A few weeks back, I reported on a pair of new businesses opening on Classon, Thirst Bar and Pasha Pita Pizza Grill. The folks at Nostrand Park swung by Thirst Bar a few days later to try the food. In their post, they noted, as I did, that the location is somewhat unexpected (next to an auto body shop, across from a junkyard, and down the street from a live poultry place). Despite the unique site, Nostrand Park offered a theory for success, namely, that the bar (and Pasha) are located at the "Four Corners," the intersection of Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Crown Heights. These four neighborhoods have seen an influx of new residents and businesses over the last decade that has accelerated in the last few years, which amounts to a lot of potential customers living and shopping close by. Along with the nearby C train stops, NP suggests that Thirst Bar could become the anchor for a new "restaurant row" in the area, reporting that an Italian restaurant from an experienced Manhattan restaurateur is slated to open next door soon. The idea has generated some conversation on Brooklynian, with some commentors noting that Outpost, on Fulton, has had a lot of success in a similarly out-of-the-way location (though Fulton does get considerably more foot traffic).
I'd suggest a complimentary theory. The "Four Corners" area between Washington and Franklin north of Prospect Place and south of Atlantic Avenue was historically a non-residential zone, home to the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn and industrial sites including the Knox Hat Factory, Nassau Brewery, the Pirika Chocolate Company, and a Studebaker Service Station. In the past several years, however, this area has slowly become increasingly residential, with the Hospital, Knox and Nassau (in part) sites converted to rental units and new residential buildings erected, including the Ishi Condos, Hello Living. As I type this, the hospital is completing a huge new wing of rental units and the city is putting the finishing touches on its St. Marks Gardens affordable development, and in some ways, I think these latest developments have been the tipping point. With so many people living nearby, it's no wonder that business owners are starting to take a second look at Classon. In addition to Thirst Bar, Pasha, and the new Italian place, a huge Compare Foods (pictured above) is getting ready to open - note the White Rose truck at the loading dock - and renovation has begun of the one-story hospital building on the corner of St. Marks and Classon (home to the short-lived Tiny Urban Park), which is slated to become a coffee shop. There's also a storefront under renovation down the street on Classon between Dean and Bergen, though I couldn't ascertain what it's going to be (anyone know?).
In short, it seems the Four Corners, where residents from the four neighborhoods once congregated to work, has become a residential area where people live, and where they'll soon be able to shop, eat, and drink as well. As these residences and businesses open, they'll begin to generate the type of foot traffic that attracts further development, though one wonders what will happen to the light-industrial businesses that remain, including a number of garages/auto-body places and several warehouses and workshops. At the moment, most of the development has happened in vacant spaces, but if the trend continues, these types of business, which provide local jobs, may be forced out. I can't predict what Classon Avenue will look like in five or ten years, but I'm starting to believe that a lot of these new businesses will still be thriving.