Who Needs Manhattan: BK’s Fulton Mall Revival A Bona Fide Reality

When The New York Times pens a story on the revitalization of Downtown Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall, it heralds a watermark moment: sort of like, if the Times sniffs it as a reality, the revival has got to have credence. Its August 28 piece announced “National Retailers Discover a Brooklyn Mall.” Mind you—to toot our own horn—the Brooklyn Heights Blog has been heralding the Mall’s shift from low-budget chains to national retailers month by month, and more recently, week after week, for the past year.

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s $300 million public improvements initiative to remake the once-flailing shopping mecca got the ball rolling at the beginning of the decade after 30 years of neglect, with newly paved streets and traffic patterns, wider sidewalks, new streetlights and bus terminals. Much credit also has to go to Shake Shack, whose opening in December 2011 was perhaps the landmark launch of a chain willing to take a chance on the promise of Fulton Mall.

And just look at it now. This year alone, the 17-block walkway has welcomed (or soon will): Gap Factory Outlet, Brooklyn Industries, Starbucks, Raymour & Flanigan, Victoria’s Secret, Express, Armani Exchange, Nordstrom Rack, H&M, TJ Maxx, Aeropostale, Seattle’s Best, Century 21 and the mammoth City Point’s 1.6 million square foot retail, commercial and residential project, due for completion in 2018. Add to that the development of Willoughby Square Park. Albee Square abutting City Point, new restaurants along Adams Street and the coming of the Downtown Tech Triangle… So are you paying attention Apple?

Meanwhile, the ink keeps on flowing about Downtown Brooklyn’s rejuvenation. Racked posted a piece, “National Chains Are Still Racing to Open on Fulton Street,” which discusses Raymour & Flanigan furniture store’s 28,000 sf lease for the second floor of 490 Fulton Street, scheduled to open in February and notes an undisclosed developer that’s close to signing a 45,000sf lease with a major apparel retailer.

In addition, The Real Deal wrote about “How Fulton Street is attracting national retailers,” pointing out that Century 21 is the first department store to open in the neighborhood in some 50 years. The Daily News noted the area’s revolution, “long home to neon-lit sneaker shops, hot dog stands and cell phone stores” to its reincarnation as “state-of-the-art Brooklyn, complete with skyscraping condo towers and flowery landscaping along Flatbush Ave. Extension.” Curbed remarked, “Fulton Street Mall Gets Popular,” while The New York Observer profiled Michael Weiss, CEO of Express, which opened a new outlet in August at 490 Fulton Street. Even AP alerted its press members about the in-the-works story. And let’s not forget one of the primary reasons for the area’s boom: a revolution in Downtown highrise housing.

BHB minions, we are indeed eyewitnesses to a truly historic urban revival—just steps away from our homes in Brooklyn Heights—which is destined to forever change the texture of the neighborhood… literally week by week. Hey, who needs Manhattan, anyway?

(Photos: Downtown Brooklyn Partnership/Century 21 rendering by Cook + Fox Architects via WSJ)

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  • Teddy

    Wake me when Apple drops anchor on Fulton St.

  • Henry Hicks

    Good research, Mr. Taylor. The Brooklyn Heights Blog trumped the Times, if you ask me. I have mixed feelings about the “new” Downtown Brooklyn, but there’s no doubt that most everything we would ever go to Manhattan for will one day be just a few steps across Court Street. I’m still waiting for Staples and it would be nice to get some Smith Street-style original restaurants. But what a difference a year makes.

  • Jorale-man

    I’m hoping for a Bed Bath & Beyond. Maybe a Crate and Barrel or CB2. An Anthropologie for the ladies. And a J Crew for casual clothing.

    Yes, a tall wish list but maybe in another year or so it won’t seem so outlandish.

  • Muskrat

    I periodically walk the route from the Heights to Clinton Hill (crossing Borough Hall plaza, up Fulton Street to Dekalb to Washington Ave) and have been marveling at the changes, from the Shake Shack shock to the finally completed planted areas with the tall grasses and benches on Fulton Mall. As someone whose mother took her for back to school shopping at Martins in the 60s, let me tell you: this is a nice bit of recovery and a pleasure to witness….

  • Gerry

    This is what we were told was going to happen to the Fulton Mall in the 1980s when One Metro Tech Center went up and we were achor tenants.

    Metro Tech went up and little happened to retail in the Fulton Mall and now about 20 years behind scheduale this is happening the Fulton Mall is thriving.

    I would like to see a Brooks Brothers.

  • James

    The malling of Downtown Brooklyn! Or the mauling of Downtown Brooklyn?

  • Topham Beauclerk

    I went to Macy’s yesterday. To those who oppose gentrification, be happy: the mall is a long, long way from being gentrified.

  • Tony

    I loathe “pen” as a verb.