New 50-Story Affordable Housing Tower to Rise After Brownfield Cleanup Ends

A Miami real estate developer paid $89 million for the lot and plans to erect a 50 story affordable housing tower on the financial district site near the WTC–but first needs to clear the brownfield site of pollutants left behind by past commercial occupants. That work is just getting underway.

| 29 Mar 2023 | 05:13

A new 50-story, 400-unit affordable housing development is a step closer to reality now that the cleanup of a brownfield site has begun with plans to wrap it up before the end of the year.

The contaminated brownfield site of the former Kasser Scrap Metal and Rector Cleaners is finally being cleaned up. The location at 111-121 Washington Street, (a.k.a. 8 Carlisle Street), is located two blocks north of the World Trade Center and comprises a 11,255-square-foot vacant lot (just over a quarter-acre.) The developer Carlisle New York Apartments, LLC, purchased the lot in 2021 for $89 million from the Ohebshalom family, which was involved in a bitter family feud pitting father against son that ultimately was resolved with the son buying out the father’s stake.

The Miami-based developer plans to start construction on the quarter acre plot once the cleanup is completed, expected in seven to eight months.

“The development, Link Apartments 8 Carlisle, is proposed to be approximately 50 stories with 400 units and 22,000 square feet of ground floor retail,” a spokesman for Carlisle told Our Town Downton. “We plan to pursue the Affordable New York Housing Program for the development.”

Between 1894 and 1950, residential and commercial buildings five stories or less tall occupied the space. In 1977, these were replaced with a six-story car garage.

In 2010, this garage was demolished, at which point the site was utilized for “the storage of metal containers, miscellaneous materials, and equipment.” In 2012, the Port Authority used it as a maintenance support yard for the World Trade Center. Until 2013, it housed stacked container boxes and construction waste. Since then, it has been vacant.

Petroleum-related volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) were found in the soil and groundwater in the lot which exceed water quality standards. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation said that the contamination stems from a petroleum spill which occurred on November 12, 2021 in the lot, “related to a 3,000-gallon underground storage tank.”

“Brownfields” such as this one are properties the state has identified as being contaminated. The Brownfield Cleanup Program encourages the voluntary cleanup of such properties to allow them to be repurposed, whether it be for housing, industry, or any other use. A brownfield site is defined by the state as “any real property where a contaminant is present at levels exceeding the SCOs or other health-based or environmental standards, criteria or guidance adopted by NYSDEC...”

The DEC and DOH have determined that levels at the site do not pose a significant threat to public health. Cleanup that began in March will last about 7 months.

Before ownership was transferred to Carlisle New York Apartments, the lot was owned by the Ohebshalom family, for whom it caused a significant family feud. Fred Ohebshalom and his son Richard clashed over the management of several properties they co-owned, including the 111 Washington Street lot. The junior Ohebshalom’s firm Pink Stone Capital bought the lot out of foreclosure for $57.5 million in 2011; according to The Real Deal, Fred’s profits from a sale of the building were to be capped if the sale price exceeded $120 million, and he could not sell without consent from his son Richard. However, the site states that in 2017 Fred proceeded to clandestinely negotiate a sale of the property for a price lower than Richard wanted. Richard filed a lawsuit, alleging that Fred was using the property in a bad-faith effort to “increase leverage over Richard in connection with settlement negotiations on unrelated family and business matter.”

In 2020, Richard Ohebshalom secured $87 million total in financing for this Washington Street property and one other, which he used to buy out Fred’s share in the property and settle the dispute.