Brooklyn Might Finally Get A Real Skyscraper
It used to be that nothing in Brooklyn exceeded the height of the Willamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, a famed historic clock just off Flatbush Avenue. But following a rezoning of downtown last decade, one developer surpassed that structure by 2 feet in 2009, and now the cap looks like it might blow off the roof. In the years since, several other skyscrapers were built, and a mega-version could soon follow.
On Wednesday, Crain’s New York announced a $90 million deal between developers Joe Chetrit and Michael Stern to acquire a Dime Savings Bank in downtown Brooklyn. Included are not just the bank, which is a landmarked classical structure that could be retrofitted for upscale retail, but a nearby lot whose air rights would allow for a 600,000 square foot building. This means that if Stern built a skinny tower, like he did for the 1,400-foot, ultra-luxury apartment building on 111 W. 57th street in Manhattan, he could have a tower well above 1,000 feet. Early renderings suggest that he will do exactly that, showing a skinny black structure that is 1,200 feet tall, or roughly the height of the Empire State Building without its antenna. The project will be located on 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension, in a growing neighborhood that has enjoyed a construction boom and the new Barclays basketball arena. The completion timetable, though, is unclear, and like with other major New York City projects, could face years of resistance.
The tower would join several others that have helped Brooklyn finally carve out a skyline for itself, against the backdrop of mighty Manhattan. In 2009, the Brooklyner, on 111 Lawrence Street, became the first building to exceed the clock tower in height, at 514 feet. This was surpassed last year by nearby 388 Bridge Street, which was then beaten this summer by the 595-foot AvaDoBro, also in downtown Brooklyn. But the building proposed by Stern, who founded JDS Development, would be over twice their height, joining seven Manhattan buildings that exceed 1,000 feet.
There will be many locals who hate this project, not only for its height, but for the way it might relax the inhibitions of other downtown Brooklyn developers. But despite these few projects, the borough remains overwhelmingly low-slung, even as New York City has added 1.5 million people since 1980, including about 80,000 annually so far this decade. Brooklyn is the most populous–and arguably the most popular–borough, and it would be unrealistic for residents to think that it would never adapt to this growth by going vertical. Stern’s property–if he builds it–may be the project that ushers the borough’s development policy into the modern age.
By Scott Beyer, Forbes
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