Upscale Lofts in Craptacular Mall’s Future

505 fulton
The Fulton Mall, symbol of all that’s down-market in Brooklyn, may be taking the first step in an image make-over with loft conversion plans underway for one the area’s most glorious architectural gems. According to Brooklyn Papers, 505 Fulton Street is likely the first target: My experience is loft conversion in Soho and Tribeca, said Albert Laboz, the owner of 505 Fulton Street and co-chairman of the Fulton Street Mall. We’d like to do the same thing down there and we want the city to help us the way they helped neighborhoods in Manhattan. The Romanesque Revival Building was built in 1890 by Henry Offerman as a warehouse and department store. We were a little confused by the photo of the building Brooklyn Papers ran with the story–it doesn’t look like 505 Fulton to us. Help anyone?
Soho Lofts for Fulton Mall? [Brooklyn Papers] GMAP

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  • Looks like 505 to me.

    As a Brooklyn Heights resident, I say THANK GOD. Fulton Mall is a wasteland. I have come thisclose many times to actually writing someone at Macys. Why is it that that store is allowed to be such a frickin’ mess? I guess poor people don’t need clean dressing rooms or someone to stand next to a register and allow you to pay?

    Those buildings are great. A rising tide.

  • Good news. I’m with you on Macy’s, not sure why it is always such a mess with poor service.

  • Agreed. Why should lower income customers be treated with such poor facilities and service?

  • I would love to see this change in Fulton Mall. Many of the buildings are very attractive (if you look at the upper floors, that is). Still, I wonder how much it could change. It’s current personality appears quite entrenched.

  • Let the Manhattanization continue.

  • If “Manhattanization” means that I won’t have to have my bags checked against a receipt when leaving Macy’s (ala Lowes), then by all means, let it continue.

  • I don’t think it’s necessarily “Manhattanization” to clean up an area that’s become a total mess, even if it means converting a former department store (Martin’s Dept Store, I believe) into luxury lofts. Perhaps that conversion will lead to another much-needed conversion…some half-way decent shopping on Fulton Street for all income levels, the way it used to be before all the major department stores closed (with the exception of Macy’s, ex-Abraham & Straus…which really should come back in some other reincarnation to save itself from the retail failure it has become.) This is a prime downtown real estate, and I see no problem mixing residential and retail if it means bolstering the street and restoring it to some semblance of its former glory.

  • Hmmmm…the building photo in the article is not the same photo posted above. The photo above appears to be the old Martin’s Dept Store. The photo in the article is what it is…

  • I don’t think you folk understand: This is going to be war. I’ve seen a study and a survey. They’re not complaining about the bus fumes, the illegal cut-through traffic, the lack of benches and public amenities, the crappy service at Macy’s, the downmarket shopping, the homeless guys, the marauding youth. They like that there’s a place in Downtown Bklyn with great bus and subway access that has lots of super-low price crap to buy. They like it a lot the way it is and they’re going to be extremely pissed as it changes.

  • Dap, why do you have such a bad impression of Fulton? Are you a white dude/chick scared to be around a bunch of black folks?

  • I highly doubt that the current shoppers like all of the bad service, mess and annoyance that goes with the cheap shopping. If they do like the mess, garbage and poor service, too bad.

  • May be true, dap, but that will not stop these changes. As another poster mentioned, this is prime Brooklyn real estate – that, not the preferences of Fulton Mall shoppers, shall determine the area’s future.

  • Don’t tell me you are willing to part with the pawn shops? Pleeezzze don’t take down that soon to be land-marked Fulton Mall metal arch/sign that so triumphantly announces, ” Yo it’s Crooklyn, G”

  • there’s a LOT of beautiful buildings on that stretch of Fulton that have not been well maintained – despite the fact that commercial rents on the Fulton Mall are second only to 7th Ave in Park Slope and Montague Street. [And I think Fulton Mall does like the highest sales-per-square-foot in the borough ($1200/sf).]

    so if a few lofts can help restore the beauty, build away.

  • How do you Fulton Mall haters envision the future of Fulton Mall? How do you think it should look? What kinda stores should be there? Should the retail envirnment be like Soho, The Village, Chelsea or Midtown?

    Macy’s, Footlocker, Children’s Place, Strawberry’s, Nine West, Zales, Ashley Stuart, Radio Shack, Finish Line and many more are all national chains. If you have problems with cleaniness or service, why don’t you take up your gripes with the corportate office instead of blaming the ‘victims’.

  • Who is blaming “victims”. Who do you mean by victims. All that people have said is that it would be nice if the area was cleaned up an the stores were not a mess. That means nice for everyone. Then a poster chimed in with the opinion that those who shop at Fulton Mall like the mess and poor service.

  • Dabs who is the “they” you refer

    b/c I havent met anyone that likes crappy service , the homeless guys, and marauding youth.

  • Just what Brooklyn needs – more stores that cater to the rich. Where are low income residents supposed to go to buy shoes, clothing, and maybe a gift for friends and family? Yes, poor people don’t like crappy service either, but what are they supposed to do, shop at Saks instead? Fulton Mall does not need redevelopment just because you don’t like the selection!

  • you’ve ALL lost track of what’s happening here.

  • Anon 1:35: Fulton Street used to cater to ALL income levels (I used to work in two of the dept stores after school), so the variety was there. The streets were clean, the stores were maintained, service was not non-existent the way it is now, and it was a pleasurable (and productive) shopping experience for all. It’s no longer that way, and it should be good shopping across the board. No, we don’t need Saks on Fulton St, it doesn’t belong there (and I don’t shop there either); but the major dept stores that closed spanned the income spectrum: Abraham & Strauss, Martin’s, May’s, Korvettes, Woolworth, and maybe a few others that pre-date me. My family was by no means “rich” back then, but good, quality merchandise could be had for good $$ value price points. If it takes some residential development to turn the tide and restore the mix of retail in downtown Brooklyn, then so be it. Everyone needs options.

  • I sure would like to see something done with this area. As it is now, its a pain in the neck to go down there, the sidewalks are filled with fat obese people walking super slow that you can’t get around and who obviosuly have nothing to do other than wander around. The stores are rotten. It seems like many of them might be selling stolen merchandise. Many of them are playing loud music onto the street which is illegal as well. It seems like its ripe for overhaul, it has great access to many subway lines, its right by the courts so office people who work there could go there over lunch or after work, and its even close to manhattan, so you might even get some traffic from there as well.

  • What stores does Fulton need in order for it to lose it’s image as a place for the poor? Does Fulton need Banana Republics and Abercomberies to make it seem more upscale. Or are we talking Saks and Barney’s.

    As a side bar, once Ratnerville gets built, won’t this be the ideal location for high end retail? Fulton Mall will be made obsolete by Ratnerville..

  • Too bad Gauge and Tollner’s had to shut its doors before the area is restored to the nice shopping/destination it used to be. Now there is a TGI Friday’s in its place. What a shame. This area needs to be revitalized. It should not just be a destination for people looking for cheap goods. Also, it is not as if it is that cheap, a lot of the sneakers etc are expensive. It is just a poorly run mess of an area right now. Obviously it was not built to be that way originally, so why should it be an island of subpar service and junky stores surrounded by a vibrant diverse community? There should be a mixture that would attract everyone, not just the poor and “marauding youth”.

  • I often support Fulton Mall stores including Macys, Foot Locker, Modells, and a couple of 99 cent stores. They all have much worse service, facilities than their Herald Square outposts (which is hard to do!)

    I think a Bed Bath and Beyond should move in, an Old Navy, a nice Marshalls. People here seem to think we “manhattanizers” want more expensive shops. No, trust me, Macys charges the same in Brooklyn (as do the rest). I just want some selection and I’d like some pressure on the established business to clean up thier act.

    And I think I may be one of those poor people you all are talking about, so you don’t need to speak on our behalf anymore, but thanks for the effort.

  • Anon 1:35 its not about stores for the rich. Most of the stores on Fulton are not discount stores and I’d say there are plenty of places you can shop cheaper and get better deals. It might be nice though if there was something to shop for there besides sneakers and cell phones.

  • I lived in Brooklyn Heights in the 1980’s and shopped at A&S a lot and often ate at Gage & Tollner. Fulton St. was not the most beautiful thing on earth, but it wasn’t the horror it has become — and wasn’t MetroTech supposed to revitalize the whole area? Hah!

    And the awful Atlantic Terminal mall is becoming an extension of Fulton St. I admit I have shopped there on occasion, but my most recent visits have caused me to flee in horror — Target is an absolute mob scene and the waits are interminable.

    Ratnerville won’t eliminate the Fulton Mall, it will extend it. Who wants to buy a luxury condo next to a basketball arena and a low-end shopping mall?

    And I have to agree — no people appreciate filth and bad service, but if it’s all you know maybe you don’t think things could be any different.

  • But these spaces would make great lofts — just maybe a hard sell right now given the surrounding area.

    But hey, if the Flatiron area can do it (and be a landmarked historic district), when twenty years ago Madison Square was a drug and rat infested horror, why not Fulton St?

  • What’s up with the assumption that shoppers on Fulton Mall are poor? Seriously, where does that assumption originate? I’d love to know. Even if that were true, there are tons of other places in Brooklyn to buy things. Think Pitkin Avenue, Graham Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, Fifth Avenue, etc. Brooklyn is a very large place and Fulton Mall is not the only place to shop.

  • There is nothing wrong with the Fulton Mall that mandatory signage/facade requirements, somewhat better sanitation and little bit of landscapring couldnt fix.

    Once the place didnt look so honkey-tonk, more professional national-type retailers would consider renting in what is an extremly successful (and far from only discount) shopping district.

  • I used to live right off the mall on Duffield street between Fulton and Metrotech. Even though it was exceptionally convenient for transportation (pretty much every single subway line was within a 3-4 block radius) I often had to go out of my immediate ‘hood to some of the creature comforts I’m used to having in the city: a nice coffee shop, decent restaruants (not fast food, which are ONLY things in the area), a grocery store, liqour store, etc.

    It was always sad for me to see the beautiful old buildings that had their facades destroyed and were falling apart. Several buildings (including the one pictured, where Conway is now) have recently been landmarked, which is a step in the right direction. But what the street really needs is more diversity in the types of stores/shops there. If turning what is basically unused and vacant space into condos will help, I’m all for it. As long as RATner has nothing to do with it, and they don’t start tearing them down and building 40 story monstrosities like he did in Metrotech.

  • Don’t want to offend the Manhattanizers (heaven forbid!), but there is little chance that Fulton Mall will change anytime soon. As mentioned above, while its appearance may not be ideal for white yuppies, it brings in more $$ per square foot than any other place in Brooklyn. Some commenters have mentioned a downhill slide, but businesses there have only become more and more successful over the last 10 or 20 years.

    Replace fast food with fancy restaurants? Greasy spoons with posh cafes? Why? There are plenty of fancy places in the Heights and Cobble Hill and Park Slope and Fort Greene.

  • Milo, so the appearance of Fulton Mall is ideal for blacks and other minorities, just not white yuppies? Come on, the place is dirty and run down. What a disservice to non-whites to espouse such an opinion. It is that sort of apathy and lack of desire to improve things that leads to acceptance of poor standards and poor services as the norm.

  • Thanks Milo. You make a very good point. Sometimes people who have spent over a million dollars on a Brownstone are surprised that blacks, recent immigrants, the unemployed and the underemployed still live in Brooklyn. They don’t like it, so they want to get rid of the stores and businesses that cater to them. This is especially true when these stores are within a few miles of their new home. You are right that the Fulton Mall is not going anywhere, nor should it.

  • Good one Big Dave. Poor standards, dirty stores and lackluster services at the Fulton Mall are here to stay for minorities and immigrants. Wouldn’t want them to aspire to anything better or have any pride in themselves…

  • I think the complaints raised here are a little over the top. The only difference between Fulton mall and most Manhattan shopping districts is the efficacy of its BID. If the merchants would step up a little bit and get the BID to clean up the streets, most of the legitimate issues raised here would disappear quickly. THe BID could fine the fast food places that do an inadequate job of litter control, etc. If the rates quoted above are accurate, I don’t see why they can’t get their acts together.

    As for lackluster service, I have only noticed this at Macy’s (which really is a disgrace) — I can’t figure out if its local management, lack of staffing, or what, but it really is just a poorly run store. If the window displays would improve, who knows what else might happen. At other stores on Fulton, I usually get attentive service quickly at other stores that’s not pushy if I am just browsing.

    As for the diversity of shopping, I think it’s pretty good except for the lack of decent coffee shops and the oversupply of cellular phone stores (but then again the last time I was a ta mall in another part of the country, there were at least 2 or 3 pushcarts selling the same type of junk). I have been surprised that Starbucks hasn’t moved in along here, but then again, given the rents quoted above, maybe it’s cost-prohibitive for the amount of space.

  • Why don’t you all call MIKE WEISS the head of the BID? Ask him why he doesn’t clean it up? Do something about the service? He also ran the METROTECH BID and that one wasn’t a problem. Maybe it is because of the “people” that frequent Fulton Mall. I mean look at New Orleans and Katrina who really cares about low income, poor, or people of color? This is America, remember our country was founded on discrimination. Did you all not read your history books–nothing ever changes.

  • Anon 6:45- stop complaining and do something about it if it really bothers you.

  • Complaining about discrimination? As I am not a WHITE MAN in America, running the government, big corporations, the film industry, a major newspaper or television station, that would be nearly impossible to change this country. If you recall Martin Luther King Jr. tried and they gunned him down, JFK tried they killed him too, Bobby Kennedy was trying and he too was shot dead. Oh yes and Malcolm X–you remember his fate don’t you? If your response is vote, I do and you saw the outcome in 2000 right? Or were you living in Australia?

  • OK Anon at 6:14. I get it… If only everyone would look and act like YOU, the world would be a better place. What a racist.

  • Anon 6.14 doesn’t sound racist. I agree with his point. Bid Dave seems to think that by criticizing the poor service and dirty facilities in the Fulton Mall that means you are a white yuppie who does not like black people living in Brooklyn and that all people of color think the Fulton mall is great the way it is. Not all do think that and to equate wanting a more diverse shopping experience without all of the trash all over the streets means someone is a racist is ridiculous. Apathy and lack of knowlege (or expectation) of anything better seems to freeze people into a belief that places like the Fulton mall are actually nice places to frequent and shop. What’s racist about that? What is racist is thinking that all white people are out to oppress minorities, or comments like white people don’t like Fulton mall so they should just stay away. Get over yourselves.

  • OK people, I’ve heard enough. Being both BLACK and WHITE I can speak for both sides. Racism is alive and well, in Brooklyn, NY, the U.S., everywhere! What we are talking about here is basis services that should apply to EVERYONE! Black, white, red, yellow….what is wrong with decent stores, clean streets, good service?!? Who doesn’t want that?! It’s not a black vs white issue, nor is it a Brooklyn vs Manhattan issue. It’s a quality of life issue and it has nothing to do with race, income, social status. Get real people, enough with the generalizations about “white yuppies, poor people, minorities, etc.” The place needs to be cleaned up. PERIOD!

  • Agreed Anon 10.57pm. To equate wanting to clean up Fulton Mall, or stating that minorities should have a clean, well serviced area to shop in too, with being a racist is ridiculous, and a disservice to real race issues.

  • While I agree that quality of life issues (such as litter, poor service, ugly signage, etc) have nothing to do with race, I think that some of the other complaints people have brought up are racist, pure and simple. For example, the term “marauding youth” is essentially a code word that people use to say “minority youth” without sounding quite so racist. There is nothing wrong with being young, and there is nothing wrong with young people shopping and hanging out. Only a person who is both racist and ageist would use a term like that to express their disdain for minority youth.

  • the problem with the mall are the sleazy landlords and business owners who are milking the uneducated masses and keeping them in their place by never upgrading service, food or merchandise. How many minority owners do you think there are on Fulton?

  • I don’t know how a discussion about saving a distinctive building and expanding and improving retail choice and quality for all income levels turned into a heated debate about race….

  • Once again, what’s up with the assumptions about Fulton Mall shoppers? First, someone assumed that they were “poor”, and now someone else is assuming that they are “uneducated”? Please, explain to me where this all originates.

  • Very cranky people who have strong opinions and are bored at work post comments here. Our frustration with Brooklyn in transition is palpable.

    I only hope some of this agnst gets transferred into advocacy to improve Brooklyn. It’s a full-time job to participate in your block association, PTA, Community Board, civic associations, writing to your council member, voting, attending hearings, rallies and demonstrations. That’s how these sleazy politicians and developers continue to take advantage of us.

    I would rather be at home spending all my time improving Brooklyn, but I’m stuck here in an office b/c I have a mortgage to pay. boo hoo : (

    It’s a lot easier to just rant and rave on brownstoner. YAY!

  • The merchants are responsible for the crappy service their workers provide. I worked for a retail store that strived to provide the best customer service in the world and they did. All employees were carefully selected and trained. Most of the employees that work for this company are poor by NYC standards; few own their own homes, have savings accounts, etc.

  • “marauding youth”, “sleazy landlords and business owners”?

    Here is a suggestion; instead of using groupthink to categorize individuals into discriminated groups, why don’t you do something positive, like pledging your time to run an afterschool program for these children?

    Or why don’t you go ahead and purchase one of the buidings on Fulton St. so you can show everybody by example of how to properly manage a building, instead of criticizing the others who do so?

  • I think the biggest tragedy of Fulton Mall isn’t whether it will become “gentrified” or not, but that so much amazing architecture is currently treated with little respect. It’s obvious that change is on the horizion and inevitable. People on each side of the fence have much more to worry about with developers like Ratner destroying the heart and soul of Downtown Brooklyn than whether another Brooklyn Industries clothing store will open up somewhere. So for all the wasted effort huffing and puffing, why can folk try to work on a future for low and higher income that will benefit all parties.. not some insanely rich developers…

  • Agree with that last post: the biggest (and in my opinion, only) tragedy is that there is amazing architecture in Fulton Mall that is generally unappreciated by most of those who frequent the place. (NOT because they can’t/don’t appreciate architecture, just because the Mall’s current commercial uses provide no incentive to show it off, so it gets blocked by e.g. those big glitzy Cellular Island signs.)

    FYI I’m a white yuppie. I don’t mean to imply that people who aren’t white yuppies should make do with an inferior shopping experience. I take issue with the idea that Fulton Mall is in fact dirty, or dangerous, or whatever. I love Fulton Mall and have been going there for upwards of fifteen years. I can tell you, Fulton Mall is the nicest it’s been since I was born. I don’t see that much litter (except maybe at the end of the day, but with so many pedestrians wandering around that’s just natural… and if you go early in the morning you’ll see BID people cleaning it up); I see virtually no crime; I see small businesses as well as a few bigger chain stores that are more successful than ever before AND are more presentable as a result.

    Fulton Mall is improving itself, it has been for years. It doesn’t need any help from ridiculous condo projects.

  • People will pay to stay in the area. Just like they are paying on Nassau St and John St. in Manhattan. And this has nothing to do with minorities. I live and work down here and my entire office is minority and they moan about the garbage stores and fast food places on Fulton Street. People just want a clean safe place to shop and eat. That doesn’t mean all the stores ahve to be cell phone stores and cheap clothing stores. Look what happendd to 34th St. It is a dump now compared to whatit used to be. they can’t clean it up fast enough for me