Barneys closure will ‘leave big shoes to fill’ on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill

Barneys closure will ‘leave big shoes to fill’ on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill
Photo by Susan De Vries

This story first appeared on Brownstoner.com, one of our sister publications.

Unlike fine dining, luxury retail isn’t doing so hot in brownstone Brooklyn.

Barneys on Atlantic Avenue will close, the retailer announced earlier this week, and despite speculation a new owner could bring a change of plans, the store was shuttered Thursday.

“We’re seeing a lot of bigger brands go into bankruptcy — both high end and low end, and they’re shuttering stores all over the place,” said Daniel Lebor, TerraCRG partner.

Retail’s troubles have been widely ascribed to the rise of online shopping, Amazon in particular, but in the case of Barneys and others, the store was under new ownership — in this case, Perry Capital, a hedge fund — and deeply in debt.

Barneys leaves behind 11,000 square feet of luxury retail at 194 Atlantic Ave. in Boerum Hill — “big shoes to fill,” commented Lebor.

Atlantic Avenue and other pockets of retail in the area have had their ups and downs over the years, particularly when it comes to fashion. Earlier this year, troubled clothier Steven Alan folded its large men’s and women’s store farther down the avenue at No. 347. At one time, it ran four stores on the strip.

Meanwhile, restaurants and gourmet food stores along the commercial corridor are going gangbusters, with Trader Joe’s around the corner so crowded it’s sometimes hard to drive past because of all the shoppers in line and hailing Ubers.

A one-time powerhouse of homegrown emporiums and manufacturing decimated by leveraged buyouts and consolidations starting in the 1970s, Brooklyn has started to attract higher-end national and international brands in increasing numbers only in the last 10 years or so, at the same time many beloved mom and pop concerns have retired or cashed out. Now with the national retail picture looking bleak, that trend could ebb.

Just a few blocks away, beloved greengrocer Pacific Green lost its lease amid rising rents and rumors Jcrew was moving in. The store was forced to close in 2018 and the space remains empty today. Literary phenomenon BookCourt shut after selling its historically significant buildings to developer Eastern Capital for $13.6 million, which is replacing them with a bigger, modern structure. Key Food on Smith Street is now a radiology center.

Barclays has been stimulating business on the east side of Atlantic Avenue, while Brooklyn Bridge Park has been boosting it on the west, with retail condos trading on average around $1,300 to $1,400 a square foot, said Lebor. The area near Trader Joe’s where Barneys was located is likely to get a boost as Fortis completes its huge development at what was once Long Island College Hospital or LICH, he added.

“It’s not a matter of not having foot traffic,” Lebor said. “It’s a great location. It’s finding the right tenant.”