Monday, February 10, 2014

All Along the Watchtower: $375M Six Building Redevelopment

For four years, a cluster of properties near the foot of the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges in Brooklyn has been the subject of debate about the neighborhood's future. Now, six pieces of property formerly owned by the Jehovah's Witnesses in Dumbo are officially on the road to redevelopment, as the new owners are getting their ducks in a row to begin turning the former Bible-printing plants into a Tech Hub.

Last October, a partnership consisting of Kushner Companies, RFR Realty and LIVWRK, purchased the six Watchtower sites,

The city has already approved plans for preliminary work to begin on the buildings at 55 Prospect Street, 81 Prospect Street, 117 Adams Street, 77 Sands Street and 175 Pearl Street.

The partners will undertake a $100 million renovation of the buildings, accommodating up to 5,000 bikes, creating outdoor roof space, allowing for 150,000 square feet of retail space occupied almost entirely by Brooklyn companies and installing state-of-the-art Internet connectivity.

The developers would work with the city to try to create a campus-like environment and convert some streets into pedestrian plazas.

Plans for the complex call for bigger and pricier spaces, aimed at more mature companies than most in the neighborhood, and would solidify the transformation of Dumbo—one of Brooklyn's main office districts—from its status in the early 2000s as an offbeat neighborhood for startups,  into a high-profile office destination that competes with hip Manhattan neighborhoods.

Conversion of the 30-story hotel at 90 Sands Street is scheduled for 2017, while Jehovah’s Witnesses workers transition to a new campus in Orange County. The residential tower for 1,000 workers — with gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty — was completed in 1995.

The area under the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridge overpasses was once one of Brooklyn's main manufacturing hubs, home to firms like Arbuckle Brothers and makers of the Brillo pad.

The cobble-stoned neighborhood went into steep decline in the late 20th Century as companies moved their operations out of the city, but it began experiencing a residential revival in the 1970s when artists started moving in.

By the 1980s, a few companies began moving in, and today the area has some 1.8 million square feet of office space.

The history of the Jehovah's Witnesses site mirrors Brooklyn's industrial decline.

The printing facility, operated through much of the 20th century, was once the largest in the city, producing hundreds of millions of Bibles, books, magazines and pamphlets, according to a church spokesman.

The organization closed its printing operations in the city in 2004 as large-scale modern equipment demanded more sprawling facilities.

New 12-Story Luxury Apartment Building

Another former Jehovah’s Witnesses property that's moving forward with redevelopment is 177 Front Street, owned by Megalith Capital Management.

The developer intends to put up a 12-story luxury building between Jay and Bridge streets, where a one story garage currently stands.

The 105-unit building will be designed by Aufgang Architects and host a restaurant on the ground floor, as well as a rare and coveted commodity in prime Brooklyn: parking

One- and two-bedroom apartments in the new building are expected to rent for between $3,000 and $6,000 per month. The project will be built under the so-called 80/20 program, meaning 20 percent of the apartments will be affordable and the balance will rent at market rates. 

The project, which will be built in partnership with Manhattan-based developer Urban Realty Partners, is scheduled to be completed in 2016.

Visit Our Sponsors

Page Views

Since October 1, 2011