A Behemoth Skyscraper Will Bring Midtown Manhattan to Downtown Brooklyn

Credit SHoP Architects
Credit SHoP Architects

The skyscrapers are coming!

Until 2009, Brooklyn was blessed with just one not-that-tall, tall-building, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank. At 512 feet, it had been our borough’s homage to height since 1929.

But in 2014, 388 Bridge Street, a residential tower of 590-feet, slipped into first place. That was followed last year by “The Hub” at 333 Schermerhorn Street, with 52 floors and 610 feet. More recently we learned City Point’s big white bean pole, the Extell tower, will soar to 692 feet by 2019—which sure seemed unreasonably tall at the time. But what a quaint time January 2016 was.

Because yesterday, the New York Times reported Brooklyn will receive a distinctly Manhattan-like skyscraper: a 1,066-foot and 73-story behemoth near the Fulton Mall.

JDS Development group and Chetrit Group will build the monster (for comparison, Gothamist points out, taller even than the Chrysler building at 1,046 feet) at 9 Dekalb Avenue, right next to the landmarked Dime Savings Bank (also purchased by the developer), whose structure will be incorporated into the plans. At its proposed height, the building will appear (though not quite be) approximately twice as tall as its next closest to kin in Brooklyn, like a tower suffering from giantism.

It could spur the same kind of “race to the top” underway in Manhattan, a collection of under-development super-skyscrapers that will shoot like skinny stilts high-above the moderately-sized ones below them. In Brooklyn, JDS Development and Chetrit Group were able to gain access to such great heights after purchasing the air rights that came with the bank, i.e., 300,000 additional square feet.

The base of the planned tower would both incorporate and partly demolish a portion of the bank (which will require approval from the city, to be discussed at a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing on March 15). And aesthetically, the tower was designed to incorporate original bank design elements: “bronzed ribbons” on the tower facade reflect details from the early 20th Century structure. But, ha! Seriously, taken together, two buildings could not look more dissimilar. The combinations is like a giant industrial candle stuck into the world’s most elegant and petite wedding cake.

The Times reports that outrageous height is something JDS is familiar with. They’re currently behind a 1,428-foot condo (!!!) on West 57th Street, and Chetrit recently owned the Willis Tower in Chicago, our great continent’s second-tallest building after 1 World Trade Center.

Michael Stern, founder and managing partner of JDS said in a statement, “We want this project to encapsulate everything that is great about Brooklyn’s past and everything that is great about Brooklyn’s future,” which is to say, one that will require a lot more neck craning, since developers are beginning to take advantage of 2004 rezoning which permits these residential high rises.

The tower will be filled with rental units, not condos, and include twenty percent affordable housing. This goes against a more-prevelant condo-trend in Manhattan, but its bones are straight out of our glitzy borough to the west. “This project, I’d almost think of it as a part of downtown Manhattan,” said Jonathan Miller, president of an appraisal firm, Miller Samuel.

And another take: “Honestly, the first time I got a glimpse of these plans, I got a little emotional.” That was Tucker Reed, president of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. In the Times, he went on to say that emotion sprung from “how far,” he believed, “Brooklyn has come.”


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