The Real Deal New York

These were the top 5 development site trades of 2018

ABC needs a new headquarters, and Brookfield reimagines the Bronx in the year’s biggest land deals
By Rich Bockmann | December 31, 2018 09:15AM

Bob Iger with 4 Hudson Square and Howard Hughes’ David Weireb with an aerial view of 250 Water Street (Credit: Getty Images and Google Maps)

Build, baby, build!

This year saw major development sites trade hands, some with major plans like Disney at 4 Hudson Square and Brookfield Property Partners in the South Bronx. Here’s a look at the top five land trade deals of 2018:

1. 4 Hudson Square | $650 million 

Buyer: Walt Disney Company

Seller: Trinity Church Real Estate

Brokerage: Eastdil Secured

When Walt Disney sold ABC’s Upper West Side headquarters to Silverstein Properties, it needed a new home for the network. So the company turned to the hip Hudson Square neighborhood, where it acquired a five-parcel development site from Trinity Church for $650 million.

Walt Disney can build a new headquarters as big as 1.2 million square feet on the site, known as 4 Hudson Square.

Eastdil Secured negotiated the sale, while CBRE acted as an advisor to Trinity.

Hudson Square got a boost later in the year when Google announced in December that it’s expanding into a 1.7 million-square-foot campus in the neighborhood.

2. 250 Water Street | $182.7 million

Buyer: Howard Hughes Corp.

Seller: Milstein Properties

Brokerage: N/A

For decades, the Milstein family held one of the largest vacant sites at the South Street Seaport with a slew of different development plans over the course 40 years. But this year the family firm decided to sell the site to the Howard Hughes Corporation. The buyer has yet to announce plans for the site, which holds about 290,000 buildable square feet.

The Milsteins paid just $5.8 million for the property in 1979. In the early 2000s, the developer looked to build a 23-story, 450-unit rental project on the site. But in 2003 the city downzoned the historic area, imposing a height restriction of 120 feet. The deal with Howard Hughes pencils out to a little more than $620 per square foot.

3. Mott Haven | $165 million

Buyer: Brookfield Property Partners

Seller: Somerset Partners, Chetrit Group

Brokerage: Cushman & Wakefield

Brookfield Property Partners seemed busier than any of its peers in 2018 when it came to taking on large-scale development and repositioning projects.

In addition to taking on the reimagining of 666 Fifth Avenue and a portfolio of retail properties in the West Village, Brookfield took over what could be the largest private development project the Bronx has ever seen.

The company paid $165 million to buy the 1.3 million-square-foot site in Mott Haven from the Chetrit Group and active Bronx developer Somerset Partners. Brookfield plans to build 1,3000 apartments on the properties at 2401 Third Avenue and 101 Lincoln Avenue, 30 percent of which will be set aside as affordable housing.

4. Fortis’ DUMBO condo play | $91.13 million 

Buyer: Fortis Property Group

Seller: Jehovah’s Witnesses

Brokerage: N/A

Fortis Property Group closed in December on its $91 million purchase of this DUMBO parking lot, where it plans to build a 26-story condo development with 74 units.

The seller was the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have been offloading their Brooklyn holdings.

Madison Realty Capital provided Fortis with a $92 million financing package to cover the project’s construction. In addition to 178,000 square feet of residential space, the building will have 72,000 square feet of community space and a gym, sauna, spa, yoga room and swimming pool.

5. Pinnacle’s Far West Side buy | $84 million 

Buyer: Pinnacle Group

Seller: David Israeli

Brokerage: Cushman & Wakefield

An LLC affiliated with Joel Wiener’s Pinnacle Group picked up this site along Ninth Avenue between West 37th and West 38th streets, which has about 320,000 square feet of buildable rights.

The site’s history has some controversy. Seller David Israeli faced criticism over buildings on the property in 2015 when housing advocates said he damaged them on purpose in order to get the Department of Buildings to condemn them, which allowed him to demolish the structures.

The top 5 NYC development site trades of 2018

RankProject NameAddress(es)PriceBuyerSellerBrokerage
14 Hudson Square4 Hudson Square$650,000,000Walt Disney CompanyTrinity Church Real EstateEastdil Secured
2250 Water Street250 Water Street$182,720,000Howard Hughes CorporationMilstein Propertiesn/a
3Mott Haven Megaproject2401 3rd Avenue; 101 Lincoln Avenue$165,000,000Brookfield Property PartnersSomerset Partners; Chetrit GroupCushman & Wakefield
4Fortis' Dumbo Condo Play30 Front Street$91,130,000Fortis Property GroupJehovah's Witnessesn/a
5Far West Side site485-487, 489-491, 497, 501 Ninth Avenue$84,000,000Pinnacle GroupDavid IsraeliCushman & Wakefield