90 Sands. Image courtesy of Breaking Ground

Supportive housing developer Breaking Ground has completed 90 Sands, a conversion of a one-time Jehovah’s Witnesses hotel into an affordable and supportive apartment community in Brooklyn’s Dumbo section. The building offers 491 units, of which 185 are affordable to a broad array of New York City residents ranging from extremely low- to moderate-income households, 305 will house formerly homeless people, and one unit is reserved for an on-site building superintendent.

Half of the apartments, or 246 units, will remain affordable in perpetuity. The remainder will stay affordable under a 60-year regulatory agreement. Among the common-area amenities is a multipurpose room for community events and meetings.

On-site services

Building on a long-standing partnership between Breaking Ground and The Center for Urban Community Services, the latter will provide social services to residents of 90 Sands. This marks the 12th building at which the two have collaborated to provide housing and support for formerly homeless people and families. Among services CUCS will provide residents are case management, primary medical care, mental health services, employment readiness and benefits counseling.

Breaking Ground purchased the former residential hotel in August 2018 for $170 million. The developer received $2 million from the New York City Council, a $155 million loan from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and a $10 million grant from Enterprise Community Partners Inc. Breaking Ground provided a $6.7 million sponsor loan to finance acquisition and pre-construction expenses. The Leviticus Fund also furnished $1.5 million in pre-construction financing. After acquiring the hotel, Breaking Ground obtained a zoning change for the project in 2020.

The renovation and repositioning of the building as affordable and supportive was financed by 501c3 and taxable bonds totally in excess of $70.4 million issued by the New York City Housing Development Corporation, which delivered an additional $6 million in capital subsidy. Construction financing was supported by a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York’s Affordable Housing Program.

Public plaza

Among prominent philanthropic support for the development received by Breaking Ground was a $3 million lead grant from Wells Fargo, with additional support provided by Deutsche Bank’s DB SHARE program and National Grid. JPMorgan Chase provided a construction letter of credit. Monadnock Construction Inc. is the general contractor. Beyer Blinder Belle served as project architect, while W Architecture and Planning designed a public plaza space at the corner of Jay and Sands streets. Earlier this month, a $178 million affordable housing development was unveiled in The Bronx.

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