The Real Deal New York

Naftali in contract to buy one of the last large dev sites on Williamsburg waterfront

Pricing for the property is said to be between $180M and $185M
By Rich Bockmann | February 21, 2019 05:15PM

Isaac Rosenberg (left), Miki Naftali, and 462-484 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg (Credit: Google Maps and Naftali Group)

The Naftali Group, which has been ramping up its development activity following a quiet period, is lined up to buy one of the last large development sites on the Williamsburg waterfront.

The Midtown-based development firm is in contract to buy the Rose Plaza site at 470 Kent Avenue from Abraham Rosenberg, sources told The Real Deal. The contract price is somewhere between $180 million and $185 million, sources said.

The company, headed by founder Miki Naftali, is working with a group of roughly half-a-dozen unidentified investors to purchase the property, a source told TRD.

Representatives for Naftali and Rosenberg did not respond to requests for comment.

Rosenberg started going through the city’s land-use review process in 2008 to rezone the South Williamsburg site to make way for a large-scale residential project. In 2010, the city approved a rezoning that allows for a set of five of residential towers on the 2.3-acre site with 754 units.

In return, the owners agreed to set aside 226 units as affordable housing and build out a public waterfront esplanade along the East River.

But the project still had hurdles to overcome in order to be realized. Rosenberg and his brother Isack came to realize that the property – a lumber yard that through the years had been used for several different industrial purposes – was contaminated with petroleum, pesticides, PCBs and other pollutants.

They also had to contend with the financial crisis and Isack’s untimely death in 2016 in a drowning accident off the coast of North Miami Beach in Florida.

As early as 2013, the Rosenbergs had looked to sell the site to a developer. They hired the now defunct Eastern Consolidated to market the property, with an asking price of $210 million.

Interest in the site seemed to fizzle – some people familiar with the property have cited the environmental remediation as a significant challenge to overcome – but in 2015 potential buyers started sniffing around again, and the property was said to be valued in the area of $250 million.

According to a lawsuit Isack Rosenberg’s estate filed in 2017, developer Roy Stillman and Michael Fascitelli’s Imperial Companies in 2015 entered into an agreement to join the Rosenbergs in a joint venture to develop the property under the state’s Brownfields program. The two sides apparently had a falling out, though, and had to settle their differences in an arbitration.

In the meantime, the Williamsburg waterfront has boomed around the Rose Plaza site. Three blocks to the north, Eliot Spitzer is wrapping up his 420 Kent Avenue development. And on the northern side of the Williamsburg Bridge, Two Trees is making progress on its Domino Sugar development.

Naftali, meanwhile, has once again become active on the development scene after sitting on the sidelines while prices for land peaked.

The company has over the past two years been working on putting together two different assemblages on the Upper East Side.