The unabashedly gorgeous ground floor of Brooklyn’s tallest building, One Hanson Place, remains empty, despite a more than two-year search for a retail tenant, prompting its owners to ditch brokers mid-stream and start from scratch.
“We were just looking for a different perspective on the space,” said Kristin Neil, the manager for One Hanson Place, the copper-domed 512-foot building, formerly known as the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, purchased by Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds and the Dermot Company in 2005.
The developers have traded Jeffrey Roseman, executive vice president of Newmark Knight Frank Retail, for rival Faith Hope Consolo, chairwoman of the retail leasing and sales division for Prudential Douglas Elliman, who was hired last week.
The 33,000-square-foot space, occupied first by the Williamsburgh Savings Bank and ultimately by HSBC, may well be one of the most stunning spaces in the city, but from a retail standpoint, it has its limitations.
“It’s landmarked both inside and outside,” Mr. Roseman told The Observer. “So it’s much trickier.”
Mr. Roseman, who leased the similarly tricky Bowery Savings Bank on East 42nd Street to Cipriani a decade ago, said the landmarking means that tenants can’t drill in the walls or otherwise alter the space without the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. That poses problems for shelving and signage, among other issues.
“Look, your discount sort of retailers would have a hard time with it,” said Mr. Roseman. “But, we had a deal with Borders the day we put the property on the market.”
That deal fell through after prolonged negotiations.
Now, Ms. Consolo is taking over, and she said she has a vision, or rather, multiple visions for the space, which is being marketed as both a leasable site and as a commercial condo.
“I visualize a big specialty store,” said Ms. Consolo. “It also could be a very important catering group. … It could also be another great restaurant.”
Ms. Consolo’s also mentioned a museum auction house and retailers like Sony and Apple as potential tenants.
One retailer that likely won’t tenant the old banking hall is, ironically, a bank. “All of the banks are trying now to be more retail,” said Mr. Roseman.
Ms. Consolo wouldn’t reveal the asking rent for what is arguably Brooklyn’s finest retail space. But last Mr. Roseman heard, the owners wanted $3 million a year.
Whichever retailer ultimately leases the space, it won’t be lacking for a built-in customer base. Ms. Neil said 80 percent of the building’s 179 condos are sold or under contract, and the building is already 30 percent occupied. The building’s 32,000-square-foot medical suite condo, consisting of 15 doctors offices, is also under contract.
Ms. Neil, for one, is optimistic that a tenant will be found.
“The national retailers are finally understanding that Brooklyn is a large, viable market,” she said.