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Modern Spaces and Sweetleaf Open in Williamsburg

March 8, 2012

Brokerage, Coffee Spot Link Space
By LAURA KUSISTO
A couple of Long Island City mainstays are expanding to Williamsburg, as the two waterfront neighborhoods continue to vie for singles and young families seeking more affordable apartments.
Modern Spaces, a residential brokerage that started just two months before the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., is opening its first office outside of Queens, in the former sales office of the Edge condominium project at 135 Kent Ave.
“If someone’s not buying here [in Long Island City], they’re ending up in Williamsburg or Greenpoint,” said Eric Benaim, president and chief executive of Modern Spaces.
Mr. Benaim started Modern Spaces in the summer of 2008. After some touch-and-go months in the beginning, the company rode the slow upswing in the Long Island City condo market, taking over projects such as the Powerhouse and 1603 Jackson, where sales had been sluggish.
The firm will keep its original office open in Long Island City, where the brokerage is in charge of leasing or selling between 2,000 and 3,000 apartments.
The Sweetleaf coffee shop, a popular Long Island City hangout, is also making the leap to Williamsburg, although it will keep its original location as well. It will share an office with Modern Spaces so people who come to rent an apartment can grab a coffee or vice versa.
“What makes Williamsburg very intriguing to me is that many people move to Long Island City because they want to be near Manhattan, but people move to Williamsburg because they want to be in Williamsburg,” said Rich Nieto, co-owner of Sweetleaf.
With Sweetleaf and Modern Spaces sharing business space in Williamsburg, he said, “You’re going to come in to the same location where you may have gone to buy your apartment or rent your apartment and that’s the same spot you keep coming back to.”