With $17M buy, AvalonBay completes purchase of residential tower site

Seller United American Land spread out $125M sale over four years

A rendering of 88 Willoughby Street
A rendering of 88 Willoughby Street

Completing a four-years process, residential developer AvalonBay Communities has acquired the last two properties from United American Land needed to construct an 861-unit rental apartment building in Downtown Brooklyn, at 88 Willoughby Street. When completed, the tower is currently expected to be the tallest residential building in the borough.

AvalonBay, a real estate investment trust based in Arlington, Va., paid United American $125.5 million for 11 properties at the corner of Willoughby and Bridge streets in a series of sales that began in 2008, an analysis of city property records show.

Most recently, the REIT paid $17.6 million for 94 Willoughby Street and 383 Bridge Street, two three-story buildings with a total of more than 42,000 square feet of development rights, city records filed yesterday show. The sale closed September 24.

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The Brooklyn rental market remains strong, David Behin, president of investment sales at brokerage MNS, said. “There is not as much inventory as needed, and people keep coming in,” Behin said. He was not involved in the transaction.

United American and AvalonBay did not respond to requests for comment.

Soho-based United American, owned by the Laboz family, acquired the majority of the properties in 1985 and 1987, a review of city documents reveals. United American, headed by Albert Laboz, signed contracts with AvalonBay in 2007 to sell 10 of the properties over four years for approximately $111 million so that United American could use the proceeds to make unrelated acquisitions, a recent AvalonBay filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission says. United American sold one additional property that went into contract in 2009, pushing the final price higher, city records show.

The REIT is planning a 596-foot tall rental tower that is vying with Stahl Organization’s 590-foot apartment building at 388 Bridge Street to be the tallest residential tower in Brooklyn. The development sites are directly across Bridge Street from one another.