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Eastbound and up: Prospect Heights businesses are on the move

The Brooklyn Paper
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Prospect Heights merchants have adopted New York City’s most predictable migratory pattern: the eastward move.

Pushed out by surging rents near the Barclays Center, or motivated to move for bigger spaces or proximity to their customer bases, restaurants such as Vegetarian Palate are following an age-old tradition by packing up and heading east.

“Rent over here is much higher,” said Ronald Wong, the owner of Vegetarian Palate, which will end its 11-year stay on Flatbush Avenue to move to Washington Avenue in early summer as the landlord converts the old building into condos. “It has to do with the Barclays Center. Since it opened, it has affected our dining and business.”

Wong says his brisk takeout business suffered as arena-goers started parking on the block during events and parking enforcement officers increased their vigilance — with no real uptick in orders from stadium attendees.

So he chose to make the move four blocks east to a storefront near Dean Street that’s bigger and almost half as expensive.

The shift comes after Chavella’s closed its brick-and-mortar location on Classon Avenue and moved one block east to Franklin Avenue in 2011, snagging a corner space with twice the square footage right in the heart of the booming community of 20-somethings surging on the Crown Heights retail corridor.

“This was just the right size and the right location in the neighborho­od,” said Mark Malbone, the manager of the restaurant. “It’s been received very well because it was close by and we already had that instant recognition.”

Commercial rents on the up-and-coming strips on Washington and Franklin avenues are still relative bargains compared to other more established commercial corridors, such as Court Street in Cobble Hill and Fifth Avenue in Park Slope — as one neighborhood mover and shaker who has moved east herself is eager to point out.

Atim Oton, who owns the African-centric boutique Calabar Imports and is actively courting Brooklyn merchants to relocate or open new shops in Prospect and Crown Heights, packed up her Washington Avenue storefront for a more amenable location on Franklin Avenue last year.

Vanderbilt Avenue staple Aliseo Osteria Del Borgo recently morphed into a tapas place, but a worker confirmed that owner Albano Ballerini is making his own eastward incursion and will open a restaurant in the Classon Avenue space vacated by the recently closed Abigail Cafe and Wine Bar.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.
Updated 10:09 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
After hearing all of this, it's safe to say that the arena is a major force to gentrification. So much for saying that it was going to help with local businesses now that they move. How many still wished they could have stopped it before it came like what I was doing over the last decade? Maybe FCR can give them going away presents such as a t-shirt that reads. "I believed in support the AY Complex, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt."
March 26, 2013, 8:25 pm
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:
Tal,

This is actually wonderful news and is helping to contribute to the revitalization of other parts of the neighborhood. I live off of Washington Avenue, and while the arena has already had a positive impact on development in the area, this just adds to that. Washington Avenue needs more businesses like this to move eastward. I thank God for Bruce Ratner. When we first moved into Prospect Heights, the area around Washington Avenue was torn down and unsightly. Now with the arena project, the area is transforming for the better daily.
March 30, 2013, 12:54 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Prospect Heights Resident, these were merchants who moved there when nobody else wanted to. They are ones who helped revitalize the neighborhood when the area got better. I take it you don't like small and local businesses, and like corporations and chains as if there aren't enough of them. Eventually, you won't be able to afford to live there if you can't on your income, but you will still be thanking Ratner for that, because you find him to be a hero for that. Seriously, what I just read in this article is hardly something that is considered positive. I really suggest you read of Field of Schemes by Neil deMause, because he debunks the very claim that these help a community when they really don't at all. Still, I can't believe how apathetic you are to those who work so hard to make a living only to say thanks but no thanks to them after making the area so great on their blood and sweat.
March 30, 2013, 4:47 pm
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:
Tal,

First off, we own our home, so we don't really fear being priced out of the neighborhood.

Second, no one disputes the restorative value that businesses like Vegetarian Palate had on the Flatbush Avenue area; like you mentioned, many of these businesses moved to the area when no one else wanted to. However, now that higher rents are forcing them to relocate a few blocks away, the same restorative process that we saw on Flatbush Avenue will be seen along Washington Avenue (this is actually a process that has already been taking place for more than a few years now).

And, sorry to disappoint you, but its already been shown that the effects of the arena completely make a mockery of deMause's book. His work address key concerns about the restorative value of arena projects around the country, but it just doesn't hold true for the neighborhoods directly near the Barclays Center. When we first moved into Prospect Heights in 1999, no one wanted to move here (this is the main reason why we were able to get such a good deal on our house). Once word broke on the new arena, the interest and building/revitalization of the neighborhood really took off. I've seen the positives with my own eyes.
March 30, 2013, 8:53 pm
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:
This is not to say that the arena project has been 100% beneficial (it did displace some residents in order for construction to take place, etc.), but only a true cynic could say that there have been no positives from the area, as all of your posts make it clear that you believe.
March 30, 2013, 8:55 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The studies by Neil deMause have been found to be fact. If you think he is wrong, then say it to him, not to me. I'm not his secretary. The claim that the benefits go to the community are bogus, because in most the places surrounding places like these, they never seem to benefit. Saying that they will give benefits is just a way to get them on the bandwagon only to be duped later on. Overall, the arena is no magic bullet for the area, and the Atlantic Yards Watch keeps tabs on the chaos it causes on the streets with so many violations and traffic that is there as does the Atlantic Yards Report.
March 31, 2013, 11:25 am
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:
Not in this case, Tal. Not in this case. The benefits of Barclays Center/Atlantic Yards on the surrounding community are plain to see (especially the benefits on Prospect Heights and parts of Crown Heights). So stop citing a study that doesn't apply to the situation at hand.
March 31, 2013, 12:50 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Prospect Heights Resident, this isn't a claim, it has been found to be a fact. The way you seem to place it makes me feel as if you are probably paid by FCR to say this. Much of what the team does for the community is nothing more than PR, and I say this with all other teams as well. In reality, charity work doesn't always equal caring nor does hide what some really area. BTW, dictators are known for such images to make themselves look innocent when they really aren't. It's about time you stop having that humble pie and kool-aide he is giving you. Maybe it's not affecting you now, but it will later. The only difference you have is that your income is higher than many of those restaurant owners, but as the higher the property tax will go, you will not be that far behind.
March 31, 2013, 6:24 pm
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:
Tal,

Again, false. I repeat, there have already been many community benefits from the project and more are on the way. Efforts to revalitalize the neighborhood started as soon as word broke open the project many years ago, which has led to a safer community and more housing in the area; more people are moving into the area because of the project, which is leading to added vibrancy and revitalization; more stores and businesses are moving into the area since the arena was announced and opened; the arena employs many people from the surrounding area(s); even more housing is coming directly from the arena project and indirectly from the project; businesses, particularly bars, but not limited to bars, have benefitted from the arena crowds; ridership on public transportation is up substantially on event nights, which helps drive revenues for city. The list goes on and on.

And, no, the area would not be taking off like this without the arena project; it hadn't done so for many years before, and I don't see anything else that would've happened absent the arena project that would've changed things.

deMause is wrong, at least as his theory relates to this particular project. deMause's theory might have been proven true as it relates to other projects, but thats not the case here. Why won't you accept what's right before your eyes? Cynical to the very end, I see.
March 31, 2013, 7:07 pm
Prospect Heights Resident from Prospect Heights says:
Property taxes may very well increase, but so will the rents that I can charge potential tenants who want to move into a newly revitalized neighborhood.
March 31, 2013, 7:09 pm

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