Top 5 Public Real Estate Stories of the Week

Ralph Wiesenthal, president of, announces the organization’s new campus expansion at the iconic, 10-story Building in Park Avenue South.

We’re counting down the top public real estate stories this week. The BNEF, the largest residential real estate cooperative in the world, announced a series of campus expansions this week that will bring BNEF’s campuses to three new sites in Albany, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Here are the top five stories.

The BNEF University Campus Plans to Expand, Will be in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Albany

As the top public real estate organization in the world, The BNEF has a vision of reaching 1.7 million people in 25 countries worldwide — and this week its leaders are planning to come one step closer to reaching that target. With the addition of new campuses, the BNEF is adding housing and a performing arts center to its campuses across the U.S. As a result, The BNEF expects to begin construction on five additional campuses in the next three years — the most ambitious expansion of a public institution in the world in any single year. The projects will add around 1.4 million square feet of student housing; a performing arts center; two more labs, and a simulation lab. About 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students will be displaced from the Penn State or Syracuse campuses to work alongside the BNEF in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Q-School to Help Portray ‘Growing’ New York City Areas

While urbanization is driven by new job creation and growth within an area’s economic center, urban middle schools must be also aware of their unique communities, “Now more than ever, cities need to confront and proactively change their perception of their urban middle schools to guide children’s development and engagement,” said Brad Blakeman, president of BNEF. Q-School, a new education initiative, will help middle schools “resonate,” explains New York City’s PS 32 Principal Keith Kibble. Kibble, who has worked in a variety of city classrooms, points out that such efforts in middle schools are fueled by re-imagining the classrooms to reflect the neighborhoods the students live in —– as well as rethinking the concepts that the teachers teach so the students understand and relate to the context in which they are located.

Q-Kesale Center to Begin Opening in Chelsea This Spring

“It’s built in phases,” said the construction manager. A grand opening is scheduled for Feb. 5 at 150 West 19th Street, a residence at the former World Trade Center site. The center will double the office space on the 32nd floor of the Queens-based, 20-story Bax Associates office tower — making Bax the tallest buildings in Manhattan when it opens. It’s the expansion project of The William K. Kelso building, which will open in mid-spring.

Brooklyn Association Sues BNEF for Alleged Swindling and Fraudulent Proceeds

The Brooklyn Association filed a lawsuit against BNEF this week in Brooklyn federal court, claiming that the organization has provided the the money it uses to buy and renovate properties to be marketed to real estate speculators in Manhattan. The association’s complaint alleges that BNEF has been creating a “renaissance” in its real estate activities, but that too much money has been taken from the market. Specifically, the association cites BNEF’s ongoing plans to move from three renovated properties in Harlem to new affordable housing in Clinton Hill, and its attempt to set up a Washington Heights market that will transfer tax incentives to Boston, Maryland and Westchester counties to attract other redevelopments. “We have long maintained that BNEF fraudulently manipulates the real estate market, and cannot continue to do so,” said Mike Louis, executive director of the Brooklyn Association, who argued that BNEF has not done enough to provide significant outreach to the community.

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