Local planner gets the big job: Carlton Brown to plan centerpiece of BAM district

The Brooklyn Paper
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The centerpiece of a world-class arts district that’s going up around the Brooklyn Academy of Music will be built by a local developer, The Brooklyn Paper has learned.

Local activists hailed the city’s selection of Carlton Brown and his architect partner, studioMDA, as the developers of the 25-story focal point of the so-called BAM Cultural District.

The building, which will house Dancespace Project, a Manhattan-based experimental dance troupe, will rise at the southwest corner of Ashland Place and Fulton Street and include more than 50 percent affordable housing, said Seth Donlin, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

“Their level of affordability was great,” said Donlin, explaining why the local developer was chosen for the plum project. “And the design of the building architecturally was fantastic.”

The selection marks a coup for local activists, who have clamored on behalf of Brown since bidding began for the project in February. Also rumored to be in the running were David Walentas of Two Trees Management, and the Dermot Company, which is transforming the Williamsburgh Savings Bank into luxury condos.

As The Brooklyn Paper reported in August, Brown, who has lived in the neighborhood for a quarter-century, was initially eliminated from the competition. But Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) and local activists raised such a ruckus that Brown’s proposal was resurrected.

Brown’s firm, Full Spectrum, is also developing the green Trenton Town Center in New Jersey and co-developing the Solaire in Tribeca. studioMDA was founded by a former director of Zaha Hadid Architects.

“We’re absolutely ecstatic,” said James.

Updated 4:10 pm, November 5, 2007
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