This ex-NYC drug cop has amassed a $400M real estate portfolio

Greg O’Connell is concerned about the gentrification coming to the neighborhood

Jun.June 17, 2019 08:08 AM
Red Hook (Credit: Stevin Pisano via Flickr)

Red Hook (Credit: Stevin Pisano via Flickr)

Former New York City detective Greg O’Connell bought his first building in Red Hook back in 1967 for $22,000, when the Brooklyn neighborhood was practically a ghost town.

Now, his properties are worth at least $400 million, according to a report by Bloomberg. The 77-year-old former drug cop owns a total of about 1.3 million square feet of buildings and 385,000 square feet of undeveloped land in Brooklyn, mainly in Red Hook.

O’Connell bought his own townhouse there in 1976 for $4,000, and it is now worth more than $1.2 million. He also bought several abandoned warehouses in 1992 from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for $450,000 that are now worth more than $170 million.

The neighborhood is now one of several gentrifying areas of New York City, and it was designated as an Opportunity Zone, which may bring even more development and further boost property values.

But O’Connell, who leads the O’Connell Organization, is not exactly embracing the changes coming to the neighborhood. Several of his tenants are nonprofits that either get the space for free or below-market values, but if taxes and land values keep going up in the neighborhood, he is concerned he will have to raise their rents.

“It’s something I really don’t like,” he said to Bloomberg. “The nonprofits do so much good for the neighborhood.” [Bloomberg] – Eddie Small

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