Watermark Capital signs $15M contract to buy church dev site in Fort Greene historic district

144 Saint Felix Street (Credit - Google)

144 Saint Felix Street (Credit - Google)

Brooklyn owner and developer Watermark Capital Group, led by Wolfe Landau, signed a contract last week to pay $15 million for a church with a total of 164,460 square feet of development rights located in a Historic District in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

The property, the Hanson Place Central United Methodist Church at 144 Saint Felix Street, is located within the Brooklyn Academy of Music Historic District and is adjacent to the 512-foot tall Landmarked Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower at One Hanson Place. It is across the street from the Barclays Center. The church is in a state of disrepair and the city has issued multiple building violations, according to city records.

The contract was disclosed March 4, 2024, in a petition the church made seeking court approval for the sale, which is a New York state requirement for the sale of significant portions of the assets of a nonprofit or religious organization.

Case 506283/2024 LINK

Watermark Capital Group has been actively signing contracts and acquiring properties from churches and other nonprofits, including in Flushing in 2020, in Bedford Stuyvesant in 2023, and Cypress Hills, also in 2023. In its largest deal unrelated to nonprofits or churches, the firm also acquired control of a massive development site in Sunset Park just over a year ago.

The PincusCo database currently indicates that Watermark Capital Group owned at least 121 commercial properties with 1,215,933 square feet, 1,448 residential units. The portfolio has $62.5 million in debt since 2020, with top three lenders as Signature Bank, Bridge City Funding, and Broadview Capital respectively. Within the portfolio, the bulk, or 68 percent of the 1,215,933 square feet of built space are walkup properties, with elevator properties next occupying 25 percent of the space. The bulk, or 93 percent of the built space, is in Brooklyn, with Queens next at 7 percent of the space.

According to the offering material from broker Geoffrey Newman of Savills, the block was “recently rezoned to a C6-4 which allows for a 10 FAR for residential, commercial and community facility. Through this far the max floor area can now reach 164,460 ZSF.”

At the time of the contract, Watermark Capital made a $13 million deposit. The closing date was not specified, but was expected to be within 75 days of the court providing approval for the sale.

This is not the only project planned for the block. The Gotham Organization obtained approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission and a separate zoning change in order to build a 120-unit, 23-story, 146,800-square-foot, mixed-use condominium on the parcel just north of One Hanson, at 130 Saint Felix Street. A review of Department of Buildings filings does not show those plans were have been published on the DOB website.

The property

The property at 144 Saint Felix Street in Fort Greene has 65,500 square feet of built space and 99,004 square feet of additional air rights for a total buildable of 164,460 square feet according to a PincusCo analysis of city data. The parcel has frontage of 165 feet and is 100 feet deep with a total lot size of 16,446 square feet. The lot is irregular. The zoning is C6-4 which allows for up to 10 times floor area ratio (FAR) for commercial and up to 10 times FAR for residential with inclusionary housing. The property is in the Brooklyn Academy of Music Historic District. The city-designated market value for the property in 2022 is $9.2 million.

The neighborhood

In Fort Greene, The bulk, or 34 percent of the 12.4 million square feet of commercial built space are elevator buildings, with specialty buildings next occupying 23 percent of the space. In sales, Fort Greene has near average sales volume among other neighborhoods with $583.3 million in sales volume in the last two years and is the 9th highest in Brooklyn. For development, Fort Greene has near average amount of major developments among other neighborhoods and is the 6th highest in Brooklyn. It had 1.7 million square feet of commercial and multi-family construction under development in the last two years, which represents 14 percent of the neighborhood’s built space.

The block

There are no active new building construction projects on this tax block.

The surrounding

Within a 400-foot radius of 17 Hanson Place, PincusCo identified one commercial real estate item of interests occurred over the past 24 months. It was a new building permit issued on March 18, 2022 for a 374,336-square-foot residential (R-2) building with 262 residential units at 100 Flatbush Avenue.

Direct link to the property’s ACRIS page and link to DOB NOW portal.

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