NEW YORK | 141 Willoughby St | FT | 49 FLOORS


Continuing the discussion from NEW YORK | Flatbush Ave Corridor (DoBro + BAM + AY):

Brooklyn deal raises residential possibility

The sale of the building across from the City Point mega-project highlights not only downtown Brooklyn’s large-scale development, but the desirability of sites citywide that can accommodate apartment towers.

By Daniel Geiger
January 17, 2014

The real estate investment firm Savanna has acquired a development site across the street from one of Brooklyn’s largest construction projects.

Savanna purchased 141 Willoughby St., a three-story building in downtown Brooklyn, for an undisclosed price from the Institute of Design and Construction, a school that provides construction training and that occupied part of the property. The site could support a fresh development of up to 240,000 square feet.

It sits just across the street from City Point, a massive new development with more than 500,000 square feet of retail space and two residential towers as well as a third residential spire at least 60-stories high on the drawing board.

Savanna, which has been successful in the city in recent years buying real estate assets at opportune moments, like some other prominent owners, such as TF Cornerstone, is now taking its stake in the area’s transformation.

“141 Willoughby St. is a prime location in downtown Brooklyn and we see tremendous future value in this … property,” Christopher Schlank, a managing partner at Savanna, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to be a part of the ongoing transformation of the immediate area.”

Savanna can build up to 120,000 square feet of residential space on the site, according to Vincent Battista, president and chairman of the board for the Institute of Design and Construction. But, by securing a special permit from the city, up to double that amount of space can rise on the site. Mr. Battista said it was likely that Savanna could secure such a waiver, since the City Point development was zoned for high-rise development.

“Much of the surrounding area allows for large towers to be constructed,” Mr. Battista said. “We expect that it is a reasonable request to change the zoning here so that this site too can benefit from higher density.”

Neither Mr. Battista, nor Savanna, would disclose the purchase price in the deal, but Mr. Battista said it was structured in a way in which the Institute of Design and Construction will receive a bonus payment if Savanna is able to successfully rezone the land for a larger building. The school, which prepares as many as 120 students yearly for careers in the construction field with courses such as estimating and blueprint reading, will look for another home.

“We’re looking to lease about 20,000 square feet of space nearby,” Mr. Battista said.

He said the city’s hot sales market convinced the school to sell the building. Prices have risen in particular for development sites that can accommodate apartment towers.

“We can sustain our operations for 20 years on the proceeds of this sale,” Mr. Battista said.


Savanna Partners purchased 141 Willoughby Street, a development site that currently holds a three-story Institute of Design and Construction building, from the Institute for $28 million last year. Zoning allows for a 120,000 square foot tower, but Savanna wants to get a special permit and double that number in order to build a 30-story mixed-use tower with “a retail base and student housing, commercial or residential space above,” according to the firm’s website. That website also reveals the initial renderings for the tower, which 6sqft was the first to spot. As the renderings display (probably not unintentionally) there are many taller towers in the surrounding area, so the zoning change would not be completely unreasonable.


Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee says no to development plan for 141 Willoughby St. in Downtown Brooklyn :frowning:

No. No. No.

A 49-story luxury-apartment tower with affordable units that developer Savanna wants to build at 141 Willoughby St. would be bigger and taller than previously planned.

Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee — upset about increasingly overburdened infrastructure in Downtown Brooklyn due to a slew of residential development — gave Savanna’s proposed project a thumbs-down on Wednesday night.

After a public hearing, the committee voted not to approve zoning changes that Savanna needs in order to increase the amount of space it would be allowed to build at the site.

“We’re seeing additional stress on our infrastructure,” committee member Bill Flounoy said at the hearing, which was held at NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s Dibner Building.

Community Board members were displeased to discover that the development plan for 141 Willoughby doesn’t include any improvements for Downtown Brooklyn’s infrastructure, or a school.

Mark Spector, a city Economic Development Corp. rep, said at the hearing that the floor plates of the proposed building would be too small to be suitable for a public school.

Community Boards advise city agencies on a wide range of civic issues but do not have actual veto power over development projects.

As the Brooklyn Eagle previously reported, Savanna bought 141 Willoughby for $28 million in January 2014. The site is currently occupied by a small building that houses the Institute of Design and Construction. It’s across the street from City Point, a mammoth mixed-use development.

At the public hearing, Greenberg Traurig attorney Jay Segal, who represents Savanna, gave the dimensions of 141 Willoughby’s proposed design:

  • It would be 49 stories tall and nearly 420,000 gross square feet in size.
  • There would be apartments on the top 40 floors of the building.
  • There would be 270 apartments — and 81 of them (30 percent of the total) would be affordable units.
  • Beneath the apartments, there would be seven floors of office space.
  • Retailers would use the first two floors of the building and the cellar.


I guess that is 81 families that will not have access to affordable housing at a great location. GJ City Planners.

If you as city planner feel your infrastructure is overburdened is it not on you to do something about it?


Looks like this was rezoned recently and allows for a 44 fl tower now.

I walked by yesterday and the building from the first post above is now boarded up.



Boarded up still.


Nice update JC. I’m having a hard time understanding why Savanna is having such a hard time getting this approved when all the buildings around are even taller than this proposal.



havent heard much about this recently.

The company bought 385 Gold Street from the city’s Economic Development Corporation, according to property records. The parcel has been earmarked for “public open space,” which typically refers to some type of parkland.
The site is located adjacent to the 44-story, mixed-use project Savanna is planning at 141 Willoughby Street.