Eye On Real Estate: Even So, Bay Ridge Corridor Is A Foodie Magnet - Bring on the Limpa Bread and Turkish Ice Cream
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Fifth Avenue Brooklyn – it's a tale of three Business Improvement Districts.
The retail corridor snakes like a spine through brownstoners' bailiwick Park Slope, through immigrant magnet Sunset Park, through middle-class and increasingly Middle Eastern Bay Ridge.
Each neighborhood has a BID of its own to represent merchants and landlords – and a personality of its own that draws shoppers forth onto Fifth....
This week, Eye on Real Estate takes a look at the Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue BID – which is still smarting from the departure of the city's most famous bridal salon.
“Kleinfeld left a vacuum. We had an icon leave,” said Nick Stathoudakis, the broker at Bay Ridge Realty. “We need another icon. We need something that would bring people together.”
Kleinfeld, a Bay Ridge fixture since the 1940s, announced in 2005 that it was leaving 8206 Fifth Ave. for W. 20th Street in Chelsea.
It had 185 employees and was a fabulous foot-traffic generator for Fifth Avenue. Brides-to-be who'd “Say Yes to the Dress” (as the TV series about Kleinfeld is called) would often stick around Bay Ridge afterwards to celebrate.
An empty storefront at 8117 Fifth Ave. that housed Tuxedo Gallery is a remnant of the wedding-related businesses that clustered near Kleinfeld.
Trader Joe's, a heavy hitter that would suit middle-class shoppers' budgets, is the kind of new anchor for the avenue that Stathoudakis has in mind. He suggests a tax abatement should be offered to draw a newcomer of this ilk.
The new Fifth Avenue icon would not be able to move into Kleinfeld's former space, though. Current tenant TD Bank has it locked up for many years to come.
Commerce Bank, which TD Bank acquired in 2008, signed a 15-year lease for the location in 2006, city records show. It also has lease-extension options for 20 years, then right of first refusal to rent the property, which belongs to Kleinfeld's owners.
Rents for storefronts in the BID, which stretches along Fifth Avenue from 65th to 85th streets, range from $3,000 to $4,000 per month for 1,100 square feet, Stathoudakis said. That's $33 to $44 per square foot per year.
Tenants in some properties are expected to pay taxes and heating bills.
Rents have been flat for the past couple years.
On neighboring 86th Street, which is anchored by designer discount store Century 21 and populated by national, credit-worthy tenants, storefront rents are three to five times higher. But the Fifth Avenue BID area has its own charms.
It's is a foodie's dream come true, for one thing.
There's limpa bread (Swedish rye made with molasses, anise and orange peel) for breakfast at Scandinavian bakery Leske's. There's a slow-roasted lamb dish, haneez, for lunch at Yemen Cafe & Restaurant, which has been around since 1986. There's a platter of savory chicken doner (which is a gyro) for dinner at Hazar Turkish Kebab.
For dessert, there's chocolate cheesecake at Jean Danet Pastry, with drinks afterwards at Skinflints or smoking at the hookah lounge Blow.
The candy is dandy at Choc Oh Lot Plus, which opened in 1979. Shop owner Charles Arnone hand-dips strawberries in chocolate every Valentine's Day. Middle Eastern treats at Cedars Pastry include Turkish ice cream called dondurma that earned the bakery a shout-out from Serious Eats New York editor Max Falkowitz.
Besides the multicultural food options, shoppers can buy Spiderman snow globes and green Hulk masks at Galaxy, the comic book store; pick up belly-dancing scarves at Sagar Fashion; or get a new set of radials at the 67th Street Tire Shop.
There are numerous vacant storefronts on the avenue, though.
Dunkin' Donuts moved out of 8425 Fifth Ave. because the coffee-shop operators wanted a bigger space so they could also sell Baskin-Robbins ice cream, landlord Mary Vlahos told Eye on Real Estate.
Her corner location has drawn a lot of interest from prospective tenants, she said.
Dunkin' Donuts moved to nearby 8509 Fifth Ave.
Vito Mancini is fuming about the tenant he evicted from 8312 Fifth Ave., Muscle Maker Grill.
“For four months, the restaurant was closed and they didn't pay me rent,” said Mancini. “Now, we need a good tenant.”
He bought the building through an LLC for $1.375 million in 2011, city records indicate.
He's asking $6,500 to $7,500 per month for the 2,000-square-foot space, he said – $39 to $45 per square foot per year.
A storefront at 8402 Fifth Ave., a building landlord Bill Hionas owns, has been vacant for six months.
Stathoudakis, the Bay Ridge Realty broker, is showing an empty storefront at 8115 Fifth Ave., which Personalized Jewels & Gifts vacated last summer.
One prospective tenant wanted to open a martial arts school there, but that didn't pan out.
There's been a lot of interest from food franchises. But the landlord doesn't want a food tenant.
The building belongs to the Maksymowicz family, city records indicate.