Eye On Real Estate
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Landlords on Van Brunt Street want rents for vacant storefronts that are a good 30% higher than pre-Hurricane Sandy rates.
Can retailers afford to pay up in a transit-challenged, storm-slammed neighborhood like Red Hook?
The new owners of 252-254 Van Brunt St. got “pretty close” to the rent they wanted for two empty 1,600-square-foot storefronts — by leasing them to non-retail tenants, one of the landlords revealed.
A custom furniture maker is moving into 252 Van Brunt and a wholesale bicycle seller is taking 254 Van Brunt, the property's co-owner, Shlomo Chkifati, told Eye on Real Estate.
“Wholesalers and industrial businesses don't depend on foot traffic in the area,” he said.
Chkifati listed the spaces online as being “great for an art gallery, restaurant, nightclub or lounge.”
But those types of tenants didn't show any interest in the property, he said. He can understand why.
“Anyone opening a retail business will have a loss for the first two years, until they get a following,” he said.
It took six months to land his new tenants. He marketed the spaces himself at first, then hired brokerage firm Ideal Properties Group to handle the job because he didn't have time, he said.
The asking rent was $3,500 per month for each 1,600-square-foot space.
That's on a par with the rents that other Van Brunt Street landlords want for vacant retail spaces on Red Hook's main commercial corridor.
Before the killer 'cane, Van Brunt Street retail rents were at most $2,600 per month for food tenants, a source said.
Chkifati and co-purchaser Gabi Ballas bought their low-rise industrial building through LLCs in January for $1.365 million, city Finance Department records indicate.
The deed spells out further details: Chkifati's LLC has a 63% interest in the property and Ballas' LLC has a 37% interest.
The seller was an LLC managed by Roger Dib that had purchased it in 2006 for $1.325 million, an earlier deed indicates.
Chkifati owns Luxor Limo, which is located on Van Brunt Street. Ballas owns discount stores in the Bronx, according to online records.
There are several empty storefronts on the street, whose tenants include food-writer faves like the Good Fork (391 Van Brunt St.), Red Hook Lobster Pound (284 Van Brunt St.) and Home/Made at 293 Van Brunt St. — see related story.
Coffee shop Baked (359 Van Brunt St.) serves up dream desserts like the Brookster, which is part brownie and part chocolate-chunk cookie. Hometown Bar-B-Que (454 Van Brunt St.), which is across the street from superb supermarket Fairway, was the busiest place on Van Brunt Street when we spent a recent sunny Sunday there.
Kentler International Drawing Space (353 Van Brunt St.) has an exhibition that includes eye-catching work by Orlando Richards.
Buyers certainly are paying mucho money for Van Brunt Street buildings.
In December, Jenny Lee Nichols purchased a townhouse with a carriage house at 398 Van Brunt St. for $2.485 million, Finance Department records show.
Nichols paid a hair less than the asking price, which was $2.495 million, according to online listings by sale broker Corcoran.
Seller Denise Carbonell had paid $1.795 million for the property in 2007.
Carbonell had a shop in the building's storefront called Metal and Thread that stocked local artisans' works, including hers and co-owner Derek Dominy's.
Is the new homeowner the Jenny Nichols who is film director Mike Nichols' daughter and TV news anchor Diane Sawyer's step-daughter? That's what Red Hook insiders say.
The neighborhood is full of interesting people.