DUMBO

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ former DUMBO hotel to begin conversion to low-income housing

November 23, 2020 Editorial Staff
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Breaking Ground, New York’s largest supportive housing developer, on Monday announced the nonprofit is moving ahead with the repositioning of 90 Sands St. to turn the former Jehovah’s Witnesses hotel into 491 units of affordable and supportive housing.

With the closing of the building’s construction loan, the renovation will break ground before the end of November. Construction completion is expected in the first quarter of 2022, Breaking Ground writes.

The Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS) will provide onsite social services to residents of 90 Sands. Breaking Ground and CUCS have a longstanding partnership and 90 Sands marks their tenth building together to provide housing and onsite support for formerly homeless individuals and families.

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“The problems our City has long faced have been even more pronounced as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Councilmember Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn Heights-Downtown Brooklyn-Navy Yard-Fort Greene-Greenpoint). “Now more than ever, we need to ensure that individuals and families have a place to live and can leave shelter for secure, stable, and affordable housing. Breaking Ground has embarked on this critical work and I look forward to welcoming our future neighbors to the community.”

Services provided at 90 Sands St. will be available to all tenants and will include case management, primary medical care, mental health services, employment readiness and benefits counseling, among others.

Of the 491 apartments at 90 Sands St., 185 will be affordable to a wide range of New Yorkers, from extremely low-income to moderate-income households. Formerly homeless individuals will live in 305 units. One unit will be for an onsite building superintendent. Half of the units (246) will be permanently affordable, and the balance will be affordable under a 60-year regulatory agreement.

“For 30 years, Breaking Ground has been redefining the meaning of ‘home’ for vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Brenda Rosen, president and CEO of Breaking Ground. “We started out in Manhattan in the 1990s rehabbing old hotels that had fallen into disrepair, and later moved on to designing and developing our own ground-up supportive housing projects throughout New York. At 90 Sands, we return to our roots and further our mission to enable people to forever escape the trauma of homelessness.”

The 30-story building will feature a 24-hour attended lobby, security camera system throughout, multipurpose room for community events and meetings, a digital library, a fitness room, and reimagined plaza space for public use at the corner of Sands and Jay streets. Breaking Ground seeks to bring in community-serving uses to occupy more than 28,000 square feet of community facility and commercial space on the ground floor and two lower levels.

The building was previously a residential hotel operated by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society until August 2017. Breaking Ground purchased the hotel in August 2018 for $170 million.

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.

“HDC is proud to provide critical financing to support the creation of 490 affordable homes at 90 Sands,” said NYC Housing Development Corporation President Eric Enderlin. “The supportive services provided by CUCS will be invaluable to the more than 300 formerly homeless households who will now have a safe, stable place to call home. Congratulations to Breaking Ground, CUCS, and all our partners for their ongoing efforts to bring this development to fruition.”

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 Leviticus Fund recognizes the extraordinary impact the 90 Sands Street project will have in advancing Breaking Ground’s mission of ending homelessness,” said Greg Maher, the Leviticus Fund’s executive director. “That mission is consistent with ours, as is increasing access to deeply affordable housing that combines supportive services to improve the quality of life and health outcomes for vulnerable individuals and families within our area.”

“As New York City’s homelessness crisis grows exponentially due to the pandemic and its economic fallout, so many new affordable homes will make an immediate difference,” said Judi Kende, vice president and New York market leader of Enterprise Community Partners. “To prevent community spread, our city urgently needs stable homes like these to keep people safely housed and out of crowded shelters. We commend Breaking Ground, CUCS, the City and all partners involved for moving this project forward at such a dire time for low-income New York City residents.”

“HDC is proud to provide critical financing to support the creation of 490 affordable homes at 90 Sands,” said NYC Housing Development Corporation President Eric Enderlin. “The supportive services provided by CUCS will be invaluable to the more than 300 formerly homeless households who will now have a safe, stable place to call home. Congratulations to Breaking Ground, CUCS, and all our partners for their ongoing efforts to bring this development to fruition.”

“The need for affordable and supportive housing, during the novel coronavirus pandemic, is now more crucial than ever,” said Joe Lynch, who led Nixon Peabody’s team that advised Breaking Ground.  “Congratulations to Breaking Ground and their leadership for closing this deal during this difficult and unprecedented time.”


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