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Cash-strapped Brooklyn Law School is selling one of its most valuable real-estate assets — the 12-story 2 Pierrepont St. apartment building on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
The school says property values are at an all-time high in the tony neighborhood, and it wanted to strike while the iron was hot.
“This is an opportune time to sell the property while the real estate market in Brooklyn Heights is at a peak,” said Nicholas Allard, Brooklyn Law’s president and dean.
News of the sale, first reported by the New York Daily News, had some speculating that a buyer might raze the homely block and build luxury condominiums in its place.
But the current building, built in 1949 before the area was designated as a historic district, far exceeds the area’s modern height restrictions of 50-feet — or about five stories — and one local real-estate insider said no developer in their right mind would sacrifice so many valuable waterfront-facing apartments to erect something at less than half the size.
“Nobody is tearing it down,” said the source, who asked for his name to be withheld because he is not privy to the details of the sale. “If you were building a new building there you’d essentially have to be putting up three-story townhouses.”
The sale comes two years after the law school put six other Heights properties it had been using as student housing on the market, which it ultimately sold to developer Jared Kushner for a reported $36.5 million last year, according to the Real Deal. The 2 Pierrepont St. building could fetch up to $30 million alone, according to the Daily News report.
The sale will leave the school with just one building of unfurnished student housing at 148–150 Clinton Street. The school also has a 300-person dormitory at State Street and Boerum Place, which it built in 2002.
The school has been struggling financially in recent years, according to credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s, which downgraded the school’s debt in January this year.
Like other law schools across the country, Brooklyn Law’s enrollment numbers have declined in recent years, and the school’s tuition revenue has decreased every year since 2008 — falling another 13 percent last fiscal year, the credit agency reports.
The school used the money it made selling its buildings last year to help reduce its outstanding debt from $75,252,000 in 2013 to $40,619,000 the following year, the agency says. It also offered staff and faculty members a bonus if they agreed to early retirement.
The school has recently implemented a number of efforts to attract more students, including offering an accelerated two-year law degree, and reducing fees this year by 15 percent. The school announced Monday that it will now repay students 15 percent of their total tuition costs if they have not found full-time jobs nine months after graduating, according to the New York Times.
Notable Brooklyn Law School grads include musician Paul Simon, Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera, NY1 host Errol Louis, and disgraced Assemblyman Sheldon Silver.