NY Times Features Dumbo Heights


The NY Times takes a look at the former Jehovah’s Witness 5 inter-connected buildings to the Kushner Companies for $375 million that’s being redesigned for commercial and technology tenants. A sixth building, 90 Sands Street, the 30 story hotel building will close in 2017.

The most obvious use for the six brick behemoths, also known as Brooklyn Bethel and clustered around Pearl and Sands Streets, would have been loft apartments; Dumbo has quickly become one of the most expensive residential neighborhoods in the borough. But the Bloomberg administration was desperate to keep the spaces commercially zoned, to provide homes for the city’s growing tech sector.

The name Dumbo Heights is meant to evoke the “gritty lofts of Dumbo and the lofty grandeur of Brooklyn Heights”. The strength and popularity of the startup scene in Dumbo is a blessing and a challenge for early stage businesses trying to upgrade their office space. This is where developers Jared Kushner, Aby Rosen, and Asher Abehsera see an opportunity for these startups to mature into growth firms:

“Two Trees has really mastered the 500- to 2,500-square-foot office suite for start-ups, but these companies need somewhere they can grow without having to leave the borough,” said Natalie Hurwitz, a broker at Sholom & Zuckerbrot and a former city planner. “People live in Brooklyn, they want to work in Brooklyn, but businesses are almost totally out of room. Dumbo Heights is just what the borough needs.”

Etsy leased 200,000 square feet of space in the 117 Adams Street building and WeWork, the Manhattan co-working company leased 90,000 square feet of office space at 81 Prospect Street. There will be local food and retail in the buildings. The NY Times writer, Matt A.V. Chaban writes “Expect gluten-free bakers, Edison-bulb-lighted bistros, maybe a beer hall and of course sushi, all run by some classically trained, tattoo-covered chefs. “It’s going to be like our little hipster kibbutz,” Mr. Abehsera said.” The article points out that there is a chance that part of the complex may become residential to help underwrite the purchase. “An obvious candidate is a 30-story hotel built in 1992 at 90 Sands Street where many of the Witnesses have stayed.”

{Etsy Leases 200,000 Square-foot of Dumbo Heights Starting in 2016, 14May2014}
{Former Watchtower Buildings, Now Called Dumbo Heights, Expected to Open First Quarter 2015, 01May2014}
{WSJ: Watchtower Building Sale Will Transform Dumbo, 08Oct2013}
{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}