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Top Ten 2011: Poised to Break Ground at Bulova

Posted on 28 December 2011

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The long neglected building and property in the center of Sag Harbor Village known as the Bulova Watchcase Factory is intrinsically linked to Sag Harbor’s industrial heritage. For years now, village residents have been left wondering whether a village-approved luxury condominium project would eventually replace the crumbling factory.

This fall, residents finally got their answer.

Three years after it was initially approved for a 65-unit luxury condominium project on the parcel, Cape Advisors announced in September that it has closed a financing deal with Deutsche Bank, its new partner in the Bulova project.

In a press release, Cape Advisors and the Deutsche Bank Commercial Real Estate Group announced it has closed on a $60 million investment “to fully fund the development and rehabilitation of the Watchcase Factory Lofts” in Sag Harbor.

Calling the former factory building “a majestic red brick, nineteenth century industrial building,” located on 2.3 acres in the heart of Sag Harbor, the firms said they believe the “vast interior spaces and original architectural details will create a dramatic and unique residential environment.”

“We are extremely pleased that in these difficult economic times we were able to partner with Deutsche Bank in moving forward with this exciting project,” said Craig Wood, co-managing partner of Cape Advisors. “This fall, over 30 years after the Bulova Watchcase Factory closed, we will begin construction to restore this historic building and fully integrate it into the fabric of the Sag Harbor community.”

Three years after earning its village approvals, and years after Cape Advisors first purchased the property from Patrick Malloy III, the firm came close to not being able to move forward with its plans. Malloy began foreclosure proceedings on the property, according to court records, but ended the action once Cape Advisors was able to secure its financing and pay off its loan.

The former watchcase factory property has since been humming with activity, workers clearing the parcel in anticipation of a formal groundbreaking expected to happen in the next few weeks.

Once construction has begun on the property, the project is expected to take between 18 and 24 months.

“We are obviously really excited,” said Cape Advisors project manager David Kronman once his firm had secured its partnership with Deutsche Bank. “We think it is a testament to the project and to Sag Harbor that despite the rough economic climate we were able to secure the financing to get the project built. It speaks to the viability of the project and the faith that exists in the Sag Harbor market.”

“Certainly, I am glad to see this move forward,” said Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride. “I wish them the best and I cannot wait to see this get started.”

The Bulova Watchcase Factory restoration and redevelopment is for a 65-unit luxury apartment building in the historic factory and seven townhouses, which will contain 16 of the units. A recreation center, with indoor pool, spa and an underground parking facility is also planned for the project.

The factory building, which for 100 years operated as the industrial heart of the village under a number of company banners until its doors were closed in the early 1980s, has long remained dormant. The property, located at Division and Church streets, is a state Superfund site. Remediation is ongoing and required for the apartment project to move forward.

Developers have tried over the years to re-develop the property, without success, until Cape Advisors came along over four years ago.

“I am happy and I hope that this project brings life back to that building,” said Mayor Gilbride. “I am also glad in that while construction is happening at Bulova, it will be helpful to our delis, our restaurants, our shops, and the entire village’s economy. So we got a lot of good news this week.”

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