The Real Deal New York

Aby Rosen pays $135M for former Jehovah’s Witnesses hotel

Kushner Companies exited the deal for 90 Sands prior to closing
By Rich Bockmann | September 05, 2017 06:00PM

90 Sands Street and Aby Rosen (credit: Google Maps and Getty Images)

Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty paid $135 million to buy the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ former residential hotel at 90 Sands Street, property records filed Tuesday show.

The 400,000-square-foot building is part of a six-building portfolio that the Witnesses went into contract to sell to RFR, Kushner Companies, LIVWRK and Invesco for $375 million in 2013. The partners closed on the five other buildings – 117 Adams Street, 175 Pearl Street, 77 Sands Street, 88 Prospect Street and 55 Prospect Street – in 2013 for $240 million. Earlier this year, Invesco was bought out of the other properties,  and Normandy Real Estate Partners took a majority stake in 175 Pearl Street.

In the meantime, the owners made plans to convert 90 Sands into a 600-room hotel with Ian Schrager. But when it came time to close on 90 Sands, RFR sealed the deal by itself. A spokesperson for the company said RFR is “weighing its options regarding the property” but declined to comment further.

Kushner Companies exited the 90 Sands deal as it reportedly tries to build up cash reserves while it deals with its troubled 666 Fifth Avenue office tower. A spokesperson for the company said it made a “strategic decision” to focus on other properties in Dumbo such as 85 Jay Street and 30 Columbia Heights, the building best known as the home of the iconic Watchtower sign that Kushner has dubbed Panorama.

“We are pleased with the outcome and wish our friends and partners at RFR lots of success,” Kushner’s spokesperson said.

AllianceBernstein provided RFR with a $140 million loan on its 90 Sands purchase, records show. The investment management firm earlier this year announced it closed it second commercial real estate debt fund with commitments of $1.55 billion.