Brooklyn dominates top development site deals of 2020

Five largest land sales totaled around $427M

Lendlease’s Melissa Burch with 1 Java Street  and Miki Naftali with 470 Kent Avenue (Burch via Max Dworkin; Jll; Naftali Group; Google Maps)
Lendlease’s Melissa Burch with 1 Java Street  and Miki Naftali with 470 Kent Avenue (Burch via Max Dworkin; Jll; Naftali Group; Google Maps)

The biggest development site deals of 2020 were notable for the lack of Manhattan properties on the list. Of the five biggest deals, four were located in Brooklyn, and one in Queens.

All told, the five largest land sales totaled slightly more than $427 million, a roughly 30 percent decrease from the five biggest deals in 2019.

Here are the the year’s biggest deals:

1. 1 Java Street | $110.8M
Buyer: LendLease
Seller: JZ Capital Partners
Brokerage: JLL

JZ Capital Partners and RedSky Capital’s high-reaching development portfolio — at one time valued at more than $1 billion — first started showing cracks last year when an independent assessment warned its properties in Brooklyn and Miami may have been vastly overvalued.

JZ Capital, a U.K.-listed private equity firm, took huge write downs on its real estate portfolio and started looking for properties to unload. Enter LendLease, which swooped in with its partner, the Australian pension fund Aware Super, to buy the Greenpoint development site at 1 Java Street (aka 18 India Street).

The partners plan to build a mixed-use tower on the 2.6-acre site with 800 rental units, 30 percent of which will be set aside as affordable housing. A source familiar with the sale said RedSky maintains a stake in the property.

2. 470 Kent Avenue | $102.38M
Buyer: Naftali Group
Seller: Abraham Rosenberg
Brokerage: JLL

One of the last big development sites on the Williamsburg waterfront, a 3.7-acre property that’s home to the Certified Lumber warehouse, had long been eyed by developers.

Miki Naftali’s Naftali Group swooped in last year, signing a contract to buy the site for about $180 million. The deal is set to close in two stages, with the first part going through in May when Naftali paid about $102 million to close on a portion of the site.

All told, the site has about 800,000 square feet of development rights.

3. 98 DeKalb Avenue | $80.97M
Buyer: Rockrose Development
Seller: Kotler family
Brokerage: JLL

Rockrose Development is taking on its first major development project in Brooklyn with the purchase of this site on the border of Fort Greene and Downtown Brooklyn.

The developer, which focuses mainly on Long Island City, paid cash for the site, which has about 380,000 square feet of development rights. Rockrose plans to build a 47-story mixed-use tower that would have more than 600 apartments, as well as retail on the ground floor.

4. 87 19th Avenue | $71.61M
Buyer: Wildflower Studios
Seller: Steinway Pianos
Brokerage: Jonathan Sharaf

Robert DeNiro’s Wildflower Studios is planning to build a 650,000-square-foot production studio designed by architect Bjarke Ingels on this Astoria site.

Wildflower bought the 5.25-acre parcel in February from piano-maker Steinway, which had owned it for about 150 years. Foundation work is underway at the site, where the project is estimated to cost $500 million. De Niro is partnering with his son, Douglas Elliman broker Raphael De Niro, and producer Jane Rosenthal on the project.

5. 35 Jay Street | $61.5M
Buyer: Edward J. Minskoff Equities
Seller: Forman Group of Companies
Brokerage: JLL

In March, Edward Minskoff closed on this Dumbo property, which had been rezoned to make way for a 200,000-square-foot office building.

The Forman family had owned the site since 1974, according to property records. Forman Group principal Peter Forman said the longtime owners decided to sell because “development of this magnitude is not our forte.”

In September, Minskoff filed plans with the Department of Buildings for an 11-story, 220,000-square-foot structure, with Marvel listed as the architect of record.