The New York City Council has approved plans to convert a defunct 29-story hotel development near the DUMBO, Brooklyn waterfront into an affordable housing complex. The building is located at 90 Sands Street and was formerly owned by the Watch Tower Society, business entity of the Jehovah’s Witness religious organization.
The project is one of the latest developments from Breaking Ground, a non-profit social services organization that focuses much of its efforts on creating housing for New York City’s homeless and extremely vulnerable populations. When complete, 90 Sands Street will comprise 203 affordable apartments for severely low to moderate-income households, and an additional 305 units for the formerly homeless. The building will also feature a 24-hour attended lobby, flexible communal spaces for meetings and events, a digital library, a fitness room, and a public plaza.
Monthly rent will be priced as low as $492 per month for a studio apartment.
As previously reported by YIMBY in 2019, residents will also have access to on-site social services provided by The Center for Urban Community Services. This includes individualized case management, primary medical care, mental health services, vocational advisory services, and benefits counseling. A portion of the ground floor and cellar will also support the unspecified manufacturing area.
In total, these ancillary components will span an estimated 30,000 square feet.
“Now, more than ever, New York City needs new supportive and affordable housing for the homeless and lower-income individuals,” said Breaking Ground president and CEO Brenda Rosen. “With the City Council’s approval of Breaking Ground’s ULURP application for 90 Sands, we are on our way to bringing 500 much-needed affordable units to DUMBO, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the borough.”
In August 2018, RFR Realty leased the former hotel for $170 million to Breaking Ground. The RFR’s original plans included the construction of a 600-key hotel in partnership with eccentric hotelier Ian Schrager. Those plans were eventually scrapped for reasons unknown.
To finance the acquisition, Breaking Ground received $2 million in support from the New York City Council, a $155 million loan from the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and a $10 million grant from Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. Breaking Ground also provided a $6.7 million sponsor loan to finance the purchase.
The conversion of 90 Sands Street was originally expected to be completed by 2022. It is unclear if Breaking Ground is on track to wrap construction by that date.