H&M eyed for Jamaica Ave.

A Manhattan-based developer is said to be in talks with the Swedish retailer H&M about occupying a vacant building on Jamaica Avenue. Photo by Rich Bockmann
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A Manhattan-based real estate firm that lured Swedish retailer H&M to downtown Brooklyn’s revitalized Fulton Mall may be looking to do the same on Jamaica Avenue, a source said.

Earlier this month, the Swedish clothing retailer opened its second Brooklyn location inside a 30,000-square-foot glass-box building that developer United American Land began working on after it purchased the property for $12 million in 2005.

The project was part of United American’s transformation of a 300,000-square-foot, landmarked Beaux Arts building next door into a mixed-use development with big-name retailers on the ground floor and about 100 luxury rentals above.

Last August, the company paid $14 million for a three-floor, 49,000-square-foot building on Jamaica Avenue between 160th and 161st streets, and the source said UAL executive Al Laboz is rumored to be in talks with H&M about occupying the first and second floors.

Laboz declined to comment.

The building, a long-vacant former furniture store, at 160-08 Jamaica Ave., was purchased from the Port Chester-based Poko Partners and the Cohen family, which owns the Conway retail store on the block to the west.

In 2004, the Cohen family paid $4.4 million for the landmarked former home of the Jamaica Savings Bank, which is separated from the former furniture store by a 10-story building owned by Trans World Equities.

The Conway company also owns the variety retailer Brands for Less, which occupies the ground floor of the Trans World building.

A source said the team was looking to assemble all three buildings but could not cut a deal with Trans World, and in 2010 the real estate investment trust that held its $25 million mortgage on the furniture store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Petra Capital Management, the company that managed the trust, sold the building off to United American.

The Cohen family sold the former bank to Trans World for $3.4 million earlier this year, and the company has hired a realtor to market it and the 10-story tower as a mix-use investment.

“We are working with several local investors and REITs for retail and residential development on top,” realtor Stevie Haber, of the Haber Realty Group, wrote in an e-mail. “[There] is a high level of interest from a national retailer to occupy the lower ground and 2nd floor for both buildings combined.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 2:44 am, July 19, 2013
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