H&M coming to Fulton Mall

Fulton Mall landowner Al Laboz is already building this glass-walled mini-mall on Fulton Street, which is reported to be the future home of an H&M store.

Swedish cheap-chic clothing store H&M will come to Fulton Mall by next spring — and could be one of the first tenants in a giant new glass-walled mall at Bridge Street.

The high-fashion/low-priced store confirmed that it would open by spring, 2009 — and a real-estate source told The Brooklyn Paper that reclusive Fulton Mall developer Al Laboz will be the store’s landlord.

That makes sense, given that Laboz owns the landmark Conway building at 505 Fulton St. and plans a glass mini-mall next door — and Laboz has said for years that H&M is exactly the kind of retailer he wants on a diversified Fulton Mall.

“I want to make Fulton Street Mall into 34th Street, where it is strong retailers giving a quality shopping experience,” he told The New York Observer in 2006. “Instead of bringing in a dozen cellphone stores, [we need] a sprinkling of lingerie, women’s garments, H&M or other type of stores.”

Laboz did not return calls, but his company Web site heralds the 500,000-square-foot glass mall and promises “a major national retail store” on its ground floor and luxury residential condominiums above.

H&M’s Fulton Mall location would be the company’s second in Brooklyn, and would play a part in the area’s ongoing transformation from a discount shopping strip into a broader residential community with a mix of stores.

As such, it will be warmly received, retail experts said.

“[H&M] would bring a wonderful flavor to Downtown Brooklyn,” said Paula Ingram of Ingram and Hebron Realty, which did not have a role in the deal. “They’re very assertive — they do a lot of window displays, and I think that’s what we need.”

Fulton Mall is the borough’s busiest shopping strip, with 100,000 shoppers each day and new rents soaring, up 50 to 100 percent, according to Ingram and Hebron. More than 14,400 residential units and 1.6 million square feet of retail space are planed for construction by 2012, according to the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, a quasi-governmental agency guiding development in the neighborhood.

The H&M news, which follows MTV’s announcement that its trendy “Real World” reality show will start filming two blocks away on once-hardscrabble Willoughby Street, signals the beginning of that shift, Ingram said.

“People used to say, what comes first — the people moving to the neighborhood or a store coming in and people wanting to move?” Ingram said. “You never really know, but once they’re down here, it influences many things.”

H&M’s Kings Plaza Mall store opened in 2001. The Euro-styled retailer opened its first store in Sweden in 1947, and its first U.S. store in Manhattan in 2000.

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