In an article that is sure to be gasoline to the ever-smoldering Williamsburg-is-over fire, The Real Deal is reporting that “upscale clothier J.Crew is among the prospective tenants of a retail space coming online”.
But before everyone gets too worked up over this, it is worth emphasizing the squishiness of The Real Deal’s lede – “among the prospective tenants” – whose prospective tenants? A wish list put together by the broker? Remember that Bedford Avenue (and this site in particular) has had a long history of “prospective” tenants floated for it (including the perennial Bedford bogeyman Starbucks). Further down in the article, the broker says that they “are in talks with and interested in signing [more squishiness, ed.] restaurants as well as fashion and home furnishings retailers”. (Assuming all this is just primping up the property, let’s give the broker some credit for not saying that they are talking to Apple – as a rumor, J. Crew is at least creative.)
In terms of actual news, look further down in the article at what is said and not said. First, and not surprisingly, the broker has a rosy picture of the retail market on Bedford Avenue, noting that retail rents on the avenue are between $185 and $200 psf (that’s at least 50% higher than what a previous tenant was asked to pay less than two years ago – Bedford Avenue is hot, retail-wise, but that hot?).
The broker says that they “are also willing to re-sign tenants currently located at 247 Bedford, which include the bagel purveyor the Bagel Store and the health food shop Millennium Health”. That statement would indicate that the broker has a rather loose grip on the reality of current retail on Bedford Avenue – both the Bagel Store and the Millenium Health have long-since left the building and are happily ensconced in new digs further south on Bedford.
The big question here (and what is not said in the article) is what happens to King’s Pharmacy? They occupy a third to half the retail space in this building, and their lease is probably among those that are up in the next “six to 18 months”. Judging by the mooderific rendering provided by the broker (complete with a Shelby GT parked in front of King’s), I’m guessing that renewing the local pharmacy’s lease is not a high priority.
As for J. Crew, they actually might be a good fit for the neighborhood (their design aesthetic certainly fits in with – or even draws from – local fashion trends, and I seem to recall that their chief designer even lives here). But I bet that they’d go for a smaller, boutique space (a la the Liquor Store or their Soho spot) rather than a shopping center like this. And, if nothing else, a J. Crew at this location would lay to rest (once again) the 15-year old recurring Starbucks-is-coming-to-Bedford-Avenue rumor. We can’t kill it, but we can put another fork in it.