Fort Greene

Brooklyn Cultural District building boom: The Hotel Trades Council’s Health Center, 620 Fulton St.

Eye On Real Estate: Guess what? The site previously belonged to an entity affiliated with Forest City Ratner

March 18, 2015 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The parking lot in the foreground at 620 Fulton St. is the site of a health center and office building. Behind the parking lot, that's the Theatre for a New Audience in the center of the photo. The mural at left is on a wall of Mark Morris Dance Center. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
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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:

The New York Hotel Trades Council and Hotel Association of New York City’s healthcare and pension arm is breaking ground on a combination health center and office building — possibly right as you read this — on a parking lot at 620 Fulton St.

Last fall, architecture firm Francis Cauffman released renderings of its designs for a teardrop-shaped building with glass fins for the site, which has frontage on Ashland Place and St. Felix Street. It will house healthcare services for unionized hotel workers, current and retired, and their families and have 70,000 square feet of office space and 20,000 square feet of retail space.

Also, there will be space for a restaurant, New York YIMBY (which stands for Yes In My Back Yard) reported.

Having a place where people can get a bite to eat before or after visiting an arts venue will of course link this building to the rest of the cultural district.

The 12-story building will be 177 feet high.

What nobody noticed when the architecture firm publicized the design plans was that the previous owner of the site was an entity affiliated with Forest City Ratner.

A top executive at Forest City Ratner, David L. Berliner, signed the deed for the seller, 188 Clermont Construction Inc., when the hotel trades council purchased it for $19 million in 2013.

Why didn’t the people at Ratner keep the property and develop it themselves? We couldn’t get an answer.   

“They are not going to comment on the decision to sell a site,” Forest City Ratner’s spokesman Joe DePlasco said.

The property’s new owner got a city Buildings Department permit to construct a temporary tent for a ground-breaking ceremony scheduled for March 19 — as well as approval to tear up the lot’s asphalt surface and remove the parking attendant’s booth.


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