Jared-less Kushner Companies readies for construction at DUMBO’s Jehovah’s Witness parking lot
Conceptual massing of 85 Jay Street based on approved zoning, via CityRealty
Despite the fact that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner stepped down as CEO of Kushner Companies in order to transition from developer to full-time presidential advisor, his family’s firm is moving ahead with their big plans at a three-acre parking lot in DUMBO. Just over a month ago, the joint partnership among Kushner, LIVWRK, and CIM Group paid $345 million to the Jehovah’s Witnesses for the site at 85 Jay Street, which brought Kushner’s total investment in the area to more than $1 billion. CityRealty recently visited the site and found that they’ve ceased parking operations and moved construction equipment onsite.
Details on what’s to come at the site still remain scarce, though, as the firm has not yet filed any construction permits. However, in 2004, the Jehovah’s Witnesses secured a rezoning for the 135,000-square-foot lot to allow for residential use. They planned a nine- to 20-story dorm by Beyer Blinder Belle, but after a decision to move their headquarters upstate to Warwick by 2017, they never moved ahead and began selling off much of their Brooklyn real estate. As CityRealty explains, in 2013, Kushner, CIM, and LIVWRK paid $375 million for their five printing buildings nearby at 175 Pearl Street, 77 Sands Street, 117 Adams Street, 81 Prospect Street, and 55 Prospect Street. They then spent $100 million renovating the properties, which are now part of the Dumbo Heights commercial hub, where Etsy and WeWork have signed on as tenants. And last year, the same group bought the 2.3-acre Columbia Heights site that held the Watchtower building, the Witnesses’ headquarters, for $340 million.
In terms of 85 Jay, sources have said that the site will hold a 1.1 million-square foot residential/retail complex. Asher Abehsera, Founder and CEO of LIVWRK said in a recent press release that “85 Jay Street has long been the hole in the Dumbo doughnut and we aim to introduce a world-class project to the vibrant waterfront district.” Similarly, Kushner president Laurent Morali said, “85 Jay has tremendous upside, and we’re eager to begin its transformation into a dynamic project just steps from the Dumbo Heights office campus and Brooklyn Bridge Park.”