Witnesses’ Dorm Tapped for Low-Income Housing, Not Ian Schrager Hotel

Photo by Susan De Vries


Downtown Brooklyn may soon be getting 507 apartments for low-income residents instead of a luxury hotel.

Housing provider Breaking Ground plans to turn a former Jehovah’s Witnesses dormitory at 90 Sands Street into “affordable and supportive residence for low-income working families and low-income and formerly homeless individuals,” according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Back in 2015, plans called for then-partners Kushner Companies, RFR and LIVWRK to acquire the property and turn it into a luxury hotel with rakish hotelier and nightlife impresario Ian Schrager.

Breaking Ground recently notified shareholders at Concord Village, a co-op complex near 90 Sands, about its plans and intends to present to Community Board 2 at its general meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, June 20.

jehovahs witnesses dumbo 90 sands street

Photo by Susan De Vries

The firm expects to close on the sale in September, begin renovations in February, and start moving tenants into the building a year later, in February 2020, according to the Eagle.

The idea is to offer the 127 one-bedrooms to working families and 380 studios to formerly homeless individuals. The building will offer supportive services and be permanently rent stabilized, the Eagle said.

Developer Aby Rosen’s RFR purchased the hotel for $135 million in August 2017. In 2015, Kushner, LIVWRK and RFR said they planned to acquire the property and remake it as part of their Dumbo Heights office development.

Kushner Companies recently sold off its stakes in two former Witnesses’ properties — a five-building Brooklyn Heights complex now known as Panorama Brooklyn that includes the Jehovah’s Witnesses iconic former headquarters, and the former parking lot and huge development site at 85 Jay Street in Dumbo.

Plans for the now-jettisoned luxury hotel called for 600 rooms and a top-floor restaurant with expansive views of Manhattan that Schrager told the New York Post in 2015 was meant to rival The Rainbow Room.

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