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The sail-shaped Olympia Dumbo tower is shattering price records in Brooklyn.

How Renovations Rebooted in a Brooklyn Condo

Written by Paula Chin on July 09, 2020

DUMBO, Brooklyn

Board and management put safety above convenience as the city reopens.

Trying to make a complicated capital project "as pleasant as possible."


Their long nightmare is finally over. Years of litigation between a developer and the residents of three luxury condo developments in the Financial District and Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood came to an end last week.

New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that the developer, Africa Israel Investments, Ltd., must resolve numerous construction defects at the three buildings, surrender control to the condo boards, and pay a $2 million penalty to the city for improperly taking 421-g tax breaks, as reported by The New York Times. The agreement also calls for Africa Israel, owned by Lev Leviev, who broke his partnership with Shaya Boymelgreen, to put an undisclosed sum into escrow for bilked buyers.

Among the defects at the buildings – located at 15 Broad Street (across from the New York Stock Exchange) and 20 Pine Street in Manhattan, and 85 Adams Street in Brooklyn – were brown tap water, leaky walls, buckling floors and incomplete fire-proofing.

“Today’s settlement is a warning to property developers in New York state,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Those who collect the enormous profits that flow from offering real estate securities in New York will not be allowed to shirk their obligations to purchasers and the public.”




The most expensive neighborhood in Brooklyn to buy a home is DUMBO, with a median price of $1.4 million, according to a new report by real estate software provider YARDI.

In 2015, 71 homes – co-ops, condos and single-family dwellings – changed hands in the neighborhood located Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, with 31 of them selling for $1.5 million or more, as reported by DNAinfo. Water Street was the priciest address, with four homes selling between $4.1 and $4.8 million. The data was collected between Jan. 1 and Dec. 5.

Take a guess which Brooklyn neighborhood was the second most expensive. Brooklyn Heights? Park Slope? Nah. It was another waterfront neighborhood, Vinegar Hill, located just east of DUMBO, where the median price was just under $1.3 million. Sales prices across Brooklyn reached an all-time high in 2015.

Earlier this year, the developer behind the condo conversion of Dumbo's 10 Jay Street won over the Landmarks Preservation Commission with a design that paid tribute to the building's history as a sugar refinery. It used glass pieces in the façade to represent the crystal-like shine of sugar. It was certainly a step away from the usual glass and steal high-rises or the Jenga towers proliferating in neighborhoods like Tribeca. So it's kind of a bummer to hear that plans for the unusual building have been scrapped. According to The Real Deal, the developer plans to keep the "warehouse as a commercial property, citing rising demand in the Brooklyn office market." All may not be lost, however, at least aesthetically speaking. TRD reports that the developer will keep the ODA New York-designed crystallized façade, "but instead of converting the warehouse to 46 condos, it will now market the building’s approximately 200,000 square feet for office and retail uses." At least those of us who never had a chance of snapping up one of those condos will still have something pretty to look at. 


It began life as a Brillo factory in Dumbo. Later on it was part of the Jehova's Wittness's "real estate empire." And now? If you guessed condos then ding, ding, ding, ding! Curbed reports that "the old factory building at 200 Water Street between Bridge and Jay streets [have been] re-imagined by Aufgang Architects and Gil Even-Tsur, who endowed the rather large condos with finishes like radiant heated Siberian white oak flooring, Montclair Denby marble kitchen countertops, Hansgrohe bathroom fixtures, and etched glass master bedroom doors." And that's not all. The publication says that some of the apartments even have walk-in pantries, laundry rooms, and sliding walls — not a single inch of space is wasted. One of these beauties can be yours for — drum roll, please — $2.8 million. "But the price tags," adds Curbed, "are no match for the condos' demand: listings became available to the public this morning, and only three apartments in the building are currently up for grabs. Five of them, including the $3.45 million Penthouse B and $3.6 million Garden B, are already in contract." Click here to see inside 200 Water Street.

Rendering of 200 Water Street via teaser site

We've been hearing for some time that Brooklyn is getting ridiculously expensive — Manhattan-levels of expensive. Just a month ago, Brickunderground reported that the price difference between Brooklyn and Manhattan is shrinking, while we remembered days of old, when people who couldn't afford to live in the Big City had to settle for the consolation prize: a decent apartment in Brooklyn. Well, it's starting. People in Brooklyn are getting priced out and moving to… Manhattan. Who'd have thunk it? The New York Times reported that "five years ago, Eric Kabakoff and Christina Lewandowski bought a one-bedroom in a new condominium in Gowanus, Brooklyn, with the idea of moving to a two-bedroom in the same building after a while." After being outbid on two apartments there, "the couple realized their $750,000 budget was not going to be enough." Gosh, that's not even an entire million. In a case of "go figure," they found places in their (rather ample to many of us) budget in Manhattan, and settled for their consolation prize: a two-bedroom co-op a block from Central Park in Carnegie Hill on the Upper East Side. A block from the park. On the Upper East Side. Let that sink in, because when prices in Brooklyn get so high that a place a block from Central Park on the Upper East Side is a bargain, you know we're done for.

Photo by Rik Lee

If you're looking to buy a condo in Dumbo, then boy have we got some good news for you. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has given architecture firm ODA's design for 10 Jay Street a thumbs up. DNAinfo reports that by the end of this month, the last commercial tenant left in the building will bid the space farewell so the space can be converted to condos. The commission was reportedly won over by the design "because it honors the building's history as a sugar refinery" by using "oddly shaped glass pieces in the façade to represent the crystal-like shine of sugar" as well as brick and steel, which echoes the building's manufacturing past. How sweet it is! Crews begin demolition and renovation in May and the condos should be ready by middle of next year, so start saving those pennies.

The average price of an apartment in certain Brooklyn neighborhoods is now higher than that of Manhattan co-ops and condos, according to a StreetEasy study cited by Crain's New York Business. While the magazine notes the "obvious caveat" of comparing neighborhoods with an entire borough — where apartments in Inwood and other upper-Manhattan locales sell for far less than in such luxury area as Central Park South or Tribeca — at least two Brooklyn spots blow Manhattan's $890,000 median out of the water: DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Underpass), at $1.5 million, and the Columbia Street waterfront, running through Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, at $1.147 million. DUMBO, in fact, averaged less than just a half-dozen Manhattan nabes. On the bright side, Kensington is still very affordable.

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