Standish Arms Ready to Rent

One of the buildings that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society recently divested in Brooklyn Heights was the Standish Arms, a 128-unit beauty at 169 Columbia Heights. As reported last week in both the NY Post and the Brooklyn Eagle, the 12-story building, which used to house Jehovah’s Witnesses, was purchased last April for $50 million by Taurus Investment Holdings and is in the process of being turned into luxury rentals. (Strangely, there’s no record on ACRIS of the sale.) Given the location, the monthly rents don’t look so bad: Studios starting at $2,000 and one-bedrooms starting at $2,750. (There are also some two-bedrooms but we haven’t seen prices yet for them.) The renovation looks decent, though the photos suggest a Restoration Hardware-inspired boutique hotel. Anyone checked them out yet?
169 Columbia Heights [Awaye Realty] GMAP
‘Jehovah’ Hits Rental Height$ [NY Post]
New Owner of Standish Arms to Create Luxury Rentals [Eagle]
Good Lord! Watchtower Divesting Six Heights Props [Brownstoner]
Witnesses To Sell Standish Arms [Brownstoner]

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  • My old apartment (CoOp studio) on the Lower East Side was not listed on ACRIS because I never had a mortgage on it (and no, I am not that rich, just paid $65k in the mid-90’s).

  • That was a quick turnover – did they actually do a full renovation?
    There used to be several rent-control tenants in the building that stayed there throughout the Jehovah’s ownership – anyone know if they’re still there?

  • Doesn’t anyone else find it surprising that such an (apparently) major development entity marketing such a prestigious building in such a high-falutin’ neighborhood would use such a third-tier broker (Awaye, whose sleaziness was exemplified by the barely concealed spam posting on the forum yesterday)?

  • Those apartments look really nice. The location is great too. I am sure these will go like hotcakes, especially to financial types, either as pied-a-terre or as bachelor digs.

  • I was in the building this past summer. It doesn’t really need need much renovation. The witnesses keep their buildings in amazing shape. But the units are tiny. I mean like really tiny. Many of them don’t have full kitchens. On the flip side, the buildings height and H-shape means that almost all of the units have terrific views of lower manahattan. Still those prices seem very high if you look at them from a $/SF basis, since many of those studios are less than 400 SF.

    And yes, there are still a handfull of rent stabilized and rent controlled tenants still in the building.

  • It’s odd to me the photos that are supposedly intended to sell the apartment itself as a great rental, are instead focused solely on the furniture! What is it, do these apartments come furnished or something?

    To me that supports fully the comment that the apartments are tiny and the kitchens aren’t full size kitchens. Otherwise gee you know, we’d see photos of the apartment and its kitchen and bathroom. Not the furniture.

  • Seems that all the Witness’ housing consists of tiny rabbit warrens. But they sure do keep ’em clean! They also keep their sidewalks clean. Unfortunately, they dump salt all over as soon as they hear “flurries” in the weather forecast.

  • I live in the neighborhood and love it, but “Just a Short Walk to Trendy Montague Street” is a bit much

  • tiny rabbit warrens? Look at the unit in the little 16-foot wide house in Halsey street in Bed Stuy. Eeny weeny house subdivided into SRO-style floor-throughs. At least this is a nice big building with elevators and fire proof construction.
    The rabbit warrens are much more to be found in the old sliced and diced houses on this site than in the elegant old apartment buildings.

  • I don’t get the prices. I mean, I know in general price per square foot increases in better nabes, and people making more money will pay more to live there. But why would someone who can afford $2k/mo. rent want to live in a little one-room apartment?

    When I think studio I think twenty-something with an entry-level or otherwise middle-class job (say, $30k-$70k salary) who’s done with roommates but not yet grown up enough to need a 1BR. But that kind of person cannot afford $2k/mo. rent! So who’s going to want these studios? Especially if they’re on the small side? The only thing I can think is maybe rich out-of-towners who want a pied-a-terre in the heights…

    Am I crazy?

  • The deal closed on November 15th, not last April. The photos are from Watchtower marketing material, not a refurbished property. Lobby is currently barren as the seller took all of their belongings with them. It is my understanding that the building contains approx 60 studios, 60 1-bdrms and 1 2-bdrm.

    This is a deal that, going in, had almost unlimited upside for the seller as offers were based on strategies that required the conversion of the units to condominiums. I think the seller had to settle for a lot less than the best offer that was submitted last June – pre-credit crunch. They did make out better than the buyer though. While the transaction price is not as stratospheric as originally projected it is not supported by a “rental” scenario model either. Even at the current asking rents, which are after all only asking numbers.

    The road ahead for this buyer is certainly going to be a difficult one. Not only is the purchase price not supported by a rental scenario, there are at least 9 rent controlled tenants, the units are very small and this is the slowest time of year to place rental tenants. I wouldn’t expect the real improvements to be anything more than what is absolutely necessary to get some bodies in the building.

  • they should have turned it into a real hotel, like neighbors wanted.

  • Yeah, because the neighbors own it, maintains it, pays it’s bills, and pays it’s taxes. Wait a minute, they don’t do any of that.

    You want a say in how this building is used – you then have to buy it! You’re such a douchebag. Go back to school and learn how the city and our form of gov’t works.

  • they should have turned it into a vertical roller derby palace, like this neighbor wanted.

  • The Jehovah’s sold it to an amateur company running it into the ground. Tenants move in and out like a homeless shelter and have turned Columbia Heights sidewalk into there private parking lot. The doorman is beyond rule and a male pig. The handyman is dumb/ pathetic and as smart as the company managing the building.

    This is the company owning / managing the building into the ground. They know nothing of running a large building.