With more than 2.6 million residents, Brooklyn is the most populous New York City borough, and famous for its music, art, culture, literature, cinema, and style. Though historically a residential borough offering blue-collar work, the past two decades have transformed Brooklyn into a thriving hub for entrepreneurs, technology startups, advertising and design agencies, inpatient care, manufacturers, and local artists.
In 2015, only 1.6 million square feet of office space was leased in Brooklyn and Long Island City. By 2017, that number had nearly doubled, and by 2021 there will be another 6.4 million square feet of new Brooklyn office space available.
Office Space | Brooklyn Lease Data & Trends
Since 2002, cumulative job growth in Brooklyn has outpaced Manhattan by nearly 400 percent, and with that has come an increased demand for office space. Brooklyn rents are still significantly cheaper than averages in Manhattan, and a fast-growing inventory of re-purposed buildings and new constructions can accommodate businesses of all industries and sizes.
There is nearly 30 million square feet of office space in Brooklyn for lease, with another 3 million under construction or renovation. Across its major submarkets, the average direct asking rent for Brooklyn office space is $47 per square foot, compared to around $40 for subleases. Despite rising rates in popular submarkets, this is still well below the average NYC office space rent of $75 per square foot.
Brooklyn has a steadily growing population and features the highest density of young adults in the city, making the borough especially appealing to firms looking to hire young, talented employees. Brooklyn also offers plenty of work/life balance amenities, including a more bike-friendly and car-friendly landscape, and lower housing costs compared to Manhattan.
Among the largest recent lease signings are Brooklyn Lab Charter School’s five-year, 75,228 square foot lease at 77 Sands Street, The Brooklyn Hospital Center’s 70,000 square foot lease at 620 Fulton Street, and Gimlet Media’s 10-year, 27,000 square foot lease at 41 Flatbush Avenue.
Popular Neighborhoods to Rent Brooklyn Office Space
DUMBO: Short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, DUMBO is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city for both businesses and residents. Local warehouses and factories have been converted into luxury condos, art galleries, restaurants, and spacious, well-lit offices. DUMBO is home to numerous technology startups, ad agencies, financial services firms, and creative agencies. Notable tenants include Huge, Etsy, Big Spaceship, Amplify, Red Antler — premier location for companies interested in brick & beam units — re-purposed industrial loft-style offices. Office space in DUMBO costs $65 per square foot on average to lease.
Downtown Brooklyn: Downtown Brooklyn’s office landscape is driven by three main factors: The Brooklyn courts and Borough Hall, proximity to DUMBO, and numerous public transit options. Between Borough Hall Station, Jay Street Metrotech, and Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center, commuters have more than a dozen MTA trains to choose from, as well as options on the Long Island Rail Road. There is more than 13 million square feet of office space in Downtown Brooklyn, primarily traditional office space. One of the largest ongoing projects is at 422 Fulton Street, where 620,000 square feet of Class A units are being built on top of the existing structure. Downtown Brooklyn office space costs on average $61 per square foot to lease.
Williamsburg: The past two decades have transformed Williamsburg from a diverse neighborhood of blue-collar workers and artists to one of the most in-demand, luxury-driven markets in Brooklyn. Though primarily residential, Williamsburg is home to startups and creative agencies which prefer the loft-style brick and beam structures. Williamsburg is also a local hub for agriculture technology and biofabrication startups. As of Q2 2018, there is more than a million square feet of office space for rent, with an additional 800,000 square feet space under construction or renovation. On a per square foot basis, Williamsburg is the most expensive submarket to lease Brooklyn office space. The neighborhood is easily accessible from Manhattan (the L train is set to close in 2019), Long Island City, Greenpoint, and many more of Brooklyn’s most popular residential areas. Despite a high vacancy rate (nearly 60 percent), Williamsburg office space costs around $60 per square foot to lease.
Sunset Park, South Brooklyn, and Industry City: Despite its distance from Manhattan and any major transit hub, Sunset Park’s waterfront views and classic industrial architecture is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing submarkets in Brooklyn. Industry City, a 35-acre space along the waterfront, has converted largely vacant factories into mixed-use work, innovation, and retail space ranging from 5,000 to 500,000 square feet with more than a dozen ISP options for high-speed internet. The average Sunset Park office space rent is among the lowest of New York City’s top submarkets, and a good bet for future growth.
Gowanus: Bordering Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Park Slope, three of the most popular residential neighborhoods, Gowanus has quickly transitioned from an industrial corridor. Many warehouses and former factories under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and along the Gowanus Canal are being transformed into mixed-use retail and office spaces. Gowanus has numerous private office and coworking options and is home to Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Gimlet Media, and many other notable, fast-growing technology firms, high-end retailers, and creative agencies.
Gowanus has seen significant real estate movement in the past year, headlined by 175-225 3rd Street’s recent sale to RFR Realty for a rumored price of $120 million,
Red Hook: Primarily a shipping hub, the Red Hook corporate real estate market is only beginning to match the upward trend of the neighborhood’s residential market. Red Hook is ideal for businesses that need lots of space for machinery, or simply want to stretch out and take advantage of cheaper average rents. Core to the areas continued growth is a currently proposed subway extension under the East River into Lower Manhattan, and moving the Container Terminal to Sunset Park, freeing up more than 130 acres for redevelopment.
Brooklyn Navy Yard/Flushing Avenue Corridor/Vinegar Hill – The Navy Yard and Flushing Avenue corridor borders DUMBO and Williamsburg, and offers office space at lower prices. The neighborhood has a tremendous number of new construction and redevelopment projects underway. Shipbuilding and repairs stopped in the 70’s and 80’s, but the Navy Yard has since become a private area for manufacturing and retail, with more than 200 businesses calling the area home.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard recently received a $2.5 billion investment for the next phase of expansion. On top of the ongoing development, which include Dock 72 and Admirals Row, the new investment will add 5 million square feet of manufacturing space and boosts the long-term employment projection for the Navy Yard to 30,000 jobs.
Getting to, From, and Around Brooklyn
New York City routinely ranks at the top of Walk Score’s list of transit-friendly cities, and for good reason. The extensive (though frustrating) subway system, bus network, and hubs for out-of-state and suburban commuter rails allow for tens of millions of workers to navigate the city. For businesses concerned with long commute times, Downtown Brooklyn and DUMBO are the best options for local and suburban employees.
The past 15 years have brought significant improvements to the city’s bicycling infrastructure. Previously, bike lanes were rare, and those that did exist were often used as double parking spots for vehicles. Today, more than half a million New Yorkers commute by bike. The city has more than 1,000 miles of routes, and the Department of Transportation plans to add 50 miles each year, 10 miles of which will be protected lanes.
In addition to the public transit infrastructure, the Citibike bike share system allows people to conveniently ride a bike without the hassle of locking (and potentially losing) their own bike. There are more than 12,000 Citibikes and 750 docking stations in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.
Brooklyn is more driver-friendly than Manhattan, but we wouldn’t recommend getting into a car unless you need to. According to the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard, New York is the third most congested city in the world, with drivers spending on average 91 hours per year in traffic! Four of the 10 worst highway corridors are in NYC, including Brooklyn’s Belt Parkway East, from Exit 3 to Exit 17.