By Guest Nicole
The Dumbo Heights complex gets some praise
These aren't easy times for the Kushner family. Jared Kushner is having trouble getting security clearance so he can advise his father-in-law in the White House. The family risks losing control of its prize tower at 666 Fifth Ave. unless it can find cash to pay off loans. Their company has even been sued for charging tenants excessive rent for apartments in Brooklyn Heights.
So it was perhaps understandable that the Kushners were pleased to get one small bit of good news: A property of theirs was named “best operating building of the year” by the New York chapter of industry group Building Owners and Managers Association International.
The award was given to the former Watchtower complex acquired from the Jehovah’s Witnesses for $375 million in 2014 by a consortium including RFR Realty, LIVWRK and the Kushners. The place was renamed Dumbo Heights and commercial tenants include WeWork and Etsy.
Nichole Kushner, who triggered a federal investigation when she highlighted her brother’s White House job as part of a pitch to Chinese investors last year for a project in New Jersey, said the family was “very proud” to win the award.
“We were among the first to recognize the potential of recasting this area as a unique community combining tech/retail and high-end living spaces,” she said in a statement.
By Guest Nicole
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Going, going, gone.
The Jehovah's Witnesses have found a buyer for one of their last Brooklyn properties, The Real Deal has reported.
The property that is being sold is a development site in DUMBO, 74 Adams St.
Jeffrey Gershon of Hope Street Capital, a developer with properties in Brooklyn and Queens, is the buyer, the real-estate publication reported. The property is in contract for close to $60 million, the publication said.
Spokesmen for the Jehovah's Witnesses did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Brooklyn Eagle. Neither did Gershon.
The listing for 74 Adams St. has been removed from the Watchtower's real-estate marketing website, which customarily occurs when one of the religious group's properties goes into contract.
A one-story-plus-mezzanine vehicle-maintenance facility with 32 parking spaces now stands on the property. It has frontage on Adams Street, Front Street, York Street and Fleet Alley.
This pending deal brings the religious group another step closer to selling off its once-massive property holdings in DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights — after having a presence in Brooklyn for more than a century.
The Watchtower is methodically liquidating its real-estate portfolio because it recently relocated its world headquarters from Brooklyn Heights to upstate Warwick.
Earlier this month, as the Eagle previously reported, it closed on the $87.5 million sale of 107 Columbia Heights, a gated L-shaped residential building in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. The purchaser was an affiliate of publicly traded Clipper Realty Inc., which is headed by David Bistricer.
Another company Bistricer heads is the co-owner of Brooklyn Heights' Hotel Bossert, which was also purchased from the Jehovah's Witnesses.
As-of-right residential development
But more about 74 Adams St., the DUMBO property that Gershon is reportedly buying.
It is located outside the boundaries of the DUMBO Historic District.
When the property was still included on the Watchtower's marketing website, the listing described it as a 144,913-square-foot development site where luxury residential construction is allowed as-of-right. A new building constructed there could also have commercial and retail space and a community facility, if that's what the purchaser wants.
According to city Finance Department records, the Jehovah's Witnesses have owned 74 Adams St. since 1975. They purchased it from Andrew Borgersen.
When Gershon's deal closes, 74 Adams St. will be the third DUMBO development site sold by the Jehovah's Witnesses.
The biggest-ticket deal was for 85 Jay St. The Kushner Cos. and investment partners paid $345 million for the massive parking lot, which has nearly 1 million square feet of development rights. Jared Kushner — President Trump's son-in-law — headed the Kushner Cos. until he stepped aside to become the president's senior adviser.
The purchaser of the other recently sold DUMBO development site, 69 Adams St., was the Rabsky Group, which paid $65 million for it. The site is currently occupied by a four-story building with a tennis court on top.
Developer Jeffrey Gershon is buying 74 Adams St., the building on this DUMBO corner, from the Jehovah's Witnesses. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
By Guest Nicole
In its first move as a publicly traded company, Clipper Realty is buying an 11-story Brooklyn Heights rental building from the Jehovah’s Witnesses for $87.5 million, the firm told The Real Deal.
The David Bistricer-led real estate investment trust entered into an agreement to buy 107 Columbia Heights for $569 per square foot. The Witnesses put the 154,000-square-foot building on the market in April. At the time, sources speculated it could fetch up to $1,000 per foot.
Clipper said it expects to close on the property by May 2017, and it plans to convert several public spaces in the building into 12 additional apartments.
The REIT debuted on the New York Stock Exchange on Feb. 10, looking to raise $68.1 million through the sale of its common stock, which was initially priced at $13.50 per share.
Bistricer said the REIT would focus on “strategic, value-add” investments, he told TRD in 2015. Since then, Clipper has raised $130.2 million in a private offering, according to its prospectus.
Clipper’s portfolio is comprised of more than 3,500 residential units in Brooklyn and Manhattan, including Flatbush Gardens, a 59-building rent-controlled apartment complex, and 50 Murray Street and 53 Park Place in Tribeca. It also owns two mixed-use buildings at 141 and 150 Livingston Street. In January, Clipper paid $103 million for a 232-unit rental building at 1955 First Avenue.
Excluding the Aspen, the properties generated rental revenue of $80 million in 2016, according to Clipper’s prospectus. In addition to acquisition, Clipper intends to pump $31 million into upgrades of existing properties to drive “substantial rent growth,” the REIT said in a regulatory filing.
The Witnesses have been exiting Brooklyn in a series of deals over recent months. In April, Kushner Companies, Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty and LIVWRK paid over $700 million for their 733,000-square-foot global headquarters at 25-30 Columbia Heights and a development site at 85 Jay Street in Dumbo.
By Guest Nicole
This investment is expected to grow.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses recently unloaded another building in their pricey portfolio of Dumbo properties and the buyer could erect a new residential tower on the site.
Williamsburg developer Rabsky Group purchased the church’s four-story recreational facility next to the Manhattan Bridge at Adams and Front streets for $65 million on Nov. 29, as first reported by the Real Deal.
The new owner can build a new property of up to 28 stories with residential, commercial, and community space inside under the land’s current zoning, according to a spokesman for the religious organization.
Rabsky is no stranger to massive developments — the firm is erecting a futuristic 400-unit apartment complex on the site of the old Rheingold Brewery in Bushwick and is trying to convince the city to let it build more than 1,000 units across two full blocks of the former Pfizer factory in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The Witnesses — formally dubbed the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society — have been based in Brooklyn for more than a century, but are now selling off the extensive real estate holdings they amassed during that period as they prepare to relocate the nerve center upstate.
They sold the bulk of their old printing plants and warehouses to developer Jared Kushner — President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law and right-hand-man — who has turned them into an interconnected office complex dubbed Dumbo Heights.
Kushner also nabbed the church’s former Columbia Heights headquarters — complete with its iconic neon “Watchtower” sign — and is rumored to be purchasing its massive block-sized parking lot at Jay and Front streets where could build a thousand units of new housing.
The birthday-spurning religious organization currently has four other properties on the market — including the site of the former Margaret Hotel at Columbia Heights and Orange Street, and the old Leverich Towers Hotel at Clark and Willow streets — and is still holding onto a handful of other digs it hasn’t put on the market.
Rabsky Group did not return requests for comment.
Reach reporter Lauren Gill at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 4:50 am, December 7, 2016
By Guest Nicole
The buyer is the Rabsky Group, a prolific residential developer
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Another piece of the empire is gone.
The Jehovah's Witnesses have sold 69 Adams St. in DUMBO, which had been one of the last properties left in their once-vast Brooklyn real-estate portfolio, for $65 million, city Finance Department records indicate.
The buyer is 69 Adams LLC with Simon Dushinsky of the Rabsky Group as authorized signatory, the records show.
The Rabsky Group, headed by Dushinsky and Isaac Rabinowitz, is a prolific residential developer in Brooklyn and Queens.
Dushinsky did not respond to a call for comment by press time.
The sale closed on Nov. 29, the Watchtower announced without revealing the purchaser's identity or the price paid.
The just-sold development site is located thisclose to the Manhattan Bridge and is currently occupied by a four-story building that's a recreational facility with a tennis court on the roof and a parking garage.
In a statement, Watchtower spokesman Richard Devine called 69 Adams St. "a premiere real estate opportunity, not only because of its location but also because of its building potential.”
He said that zoning allows for the construction of a 157,000-square-foot-plus building that's 280 feet tall.
In late October, the Brooklyn Eagle reported that the Watchtower had made a deal to sell the site, where a luxury residential tower with commercial space, storefronts and a community facility can be built as-of-right.
Jared Kushner is reportedly buying another DUMBO Watchtower site
The closing of the sale of 69 Adams St. represents another step forward in the Watchower's years-long efforts to liquidate its local property holdings because of the relocation of its world headquarters from Brooklyn Heights to upstate Warwick, New York.
The Jehovah's Witnesses have just a few Brooklyn properties left.
The religious organization has made a deal to sell one of them — a parking lot at 85 Jay St. in DUMBO with nearly 1 million square feet of development rights — to the Kushner Cos. and its investment partners for $345 million, the New York Posthas reported. The deal is expected to close this month, the newspaper said.
The Kushner Cos.' chief executive officer is Jared Kushner, President-elect Donald Trump's son-in-law, who served as an advisor to his father-in-law during his successful election campaign.
Offers were due on Nov. 17 for another Watchtower DUMBO development site, 74 Adams St. A vehicle-maintenance facility stands on the property, but as-of-right luxury residential development is allowed there.
By Guest Nicole
The Jehovah's Witnesses have just put onto the sale market a development site in the heart of DUMBO, 69 Adams St.
The building that now occupies the site has a four-story recreational facility and an 84-space parking garage.
Its rooftop is graced with an open-air tennis court — which is topped by a fence so cars and pedestrians down below don't accidentally get pelted with over-exuberantly hit balls.
The Watchtower recently posted the sale offering online without alerting reporters.
According to the posting, 69 Adams St. is “a 157,410-square-foot development opportunity adjacent to the iconic Manhattan Bridge.”
The Jehovah's Witnesses did not offer any comment about their sale offering to the Brooklyn Eagle when asked about it. They did give the Eagle permission to publish their images of 69 Adams St.
Zoned for as-of-right residential development
The city Landmarks Preservation Commission doesn't have any control over what is built at 69 Adams St. because it is located outside the neighborhood's historic districts.
Because of the site's zoning, “a new luxury residential tower with commercial, community facility and retail uses” can be built as-of-right, the Watchtower's online description of the site notes.
The religious organization, which has had a major presence in the area for more than a century, is in the throes of selling off its once enormous property portfolio in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO. That's because the Jehovah's Witnesses are relocating their headquarters to upstate Warwick, N.Y.
The 69 Adams St. site has 103 feet of Front Street frontage. It's caddy-corner to upscale food market Foragers, and shares its block with a handsome residential tower, 85 Adams St.
If a residential tower is built at 69 Adams St., it will have views of Lower Manhattan's skyscrapers, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the East River and the Midtown Manhattan skyline.
According to city Finance Department records, the site has belonged to the Watchtower since 1991, when the organization purchased it from LI Machine & Pattern Works Inc.
Another Watchtower property recently sold for $105 Mil
The Jehovah's Witnesses began a new round of property offerings this past December. Since then, the organization has closed on the $105 million sale of 124 Columbia Heights, a 10-story residential building on the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights, to Florida Panthers hockey team owner Vincent Viola, Finance Department records indicate.
Also, the Watchtower has made a handshake deal to sell its Brooklyn Heights headquarters at 25-30 Columbia Heights and a nearly 1 million-square-foot development site at 85 Jay St. in DUMBO for roughly $700 million, the New York Postpreviously reported. The buyer is Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.
In addition to 69 Adams St., the other Watchtower property that's currently available for sale is 107 Columbia Heights, a 154,000-plus square-foot residential property in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District.
Several other Watchtower properties in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO have not yet been put up for sale.
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