Brooklyn Broadside: Large Projects Are Back in Style Downtown and in Williamsburg

March 29, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By Dennis Holt

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

BROOKLYN — Recent news reports, including several by Eagle real estate editor Linda Collins, have begun to reflect a trend in development projects. Size is beginning to be a factor again after the long economic slowdown forced projects to become smaller because money was scarce and risk-taking more dangerous.

That’s changing. People almost forgot, for example, what Steiner Studios was up to at the Navy Yard. Then, all of a sudden, we find it has built five new sound stages for the film and video business. The Steiner family, which owns the studios, also plans a major development project in the eastern part of Downtown Brooklyn’s core that, when finished, will include one of the tallest buildings in Brooklyn.

We learned this week that the building that was planned as the very tallest may be constructed after all. That building is the proposed centerpiece of the City Point project, a large development plan that is being built in phases.

The first part, within the old Albee Square Mall, is nearing completion; and the second phase, a sizeable mixed-use building, will begin construction soon. The third and final phase will be the aforementioned 65-story building. (Remember when some people got their noses out of joint just thinking about a building taller than the Williamsburgh Bank Building?) Two other tall buildings are also in the works near the City Point area.

In Williamsburg, The Edge is beginning to expand.  And Whole Foods, while the development of its Gowanus store is still under way, has announced plans to build its second Brooklyn store in the neighborhood.

In addition, we’ve learned this week that a 15,000-square-foot grocery store named Brooklyn Harvest Market, which will focus on organic produce, is coming to the area. Another newcomer will be a combined Italian restaurant, espresso bar and bakery called Fabbrica. Nearby, Ride Brooklyn, a new bike store, will pedal into sight.

Speaking of size, the Williamsburg waterfront is the site for the huge Domino project, which is beginning to seem a little like Atlantic Yards. There are money problems, a fallout among developers and lawsuits.

The project can safely be said to be in trouble, but it is still alive and still may get done in phases, possibly with several different developers. A lot is at stake in this project, including sizeable amounts of affordable housing.


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