Brooklyn’s Conway conversion will be housing, not office

By Sarah Ryley | March 13, 2008 04:36PM

Downtown Brooklyn’s rapidly growing residential market might be struggling, but that hasn’t dissuaded United American Land owner Al Laboz from canceling plans to convert office space in His Conway Building On Fulton Street and building residential rentals instead.

“It’s a unique space, something you don’t have in Downtown Brooklyn in a beautiful, landmarked building,” he said.

“And our experience in residential has been a lot more stable, a lot easier to rent than the office market,” Laboze said, adding that residential rentals command more money per square foot. He said he chose rental over condos because sales are slow in Brooklyn.

Adult learning centers occupy the bulk of the building’s 72,000 square feet of office space, which Laboz classified as “Class C.”

And the Conway building at 248 Duffield Street (formerly the Offerman building) might also change names, shedding the label of the Conway discount department store that occupies 144,000 square feet on lower levels. Laboz said he’s looking for a new tenant but wouldn’t give any details. Last December, The New York Sun reported that a JCPenny would take Conway’s place.

As for another project, a planned tower around the corner on Willoughby Street that is expected to be 594,000 square feet, Laboz said he hasn’t determined the mix, but it probably won’t include office space.

“You can’t build any office space unless you have a tenant in hand,” he said. “Not even Manhattan would build office space on spec in this market.”