Gowanus gold rush: Avery Hall, Tavros, Charney buy sites for $55M

Properties on 3rd Avenue, Union Street and President Street acquired from the Pontone family

Oct.October 18, 2019 11:05 AM
Clockwise from left: 532-542 Union Street and 232 Third Avenue in Gowanus, Tavros' Colin Rankowitz and Avery Hall's Brian Ezra (Credit: Terra CRG, Tavros, Avery Hall)

Clockwise from left: 532-542 Union Street and 232 Third Avenue in Gowanus, Tavros’ Colin Rankowitz and Avery Hall’s Brian Ezra (Credit: Terra CRG, Tavros, Avery Hall)

Avery Hall Investments is doubling down on its Gowanus bets with another major purchase.

The firm struck up an unusual partnership with Tavros Holdings and Charney Development & Construction to buy 232 3rd Avenue, 532-542 Union Street and 495-499 President Street for $55 million, according to TerraCRG, which brokered the deal.

The adjacent parcels span about 52,000 square feet — 33,550 square feet at Third Avenue and 18,845 square feet at Union and President Streets — and should provide about 233,000 buildable square feet if a pending neighborhood rezoning goes through.

Avery Hall previously outbid Tavros for Gowanus sites at 469 President Street, 473 President Street and 514 Union Street, paying $44.1 million to EcoRise Development in September. That assemblage allows for almost 100,000 square feet of as-of-right commercial development.

The two firms then connected during the bidding process for the newer sites and resolved to divide up the properties and buy them together rather than compete with each other for the same space.

“We decided it was in both of our interests just to partner for the sites,” said Colin Rankowitz, an associate at Tavros. “Avery would take down the lots that were for sale on the south side of Union Street, and Tavros and Charney are taking the lots that were for sale on the north side.”

This marked the first time in about 50 years that the properties hit the market, according to TerraCRG. Property records identified the Pontone family as the longtime owners.

They are located in an Opportunity Zone and zoned for manufacturing, but residential projects would be allowed if the proposed rezoning of the neighborhood passes in its current form.

Tavros’ portion of the purchase consists of the Third Avenue site and comes out to about $36.5 million, while Avery Hall’s is comprised of the Union Street and President Street sites and totals roughly $18.5 million.

The companies are still finalizing some details on how the split will work, but will develop the sites separately, according to TerraCRG’s Dan Marks, who led the brokerage team along with company founder Ofer Cohen.

“These are really prime locations for the transformation of this neighborhood, assuming that the rezoning goes through,” Marks said. “And we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

Tavros and Charney plan to construct a residential building with retail space and affordable housing after the rezoning, according to Rankowitz. Charney COO Justin Pelsinger said in a statement that the project will aim to “preserve and pay homage to the industrial character of this neighborhood” and “serve the needs of Brooklyn’s growing population.”

The firm’s other projects include the redevelopment of 44 Ninth Avenue in the Meatpacking District and turning the Dime Savings Bank building in Williamsburg into a 23-story mixed-use property.

Avery Hall’s purchase adds to an assemblage that started with their September deal for the President and Union Street sites. The firm is also planning a rental project in Gowanus at 204 Fourth Avenue.

The company is still figuring out its plans for the sites but thinks a mixed-use development with commercial and residential space would make the most sense, according to founding principal Brian Ezra. They are partnering with Gemdale USA on the project.

The highest-profile business using the property is the popular Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, which Ezra described as a great business that Avery Hall loves having as a tenant.

“We have no immediate plans for the Shuffleboard Club to be anything other than exactly what it is,” he said.

The purchases come on the eve of the long-anticipated rezoning, which has started to move forward in earnest. The Department of City Planning released a proposal earlier in the year that covers 80 blocks near the Gowanus Canal and would allow for mixed-use developments along the water. The local City Council member, Brad Lander, has been helping to build community consensus for new zoning.

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