Square Mile Lends $58M on Old Pfizer Building


Square Mile Capital Management provided Long Island City-based Acumen Capital Partners with a $58 million bridge loan for the old Pfizer headquarters on the border of Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, Commercial Observer can first report. CBRE Senior Vice President Jason Gaccione brokered the five-year debt.

Proceeds from the loan are being used to fund upgrades on the property and cover leasing efforts, according to the lender and broker.

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Acumen acquired the eight-story industrial building from biopharmaceutical company in 2011 for $19 million, according to city records, and is in the process of repositioning the single-tenant property into a space for creative and technology tenants.

“I’ve had a great working relationship with Acumen for a number of years and they’re important clients of mine,” Mr. Gaccione told CO.

Prior to this transaction, he worked with Acumen on the initial financing and refinancing of the 301,000-square-foot Standard Motor Products Building—which the firm purchased for $40.6 million in 2008 and sold for $110 million in 2014.

“They dig in deep on projects and understand the marketplace extremely well,” Mr. Gaccione added. “They were one of the early entrants in Long Island City when they developed the Standard Motor’s building, and when it comes to East Williamsburg, they bought this building in 2011 at a great basis, when no one else was buying these vacant assets.”

The 575,000-square-foot property at 630 Flushing Avenue, which occupies an entire 7.8-acre block between Marcy and Tompkins Avenues, is currently 50 percent occupied, according to Square Mile. The building’s tenants are primarily in the light manufacturing or creative businesses, and also include offices for Pratt Institute, SoulCycle, and Roberta’s pizzeria, among others.

“During the past decade, Brooklyn has experienced an explosion of demand for creative [and] technology office space,” Square Mile’s principal, Michael Lavipour, said in prepared remarks provided to CO.

“This unique, high-quality building is especially suited for such use,” he said. “It has been extremely well maintained and is especially well positioned in the East Williamsburg submarket. It would be virtually impossible to replicate.”

The entire building was constructed in parcels starting in 1849, as Pfizer’s original headquarters, laboratory and warehouse. The company left the building in 2008, when it downsized its operations in the U.S., Europe and Japan, according to published reports.

“Due to the tremendous investment in infrastructure and improvements made during Pfizer’s previous ownership, Acumen has been afforded the opportunity to immediately focus their capital investment directly into enhancing the tenant experience—an extremely rare find amongst the city’s industrial asset stock,” Mr. Gaccione said. “They spared no expense on building and maintaining the asset.”

He also noted that due to U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements the former tenant had to meet, the building is extremely attractive to food industry tenants.

“Acumen has an extraordinary track record with such properties,” Mr. Lavipour noted. “We are pleased to provide the financing that will help the firm execute its re-leasing strategy and complete its business plan.”

A representative for Acumen did not respond to inquiries by press time.