Jacob Schwimmer’s JCS files for Downtown Brooklyn conversion

Firm branching out to Boerum Hill from South Bronx

JCS Realty Plans Downtown Brooklyn Apartment Project
540 Atlantic Avenue (Google Maps, Getty)

Jacob Schwimmer’s JCS Realty plans another multifamily project, this time in Downtown Brooklyn.

The Department of Buildings posted the company’s plans for an eight-story, 154-unit building with ground-floor retail space at 540 Atlantic Avenue. The architect on the development is NA Design Studio.

Crain’s first reported the filing.

The development will replace a mostly empty, five-story office building that Schwimmer filed demolition permits for last week. It was built in 1924 and has eight units. Among the tenants are Tinybop and Xemex Group.

JLL was marketing the lot as an 22,000-square-foot, L-shaped development site with 84,000 buildable square feet and flexible residential zoning.

Outdated office buildings are ripe for redevelopment into residential, given their generally low occupancy and rents — which predated the pandemic and have yet to recover from it. But zoning and existing leases do not always allow for it, and the expiration of 421a has delivered a near-fatal blow to rental projects.

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While trophy buildings have benefited from the so-called flight to quality, that trend is limited to new buildings in areas such as Midtown, SoHo and Hudson Yards. Lower-class office buildings continue to struggle.

JCS Realty has been busy of late in Mott Haven, where developers have flocked to replace warehouses and auto shops with residential towers. JCS has added hundreds of apartments to the South Bronx neighborhood, including 215 units at 276 Grand Concourse and 55 units at 101 Bruckner Boulevard.

Schwimmer’s firm has plans for even more. The company is developing a 447-unit tower in Mott Haven at the site of the former warehouse for Zaro’s Bakery with a $105 million construction loan from S3 Capital. It acquired the ground lease for $55 million.

In April, JCS filed permits for a 12-story 365-unit residential building on a vacant lot at 40 Bruckner Boulevard in Mott Haven. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced an affordable housing lottery for the development, which has income-restricted units as part of the 421a program.

JCS Realty could not be reached for comment in time for publication.

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