“We are a city of skyscrapers. We are a city of towers.” That’s what Empire State Development Corporation Chairman Charles Gargano said last week, casting Brooklyn as the new Manhattan — a vision for the borough that many longtime residents and the newer Manhattan exiles simply do not share.
Gargano was talking specifically about Bruce Ratner’s proposed Atlantic Yards mega-developement — which would not be finished until 2016 at the earliest — but his dream of a skyscraper-filled Brooklyn is becoming a reality even before Ratner puts a spade in the ground.
The Downtown Brooklyn Plan — an upzoning and condemnation law passed two years ago — is finally bearing young with at least eight buildings on the drawing board for just a short stretch of Flatbush Avenue Extension from the Manhattan Bridge to Willoughby Street.
Here are some details:
• In April, developers Ron Hershco and Dean Palin broke ground at 303 Gold St. for a residential and retail tower — the first building within the Downtown plan.
This fall, construction will begin on the 40-story building’s 35-story twin at 313 Gold St. (both are pictured near right).
Taken together, the buildings represent a $400-million investment that will add 517 luxury condos to attract more Gaphattanites to Brooklyn.
• Thor Equities — the company that gave us plans for a Coney Island Xanadu — is in the preliminary phases of a 60-story tower called Albee Square West, which would rise near the Fulton Mall just west of Flatbush Avenue Extension (far right, top).
A spokesman for the developer said only that the building would contain 1.4 million square feet of offices, residential units and retail.
• Back on the east side of Flatbush, on Myrtle Avenue, Gristedes supermarket king John Catsimatidis is getting ready to break ground on his 400-foot tower, a building that would look quite at home on the new Upper West Side — which used to feel a lot like low-rise Brooklyn until developers went crazy (far right, bottom).
Catsimatidis told The Brooklyn Papers that his building will be “combination residential, including some low-income units and dorm space for Long Island University, plus essential services.”
“I’ve been a New Yorker all my life,” he said. “I want to make sure we have locksmiths and hardware stores and supermarkets and a place like Woolworth’s. Where have they all gone?”
He called his million-square-foot building a “perfect place for the middle-class — just five minutes from Manhattan.”
• Across the street, a company called BFC Development says it will build a 40-story, $200-million residential tower designed by the famous architectural firm, Skidmore Owings and Merrill.
The company did not return calls from The Brooklyn Papers.
• And just this week, a rendering of a new high-rise (inset) popped into our in baskets: Muss Development’s 32-story “One Brooklyn Plaza” tower at the intersection of Boerum Place, Fulton Street and Livingston Street (so long, Red Hook Lane, we hardly knew ye).
The building would be entirely filled with offices — no residential — with retail on the ground floor.
Taken together, the corridor from the Manhattan Bridge to Fulton Street is really going to make people look up.
“When we leave Brooklyn, we say, ‘Oy vey,’” Borough President Markowitz said at the 303 Gold St. groundbreaking. “But now, when we enter Brooklyn from the Manhattan Bridge, we will say ‘Oh wow!’”
If you like skyscrapers, that is.