High hopes for Livingston Street

It may not be Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, but developer Joe Sitt is seeing a more high-end retail and restaurant corridor emerging on Livingston Street in Downtown Brooklyn.

Sitt, whose company Thor Equities owns a chunk of Coney Island, also owns the former municipal parking garage site on Livingston just east of Bond Street.

The property includes the International House of Pancakes (IHOP), which is reportedly the busiest of its franchises in the country.

“The LivingstonStreet corridor is phenomenal,” said Sitt, following a real estate roundtable discussion at the Brooklyn Historical Society. “It used to be big, bad and ugly and now it’s a great second fiddle to Fulton Street.”

Sitt said he doesn’t envision a day where it will bring in such high-end retail as a Nordstrom, but that it will end up as a higher-end shopping strip for Downtown Brooklyn.

“It will attract better food stores and apparel retail as Schermerhorn (Street) develops towards Atlantic (Avenue) and Livingston fills in terms of residential living,” he said.

Michael Burke, executive director of policy and planning for the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, said the days of when Livingston/ Schermerhorn corridor was mainly empty lots and outdoor parking areas are long gone.

“That area is going from what was once essentially a blank slate to where it’s becoming a new residential and retail community,” said Burke. “Already we’ve seen eight or nine new businesses move into Livingston Street. They are changing the way the street looks and increasing pedestrian traffic,”

Burke said on top of that a lot of new residential buildings will becoming on line soon in the downtown area so what will follow will be new businesses opening that cater to this population.

Already two residential buildings have opened on Schermerhorn Street and two more are scheduled to open shortly, he said.

Burke cautioned, however, that it’s not a matter of low-end or high-end retail regarding what’s in the Fulton Mall and what’s developing on Livingston Street.

“There will be a more diverse base of residential-focused retail on Livingston Street. We will see that change and are already seeing that change,” he said.

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