By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Wax on, wax off.
A national chain that promises “virtually painless” body waxing with all-natural beeswax is the newest addition to the roster of retailers on Montague Street, where space is tight ahead of the re-opening of the Bossert as a luxury hotel that will bring shoppers and diners with fat wallets.
A local franchisee of European Wax Center rented a 1,600-square-foot “parlor level” storefront at 130 Montague St., a brownstone with two commercial spaces on a landmarked block.
“Montague Street is the epicenter of Brooklyn Heights,” said James Dario Jr., a leasing broker at Kalmon Dolgin Affiliates, who showed the franchisee locations on neighborhood cross streets before taking him to Thor Equities' property.
“When they saw this location, they said, 'This is it.' The architecture, the look of the building – they were impressed enough with the location that they don't mind the half-dozen stairs up from street level,” he told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
The going rate for Montague's storefronts (other than corner locations) is $100 per square foot at sidewalk level, often with discounts of 20% to 25% if the space is several steps above or below ground, according to neighborhood brokers.
European Wax Center's rent is $100 per square foot and the lease term “north of 10 years,” said Dario, who served as the broker for tenant and landlord in the deal.
The anticipated re-opening of the nearby Bossert “will be an extra bonus to any tenant that comes onto the street,” he said. But it is not factored into the rent European Wax Center is paying, he added.
For now, European Wax Center expects to build a customer base from neighborhood residents, college students and workers in nearby office buildings and courts.
The storefront has a floor-to-ceiling glass facade that's highly visible from the street. What kind of buildout will the newcomer do to shield customers getting $28 bikini line waxes or $52 back waxes from the view of passersby?
Judging from other locations he's seen, it will be “very, very tastefully done,” Dario said.
In the lower-level retail space at 130 Montague, high-end nail salon Dashing Diva also offers a full array of waxing services. But Dario thinks the two spas will complement each other rather than compete: “It's like having a coffee shop and a tea salon,” he said.
A worker at Dashing Diva was surprised to hear a hair removal spa is moving in right upstairs. The salon's manager wasn't in Wednesday and could not be reached.
“I am not trying to take away business from them,” said European Wax Center franchisee Doug Bauer, who said he has a “good relationship” with the nail salon chain.
“I think more people will go to Dashing Diva for her core services [i.e., manicures and pedicures] because we are located so close,” he said.
Bauer called the 130 Montague St. site a “natural fit” for his business because it's two storefronts away from the corner of Montague and Henry Streets, which is “ground zero” for Heights retailing.
“There are approximately 10,000 women that walk through there on a daily basis,” he added.
European Wax Center is a credit-worthy tenant that's expanding in New York City, Dario said. The South Florida-based chain has 474 U.S. locations and is in the process of opening a second Brooklyn spa, on Avenue U in Marine Park.
“Brooklyn Heights is quickly attracting the top-tier names in beauty and grooming that were once only found in Manhattan,” Thor Equities' CEO Joseph Sitt said in a statement. “New Yorkers looking for the charm of Brooklyn now can experience the luxury amenities of Manhattan, and European Wax Center at 130 Montague reinforces this growing trend.”
Thor's PR reps didn't get answers to the Eagle's questions about why the previous tenant in the space, clothing retailer Ruby and Jenna, lasted there less than a year.
Eight metro-area Ruby and Jenna shops remain open, said a worker at one of them. Store owners Ruby Azrak and Jenna Lubel did not respond to email queries.
Thor's reps also didn't answer questions about the bare-earth back yard of 130 Montague, which was formerly part of a memorial garden for Brooklyn Heights mom Sylvia Blinchik's late son, Mark Allen Blinchik.
Sylvia, who died two decades ago, left behind an easement that gave her “perpetual use and occupancy” of the rear yards of 128, 130 and 132 Montague St. for the memorial garden – which disappeared in intervening years, leaving behind a neighborhood eyesore.
Her daughter Ann, who inherited the easement, recently told the Eagle she's going to reach out to the buildings' landlords and discuss her options for reviving the memorial garden.
Elsewhere on Montague Street, the building where Starbucks moved out 14 months ago remains vacant. “For Rent” signs from the Massey Knakal brokers who previously had the leasing assignment for 112 Montague St. were recently removed from the picture windows of the two-story retail building.
Instead, prospective tenants can reach out directly to Manhattan landlord Nathan Royce Silverstein – if they twist their necks a bit. A “For Rent” sign with his phone number on it was recently hung in the building's upstairs window – upside down.
Silverstein is holding out for a “national tenant or one with a very good credit rating” for 112 Montague – and restaurants and nail salons need not apply, the Eagle previously reported.