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David Kramer’s Hudson Companies Is Making Waves in Brooklyn—Starting With a New Library

While some development companies try to veer away from problem projects,  Hudson Companies steers toward them.

“We tend to be more successful when the project has some hair on it—there’s some complication, ” said David Kramer, the president of Hudson. “That’s where we have a competitive advantage, I think.”

Since the firm’s inception in 1986, Hudson has completed 46 projects with 5, 421 units—and it has another 16 projects with 4, 875 units in development, under construction or in the pipeline. Much of what the firm is involved in is in Kings County.

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Three of the company’s biggest Brooklyn projects are the redevelopment of the site of Brooklyn Heights Library at 280 Cadman Plaza West, the construction of a residential high-rise at 626 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens and the three-phase affordable housing project Gateway Elton in East New York.

Mr. Kramer, who turned 50 last week and grew up on the Upper West Side attending the private all-boys Collegiate School, will celebrate his 20-year anniversary with Hudson in October. Commercial Observer talked with him in the company’s 11th-floor offices at 826 Broadway near Union Square about the company, lawsuits from community activists and how homeowners were the pioneers in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

Can you provide a brief history of Hudson?

Hudson’s been around since 1986, primarily as a residential developer. What I like to say is: primarily the five boroughs, primarily new construction, but within residential new construction we build tall and small, fat and skinny, two-family homes [and] 36-story condos. So it’s a mix within the residential world and we have four buckets of business. We do affordable housing, which we’ve done since the start, on one end of the income spectrum, and on the other end of the income spectrum is market-rate luxury condos and rentals and then a third bucket is institutional and middle-market housing—so building a dorm for [New York University], building staff housing for [Memorial] Sloan-Kettering. We’re building the residential tower for the Cornell [NYC] Tech campus [on Roosevelt Island], the largest passive house in the world. Also in the middle-market I would say we have a separate account with New York City’s pension system where we develop sort of outer-borough workforce housing. The fourth bucket is buying existing portfolios, a lot of which we’re doing through the pension fund.


How did the company get its start in Brooklyn?

So, Hudson’s DNA has always been to look for the next neighborhood. We’re really not doing a lot in Manhattan right now. Roosevelt Island counts as Manhattan, sort of. It just has to do with your risk profile and how you want to spend your day. You could buy a site in West Chelsea and hope to hit a home run selling condos at $3, 500 a foot—and we’ve been more on the opposite end thinking about what’s our break even, and making sure when the downturn hits we’ll still be okay buying land at a price that doesn’t seem exorbitant. You know, we’ve done land deals in the last year or so at $50, $60, $70 a foot. So that’s just sort of how we feel comfortable operating…we find neighborhoods like Prospect Lefferts Gardens, or Kensington or Dumbo 15 years ago, or Gowanus, where we feel that the right elements are in place…


Read the full story at Commercial Observer by Lauren Elkies Schram



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