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Old Posted Jan 21, 2014, 1:20 AM
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^ Not to mention Citypoint.

Livingston Street: Exotic, offbeat, gritty, now slated for mainstream

By Lore Croghan
Jun 21, 2013

Big developments are percolating on Livingston Street – and before you know it, new retailers will want in on the action, real estate executives predict.

With a hodgepodge of 99-cent stores, furniture sellers, salons and the backside of Macy's – the blank-faced side that doesn't have display windows – the street is about as unglamorous as it gets for Downtown Brooklyn retail corridors.

But two high-profile apartment projects at 276-300 Livingston and 350 Livingston, near the Flatbush Avenue end of the thoroughfare, will fire up restaurant owners' and merchants' interest in the street, brokers believe. Livingston Street will start getting serious consideration from tenants being priced out of the hotter-than-ever Fulton Mall.

Though the transformation is expected to take several years, optimism is starting to stir. “Things are finally looking up,” said Isaac Mograby of Crown Retail Services, the leasing agent for 253 Livingston, where a Planet Fitness gym moved in. “There's a boost in the morale on Livingston.”

.....Doug Steiner of Steiner Studios is building The Hub, a skyscraper with 700-plus rental apartments and 50,000 square feet of shops at a site that includes 350 Livingston and property on Schermerhorn Street and Flatbush Avenue.

Upscale amenities will include a concierge, a terrace with a sundeck, a grilling terrace, a fitness center, a yoga studio, a dog run and bike storage for every unit. Demolition is now underway at 350 Livingston, which was an office building.

TF Cornerstone – a company created by two high-profile developers, brothers Tom and Fred Elghanayan – is building 600 apartments at 276-300 Livingston, according to a published report from CoStar Group. A parking garage and storefronts now occupy the site.

As the two projects move forward, retail rents on Livingston will rise 20% to 25%, Mograby predicted. “Livingston Street will undergo a rare transformation,” predicted another broker, CPEX Real Estate Managing Partner Timothy King. “You'll see Reilly's law of retail gravitation: Given a choice, people go to where the action is.”

At the parking garage where Cornerstone is constructing an apartment building, tenants have been told to vacate by Dec. 31. However glad they are that development will boost Livingston Street's prosperity, it pains them to go.

“It's a sad feeling to leave when you are established, you are recognized in the neighborhood,” said Victor Vora, who pays $35 per square foot rent for a storefront for his Greyhound bus station franchise. “We're all scrambling to find the right locations.” His soon-to-be displaced neighbors at the garage building include an IHOP pancake house and Papa John's pizzeria. Vora has brokers seeking sites on Livingston as possible places to relocate; he needs a 1,500-square-foot space on a street wide enough for buses to pull in for stops. It must be close to the Manhattan Bridge, which the buses cross to make pickups at the W. 42nd St. Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Cornerstone reps told tenants they hope to break ground next spring on the new apartment building, which will be more than 30 stories tall and will have space for shops, Vora's son Alap said.

Another project that will add further luster to the street is planned at 210 Livingston, a building the late Charles Benenson bought in 1971. The office property's former tenant was the city Human Resources Administration. Landlord Benenson Capital Partners and apartment developer Rose Associates plan to construct a new 300-unit rental apartment building with street-level retail space. There's scaffolding up, asbestos abatement notices are plastered on the front door and the city Department of Buildings has approved the demolition of the 11-story property.

More changes in historic Heights

By Lore Crogh

Are high-profile builders Tom and Fred Elghanayan looking to make their big development site on Livingston Street even bigger?

The two brothers – whose company TF Cornerstone owns a blue-chip portfolio of New York City apartment properties and Manhattan and Washington office buildings – are planning their Downtown Brooklyn debut at 276-300 Livingston St.

Last spring, Cornerstone paid $70 million for this parking garage with storefronts housing an IHOP pancake house, a Greyhound bus station and several other tenants. The developers plan to clear the site for 600 apartments.

Now, the word on the street is they've got their eye on a neighboring office building, 285 Schermerhorn St. It's directly adjacent to the parking garage, which is a block-through corner property with frontage on Schermerhorn as well as Bond Street.

The Schermerhorn Street building, constructed in 1927, belongs to a nonprofit with serious longevity, Brooklyn Community Services. The organization – which has been around since 1866 and has been known over the years as the Brooklyn Bureau of Charities and the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service – is headquartered in the seven-story property.

The coffers of the social services provider – which began its operations with a shelter for homeless newsboys in Brooklyn Heights – would benefit from the nice chunk of change the building could command if sold as a development site.

There's 105,000 buildable square feet, real estate database indicates – which could be worth $200 per buildable square foot, or $21 million, a real estate source told the Eagle.

The BCS building has been drawing would-be buyers' attention since the parking garage next door changed hands.

“We had explorations from half-a-dozen different developers,” Marla Simpson, executive director of Brooklyn Community Services, told us. “We're in listening mode,” she said.

One thing's for certain, Simpson added: “We intend to remain in Downtown Brooklyn.”

A source said BCS honchos are working with a number of city agencies to come up with a plan for how to proceed.

The Elghanayans are keeping silent on the subject of their development site's neighboring building.

“At this time, TF Cornerstone does not have a comment on this,” a spokeswoman said.

Their project is one of two mammoth apartment developments that promise to transform decidedly unglamorous Livingston Street and draw retailers priced out of nearby Fulton Mall, as we previously reported. The other is Doug Steiner's residential skyscraper at 350 Livingston St.
NEW YORK. World's capital.

“Office buildings are our factories – whether for tech, creative or traditional industries we must continue to grow our modern factories to create new jobs,” said United States Senator Chuck Schumer.

Last edited by NYguy; Jan 21, 2014 at 1:32 AM.