iPark buys large Yonkers campus for $52.6M


Yonkers is continuing its path towards becoming “Hollywood on the Hudson,” as Connecticut-based iPark has closed on its purchase of the 28-acre Leake & Watts campus from the nonprofit Rising Ground for $52.6 million — with the site soon to become film studios and a performing arts school.

iPark is an entity of National Resources, which invests in and focuses on the redevelopment of corporate and industrial sites, mostly under the iPark brand.

Together with Great Point Studios, it has already developed the nearby 14.4-acre Lionsgate Warburton studio at the iPark Hudson Film & Television Center by the Yonkers Metro-North station. This new purchase marks an expansion.

Great Point is also a partner in this just-acquired campus, which is one stop south near the Ludlow train station.

Overlooking the Hudson River, the estate has 25 buildings with 265,000 square feet — along with recreational facilities that include an indoor basketball court, indoor and outdoor pools, and a baseball field.

The estate has 25 buildings.
The estate has 25 buildings.
OPEN IMPACT REAL ESTATE

Bounded by Hawthorn Avenue on the east, Depeyster Street to the south and Valentine Lane to the north and west, the site includes 2 million square feet of development rights.

The OPEN Impact Real Estate team of Lindsay Ornstein, Stephen Powers, Arthur Skelskie and Alexander Smith represented Rising Ground in the transaction that began around a year ago.

“We had a lot of interest because it was a long-term project and people were excited to dig in,” said Powers. “There were a number of buyers we vetted but National Resources had the right vision and were able to give us certainty of closing with no conditions.”

The deal closed on Dec. 23, and Rising Ground — which serves children and families in need — retained an adjacent 3 acres on the southern side for its own programs that serve 25,000 people each year.

The grounds also have a baseball field.
The grounds also have a baseball field.
OPEN IMPACT REAL ESTATE
The nonprofit Rising Ground will still have presence on the site.
The nonprofit Rising Ground will still have presence on the site.
OPEN IMPACT REAL ESTATE

Through the proceeds of this sale and other yet-to-be-disclosed transactions, OPEN’s brokers say they have ensured the Rising Ground’s programs will seamlessly transition to new facilities.

“Nothing is being shut down as a result of this sale,” Powers said. “We are also relocating their school and administrative offices.”

Founded in 1831 in Manhattan as the Leake & Watts Orphan House, the organization moved to Yonkers in 1891. Its 30 acres had been part of the larger 74-acre Fonthill estate, owned by actor Edwin Forrest in The Bronx and built from 1848 to 1852.

Forrest sold the estate to the College of Mount Saint Vincent for $95,000 in 1856, $3.33 million today, when his British born wife refused to give up her lifelong friendship with a rival actor — and amid charges of infidelity on both their parts, they divorced.

The deal also included 28 acres.
The deal also included 28 acres.
OPEN IMPACT REAL ESTATE
The site has plans in store for film studios and a school.
The site has plans in store for film studios and a school.
OPEN IMPACT REAL ESTATE

Through the years, Leake & Watts operated and expanded its social service programs and in 2018, changed its name to Rising Ground.

Its 100,000-square-foot Biondi Education Center on the grounds, which includes the Frank T. Biondi Building and Ames School, will now be rented by the new owners to the City of Yonkers for $2.4 million per year.

It will be transformed into a school for grades 6 to 12 that is targeted as a magnet school for the performing arts and media. It should open by 2024.

The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University is helping create its curriculum, which will offer associates degrees for those who want to go directly into a profession, while becoming a feeder for students to apply to the upstate college.

Newhouse students are already spending a semester in the city to take classes and intern while experiencing all that iPark Hudson Studios, Great Point Studios and Lionsgate Studios have to offer.

National Resources, iPark and Great Point Studios did not immediately return requests for comment.



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