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The borough president who helped bring Trader Joe’s to Atlantic Avenue has set his sights on a new upscale target — a Nordstrom department store.
“Now that [Trader Joe’s] is done, we can go to the next one,” Borough President Markowitz told The Brooklyn Paper several days after leading a jubilant parade from Borough Hall to the Court Street bank building where the gourmet grocer is setting up its first Kings County store.
“Nordstrom would be awesome in Brooklyn. Now we have Trader Joe’s, Ikea, Whole Foods and all the other great retailers. That would complete it,” Markowitz said, still exuberant from his Joe’s victory lap.
The beep said he spent several years working to get the California-based purveyor of wasabi hummus and chicken dumplings to the corner of Court Street and Atlantic Avenue before last week’s announcement.
“My mother-and father-in-law, Joan and Jules Snow, would go to the Nassau County store and come back with chips and spreads that they couldn’t wait to bring out and show me,” he said. “I found out about Trader Joe’s and I started pitching,” he said.
Developer Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management said Markowitz “came to us probably four years ago and said that Trader Joe’s needed a home. When the bank building came up, we called him back.”
“Other officials asked for other things, [Councilman] Bill DeBlasio asked [for] affordable housing there,” continued Walentas. “[Markowitz] recognized, smartly, that there would be a need for a grocery store, and in particular, a Trader Joe’s.”
Nordstrom does not have a New York City location. Most of the company’s stores — with their live pianists and marbled-floored restroom “lounges” — are in upscale shopping malls in the suburbs.
But Michael Boyd, a Nordstrom spokesman, said the company appreciated the borough president’s invitation.
“It’s very flattering,” he said. “We certainly appreciate the attention and are always happy to discuss new locations.”
Ah, but what locations? Retail experts said that finding a location for the high-end, mall chain could be tough in economically diverse, tightly packed Downtown Brooklyn.
“A Nordstrom would need the correct neighbors and something like a million square feet of retail space,” said Joseph Aquino, executive vice president for retail leasing and sales at Prudential Douglas Elliman.
Aquino said that Fulton Mall, once a mecca for white-gloved department stores and still home to Macy’s, was not quite fancy enough for Nordstrom.
“The retailers there are not the right neighbors,” he said.
Aquino suggested locations in increasingly affluent Bay Ridge, or even deeper in the mansion-lined, suburban reaches of Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and beyond.
“All these different markets have gotten wealthier and more sophisticated,” said Aquino, “On the Belt Parkway, there used to be a Cadillac dealership. Now, it’s a Mercedes dealership.”
If Markowitz lands this catch, it would end up on a trophy shelf that includes Carnival Cruise Lines, which the Beep lured to Red Hook, and the New Jersey Nets, which, thanks to endless noodging by Markowitz, hope to relocate to Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards arena.
©2007 Community Newspaper Group
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