Fort Greene

Brooklyn Cultural District building boom: Two Trees Management’s 286 Ashland Place

March 18, 2015 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Workers toil at the site of 286 Ashland Place. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese

Eye On Real Estate

Construction is percolating at development sites in a favorite arts-lovers’ neighborhood, the Brooklyn Cultural District.

This is the mini-neighborhood surrounding the Brooklyn Academy of Music that until recently was known as the BAM Cultural District.

We use the latter name as well when writing about the area to remind readers of the long years of effort that BAM’s former executive director Harvey Lichtenstein put in as the chairman of the BAM Local Development Corp., which worked with the city to bring the cultural district into being.

We checked up on several sites the other day with photographer colleague Rob Abruzzese. Here’s what you should know:

 

Behind that construction fence, big things are starting to happen.

Cement walls are rising in the deep, deep hole that will be the basement floors of Two Trees Management’s 32-story rental-apartment tower with cultural facilities.

The wedge-shaped site at 286 Ashland Place has Lafayette Avenue and Flatbush Avenue frontage and is across the street from BAM’s century-old, landmarked Peter Jay Sharp Building, recently opened BAM Fisher Building and the iconic former Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower.

Seventy-six of the building’s 379 apartments will be affordable housing for people earning 60% of area median income (AMI), which means $35,280 per year for an individual and $50,340 for a family of four.

Tenants will be moving in roughly a year from now, said David Lombino, Two Trees’ director of special projects. The marketing of the affordable units will start this summer, and the leasing and marketing of the market-rate apartments will begin in 2016.

High-profile architect Enrique Norten of Ten Arquitectos designed the Walentas family firm’s project, which will have a big public plaza, a public library, an expansion of BAM Cinemas and a facility for 651 ARTS, a performing arts presenter devoted to artists of the African diaspora.

By the way, the city will be the landlord and owner of the cultural spaces, which it will lease to those tenants.

So how do Two Trees executives feel about playing a role in the development of the Brooklyn Cultural District?

“Our company has a great track record supporting the arts in DUMBO,” Lombino said. “In fact, we have three very talented staff people who work full-time on it, so we are certainly well-positioned to play a bigger role around BAM and Downtown Brooklyn.

“The key to this project is really the 15,000-square-foot public open space that will be created in the heart of the cultural district,” he added. “There will be some terrific opportunities to program this space in a creative fashion that highlights all of the cultural talent and resources in the surrounding neighborhood.”