Bushwick trailblazer looks to unload portfolio stake for $14M

Developer Cayuga is raising capital for church conversion in neighborhood

From left: Bushwick, Brooklyn and David Behin, president at MNS
From left: Bushwick, Brooklyn and David Behin, president at MNS

Pioneering Bushwick developer Cayuga Capital is shopping a 90 percent interest in its seven-building portfolio in the neighborhood for $14 million, partly in order to raise cash for other projects, company executives told The Real Deal

Cayuga arrived early in gentrifying Bushwick and hit hard, with five development projects in the ground or complete since the time when “Williamsburg” came to refer to the Brooklyn nabe, not the site of colonial re-enactments, in the last decade. Williamsburg’s unprecedented success has buoyed rents in next door Bushwick significantly, and Cayuga began buying investment properties and developing their own projects — both commercial and residential — in that now-hip enclave in 2004.

Now, Cayuga is looking for a fresh injection of capital to allow them to pay off their other investors and to help them raise funds for a conversion of the St. Marks Church on Bushwick Avenue, where they are building 99 apartments, Jamie Wiseman, who runs the investment firm with partner Jacob Sacks, told The Real Deal.

The timing of the sale is in response to low interest rates, which are pushing would-be investors to park their cash in investments with more upside, said David Behin, president of investment sales at commercial and residential brokerage MNS, who is representing Cayuga. That, and the rapid rise both of Brooklyn rents and Bushwick’s profile.

“Bushwick is like Williamsburg on crack,” Behin claimed.

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“Williamsburg took 10, 11 years for it to get to where it is now — you had to cross a river,” he added. “You just have to go three, four [subway] stops down” to get to Bushwick from now-established Williamsburg.

The portfolio includes 36 Wilson Avenue, 369 Menahan Street, 1399 Greene Avenue, and 297 and 311 Troutman Street — all walk-up buildings Cayuga nabbed in the last ten years – and two ground-up rental developments at 286 Stanhope Street and 184 Noll Street, Behin said. The 89 units included in the package are all rentals.

“This is an opportunity to recapitalize,” Wiseman said, adding that the firm’s earlier investors would take home a profit. The initial investors were mostly personal acquaintances, he said.

The new backers will likely be high net worth individuals or a family office, Behin said.

The proceeds help free up cash for Cayuga’s redevelopment of the 123-year-old St. Marks Church, at 626 Bushwick Avenue, into studios and two-bedroom apartments, Wiseman said. Studios will rent for about $1,900 per month and two-bedrooms for $2,750 per month, Behin said.