The Hudson Companies, developer of the J Condo and recent winner of the competition to develop Public Place, last week signed a joint-venture deal with the owner of the Cobble Hill Towers that will usher in a new phase at the historic nine-building complex. The owner, Frank Farella, had been marketing the 140,000-square-fot property (with the help of Massey Knakal) since last fall for an asking price of $60 million but ultimately opted for a deal that would let him continue to be a part of the property’s future. Built in the late 1870s by Alfred Tredway White as worker housing, the 188-unit complex is remarkable for both its architecture and its social history. The Times described the design concept a few years ago: “With the stairwells and the hallways on the outside, sunlight and air filled the front and back of the apartments, and the air kept moving, a change from tenements. Toilets and bathing facilities were in the basements. The courtyards were a haven for children to play in, away from the dangers of the filthy, packed-dirt streets crowded with rattling horse-drawn wagons.”

Farella bought the nine-building Towers in 1975 and in 1978 launched into a restoration that lasted three years. Ever since, he has voluntarily kept rents low in order to give regular folks a chance to live in an area they would otherwise be unable to afford. When he put the property on the market, many people feared that it spelled doom for the tenants who had lucked into one of the great deals in New York real estate. (Two bedrooms currently rent for less than $1,500!) His continued involvement can only be taken as good news for tenants, though it’s hard to imagine that Hudson will be completely passive. Hudson’s David Kramer (who writes a weekly development blog on Brownstoner) had this to say about the deal: “We very much respect Frank’s critical role in preserving this historic landmark in Cobble Hill for three decades. Ultimately, Frank did not want to decathect from this wonderful property, and I think he chose to work with Hudson since we share an appreciation for the beauty of Cobble Hill Towers, as well as their historic importance and relevance to the community. We look forward to working with Frank and creating a great environment with the residents over the long term.”
Landmark Towers, Still Loved and Lived In [NY Times]
Whither Cobble Hill Towers? [Lost City]
Photo by Kate Leonova for PropertyShark