The $330 million redevelopment of 21 Clark Street, by Watermark Retirement Communities in a partnership with Kayne Anderson Real Estate, proceeds on schedule for the early 2020 opening. The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights is a conversion of the beloved, historic Leverich Towers Hotel and a former Jehovah’s Witnesses’ residential property, into an upscale senior residence, which will feature 275 newly renovated residences. The building, considered one of Brooklyn’s iconic architectural landmarks, joins Watermark’s new lifestyle brand, the Élan Collection.
The development team includes the majority owner Kayne Anderson, which has invested $130 million into the project; the operator, co-developer, and minority owner Watermark/The Freshwater Group; and the development partner, minority owner, and construction owner’s representative Tishman Speyer. The lending consortium consisting of the lead lender BMO Harris, as well as Wells Fargo and Capital One, provided a $200 million acquisition and re-development loan.
Watermark and Kayne Anderson’s partnership owns and operates a portfolio of 16 retirement communities totaling more than 2,500 beds of independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing, valued at approximately $1.2 billion in deal capitalization.
Watermark has engaged the prominent New York City architectural firm of Montroy DeMarco Architecture (MDA) and interior designer Lemay + Escobar to develop the architectural design for the property. The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights was specifically designed to fill a void for high quality seniors housing in the New York City market and aims to provide a smooth transition from living at home to living at a service- and amenity-rich apartment building in which residents can enjoy an active lifestyle while obtaining various levels of care.
“Through our passion and commitment, we are building extraordinary communities in which residents thrive across countless opportunities to dine, learn, engage, and enjoy and enrich life. With The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights, we are continuing to reimagine the concept of retirement for discerning, active retirees at the historic 21 Clark Street,” said Watermark’s Chairman David Freshwater.
“We are enthusiastic to be involved in fulfilling a growing demand for high-quality seniors housing in the heart of Brooklyn Heights. Urban senior housing properties are an attractive alternative real estate investment segment within a rapidly growing market. We are proud to lead this market sector nationally with our partner, Watermark,” stated Al Rabil, CEO, Kayne Anderson Real Estate.
Located in the heart of the fashionable, historic Brooklyn Heights district, the 310,000+ square-foot property was originally constructed in 1928 as the Leverich Towers Hotel, which served as a haven for many celebrities and cultural icons, including the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1975, Watchtower purchased The Towers as housing for their local Jehovah Witness volunteer force and began to restore the intricate architectural features that defined the building’s place in the Brooklyn Heights Historical District.
The current renovation will preserve much of the building’s original structure and history while adding a reimagined, stylish interior. At 16 stories, with a breathtaking rooftop terrace, garden, and Skyline club room, the Watermark at Brooklyn Heights will offer sweeping views of New York Harbor, the Manhattan skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty.
Architectural Integrity with 21st Century Conveniences
The building’s 275 apartments include 29 for independent living, 204 for assisted living, and 42 for memory care. The residences are offered in 78 different floor plans, uniquely configured, and harmoniously designed to embrace the building’s rich heritage. Ranging from studio to one-and two-bedroom apartments, the apartments at The Watermark will cater to each resident’s tastes, space requirements, and preferences. Apartments are all thoughtfully crafted with an open floor arrangement and will feature designer kitchens or kitchenettes and modern bathrooms with walk-in showers. Expansive, vintage mahogany-trimmed windows will allow for abundant natural light and spectacular views.
According to Richard J. DeMarco, AIA, MDA’s principal and the project’s lead architect, “This residence will have a number of dramatic public spaces, including a soaring two-story restaurant. We are respecting the original beauty of the building and reviving some features to create an amenity-filled environment for discerning seniors. Overall, we have planned and designed the Watermark at Brooklyn Heights to enable residents to be proud of their environment.”
Upon entering the building, members and visitors will be greeted by an elegantly designed grand entryway and a light-filled lobby with a classic modernist aesthetic. The first-floor acts as a welcoming space designed to foster gatherings with family and friends, including Willow + Clark Café, The Biblio library and wine bar and salon. This floor will also house a contemporary art gallery, curated by the prominent New York City art consultancy nAscent Art, which will feature work from local and emerging New York City artists and will overlook the stunning, double-height The W Roomrestaurant below.
The property’s 50,000 square feet of amenity spaces for members will be housed on the Dining and Entertainment, and Fitness and Wellness levels.
The Dining and Entertainment level will feature not only the main restaurant called The W Room, which will serve three restaurant-style meals each day, but will also showcase Gustoso & Family, an eatery offering a European inspired exhibition kitchen, including a brick hearth oven for chef made, favorite recipes. Members and their families will also be offered private wine storage and a wine tasting room. This level will also offer a comfortable space for showing movies and a live theater space complete with a stage, theatrical lighting, and proper acoustical treatments. All amenities are complemented by the opportunity to take expert-led interactive classes from world-class instructors. Watermark University will offer lectures and other informed programs tailored to residents’ interests.
The Fitness and Wellness level will be dedicated to activities that promote both physical and mental wellbeing. The Vitality Fitness Center will feature a warm-water therapy pool with senior-friendly pneumatic equipment with access-controlled programming. Water aerobics and aquatherapy classes will be offered in addition to water walking and lap swimming. This floor also features a fully equipped fitness studio with locker rooms, showers, and a movement room, where group fitness programs will be held, as well as the Indulge salon and spa. Additionally, the wellness center will feature activities such as blood pressure clinics as well as massage, acupuncture, and other alternative therapies.
The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights will also provide two floors of Memory Care services for those living with cognitive impairment. Outfitted with 24-hour specially trained staff, these areas will feature a private outdoor courtyard and The Greenhouse, a horticultural therapy and planting room featuring raised beds which residents can enjoy. Each of the Memory Care “neighborhoods” will feature a residential-style living area, providing a comfortable environment in which to read, visit with family and attend special programming. A satellite salon in each of the Memory Care neighborhoods will provide added convenience for those wishing to partake in these services. Circadian lighting will be incorporated in certain areas to create better opportunities for improving health and well-being of individuals with Alzheimer’s and related dementia.
“This project aims to provide an abundance of lifestyle amenities, allowing residents flexibility and choice in their everyday life. The property will feature a slightly understated, classic timeless elegance that urban New York-area residents will be familiar with and appreciate,” added DeMarco.
The opening of the Watermark at Brooklyn Heights comes ahead of the steady increase of baby boomers entering retirement age. The most recent National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief says that by 2050, the 65-plus age group is estimated to exceed 88 million, nearly double its current population. What makes the Watermark at Brooklyn Heights attractive to boomers is their interest in healthy and active services and amenities that are both culturally and recreationally stimulating.
The Tucson, Arizona-based Watermark team has nearly 30 years of experience creating retirement communities that offer assisted living and memory care, as well as independent living. The organization currently has 59 operating communities (with 5 under development or redevelopment) across 21 states and was named the thirteenth largest senior living operator in 2018, according to the American Seniors Housing Association. Two regional communities are already in operation in Millbrook and Tuckahoe, New York, with 12 others in upstate New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The Watermark places great emphasis on curating programs that are unique to each location, striving to facilitate experiences that are far removed from the traditional concept of senior living. Through an extensive list of engagement opportunities, members are enabled to remain consistently inspired, active and catered to in every possible manner. Watermark communities are shaped by the relationships that form between fellow members, families and associates. To learn more, please visit www.watermarkrcommunities.com.
About Watermark’s Élan Collection
The newly launched Élan Collection creates a new standard in senior living and care, blending ageless style with leading edge innovation, personal service with grand-scale amenities, intimate tranquility with engaging opportunities and a spirited lifestyle with customized care. Along with The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights, the Élan Collection features four other premium locations – The Watermark at Westwood Village in Los Angeles, The Watermark at Napa Valley, California, and The Hacienda at the River and The Hacienda at the Canyon in Tucson, Arizona.
About Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors
Kayne Anderson Real Estate (KA Real Estate) is a leading real estate private equity investor in senior housing, medical office, off-campus student housing, and self-storage. KA Real Estate has raised dedicated real estate private equity funds totaling approximately $7 billion in commitments, investing in opportunistic equity, core returns and real estate debt. KA Real Estate is part of Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors, L.P., a $30 billion alternative investment management firm (AUM as of 3/31/19) with more than 30 years of successful experience in the energy, real estate, credit and growth capital sectors.
About Tishman Speyer
Tishman Speyer is a leading owner, developer, operator, and fund manager of first-class real estate around the world. Founded in 1978, Tishman Speyer is active across the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia, building and managing premier office, residential and retail space in 29 key global markets for industry-leading tenants. The firm has acquired, developed, and operated a portfolio of over 165 million square feet with a total value of approximately US $83 billion spread over 401 assets. Signature assets include New York City's Rockefeller Center and Chrysler Center, São Paulo's Torre Norte, The Springs in Shanghai, Lumière in Paris, and OpernTurm in Frankfurt. Tishman Speyer currently has projects at different stages of development in Boston, Brasília, Frankfurt, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Washington, DC. The firm also operates portfolios of prominent office property portfolios in Berlin, Chicago, and London. Please visit www.tishmanspeyer.com for additional information.
About Montroy DeMarco Architecture
Based in New York City, Montroy Demarco Architecture LLP (MDA) is a prominent architectural firm predominantly serving multi-family, commercial, hospitality, and retail markets in the greater New York area. MDA’s affiliate Montroy Andersen DeMarco (MADGI) provides interior design services. Three principals lead the studios: Steven Andersen; Richard J. DeMarco, AIA; and Daniel Montroy, AIA. The affiliated studios employ 35 architects, interior designers, LEED professionals, project managers, and support staff. Building Design & Construction magazine ranks the firm as the 132nd largest designer in the United States. Engineering News-Record lists the firm as the 72nd largest design firm in the New York/New Jersey region
Hudson Meridian served as the general contractor.