A former Jehovah’s Witness Hotel at 90 Sands Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn will soon be transformed into 491-unit residential property with a mix of deeply affordable and supportive housing units. From Breaking Ground, New York City’s largest supportive housing developer, construction is expected to kick off before the end of November.
Designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, the project will culminate in 185 affordable units for households that range from extremely low-income to moderate-income designations, 305 units to house the formerly homeless, and one additional unit for the onsite superintendent. Half of the units, equivalent to 246 homes, will be permanently affordable.
The Center for Urban Community Services will provide onsite social services to residents including case management, primary medical care, mental health services, employment readiness, and benefits counseling.
Amenity spaces will include a flexible residents’ lounge for meetings and events, a digital library, and a fitness room. Additional components include a 28,000-square-foot community facility and commercial space spanning both the first and second floors of the development, as well as a public plaza at the corner of Sands and Jay Streets.
“At 90 Sands, we return to our roots and further our mission to enable people to forever escape the trauma of homelessness,” said Brenda Rosen, president and CEO of Breaking Ground. “With the construction [loan] closing for 90 Sands, we are on our way to bringing 491 much-needed affordable units to DUMBO, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city.”
As previously reported by YIMBY, RFR Realty sold the former Jehovah’s Witness building to Breaking Ground in August 2018 for approximately $170 million. RFR originally acquired the property for $135 million and planned to construct a 600-key hotel with developer Ian Schrager. Those plans never came to fruition.
For the acquisition of 90 Sands, Breaking Ground received $2 million 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 provided a $6.7 million sponsor loan to finance acquisition and pre-construction costs. The Leviticus Fund also provided $1.5 million in pre-construction financing.
The renovation and repositioning of the building as supportive and affordable housing will be financed by 501c3 and taxable bonds totaling more than $70.4 million issued by the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC). HDC provided an additional $6 million in capital subsidy. JPMorgan Chase is providing a construction letter of credit.
“We continue to be committed to supporting critical community development projects like 90 Sands that’s creating a life-changing opportunity for its future residents,” said Dave Walsh, the northeast regional manager of community development banking at JPMorgan Chase. “We congratulate Breaking Ground for celebrating 30 year of transforming neighborhoods.”
In addition to public financing, key philanthropic support has enabled Breaking Ground to carry out the project, including grants from Robin Hood Foundation, Deutsche Bank’s DB SHARE program, and National Grid.
The project team anticipates full completion by the first quarter of 2022.