Over the past two decades, DUMBO has transformed from an industrial corner of Brooklyn into one of the priciest neighborhoods in New York City, with rents as high as in downtown Manhattan. The most recent example of this sweeping trend is the DUMBO warehouse at 51 Jay Street.
The former three-story red-brick building belonged for almost a half-century to Ben Forman & Sons, a factory that produced silverware, chopsticks, butter spreaders, and other metal home goods. It is being transformed into a seven-story luxury residential building, with 75 percent of its units already sold since it went on the market almost two years ago. Development work should be completed by the end of the year.
And the developers have already raised condominium prices eight times since going on the market, according to Deborah Zolan, who leads sales at 51 Jay Street. The Slate Property Group and Adam America are converting the warehouse into 74 condominiums with the latest prices ranging from $875,000 for a studio to almost $6 million for a four-bedroom penthouse.
The amenities will include 24-hour concierge, children’s playroom, rooftop terrace with outdoor kitchen, fireplace, and showers, and even a pet washing and grooming station. Residents will also be able to purchase off-site parking. (Records indicate that the current owners bought 28 parking spaces from neighboring 205 Water Street for a combined $1,339,325 in 2013.)
The prices are high even for an expensive area like DUMBO. In the neighborhood, the median rent price for a studio is $3,000 and $3,870 for a one bedroom. Median sales price for a studio is $595,000 and over $1 million for a one bedroom, according to StreetEasy.
Companies like Etsy and WeWork have moved their offices to DUMBO. Warehouse art galleries, converted lofts, and luxury condos dominate the waterfront. New developments, meanwhile, continue to bring more buyers to DUMBO. The neighborhood seems to draw young professionals and couples who are looking to grow a family. 30 percent of the households are occupied by married couples, according to NYC Census data.
Locals seem to have mixed opinions about the changes in the neighborhood. Paunika Jones, 38, who is a professional dancer, first came to New York in 1996. She used to come to DUMBO six years ago with her boyfriend at the time, who was a visual artist. “Artists made this area trendy so that it made the rents go up,” she said. She thinks that now some artists feel like “outsiders” in the area because they can’t afford to live here anymore—or buy the art.
Christopher Boswell, who is a writer and involved in the art world, has worked in the area for a decade and has seen the neighborhood change and attract real estate investors. He was having a beer with his friends across 51 Jay Street at 68 Jay Street Bar, which caters to an art-world crowd. “The new building is going to increase the business around here,” he said, of the new condo building.
Jacqueline Jordan, a spokesperson for 51 Jay Street from Quinn PR, confirmed that the property won’t offer any affordable housing units. The building was not mandated to create any affordable housing units because the development started before the Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which requires housing in rezoned areas to include a certain percentage of permanent affordable housing units in any new building. Last year 267 affordable housing units came to Downtown Brooklyn and DUMBO, one of them on 181 Front Street with 21 affordable units, according to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development.
An LLC connected to the Forman family sold 51 Jay for $25 million in 2012. Simon Dushinsky of the Rabsky Group was a managing member of the purchasing LLC, city Finance Department records show. Rabsky Group re-sold the warehouse for $45.5 million in 2013 to the current owner-developer team, Slate Property Group and Adam America Real Estate.
The building team consists of Halstead Property Development Marketing, which is handling the condo sales; Office of Design and Architecture (ODA) founded by Eran Chen; Steven Yavanian Landscape, responsible for the rooftop terrace; and Heavenly Branding Agency.
Architect Eran Chen, in an interview with New York Spaces Magazine, said that 51 Jay will be the product of a combination of old and new architecture. The building’s lobby used to be the service entrance to the original factory. “We decided to restore the original steel tracks that wound their way from Jay Street into the heart of the building, and to frame the new lobby as the old train station was,” he said.