Yonkers continues its path toward becoming “Hollywood on the Hudson,” as Connecticut-based iParks closes on the purchase of the 28-acre Lick & Watts complex from the nonprofit Rising Grounds for $52.6 million — soon. The site itself would become a film studio and a performing arts school.
iPark is a unit of National Resources, which invests in and focuses mostly on the redevelopment of corporate and industrial sites under the iPark brand.
Together with Great Point Studios, it has already developed the nearby 14.4-acre Lionsgate Warburton Studios into the iPark Hudson Film and Television Center by the Yonkers Metro-North station. This new purchase marks an expansion.
Great Point is also a partner in this recently acquired complex, a stop to the south near Ludlow train station.
Overlooking the Hudson River, the property consists of 25 buildings with 265,000 square feet – with entertainment facilities that include an indoor basketball court, indoor and outdoor pools, and a baseball field.
Bounded by Hawthorne Avenue to the east, Depeyster Street to the south and Valentine Lane to the north and west, the site comprises 2 million square feet of development rights.
The Open Impact Real Estate team of Lindsey Ornstein, Stephen Powers, Arthur Skalsky and Alexander Smith represented Rising Ground in the transaction that began nearly a year ago.
“We had a lot of interest because it was a long-term project and people were excited to dig into it,” Powers said. “There were a number of buyers we examined but National Resources had the right vision and were able to give us the certainty of closing without any conditions.”
The deal closed on December 23, and Rising Ground – which serves children and families in need – retained 3 acres on the south side for its own programs, which serve 25,000 people each year.
Through the proceeds of this sale and other yet-to-be-disclosed transactions, OPEN’s brokers say they have ensured that Rising Ground’s programs will be transformed into fundamentally new facilities.
“Nothing is being closed as a result of this sale,” Powers said. “We are also relocating their school and administrative offices.”
Founded in Manhattan in 1831 as the Leek and Watts Orphan House, the organization moved to Yonkers in 1891. Its 30 acres were 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 St. Vincent in 1856 for $95,000, $3.33 million today, after his British-born wife refused to give up her lifelong friendship with a rival actor—and faced accusations of infidelity on both their parts. Meanwhile, they got divorced.
Through the years, Leakey & Watts operated and expanded its social service programs, and in 2018 changed its name to Rising Grounds.
Its 100,000-square-foot Biondi Education Center, which includes the Frank T. Biondi Building and Ames School, will now be leased by the new owners to the City of Yonkers for $3 million per year.
It will be converted into a school for grades 6 through 12, targeted as a magnet school for the performing arts and media. It should open by 2024.
The SI Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University is helping build its curriculum, which will lead to associate degrees for those who want to go straight into the profession, while also becoming a feeder for students applying to upstate college Will go
Newhouse students are already spending a semester in the city taking classes and interning while experiencing everything that iPark Hudson Studios, Great Point Studios and Lionsgate Studios have to offer.
National Resources, iPark and Great Point Studios did not immediately respond to a request for comment.