Bruce Ratner is planning to build the city’s tallest residential tower — a whopping 1,000-foot skyscraper that would dwarf the 512-foot Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, Brooklyn’s tallest.
But as with Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-development, the secret, closed-door deal is already casting a shadow.
“No comment,” Ratner told a Brooklyn Paper reporter who approached him at the annual Metrotech Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday night, hours after renderings of the Renzo Piano–designed 1,000-foot-tall edifice at the corner of Jay and Tillary streets were splashed all over the city’s tabloids.
Earlier in the day, a Ratner spokesman said by e-mail that the drawing “was quite old and not indicative of current plans.” But the spokesman refused to say what the current plans are.
Secrecy is nothing new for Ratner. As at Atlantic Yards, Ratner is partnering with a public agency — in this case, City University of New York — in a process that will not undergo the city’s rigorous land-use review process. Current zoning allows Ratner to build as high as he wants — but neither his company nor CUNY officials would say how high that is.
Here are some details about the closed-door public-private partnership:
• The complex — on Jay Street between Tillary Street and Tech Place — would consist of a new, 11- to 14-story City Tech laboratory and classroom building, and an adjacent underground auditorium and gym. It is not known how much Ratner would be paid for this work.
• As part of the package, Ratner would control the corner lot at Jay and Tillary streets — currently home to City Tech’s antiquated Klitgord Auditorium.
• CUNYâ€ˆpicked Ratner’s company over rival developer Tishman Speyer in 2005. Details of each company’s bids have not been released to the public despite repeated requests. As a result, it is unclear how much the chosen developer stands to benefit from this public-private partnership.
The Ratner spokesman’s renunciation of the rendering shrouds the project in additional secrecy. The New York Post reported that the building would rise anywhere from 700 to 1,000 feet and include 600 market-rate apartments, retail space on the ground floor and office space for CUNY.
This project represents Ratner’s second attempt to build the tallest building in Brooklyn. His Frank Gehry–designed “Miss Brooklyn” tower was originally slated to be well over 600 feet, but its height was trimmed to 511 feet just before the Atlantic Yards project was approved by the state.
The new “Mr. Brooklyn” tower does not show up in the glitzy presentation of the future of Downtown Brooklyn released last month by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.
But Partnership president Joe Chan said he is “excited” by the building, whatever its height may be.