Construction crews are finishing up a new building on Bay Ridge Avenue, near the corner of Third Avenue in Bay Ridge. Bay Ridge Avenue has an uncharacteristically high number of empty storefronts for the bustling southeast Brooklyn neighborhood, and to some locals, the new construction represents a ray of hope for the street.
The mixed-use building at 268 Bay Ridge Ave. will host three or four storefronts, 15 apartments, and a small garage. The site used to be owned by Gateway City Church, a nondenominational house of worship across the street from the lot. Sun Sheng Development, LLC purchased the land from the church for $1.2 million in May, 2014, according to city records.
Kat Ploszaj, co-owner and chef at Petit Oven next door to the new building, noted that the land was nothing more than “an empty lot” for the nine years her restaurant has been at its location. “I think it’s great,” she said.
That lot at 268 hasn’t been the only empty property on Bay Ridge Avenue. Bay Ridge’s north-south-running avenues, particularly Third and Fifth, are well known for retaining a healthy stream of locally owned businesses, most likely due to the avenues’ aesthetics, high foot traffic, and the fact that they serve as the default venues for Bay Ridge’s frequent street festivals. East-west-running Bay Ridge Avenue, on the other hand, which is located at the far northern end of the neighborhood, has a noticeably harder time keeping businesses in its storefront properties. In the only eight blocks that Bay Ridge Avenue runs through Bay Ridge, there are no less than 14 empty storefronts, with less than a quarter of those displaying signs indicating that a new business will be moving in soon. This is even more significant considering that, while Third and Fifth Avenues are almost exclusively commercial on the ground level, Bay Ridge Avenue is half residential.
The real estate market may soon turn in Bay Ridge Avenue’s favor, however. Charles Fabbella, associate broker at the Bay Ridge office of Ben Bay Realty, thinks that it’s a defining time for the street. He points to the low cost of real estate on Bay Ridge Avenue relative to the rest of the neighborhood as evidence that it could be a future business destination. “The good news about it is it’s usually a little bit cheaper than Bay Ridge, and it’s a little bit more expensive than [neighboring] Sunset Park. So Bay Ridge Avenue will find its way price-wise eventually.”
In other words, by Fabbella’s account, Bay Ridge Avenue’s relative cheapness might become a draw for renters as prime commercial real estate along Third and Fifth Avenues gets more expensive. There’s already evidence that this is occurring, as one business owner told The Brooklyn Ink that he used to run a storefront on Third Avenue, but moved his business to Bay Ridge Avenue when the rent got too high. And Kat Ploszaj says that, even before the contraction at 268 Bay Ridge Ave., her block, which shares a corner with Third Avenue, has seen a number of successful businesses open—and stay open—in the past few years. She hopes that the new storefront properties at 268 will continue that trend.
Sun Sheng Development declined to comment on what they think their building will bring to Bay Ridge Avenue, other than to say that it made sense to them to put up a building on a formerly empty lot. According to the city’s annual market value history report, by the end of the 2016/17 tax year, the market value of 268 Bay Ridge Ave. will have increased by more than 500 percent in two years, most likely due to the construction of the new building.