Will Your Office Move to Brooklyn? Developers Are Betting on It


    Say sayonara to your Manhattan commute. More Brooklynites than ever may soon be working as well as living and shopping in the borough, making trips across the East River ever more rare. Developers are increasingly turning old buildings in Brooklyn into desirable new office space, rather than residential, and even building brand new offices from the ground up.

    Developers are enticed by rising office rents, which in some neighborhoods, such as Downtown Brooklyn, are reaching parity with residential. Potential office tenants, meanwhile, are finding Brooklyn office rents more attractive than their counterparts in Manhattan, which are still significantly more expensive.


    Heritage Equities is planning a block-size spec office complex at 19 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg. Rendering via Heritage Equities

    In Downtown Brooklyn, rents in the most desirable office buildings have reached an average of $46 a square foot, according to a story in the New York Times. Elsewhere, such as in Fort Greene, they are edging up to $55 a square foot. Contrast that with rents in Manhattan’s Chelsea, Union Square and Flatiron districts, favorites of the tech set, which hover around $77 a square foot.

    As Brooklyn has boomed as a desirable place to live, it’s only logical it will become a more desirable place to work:

    But Brooklyn seems poised to become a serious rival for the 9-to-5 set. About 16 million square feet of office space is under construction or planned, brokers say, in an arc that stretches south from Williamsburg through downtown to Sunset Park. The properties range from single warehouses to multibuilding complexes.

    The story mentions all the major office developments going on at Industry City, the Navy Yard, and Kushner’s Dumbo Heights project (pictured at top), as well as a new office building being retrofitted out of a warehouse in Fort Greene. Quinlan Development Group is remaking the Pioneer Building, a former self storage building at 41 Flatbush Avenue. It is set to open next year.

    10 Jay Street

    The design for the redevelopment of 10 Jay Street in Dumbo. Rendering by ODA

    Not mentioned are 1000 Dean Street, the Annabelle Selldorf-designed office complex fashioned out of the former Studebaker service station in Crown Heights, or Heritage Equities’ massive ground-up office development planned for Kent Avenue near the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg.

    The forthcoming Empire Stores redevelopment will also bring more office space to Dumbo, which can’t get enough. And recently the developers of 10 Jay Street, the landmarked 19th century building whose new facade was inspired by sugar crystals, announced the complex will be offices, not condos as originally planned.

    There are also any number of office complexes being built out in Gowanus, in old industrial buildings not zoned for residential use.

    A special tax break for businesses that relocate to Brooklyn and other areas outside of Manhattan’s central business district may be helping.


    MetroTech viewed from Duffield Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Photo by Cate Corcoran

    Transportation is sometimes a challenge, however, since New York City’s subway system is set up to feed from the outer boroughs into Manhattan. (Subways in other capitals, such as Paris, operate on a ring system, that makes getting from point to point anywhere in the city more efficient.) Traveling within Brooklyn can be slow, even when distances are not long as the crow flies.

    That’s why use of Citi Bike as a commuter system has surged in Brooklyn, according to a recent report.

    Could developers overshoot and create too much office space? It remains to be seen. But for now, it’s fair to say the center of city is expanding outward.

    [Source: NYT | Top rendering: Dumbo Heights]

    offices downtown brooklyn

    Downtown Brooklyn. Photo by Barbara Eldredge

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