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NEW YORK CITY, NY-UniWorld Group’s decision to relocate from Midtown South may signal a movement toward considering downtown Brooklyn for primary office space, says a source at Forest City Ratner Corp., which just signed the advertising agency for 37,000 square feet at One MetroTech Center.

“MetroTech offers great value to tenants seeking class A experience, in well managed and operated buildings,” says the FCRC source. “A similar space in Manhattan would easily cost twice the rent, before you factor in the as-of-right incentives offered in Brooklyn to prospective tenants.” Asking rents at MetroTech are in “the mid- to high-$30s” per square foot, compared to the mid-$50s in Midtown South, and a tax credit for relocating employees from Manhattan to Brooklyn further widened the cost, says the FCRC source.

The source adds that the area near MetroTech benefits from proximity to mass transit and to Manhattan, established residential communities in surrounding neighborhoods “and the recent growth of a 24/7 community within downtown Brooklyn, directly adjacent and surrounding Metrotech.” Additionally, the source says, “many employers in the creative sector have realized that many of their employees live in Brooklyn and prefer working in Downtown Brooklyn.” Coupled with the terrific higher education institutions, employers find a great deal of talent in Brooklyn, which makes the area that much more attractive

While Bryon Lewis, CEO of UniWorld, notes in a prepared release that a number of the agency’s current employees live in Brooklyn, the FCRC source points out that it’s not simply a question of existing employees, but a large existing talent pool nearby.

“Brooklyn’s demographics have changed over the years, attracting residents and families with higher education and professional abilities,” the source says. “Furthermore, higher-education institutions in Brooklyn, such as PolyTechnic/NYU and CityTech, offer a pool of newly graduating employees to draw from, who presently reside in and around Downtown Brooklyn.”

UniWorld, a minority-owned agency within the WPP Group–which focuses on African-American, Hispanic and urban markets–currently has 140 employees in a space of comparable size at Trinity Real Estate’s 100 Ave. of the Americas. The agency, which will occupy the entire 11th floor at One MetroTech, was represented in the 10-year lease by director Shawna Menifee of Cushman & Wakefield. A CB Richard Ellis team including Mary Ann Tighe, SVPs Tim Dempsey and Keith Caggiano and senior associate Evan Haskell represented FCRC.

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