Edifice complex as two towers compete to be the boro’s biggest
By Ben Muessig
July 16, 2009
Is this Downtown Brooklyn or Downtown Dubai?!?
With news that a proposed 57-story skyscraper will rise even higher than the recently topped off, current tallest building in Brooklyn, the Clarett Group’s 51-story “Brooklyner” on Lawrence Street in Downtown, locals can hardly tell anymore.
Builders of the new 596-foot high-rise, which will include 861 rental apartments, claim they were not intending to start a skyscraper race in Downtown, where the 514-foot Clarett tower is just 24 inches taller than the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, which had held the title as the borough’s tallest since 1929.
“At that site, the height was necessary based on the amount of density and the relatively small footprint that we had,” said Fred Harris, a senior vice president of development for AvalonBay Communities, the developer of the so-called “Avalon Willoughby West.”
If it is ever built, it would top the “Brooklyner” — whose epic size inspired at least one Kings County resident to call it “Kilimanjaro” — by 82 feet.
Despite the ailing real estate market, Harris told The Brooklyn Paper that he is confident there will be demand for the skyscraping rental project designed by SLCE Architects, details of which were first reported this week by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
“Brooklyn had a condo wave, and we know what’s happened to all the condos at the moment,” he said. “But Brooklyn hasn’t had a significant number of new rentals in a long time. I’m feeling good [about this project].”
To make room for the skyscraper — which will boast ground floor retail space and a parking garage for 345 vehicles — AvalonBay is in the process of acquiring low-rise properties on Willoughby between Bridge and Duffield streets from Al Laboz’s United American Land. The buildings currently feature a temporary art installation in their windows (see sidebar).
The skyscraper is planned to rise just blocks from the company’s 42-story Myrtle Avenue Fort Greene skyscraper, the Avalon Fort Greene, which the developers will use as a guinea pig to determine the cost to rent an apartment in the tallest building in the borough.
“We’ll study the first one,” said Harris, who noted that construction on the Downtown development could begin next year. “We’ll go to school on it. If we find that certain floor plan features, or certain amenities are really key in this sub market, we’ll move forward with them.”
Skyscraper experts say that Brooklyn really is in the midst of a battle for the tallest — though it is hardly a skirmish compared to the war between 40 Wall Street, the Chrysler Building, and the Empire State Building that raged in Manhattan 80 years ago.
“It’s comparable, but to a lesser scale,” said John Tauranac, author “The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark.”
“It’s not for the world’s tallest record, but there is advantage of doing the biggest, the fattest, or the smallest,” he said. “It gets into the newspapers.”
©2009 The Brooklyn Paper