WSJ: Watchtower Building Sale Will Transform Dumbo

Map courtesy of WSJ

Map courtesy of WSJ

The Wall Street Journal reported that five of six properties acquired by the partnership including Jared Kushner, a 32-year-old real estate developer and technology investor, closed on Wednesday in a $375 million deal. The details of the deal was first reported in July 2013. The sixth building, 90 Sands Street, the hotel building will close in 2017. Mr. Kushner said they plan to convert the set of buildings into a hub for technology companies.

The WSJ article has some key information about the six former Jehovah’s Witness’ Watchtower Bible and Tract Society properties:

  • The 1.2 million-square-foot complex will be at least 50% offices, said a person familiar with the matter, with bigger and pricier spaces aimed at more mature companies than most in the neighborhood.
  • $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.
  • Mr. Kushner, chief executive of Kushner Companies, said the developers would work with the city to try to convert some area streets into pedestrian plazas. “We saw these buildings as an opportunity to really create a great campus-like environment,” Mr. Kushner said.
  • Rents at the tech campus would be in the mid-$50s per square foot, according to people familiar with the matter. That would make them about double the rents in the rest of Dumbo, and about $10 below rents for hip Manhattan spaces.
  • “We would make more money if we did the whole thing as residential, but we would have less fun,” Mr. Kushner said.
  • Mr. Kushner and his partners would need to rezone parts of the property they would convert to residential use, which requires approval from the local City Council member, Stephen Levin.

These buildings will be a key part of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle plan and will strengthen Dumbo’s (and Brooklyn’s) stature as a technology hub. According to a recent study, rapid job growth has made the city’s tech and information industry the second-largest contributor to the private sector economy by wages. The additional 1.2 million square-foot complex, along with the newly opened Made in NY Media Center in Dumbo, will add more technology and media companies to the area.

{The Witnesses Remove Signs from Watchtower Buildings in Dumbo, 27Aug2013}
{Jehovah’s Witnesses Sell Dumbo Properties for $375 Million, 08Jul2013}
{Brooklyn Tech Triangle Unveils Plans to Expand and Support Tech Ecosystem, 19Jun2013}
{Mayor Bloomberg Unveils the Made in NY Media Center in Dumbo, 01Oct2013}

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