Blackstone Leads $300M Recap of NYC Mixed-Use Asset

The funding advances Salmar Properties’ strategy of transforming a 100-year-old Brooklyn warehouse into a 21st-century mixed-use project.

Liberty View Industrial Plaza

An investment group led by Blackstone Mortgage Trust has provided a $300 million package to recapitalize Liberty View Industrial Plaza, a 1.3 million-square-foot industrial and mixed-use property in Brooklyn. The investment’s recipient was owner Salmar Properties.

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The funding’s initial phase reportedly comprises $216 million from Blackstone, Madison Capital, Meadow Partners and Acadia Realty Trust. Future commitments from the former three parties total $84 million and will be used for tenant improvements, leasing commissions and other purposes.

Blackstone’s slice of the deal is a $203 million first mortgage, comprising $135 million initially and $68 million later. Acadia’s contribution to the first phase was $54 million through a preferred debt placement.

Liberty View is at 850 Third Ave., between 30th and 32nd streets, just off the Gowanus Expressway in the Bay Ridge–Sunset Park submarket of West Brooklyn. The building was completed in 1920 and sits on 7.25 acres, according to information provided to Commercial Property Executive by Yardi Matrix.

When Salman bought the property for $11 million in 2011, it was little more than a vacant warehouse, long used as a U.S. Navy logistics center. Salman’s plan to reposition Liberty View as an industrial-heavy mixed-use project managed to attract Amazon, which in 2015 leased 50,000 square feet. But although other tenants also signed up, leasing stalled with only about 20 percent of the building’s industrial space taken.

A brighter spot has been a retail section of the first and second floors, with occupants Bed, Bath & Beyond; Buy Buy Baby; Saks Off Fifth; Micro Center; and Cost Plus World Market. Ample parking in and next to the building has likely helped.

The recapitalization appears to roughly coincide with the city’s approval of a plan by Salmar to convert some of the industrial space into office. The agreement, however, mandates that the owner can lease out the second half of the converted space, around 134,000 square feet, only as further industrial space is taken up.

Innovation in manufacturing

Mixed-use assets in Brooklyn were active in 2019, with a 10 percent jump in the average price per square foot (to $475 from $433 in 2018), according to Brooklyn brokerage TerraCRG. The average transaction was about $2.6 million, but the largest in 2019 was $90 million for a building in downtown Brooklyn.

Brooklyn’s standing in the “innovation economy,” where tech, creativity and invention meet, continues to rise, according to a June 2019 report from New York’s Center for an Urban Future. The borough’s start-up growth rate since 2008 was topped only by San Francisco; it was home to more than 1,200 tech-centered start-ups in 2018. Manufacturing employment specifically has risen by 1 percent in Brooklyn since 2011, though it has fallen overall citywide.

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