Bankruptcy threatens long-anticipated Nassau Brewery restoration

The Nassau Brewery building in March of this year, when it was nearing completion.
Photo by Craig Hubert

The long-anticipated restoration and adaptation of the historic Nassau Brewery at 945 Bergen St. could be scrapped by a bankruptcy sale just as it inches toward completion.

An investor who came on board in 2016 with a $5 million cash infusion is asserting control over the project, filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding Friday, and intends to sell the property, PincusCo reported Tuesday.

The investor, Churchill Real Estate, has taken over “due to various payment and performance defaults” as well as, the bankruptcy filing alleges, “misappropriation of funds,” mismanagement and fraudulent company documents, PincusCo reported. A retailer who leased space in the building said they were unable to move in, but lost their deposit totaling $189,000, according to The Real Deal.

A rendering of the completed brewery.Rendering via Crow Hill Development

Although the site is not a city landmark, in 2015 it was listed on the National Register and eligible for state and federal restoration incentives, Fabian Friedland, the owner of Crow Hill Development and the Nassau Brewing Company, told Brownstoner at the time. Plans called for apartments on the upper floors, retail on the ground, and possibly a restaurant in the brewery’s historic 1860s underground lager aging vaults. Friedland also intended to restore the building’s missing Nassau Brewing Company signage.

In 2014, Yoel Goldman of All Year Management bought the Dean Street side of the property from Friedland for $17.5 million, and it is now a building designed by ODA with apartments and stores.

The building in March.Photo by Craig Hubert

After no visible progress for years, scaffolding came down, the exterior appeared nearly finished, and several retail spaces were leased just before the pandemic struck.

The brewery dates from the 1860s and once occupied the entire block. It ceased operations in 1916. It is in an area where until recently residential uses were not permitted. The Crown Heights community board wants to upzone the area to permit housing while also including light industrial use to preserve jobs, called the M-Crown rezoning.

The building in 2017.Photo by Susan De Vries

“The historic nature of the old brewery buildings first attracted me to the site,” Friedland said in a statement in 2015. “After a long wait, I’m truly thrilled to bring these buildings back to life. The Franklin Avenue corridor of Crown Heights is a vibrant place to be right now. And it’s exciting to have our project reinforce the existing architecture and character of the neighborhood.”

This story first appeared on Brownstoner.com.