Mortgage Observer

Williamsburg Rental Project, 10 Years in the Making, Gets Takeout Loan

64 Bayard Street

Witold Brend of Brend Development Corporation, the owner of a 53-unit Williamsburg luxury rental development, has secured a $26.5 million permanent take-out loan against the newly minted building, Mortgage Observer has exclusively learned. 64 Bayard Street, which sits just off McCarren Park, hit the market last December.

The 53 units, which include six penthouses, are fully occupied, said a source close to the deal. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Williamsburg Rental, Seven Years Stalled, Scores $21M Take-out Loan

210 North 12th Street

A once-stalled Williamsburg rental project that made an auspicious turn-around last year has received a $21 million take-out loan—a capstone on a successful project, as a developer can free up cash and lock in a lower interest rate than on a construction loan. Eastern Union Funding brokered the new loan with Investors Bank.

The eight-story, 42-unit residential building, at 210 North 12th Street, had been underway since 2007, but construction didn’t actually begin until summer of 2013. This was likely due to environmental concerns with the brownfield status of the North Williamsburg plot, prior reports show.  Read More

ICSC 2014

SCG Retail’s Chase Welles Talks Whole Foods, RECon and Tinder

Chase Welles of The Shopping Center Group5/13/14

Retail pro Chase Welles is a man with a mission. The executive vice president of SCG Retail represents some of the biggest tenants—Whole Foods, Kohl’s, LA Fitness—and is always looking for new locations for them. He and David Firestein owned Northwest Atlantic until a couple of years ago when the company merged with the Atlanta-based Shopping Center Group. Today, the duo owns 90 percent of what became SCG Retail, the Shopping Center Group’s New York division. On the week of the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon in Las Vegas, Commercial Observer sat down with Mr. Welles in his Columbus Circle office to chat about his Williamsburg Whole Foods deal, Tinder and boating. Read More

Brooklyn Issue

South Brooklyn’s Time to Shine

The sun sets over the Coney Island Boardwalk. (Credit: New York Habitat)

South Brooklyn’s waterfront neighborhoods have long fostered considerable charm and affluence despite being overshadowed by the explosion of “brownstone Brooklyn,” Williamsburg and Bushwick.

A few isolated incidents—take the 2011 Brighton Beach boardwalk shooting—and Superstorm Sandy didn’t help with image improvement, but recent developments point to South Brooklyn’s waterfront communities as the next Kings County neighborhoods to catch fire.

Read More

Year in Real Estate

The Mayoral Equation

Bill de Blasio (Photo: AP)

William Bratton’s selection as police commissioner under Bill de Blasio will stand as perhaps the mayor-elect’s most prominent appointment. But as the clock ticks on Michael Bloomberg’s administration, two questions remain unanswered: Which projects begun under Mayor Bloomberg will unfold as planned? And who will shepherd Mr. de Blasio’s development goals?

In its final weeks in power, the Bloomberg administration is rushing to consolidate the mayor’s imposing real estate legacy. A New York Times article on Monday reported that $12 billion worth of projects were being pushed through for approval in the mayor’s twilight hours. They include grand projects like a massive Ferris wheel and outlet mall on Staten Island, America’s largest indoor ice rink in the Bronx and the Domino sugar factory redevelopment on the Brooklyn waterfront.  Read More

ICSC 2013

Recreating The Two Trees Experience


Two Trees meticulously crafted Brooklyn’s vibrant Dumbo neighborhood by personally selecting dozens of retailers and building scores of luxury apartments and more than 2 million square feet of office space—all without the help of national brands.

“We eschew the larger, national chains in favor of smaller, independent, neighborhood retail,” said Dave Lombino, director of special projects at the firm. Two Trees intends to implement the same independent-minded strategy at the SHoP Architects-designed, 11-acre Domino Sugar Factory site in Williamsburg by carefully selecting hip retail tenants and mixed-uses meant to bolster a vibrant, 24-hour community.

“Were building assets and willing to make decisions that sacrifice returns today in exchange for generating value over time,” he said. Below is a step-by-step guide to recreating the Dumbo aesthetic and philosophy, be it in Williamsburg or elsewhere.

Read More

Brooklyn Beat

Why Brooklyn Real Estate Is So Hot

I am asked weekly why Brooklyn is so hot.

The majority of investors, small office tenants, townhouse buyers and people seeking to start restaurants can’t find space now for love or money or both. Residential tenants are paying record rents, some office deals are hitting $50 per square foot, and land prices are skyrocketing.

There Read More

Market Perspective

Downtown Manhattan Continues to Surprise

The third quarter of 2013 is in the books, and it looks by most measures to have been a pretty average quarter. Leasing volumes were average, asking rents were, for the most part, flat, and vacancy rates drifted higher.

The biggest surprise in the statistics was in the Downtown market. While vacancy rose from second Read More

Food For Thought

The Manhattanization of Williamsburg

Manhattan concepts and national tenants have finally realized what hipsters have known all along: Williamsburg is cool.

It’s not that operators didn’t notice Williamsburg before, but, as Manhattan became fully developed, these industrial plots across the river became attractive investment opportunities with minimal travel time to the main city (only one stop on the L). Read More


Two Trees Plan to Front-Load Affordable Domino Units Wins Friends and Foes


Two Trees Management has pleased some affordable housing advocates and stoked concern among others with a plan to isolate almost one-third of the affordable apartment units at the Domino Sugar Factory project in one tower farthest from the East River.

While the method would hasten the construction of units for less affluent locals, the method could also lead to a perception of not-so-subtly segregated affordable housing that has haunted other recent, large-scale developments along the Williamsburg waterfront. Read More

Coming Soon

Whole Foods on Track for Mid-2014 Williamsburg Opening


After securing a $45 million loan from Meridian Capital Group to finance the development of Williamsburg’s first Whole Foods, the healthful grocery Goliath is targeting a mid-2014 debut.

The 35,000-square-foot store at 240-242 Bedford Avenue is part of a 150,000-square-foot development that will take up a full block of North 4th Street between Bedford Avenue and Berry Street. The project will also include a New York Sports Club and luxury rental apartments. Read More


Battle for Greenpoint Waterfront Heats Up; Locals Fight Williamsburg-ization

Credit: Save Greenpoint

Eight years after a rezoning paved the way for the Williamsburg waterfront’s transformation into Miami Beach, residents and politicians in neighboring Greenpoint are speaking up about their own shoreline.

District councilman hopeful Stephen Pierson vowed that he will go to court to reduce the size of planned 40-story towers to 15 or 20 stories. And other opponents of the waterfront redefinition have released renderings of hulking high-rises that dwarf the Manhattan skyline across the river.  Read More

Brooklyn Beat

Williamsburg’s Commercial Market

Echoing the fully international nature of the Brooklyn market, recently leased several spaces on Union Avenue north of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to retail tenants for new or enlarged businesses.

New Yorkers of Japanese, Chinese, South Asian, African and European descent took space at 568 Union Avenue to create bakeries, lounges, hair salons Read More