Kushner plots $100M “campuslike” hub in Dumbo

October 04, 2013 02:19PM

Jared Kushner, RFR Realty and LIVWRK Holdings’ plans for the six-property cluster of Dumbo buildings once owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses will revamp at least 50 percent of the 1.2 million-square-foot complex into office space.

The partners plan to spend $100 million renovating the buildings, making way for 150,000 square feet of retail space, room for up to 5,000 bikes, an outdoor roof space, and state-of-the-art internet connectivity.

“We saw these buildings as an opportunity to really create a great campuslike environment,” Kushner told the Wall Street Journal.

Rents at the nouveau tech campus will run in the mid $50s per square foot, people familiar with the matter told the Journal — nearly double the rent of neighboring Dumbo spaces but roughly $10 shy of the rents for hip Manhattan spaces across the river.

The focus on office space instead of luxe residential digs is likely an easier sell in the community, as converting the properties to residential use would require partial rezoning that must be approved by local City Council member Stephen Levin.

Levin, who told the Journal he hadn’t been briefed on the plans’ details, said Kushner seemed savvy about the need for more office space in the area.

The city also recently announced a deal with Midtown Equities to revamp vacant warehouse buildings into retail and office space, known as Empire Stores.

Asked about the incoming competition, executives at Two Trees Management, the firm widely credited with putting Dumbo on the map, told the Journal they aren’t worried because newer spaces tend to command significantly higher rents and appeal to smaller companies than those in Kushner’s crosshairs.

“We’re at zero vacancy,” David Lombino, director of special projects at Two Trees, told the Journal. “If Dumbo continues to become a home for these types of company [sic], I think supply contributes to that perception. A rising tide lifts all boats.” [WSJ]Julie Strickland