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Brooklyn leases signed in 2020 offer best new hope for 2021

International Whittle school first announced Brooklyn plans in late 2019

January 4, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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A lease for an innovative private school at a new Downtown Brooklyn building topped the list of the 10 largest office leases in Brooklyn and Queens for 2020.

The list, published in The Real Deal, a real estate publication, shows that nine of the mega-leases are in Kings County, with the only other one being in Glendale, Queens.

In a deal extensively covered in the Brooklyn Eagle, Whittle School and Studios, an educational organization that also has facilities in Washington, D.C., and China, signed a lease to occupy the Wheeler, a 10-story development on top of the well-known Macy’s on Fulton Street. 

When it opens, the private institution will be the third in a global network of independent K-12 schools headed by entrepreneur Chris Whittle. By 2026, its founder hopes the Brooklyn campus will be one of 36 across the globe, the Eagle reported.

“Our vision for modernizing education is anchored in science, innovation, experience and appreciation of new global challenges and opportunities,” Whittle said in a statement to the Brooklyn Eagle in November 2019, as the deal was getting under way.  Whittle also co-founded the private Avenues School in Chelsea.

Ray Bordwell, the architect of the coming Brooklyn Whittle School and Studios, speaks at a launch party. Eagle photo by Caroline Ourso

Officials said the 621,500-square-foot site would include classrooms, boarding facilities, a gym, theater accelerator labs and spaces for sports, robotics and other programs. 

“As in Shenzhen and Washington, D.C., before it, a big part of establishing Brooklyn campus will be working with the local community,” Whittle told the Eagle.  

Officials say the Brooklyn campus will cost about the same as other “top-tier” private schools, the Eagle reported at the time. The Whittle School & Studios’ website describes the organization’s mission as providing a global environment for students, and the Eagle article from November 2019 reported that pre-K classes would be held in both English and Mandarin.

The No. 3 deal on the list, the triple-net lease between DH Property and the food rescue nonprofit City Harvest at 150 52nd St. in Sunset Park, was also covered by the Eagle at the time. 

City Harvest has been helping to feed the hungry in New York neighborhoods since 1982 and it has been instrumental in gathering surplus food to help people who are struggling to make ends meet in order to feed themselves and their families. 

The search for a new headquarters for the organization began three years ago when City Harvest’s current Food Rescue Facility in Long Island City, Queens, was rezoned from industrial to residential, just a few years before the organization’s lease was scheduled to end, the Eagle reported.

The new multilevel warehouse of the new City Harvest Food Rescue Facility and administrative offices totals approximately 150,000 square feet excluding truck court, loading bays and parking.

The deal was well-received locally. Community Board 7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer called City Harvest a lovely organization with a great purpose. “City Harvest is a widely-respected organization,” he told the Eagle. “Our board has a great deal of positive feelings about them, and we’re happy to be their new home.”

“City Harvest has a proven track record serving those without food on their plates. Its new offices in Sunset Park will be a welcome addition to our progressive community of families and neighbors,” added Assemblymember Felix Ortiz.

Other large real estate office deals in Brooklyn listed by The Real Deal include:

  • 2 Hanson Place, Downtown, where NationalGrid signed a lease for the 11th and 12th floors; 
  • 124 Ninth St., Gowanus, where London-based advertising agency Mother signed a lease to move its New York office here from Hell’s Kitchen; 
  • 186 North 6th St., Williamsburg, where the co-living firm Quarters signed a lease to open a new location; 
  • 25 Kent Ave., Williamsburg, where Amazon Music signed a lease at a new retail complex; 
  • 34 34th St., Sunset Park, where the U.S. Marshals Office signed a 15-year lease; and 
  • 25 Elm Place, Downtown, where Goodwill renewed its lease for its Brooklyn office.

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