the below-ground retail space at the original World Trade Center, which makes it A-OK in our book.

The food hall will be located in the concourse. Shoppers on the ground floor will be able to see down into the food hall, with its buzz of activity, through two sets of escalators.

The food-hall operator will work jointly with Conlon and Travis to choose the vendors. They’ll be distinctive local food businesses rather than chains like Sbarro or Panda Express, Conlon said.

The goal is to make the food hall a “food destination,” he explained.

Possibly it will be open from 8 a.m. to midnight for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

As for the entrepreneur who takes on the big restaurant space with the dining terrace, “it has to be someone who can execute something pretty special to meet the demands of the marketplace,” Conlon said.

Food tenants needn’t be credit-worthy to rent space at City Point, as long as they are experienced and well-capitalized, he added.

“People with a passion for executing, who don’t have the world’s biggest balance sheet, are welcome,” he said.

The developers made the decision to focus on food in a big way at City Point last summer. Input from neighborhood residents and workers influenced their thinking.

“People in Brooklyn care a lot about food,” Travis said.

In recent months, the execs began intensifying their effort to nail down tenants, together with Peter Ripka and Jason Pennington of Ripco Real Estate, their leasing agents.

“It is a campaign, like a military campaign,” Travis said. “It’s never easy.”

Last summer is also when the leasing campaign shifted into high gear. For the first time, the developers could put prospective tenants in hard hats and walk them through City Point’s available retail space. For the three years before that, they could only show drawings of the space to prospects.

We got a hard-hat tour of our own, in the company of our photographer colleague Rob Abruzzese. There’s a related story that shows more of his excellent photos.

Asking rents range from $75 to $250 per square foot, Conlon said. The pricing varies, depending on the size of the space and whether it’s located on the ground floor or the concourse.

THE OTHER THREE ANCHOR TENANTS   

The retail podium is part of City Point’s Phase II. The residential towers now under construction on top of the podium are also part of Phase II.

Phase I is a finished building whose address is 1 DeKalb Ave. Clothing retailer Armani Exchange opened in the building in 2012. Art Partner, an artists’ management firm, is an office tenant there.

Since we’ve said food will be the complex’s fourth anchor, we should identify the other three anchors:

* Century 21, the popular department store, has leased 140,000 square feet in Phase I and Phase II.

* Retail giant Target plans to build a smaller store format for urban markets that’s called City Target.

* Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which serves booze and food to seated movie patrons and has a no-talking-during-the-movie policy — no kidding — will make its Brooklyn debut.

The word on the street is that the rents for these big spaces, which were leased 1½ to two years ago, were around $50 per square foot.


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