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New real estate firm has nothing to do with Barclays Center — except name

The Brooklyn Paper

He’s not Bruce Ratner, but this Prospect Heights real estate player is selling the Barclays Center.

Broker Greg D’Avola dubbed his new Bergen Street firm Arena Properties — an Atlantic Yards–influenced name he hopes will help snag customers searching online for land near the soon-to-open basketball arena.

D’Avola has no stake in the controversial mega-project, but he claims gaining web traffic from Nets-related Google searches was the main reason he named his three-man residential and commercial enterprise after the arena — a development that has sparked a real estate gold rush and protests from neighbors who say it will harm the community’s quality of life and charming ma-and-pa spirit when it opens this fall.

D’Avola’s company doesn’t just reference the Barclays Center in its name — the “neighborhood” section of his website features a large image of the future home of the Brooklyn Nets and promises the stadium “will welcome some of the most exciting sports and entertainment events in the world.”

But he says the office near the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue, which opened this week, will cater to the kinds of small businesses that neighbors love, not national chains such as Hooters, which took heat from neighbors after reportedly making a push to open nearby.

“We’ll lease to artists, restaurateurs, and clothing designers — that’s the business model that works around here,” said D’Avola, a Gowanus resident.

Neighbors have long feared the Barclays Center will bring a wave of corporate chains like T.G.I. Fridays and Applebees to Prospect Heights and surrounding communities — so it’s no surprise the real estate firm put the word “arena” in its name, said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council.

“There’s little question that commercial businesses have the arena in mind,” Veconi said.

D’Avola agrees the neighborhood will soon see an influx of big businesses, but he’s confident Prospect Heights will retain its charm despite its arena-side location — much like the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea, which isn’t far from Madison Square Garden.

“I understand a lot of people have a bitter taste in their mouth about the arena — but you can’t deny it’s coming,” said D’Avola.

Arena Properties isn’t the first business to attempt to capitalize on — and name itself after — its proximity to the sports facility.

In 2007, a bagel shop on Fifth Avenue near Bergen Street in Park Slope was planning to open under the name ARENA Bagels, but promptly altered its sign to read A.R.E.A. Bagels after neighbors threatened to protest.

Ravi Aggarwal, the owner of A.R.E.A. Bagels, told this newspaper that he wasn’t ready to discuss the idea of changing the shop’s name back to ARENA Bagels, but claims he has kept the notorious ‘N’ “somewhere safe” in the years since.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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