Whose Mall Is It Anyway: Will Brooklyn Flock to Fulton Street’s New Chain Stores?

Isn't That Why We Left Pittsburgh Behind to Begin With?

p1020748 Whose Mall Is It Anyway: Will Brooklyn Flock to Fulton Streets New Chain Stores?

In the shadow of new towers.

Mr. Laboz and his two younger brothers followed their father into the real estate business, and it was on the mall where they got their start. Daddy Laboz arrived at the end of the beginning, when Martin’s department store closed at 505 Fulton, in 1979. It was a part of Fulton Street’s commercial quartet, along with Abraham and Strauss, May’s and E.J. Korvette. Only the first still exists, in the form of Macy’s. The location is one of the company’s top grossing stores.

Mr. Laboz is a Brooklyn boy, born and raised in as much comfort as the borough could afford: Manhattan Beach, the Riviera of Coney Island. He and a partner set up shop around the corner from his dad’s place in 1985, after they had taken a stake in the property. He eventually bought out his father as he continued to expand along the corridor.

“From a real estate point of view, the building was always a success,” Mr. Laboz said. The ground floor had been chopped up into smaller storefronts and stalls, all paying a decent rent for the tens of thousands of shoppers, office workers and students streaming by each day. Upstairs were government agencies. Now they have been cleared out, along with a stand of five rowhouses, demolished to make way for the H&M. Mr. Laboz is even considering lofts on the upper floors of the old Martin’s building.

“I don’t want to sound like Donald Trump,” said Mr. Laboz, “but my site is the best location in the block. It’s across from Macy’s, it’s on the 50 yard line.”

Part of the problem with developers, politicians and the media talking about the transformation or revitalization of Fulton Street is that it suggests there was something wrong in the first place. Unlike Smith Street or Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, which were largely empty, the Fulton Mall has always been packed. With its 110,000 patrons  a day, it is the third busiest retail strip in the city, besting Madison Avenue and behind only Fifth and Times Square.

The idea is that with 12,000 new residents in the adjacent towers, the people will need somewhere to shop. But this also presumes such changes will not alienate the current clientele. Were this to resemble Smith Street, with its boutiques and boulangeries, it would be a failure for the landlords on the strip, who command $200 a square foot, compared to $70 per on Atlantic Avenue and $50 on Smith, according to numbers furnished by brokerage Prudential Douglas Elliman. Some of the national retailers are even paying upwards of $300 a square foot, which helps explain the desire for change, even if the demand may not follow.

Comments

  1. CK says:

    Good story. Two things, though: Brooklyn Fare is on Schermerhorn Street, and that store in the first photo seems to be having a never-ending going out of business sale.  

  2. Azi Graber says:

    A commercial rent-control is completely unjustified; at least with regards to residential leases a case can be made about the necessity of affordable housing. But now we need the city to protect people from bad business decisions, or a changing market? 

  3. Douche says:

    Biz Markie. Sigh.

  4. Dashmaz says:

    Now Biz Markie raps on the kids’ show Yo Gabba Gabba. Things change.
    I think it will be great for the Fulton Mall to offer a more diverse shopping experience. Nobody wants all the mom-and-pops pushed out, but there is a place for H&M and TJ Maxx, etc., too.
    P.S. Matt Chaban, discover spell-check.  Really, “figurativelyh”?

  5. This is a good thing. The Fulton mall is such a dump. How many pager stores, cheap jewelry and sneaker outlets does a shopping center need? It doesn’t cater to black or white, it caters to hoods and drug dealers.

    1. Youareanidiot says:

      You are clearly an ignorant moron. I shop on Fulon Mall and I am not a drug dealer.

  6. Jpe3318806 says:

    if you  folks really knew the man and knew the e..l that lurks

  7. Emiayo says:

    “The hard part is, black people will shop where white people shop, they don’t have a choice,” one veteran Brooklyn broker said. “It doesn’t work the other way around.”  Matt Chopin – What kind of stupid statement is that and you single it out in your article.  I’m not sure what point you as the writer of this article or the idiot you quoted is trying make.