Continuing the discussion from NEW YORK | Flatbush Ave Corridor (DoBro + BAM + AY):
The sale of the building across from the City Point mega-project highlights not only downtown Brooklyn’s large-scale development, but the desirability of sites citywide that can accommodate apartment towers.
By Daniel Geiger
January 17, 2014
The real estate investment firm Savanna has acquired a development site across the street from one of Brooklyn’s largest construction projects.
Savanna purchased 141 Willoughby St., a three-story building in downtown Brooklyn, for an undisclosed price from the Institute of Design and Construction, a school that provides construction training and that occupied part of the property. The site could support a fresh development of up to 240,000 square feet.
It sits just across the street from City Point, a massive new development with more than 500,000 square feet of retail space and two residential towers as well as a third residential spire at least 60-stories high on the drawing board.
Savanna, which has been successful in the city in recent years buying real estate assets at opportune moments, like some other prominent owners, such as TF Cornerstone, is now taking its stake in the area’s transformation.
“141 Willoughby St. is a prime location in downtown Brooklyn and we see tremendous future value in this … property,” Christopher Schlank, a managing partner at Savanna, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to be a part of the ongoing transformation of the immediate area.”
Savanna can build up to 120,000 square feet of residential space on the site, according to Vincent Battista, president and chairman of the board for the Institute of Design and Construction. But, by securing a special permit from the city, up to double that amount of space can rise on the site. Mr. Battista said it was likely that Savanna could secure such a waiver, since the City Point development was zoned for high-rise development.
"Much of the surrounding area allows for large towers to be constructed," Mr. Battista said. "We expect that it is a reasonable request to change the zoning here so that this site too can benefit from higher density."
Neither Mr. Battista, nor Savanna, would disclose the purchase price in the deal, but Mr. Battista said it was structured in a way in which the Institute of Design and Construction will receive a bonus payment if Savanna is able to successfully rezone the land for a larger building. The school, which prepares as many as 120 students yearly for careers in the construction field with courses such as estimating and blueprint reading, will look for another home.
“We’re looking to lease about 20,000 square feet of space nearby,” Mr. Battista said.
He said the city’s hot sales market convinced the school to sell the building. Prices have risen in particular for development sites that can accommodate apartment towers.
“We can sustain our operations for 20 years on the proceeds of this sale,” Mr. Battista said.