Breaking Ground to Begin 508-Unit Brooklyn Project

The nonprofit received approval for its plan to transform a former hotel into affordable and supportive housing in the DUMBO neighborhood.
90 Sands. Image courtesy of Breaking Ground

Breaking Ground is moving forward with a plan to convert a former Jehovah Witnesses’ hotel at 90 Sands St. in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood into 508 units of affordable and supportive housing for low-income and formerly homeless residents. The New York City Council has approved the plan and Breaking Ground, New York’s largest supportive housing developer, hopes to welcome its first residents in 2021.

Referring to the COVID-19 crisis that is ravaging New York City, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said in a prepared statement it is more important than ever that the city has safe, accessible and affordable housing for its most vulnerable residents during a time when social distancing is needed to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

90 Sands was previously a hotel operated as the Watchtower Society Residences until August 2017. Breaking Ground acquired the hotel in August 2018. For the acquisition, the nonprofit 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 also provided a $6.7 million sponsor loan to help finance the purchase.

Of the 508 apartments, 203 will be affordable to a range of extremely low-income to moderate-income households. There will be 305 units for formerly homeless individuals. Rents will start as low as $492 a month for a studio. The project includes approximately 30,000 square feet of community or commercial space and a newly activated public plaza. The Center for Urban Community Services will provide onsite social services to residents of 90 Sands. Services will include case management, primary medical care, mental health services, employment readiness guidance and benefits counseling.

Breaking Ground background

Breaking Ground has experience transforming former hotels into affordable and supportive housing. The nonprofit was formed in the early 1990s, when it converted two large historic Manhattan hotels—the Prince George with 415 units and the Times Square Residence with 650 units.

More recently, in October Breaking Ground and its partner Comunilife Inc., a community-based health and housing services provider, opened the first 161 residential units of La Central. The large-scale, mixed-use project in the Bronx will eventually have nearly 1,000 mixed-income apartments.

The first $67 million project is located at 626 Bergen Ave. in the Melrose section, and is home to formerly homeless individuals and low-income working adults. La Central was Breaking Ground’s seventh residence under management in the Bronx. 90 Sands will be the nonprofit’s sixth and largest building in Brooklyn.

The nonprofit has 24 transitional and permanent housing residences under management, primarily in New York City. Once 90 Sands opens, Breaking Ground will be managing nearly 4,500 affordable housing units in New York City for formerly homeless individuals and low-income households.