Oro closings finally expected to begin

TRD New York /
Sep.September 10, 2008 04:05 PM

Oro Condominium, the Ismael Leyva-designed luxury tower in Downtown Brooklyn, has sent out 30-day notices to buyers that it expects to begin closings at the long-awaited development.

Oro has been the subject of much speculation in recent months as anxious buyers have waited for word of a closing date on the controversial project, which critics have accused of being out of character with the public housing projects and low density brownstones in nearby Fort Greene.

Prudential Douglas Elliman has sold about 45 percent of the 303 units in the 40-story building at 306 Gold Street, but many of those buyers signed contracts more than a year ago when the New York condominium market was still going strong. According to Streeteasy.com, Oro has 132 units for sale at prices ranging from $357,000 to $1.43 million.

Some buyers are openly questioning what the value of their investment and whether they can even obtain financing.

Sam Heskel, executive vice president of HMS Associates, a Brooklyn-based appraisal service, said that buyers who have been in contract for more than a year may face financing difficulties, as banks have tightened the screws on new consumer financing. Heskel said a number of projects in Downtown Brooklyn have been converted from condo to rental, as sales have slowed considerably.

“People who bought with the intention of flipping, will probably try to get their money back,” he said.

Oro officials said they expect to gain approval for the condominium plan from the attorney general’s office and then acquire a temporary certificate of occupancy from the city’s Department of Buildings.

“We’re hoping [to start closings] by the first couple of weeks of October, said Matthew Faris, vice president at Greenfield Partners, the developer of Oro.

The project, which costs more than $150 million, is the tallest new construction project in Brooklyn, rising 40 stories tall. Greenfield, a South Norwalk, Conn.-based private equity fund and majority investor in the project, recently bought out original developers, United Homes, led by Ron Herscho, and Palin Enterprises, run by Dean Palin. Faris said Greenfield was part of the original investment team.

The building, located steps away from the Manhattan Bridge, offers spectacular views of the island and amenities include a swimming pool, residents’ lounge, screening room and a fitness center with racquetball and basketball courts.

Herscho is working on a site across the street from 313 Gold Street, which was originally planned as a sister property to the Oro tower at 306 Gold Street. Ken Fisher, a land use attorney representing United Homes, said that groundbreaking on the hotel and apartment complex has been delayed because the developers are still working to secure financing.
Note: Correction appended.

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