As reported by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Whitman Owners Corp held a closed-door forum for its shareholders on Tuesday night. Mary Frost reports, “Monday’s meeting was designed to provide as much information as possible to shareholders before the deadline – but the board warned residents that many questions could not be answered without making further investments in studies and expert advice.” Board President Doug Wexler addressed inquiries previously submitted to the board. Whitman’s legal counsel cautioned that the current offer is very preliminary and that “details will only be filled in if you authorize us to go forward.”
During the proceedings it was revealed the developer Anbau Enterprises, has raised its initial offer for Pineapple Walk- a 387,000 square foot parcel spanning Henry Street to Cadman Plaza West-from $75 million to $130 million. The luxury investment and development firm’s motto is “See value where others don’t, Make value where others don’t.” Based on their list of completed projects, Pineapple Walk would be their first foray into the Brooklyn housing market. Renderings were not presented at the meeting.
But the the deal is not done. Shareholders are not voting to approve the sale but whether or not to investigate the offer further. Should the vote result in a “yes,” Board President Doug Wexler explained it would give the Co-Op the opportunity to explore competing offers saying, “Before we spend time and money, we sought your opinion.” A “no” vote would send a strong message to future boards and indicate how future offers should be dealt with.
Whitman residents must weigh the potential personal financial benefits-reported to be $4,000 per share-against the impact on quality of life for themselves, neighbors and larger community both during and after construction. They may find Anbau’s track record less than desireable. A September New York Times article, The Stress of New Construction, highlights the conflicts that can arise. Last year, Anbau’s 34-story project on First Avenue and East 89th Street was the subject of 180 noise complaints to 311. DNAinfo also reported on noise complaints for the same property describing work that was taking place six days a week and after-hours permits that had been granted and renewed on a bi-weekly basis.
Residents of 101 Clark Street have held at least two community meetings in the hopes of dissuading their neighbors from voting “yes.” Elected officials have weighed in and the Brooklyn Heights Association has spoken out against development on the site. At a January 6th meeting, BHA’s Executive Director Peter Bray cautioned against opening the door to developers explaining, “with their money, PR firms, architect’s fancy renderings and promises pulled out of their pockets, it’s all very seductive. You can’t say no at that point, you’re really committed.”
The voting deadline is Friday, January 15th.
DISCLAIMER: This correspondent is a resident of Whitman Owners Corp