Brooklyn as a Borough of Families


Institutional investors, real estate investment trusts, large national development firms—often based in Manhattan—are now quite active in Brooklyn, after years of borough-based families dominating the scene.

Two years ago the Manhattan big boys were ignoring efforts to join the rush—now they all want in.

SEE ALSO: Manhattan Office Vacancy Rate Hits Record High as Leasing Still Struggles

The last three decades of the Brooklyn’s great leap forward was spurred by several looming real estate families, not least among them the Ratners’ with MetroTech and Atlantic Center, the Muss family with its Renaissance Plaza project and the Walentas father-and-son duo with the creation of Dumbo.

Meanwhile, the Cayre father-and-son duo developed two Montague sites, one on Atlantic now under way and the prized Empire Stores project along the Dumbo waterfront. The Schors family tuned up six Class B buildings in Downtown Brooklyn, and the Laboz family brought H&M, Sephora, Nordstrom Rack and TJMaxx to our fair borough.

Rumor has it that a large yet-to-be identified Boston institutional outfit ‘woke up’ the Bible & Tract Society (Watchtower) to the opportunity to sell their lovely Dumbo property six-pack by the Brooklyn Bridge. After overcoming heated competition, Live/Work, RFR and Kushner Companies, which owns The Commercial Observer, purchased these properties.

These, of course, are major new players in the Brooklyn real estate industry. 

Following in the footsteps of the huge local REIT SL Green’s successful turn-around of our biggest prewar office property, 16 Court Street, institutional investors are stepping far forward. Invesco is involved in a big, to-be-named later commercial site while Acadia is behind CityPoint and Carlyle is doing 71 Smith, the large mixed use job near the court offices along nearby Court Street.

 Many more who wish to remain nameless are trying to get in.

All this is a sign of both market maturity and Brooklyn’s fame, bringing higher prices and blue chip developers, while creating more Brooklyn successes.