Anticipating development boom, Simon Baron buys $24M Greenpoint site

Developer will wait to see what happens with Toby Moskovits’ nearby zoning request before making plans for 12 Franklin St.

Matthew Baron and 12 Franklin Street in Greenpoint
Matthew Baron and 12 Franklin Street in Greenpoint

In a rapidly changing area near the Greenpoint border that’s home to local hangouts named after far-off foreign lands and early explorers, Simon Baron Development sees big-time potential. The firm just closed on a site at 12 Franklin Street for $24 million, but is waiting to see what happens with a nearby project before committing to plans.

“I think we’re going to, in the short term, wait to see how the area develops,” said Matthew Baron, who runs the company with a portfolio worth upwards of $1.7 billion with co-founder Jonathan Simon. The firm is particularly active in the neighborhoods of the Upper West Side and Long Island City, where it is developing a 467-unit rental tower at 29-26 Northern Boulevard.

Simon Baron represented itself in-house on the Greenpoint deal, and a team at Cushman and Wakefield led by Brendan Maddigan and Mark Lively represented the seller, Samuel Brach.

The property, home to popular local eateries Northern Territory and Dirck the Norseman, is in a manufacturing zone and offers the developer the opportunity to build an office or retail building covering 55,500 square feet, or one spanning 133,320 square feet if space for a community facility were included.

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Baron said he is keeping an eye out for what happens two blocks south, where fellow developer Toby Moskovits is seeking city approval to waive the community facility requirement for her planned 480,000 square-foot office project at 25 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg.

If successful in seeking a zoning amendment, Moskovits will free up more than half of the building’s space that would otherwise have to be set aside for medical, school, nonprofit or religious facilities.

“I think there a lot of ways to win here,” Maddigan said. “You could turn it into a really nice retail property, while in the back of your mind knowing you have the ability to develop it into something different as the neighborhood grows.”

Also nearby, the Related Companies, Midtown Equities and East End Capital are reportedly in discussions to buy the 11-acre CitiStorage development site on the Williamsburg waterfront where the partners could build 600,000 square feet of retail and office.

And of course, work is already under way at Greenpoint Landing, Park Tower Group and L&M Development’s mixed-use project that will bring 5,000 apartments to the waterfront. The developers last month topped out the project’s first two buildings.