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Brooklyn project once pitched for Amazon lands first tenant

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A new Brooklyn building that was pitched for Amazon.com Inc's second headquarters has landed its first tenant - and it's a manufacturing one.

[TORONTO] A new Brooklyn building that was pitched for Amazon.com Inc's second headquarters has landed its first tenant - and it's a manufacturing one.

Fashion brand Kith signed a lease at 25 Kent Ave in Williamsburg for 57,679 square feet of space, according to a statement on Monday from the property's developers, Rubenstein Partners and Heritage Equity Partners. The eight-storey building is the neighbourhood's first ground-up commercial development in more than 40 years and the company will have about 90 employees there.

As tech giants from Facebook Inc to Amazon continue to flood Manhattan with new office leases, more fashion manufacturers are moving east to Brooklyn. Kith is relocating from its Soho headquarters, similar to global fashion brand Lafayette 148 New York, which moved to the Brooklyn Navy Yard from Manhattan last year.

Plans for 25 Kent have been in the works since 2013, and construction was completed in July "on spec", meaning without any tenant commitments. The 500,000 square foot property is designed primarily as an office building - with a smaller portion for production, retail and light manufacturing - but it has yet to sign up any office occupants.

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"Manufacturing was always viewed as a catalyst for the building," said Jeff Fronek, director of acquisitions at Rubenstein. "A lot of the office users wanted to understand who the manufacturing tenants would be to make sure there was compatibility."

The firm is in talks with several more potential tenants, including technology companies and a brewery, Mr Fronek said. The developers are aiming to fill the building, along the East River on Williamsburg's northern edge, by mid-2021, Mr Fronek said.

Trendy Brooklyn's effort to transform itself into an office destination for tech firms has had mixed results. The borough has seen a 356 per cent jump in startup growth since 2008, according to a report by the Center for an Urban Future. While that's helped spur scores of development projects and leases, Brooklyn still isn't attracting the major global companies that are grabbing large swaths of real estate in Manhattan.

"What we're seeing is tenants will gravitate towards the projects that can address all of their needs," Mr Fronek said. "We took a very narrow view on what we thought would be successful, and that was waterfront, new construction, large floorplate and this whole mixed-use idea that you would have a commercial ecosystem under one roof."

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