Brooklyn Holds Court: Barclays Center To Impact Surrounding Traffic And Businesses
While business owners hope to turn sports fans and concert-goers at the new Barclays Center into customers, local residents are concerned about overcongestion. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
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Selling out the Barclays Center is good news for Jay-Z but not necessarily for local Brooklynites. They say crossing the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue is already dangerous on foot and can take 20 minutes in a car.
"It's just going to be a nightmare because cars are going to be bottled up," says resident Julia Pacetti. "There are no really good sidewalks in that area to speak of. They are very narrow. I just don't think the roads and the sidewalks are going to be able to accommodate the cars and the people."
Greg Yerman, on the other hand, says he's happy to accommodate the new crowds. As the owner of two restaurants on Flatbush Avenue, he expects that an influx of 18,000 people will spice up business.
"If we can get even a small percentage of those butts in our seats, it would be a significant coup for us," he said.
He's not the only one looking to score. Commercial realtor Geoffrey Bailey says some big-name restauranteurs are interested in leasing or buying spaces along Flatbush Avenue. The Triangle Sports building, for instance, received 50 offers before closing. Its new usage will likely be food-related.
While restaurant and bar owners prepare to cash in, other small business owners fear the new economic climate could force them to move out.
Their problem is that as the arena went up, so have the rental rates.
"Rental rates just about a year ago were in the $75, $80-a-foot range and we're now seeing rents approach $200 a foot in the immediate vicinity to the stadium," Bailey says.
For Reginald Dumornay, that may mean relocating his salon after 13 years.
"I've seen small business pushed out because of the price that's coming to the neighborhood because of the stadium," he says. "For a small business like me, I can't afford to pay $10,000 rent. I just don't make that kind of money.
As opening day approaches, FRC has been looking for ways to do some cross-promotion with local businesses.
"Really, to say to the people coming to the arena, 'We want you to get out in the neighborhood, go to restaurants, bars, shop in stores, spend money out there,'" says Carlo Scissura, the president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
Beyond that, local entreprenuers say it's up to them to find a way to capture some of the anticipated traffic if they plan to stay in the game.
"The challenge for us is to be imaginative and creative and find ways that we can take advantage of it and also serve the people of the neighborhood that are coming for the events at the Barclays arena," said Christian Whitted, the owner of New York Chess and Games.