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Report: Brooklyn in midst of high-end office building boom

Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn is no longer Manhattan’s back office!

Developers are erecting high-end office buildings across the borough, and real estate experts say big companies are now rushing to relocate inside them so they can tap into the local talent pool — bucking Kings County’s image as a place to stash away support staff in cheap digs.

“Brooklyn checks a lot of boxes now that the space is there,” says Michael Berg of commercial broker Jones Lang LaSalle, which just released a report documenting the white-collar building boom. “More young, creative talent is concentrated there.”

The borough will gain another 5.2 million square feet of cubicle space by 2019, the company estimates — the equivalent of almost two Empire State Buildings — with most development concentrated in Dumbo, Downtown, Fort Greene, and Williamsburg.

Demand is so high, some developers are ditching their plans for luxury residential towers to create swanky office complexes instead.

In October, Glacier Global Partners abandoned a condominium project inside a Dumbo waterfront warehouse to fit it out for businesses. And the next month, Jemb Realty announced it was scrapping a planned apartment building Downtown — which boasts some of the lowest vacancy rates in the city — to create a 40-story commercial building.

Jemb claims businesses are now beating down its door to snag space in its Albee Square West building — the first new office tower to rise Downtown in more than a decade — when it opens in 2018.

“They want us to build faster and they’re very excited to get in there,” said president Jacob Jerome.

Jerome says around 80 percent of the businesses looking at the building are creative companies hoping to move out of the overcrowded Manhattan market to the borough many of their employees call home.

“People want to live and work in Brooklyn,” he said.

Berg claims an unnamed Fortune 500 company was previously sniffing around Empire Stores — a converted warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park that his firm is representing. It didn’t sign on, but he predicts another huge company will migrate to the Borough of Kings in the near future.

“I think in the next 12 to 18 months we are going to see a big tenant,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a creative tenant.”

In a sign of the times, banker Morgan Stanley is rumored to be moving its back office out of Brooklyn Heights’ tony One Pierrepont Plaza, the same building that houses Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters, in search of cheaper digs.

One local business booster says leaving Brooklyn would be sheer lunacy, but claims he has a long list of companies waiting to take its place.

“If a company leaves Brooklyn they’re crazy,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce president Carlo Scissura. “There’s plenty of others waiting to jump in.”

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to correct the spelling of Michael Berg's name.
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