Eye On Real Estate: Produce Purveyor Lawyers Up to Stay Put at Court Street Store Site
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
J. Crew, where are you?
Architects and engineers are filing construction plans with the city Buildings Department for J. Crew's first Brooklyn store – while the popular Cobble Hill produce purveyor that's the site's current tenant has lawyered up and is battling to stay put.
Jacob Ustundag, an owner of Pacific Green Gourmet Food at 151 Court St., told Eye on Real Estate the grocers hired attorney Marc Aronson to handle their legal fight. The Smith Street attorney specializes in landlord-tenant cases and housing issues.
But construction pros hired for the J. Crew job are doing their prep work nevertheless.
In January, they submitted plans with the Buildings Department to build a new “convenience stair” and install air conditioning units and plumbing fixtures for new restrooms. And on Jan. 28 the city agency disapproved a previously submitted plan to change the building's second floor use from dwelling units to retail.
“They're pretty much re-doing the whole building,” said Phil Palma, the project manager for Fiskaa Engineering, a firm involved in J. Crew's planned makeover of the two-story Court Street property. “It will be an awesome location.”
The women's department will probably be downstairs and the men's department upstairs – that's the way J. Crew has been building its stores lately, Palma said.
Lalire March Architects, which is designing the space, has done numerous J. Crew stores – including the one at 91 Fifth Ave. in the Flatiron District, which Fiskaa worked on, too. It's an inviting space that shows off the $425 women's blazers and $168 jeans to good advantage.
The announcement last summer of the preppy clothing chain's decision to lease the property on the corner of Pacific Street angered many area residents. At last count, a petition at Change.org urging J. Crew to choose another location had nearly 4,400 signatures.
An owner of Pacific Green, which was originally expected to move out in November, previously told the Brooklyn Eagle there's a rider in the greengrocer's 15-year lease saying it didn't begin until the landlord delivered the space – which was 2001.
The landlord at 151 Court, Gus Sheha, refused to answer questions about the situation with Pacific Green and J. Crew.
“Thank you so much for calling,” he said before abruptly hanging up the phone. J. Crew's PR people didn't respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, Pacific Green has opened a second location at 303 Court St.
“Business is okay” at the second shop, which goes by the name Big Apple Gourmet, manager Billy Solmaz said. “It's a new store. We need a little more time.”