Urban Outfitters shutters Williamsburg store after 10 years

After opening as a unique concept shop, Urban Outfitters in Williamsburg is nearing the end of its lease.
Photo by Anna Bradley-Smith

One of the first national retailers to set up shop in Williamsburg, Urban Outfitters will be closing its doors to customers on Sunday, April 21 after a 10-year run.

When Brownstoner stopped by Thursday morning, signs on the front of the store advertised 40 percent off many items and said customers will be missed. Inside, people were browsing a sparse supply of clothing and accessories, some on sales racks.

Local Kat Von Tol, who popped into the store after seeing an item online, said she hadn’t been aware the location at 98 North 6th Street was closing, but wasn’t surprised given the price of rent and the popularity of online shopping. “I think that most of the stores here serve as advertising, very expensive advertising, for online shopping, so it feels kind of inevitable. I’m surprised it took this long,” she said.

The store on Thursday, April 18.Photo by Anna Bradley-Smith

Before the store opened in 2014, unique mom and pop stores and eateries, many run by artists, dominated the Williamsburg retail scene. To fit in, Urban Outfitters opened as a concept shop under the name Space Ninety 8, a reference to the location’s address. A corner called Marketplace featured unique artisanal merchandise from local makers such as Cold Picnic, the mezzanine housed restaurant The Gorbals, and the rooftop sported a bar.

Signage in the window.Photo by Anna Bradley-Smith

Since then, national and global brands have flocked to the neighborhood, especially after Apple and Whole Foods opened on Bedford Avenue in 2016. Recent openings have included Hermès, Chanel, Ganni, and Maje. An H&M pop-up concept shop next door to Urban Outfitters at 92 North 6th Street was recently replaced by a pop-up for H&M’s COS.

Von Tol, who has lived in Williamsburg for more than a decade, said it makes sense for stores like COS and Aritzia to cater to current residents. With the high store turnover in the area and influx of luxury brands, Williamsburg feels like Manhattan “but with a more rapid cycle,” she added.

“It is an odd time now in Williamsburg,” another local told Brownstoner. “Some very high end retailers are opening up and [there are] many other closures.”

Urban Outfitter’s lease was nearing its 10-year end, and while commercial tenants often have an option to renew, rents would be much higher. The retailer has another store on Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill and five more locations in Manhattan. Brownstoner reached out for comment, but did not hear back.

The building in 2022.Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

The property is available for lease, and the listing states the space is currently occupied by Urban Outfitters “at below-market rent with a near term lease expiration.”

Owner L3 Capital plans to renovate: “L3 intends to perform an adaptive reuse to modernize the building in an effort to attract high-quality tenancy that will creatively utilize the building to offer a unique customer experience,” the listing says.

In 2021, longtime Williamsburg developer RedSky, which still owns Apple’s building, transferred ownership of the property, along with 13 others valued at a total of $145 million, to its mezzanine lender BlackRock after falling on hard times, according to The Real Deal. BlackRock then entered into a joint venture on the portfolio with L3.

RedSky had purchased 98 North 6th Street, along with its neighbor at 102 North 6th Street and other properties, for $49 million in 2013 under an LLC, according to city records. The building at 96-98 North 6th Street shares a tax lot with 92-94 North 6th Street.

The building at 102 North 6th Street, now home to Vans, previously housed another national retailer early to the block, American Apparel, which opened there in 2005.

The three-story brick building at No. 98 has a cast-iron ground floor and likely dates from the 19th century. The circa 1940 tax photo depicts it looking much the same as today but with a big canopy and regular windows not yet filled in with glass block. A sign shows it was home to meatpacking giant Armour and Company. At a time when the street was lined with meatpackers, the venue was flanked by smokehouse Morris & Co. at No. 92 on one side and meat purveyor Meyer Kornblum at No. 102 on the other.

This story first appeared on Brooklyn Paper’s sister site Brownstoner