Michael Pintchik and his father Jack walked by Brooklyn’s Flatbush Avenue decades ago, and saw the future.
“When I was a little kid, I would drive in with my dad and he would take me to [the paint shop Jack owned at 478 Bergen Street in Boerum Hill],” Pintchik said. “And when we would drive down Flatbush Avenue, he would say to me, ‘Someday this street is going to be very different, and it’s going to be a great street.’ This is during a time on Flatbush Avenue where there was what was the equivalent of shanties. They didn’t even have storefronts.”
What Jack Pitchink didn’t realize at the moment, is that he would be the one to make those changes in the south of Downtown Brooklyn, on the commercial strip of Boerum Hill.
For 104 years, the Pintchik family has owned 13 eponymous paint stores in the city. It all started with Nathan Pintchik, father of Jack and Michael’s grandfather, who currently owns one paint shop and about 60 low-rise mixed-use buildings on Flatbush Avenue between the Barclays Center and Grand Army Plaza. Following his grandfather’s steps, Michael has recently signed a dozen leases for new restaurants and retail concepts. The goal is to fill Flatbush Avenue with truly worthy offerings that follow the family’s decades-old vision.
“Our goal is to have very artisanal, unique tenants,” Pintchik said. “We feel a certain responsibility, because we have almost contiguous blocks of buildings. Because we can shape things, we have been really careful.”
Pintchik signed a deal with a group of partners led by Peter Levin and Jay Zimmerman for a new sports-themed gastro pub called Kings Town with a 5,000-square-rooftop bar. The project will be located at 166 Flatbush Avenue, across from Barclays Center, and will open in April. “He is so extremely fair and open- minded, which makes the process very easy,” Zimmerman said. “We are carving out something that doesn’t exist in that neighborhood.”
Japanese hospitality company Plan Do See plans to open a 3,700-square-foot sushi bar in the lower level of this same building, but this has yet to be confirmed.
“It will be the venue for sporting events viewing in the borough,” said Peter Schubert of TerraCRG, who handled the deal for Pintchik. “[Pintchik is] old school but forward-looking. When Michael likes a certain concept, he does what it takes to work with the tenant and does what it takes to make the deal happen.”
Pitching hopes to create an area that prides itself on great stores that stand out. Years ago, he tried to lure Apple to open its new Brooklyn location in 166 Flatbush, but the technology company didn’t have plans for a Downtown Brooklyn location and opened its doors in Williamsburg instead.
Proposals for businesses are carefully reviewed. It has been widely reported that Pintchik has turned down big name restaurant such as Hooters and McDonald’s from 166 Flatbush Avenue. He prefers New York-born concepts such as Shake Shack, which opened at 170 Flatbush Ave, back in August 2014. Other examples of businesses Pintchik has opted for include Ovenly, Mok Bar and Snowdays, which will be opening at the end of January.
“Best landlord I’ve got. I swear, it’s not a lie,” Snowdays owner and founder Tony Quach said. “He’s very good at what he does, and you see Bergen Street—it looks like that for a reason.”
Pintchik has not only brought retailers to Flatbush Avenue, but also its surroundings, like Bergen Street; all with purpose of enhancing the quality of life. Those stores include Wild Was Mama, Stories Bookshop, bicycle shop Ride Brooklyn, and clothing store V Curated.
“He’s not trying to put a Starbucks on every corner here,” Quach said. “He’s really working with small businesses in the neighborhood and all over the city.”
Apart from restaurant options, Pintchik is bringing health conscious retailers and fitness concepts. Brands such as Orange Theory, a fitness brand, Union Market, which specializes in organic produce, and the popular SoulCycle. And since the area around Barclays Center doesn’t have many full-service national banks, Pintchik signed a lease to TD Bank.
The family wasn’t always into real estate, but Pintchik changed the focus after a paint store in Astoria caught fire in 1982. The store had a lease that required the landlord to restore the space in case of a fire. “I called the landlord. It was an 80-some-odd-year-old woman whose husband had died. He had owned the building. She said to me, ‘Sonny, I don’t have the first idea of what to do.’ I said, ‘How about we buy the building, and you give us the insurance?’ She was like, ‘Okay that sounds like a good idea.’”, he recalls.
Pintchik purchased the building for $275,000 and got more than $100,000 from the insurance company. After restoring the building, he turned it into apartments. Since then, he and his family has been buying real estate in Brooklyn. Most of the properties he buys are low-rise residential and retail properties, but he hopes to develop larger ones.
Pintchik’s only worry is the next generation of the family business. His two children don’t seem very invested in real estate at the moment. His son Zack studies photography at the International Center for Photography in Manhattan, while his daughter, Tess, manages a toy shop called the Children’s General Store on the Upper East Side, which was started by Pintchik’s wife, Laura.
“I always made the assumption that my kids would take this over,” Pintchik said. “And it is possible that that would happen, but it’s also possible that they have different ideas about life and no matter how lucrative this is I don’t want to force this on them because they have one life.”
He added, somewhat wistfully, “I don’t know what is going to happen. At a certain point, I am going to blow the whistle and say, ‘Last call at the bar.’ ”