JPMorgan leads $335M refi for CIM and LIVWRK’s Watchtower renovation

Refi replaces $375M loan from Blackstone, SL Green

Aug.August 30, 2019 05:15 PM
The Watchtower building at 25 Columbia Heights, CIM Group’s Shaul Kuba (right) and LIVWRK’s Asher Abehsera (Credit: Wikipedia, CIM Group, and LinkedIn)

The Watchtower building at 25 Columbia Heights, CIM Group’s Shaul Kuba (right) and LIVWRK’s Asher Abehsera (Credit: Wikipedia, CIM Group, and LinkedIn)

CIM Group and LIVWRK have secured a new, smaller financing package for their redevelopment of the Watchtower Building in Dumbo, formerly home to the headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

City property records recorded on Friday show that the developers have received $335 million in new financing for the project, with JPMorgan Chase as the administrative agent on the loans. This is $40 million less than the $375 million provided by Blackstone and SL Green in 2016.

CIM and JPMorgan did not immediately respond to requests for comment. LIVWRK could not be reached for comment.

CIM, LIVWRK and former partner the Kushner Companies acquired the property for $340 million in 2016, in one of the borough’s largest deals ever. Kushner sold its 2.5 percent stake in the project to CIM in June last year, as well as a 2.5 percent stake in nearby 85 Jay Street, and now holds no interest in the development.

The developers have undertaken an $80 million renovation of the property, including painting the exterior light gray and building out outdoor terraces. Rents at the property are expected to be range from $75 to $85 per square foot.

Last August, the Department of Buildings found that the iconic Watchtower sign, which had stood above the building for a half-century, had been illegal for that entire time. But a 2018 ruling from the Board of Standards and Appeals gave the owners permission to install a replacement sign, according to a representative for the developers.

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