Forest City partners with JEMB on Brooklyn office tower

Original plan at 420 Albee Square in Downtown BK featured 620 apartments

Forest City Ratner's MaryAnne Gilmartin, 420 Albee Square and JEMB's Morris Bailey
Forest City Ratner's MaryAnne Gilmartin, 420 Albee Square and JEMB's Morris Bailey

Forest City Ratner is teaming up with Manhattan-based developer JEMB Realty Corp. to build a 500,000-square-foot office tower at 420 Albee Square.

It could be the first ground-up office development in Brooklyn since MetroTech opened in the 1980s.

JEMB, led by Morris Bailey, bought the development site on Willoughby Street in 2014 for $38.5 million and quickly ratcheted up plans to construct a 620-unit, 700-foot residential building. But a logjam of residential buildings coming to market and the city’s subsequent $15.5 million sale of 120,000 square feet of air rights and 3,000 square feet of land next door last year convinced JEMB to change tack.

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Now, a partner with significant interest in ground-up office construction has focused the project even further, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Morris’ team was open to sitting down and looking at the project anew,” MaryAnne Gilmartin [TRDataCustom], president and CEO of Forest City Ratner, told the Journal.

The partners haven’t yet determined the budget or design but are looking to secure an anchor tenant, Gilmartin said. Forest City Ratner is a minority equity partner on 420 Albee, but the size of its stake is unclear. Construction is expected to begin in 2017.

The Real Deal reported in April that Forest City Ratner and joint venture partner Greenland Group are marketing a “very significant” equity stake in two Pacific Park condominium projects and a 750,000-square-foot office tower planned for the corner of Sixth and Atlantic Avenues. [WSJ, 2nd]James Kleimann