Fort Greene

A tale of two towers: 286 Ashland Place will top out by year’s end

Eye On Real Estate

December 9, 2015 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Today we're telling tales of two Downtown Brooklyn towers, 286 Ashland Place (right) and 333 Schermerhorn St. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
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All That Glisters Is Not Gold. Sometimes it’s even better.

See that aluminum composite gleaming in the sunlight on busy Flatbush Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn?

It’s on the façade of 286 Ashland Place, a glamorous rental-apartment building and cultural facility the Walentas family’s company, Two Trees Management, is constructing.

The pale metal cladding, punctuated with holes for windows, stretches across the lower floors of the building’s framework. Week by week, workers keep installing more of this fine façade.

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The other day when we stopped by, uninvited, to photograph the Brooklyn Cultural District development from outside its construction fence, the building rose 26 stories into the air.

David Lombino, Two Trees’ director of special projects, later told us it will top out at 32 stories before the end of the year.

“We’re making great progress and are optimistic we will have residents living at BAM South by September,” he said. BAM South is an often-used name for this development’s site, which formerly belonged to the city.

“Because of the building’s design, central location, cultural space and the public plaza we feel that it will be a terrific neighborhood amenity and help knit together everything that is happening from Downtown Brooklyn to Barclays Center,” Lombino said.

Workers have been toiling at Two Trees’ Brooklyn Cultural District property since site prep started in February 2014. The last time we took a close look, which was in March 2015, there was just a massive hole in the ground with cement walls inside it.

The immediate neighbors of the wedge-shaped site on Ashland Place, Flatbush Avenue and Lafayette Avenue include the iconic Williamsburgh Savings Bank clock tower, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s landmarked Peter Jay Sharp Building and Mark Morris Dance Center.

Real estate-obsessed Brooklynites have already seen renderings of 286 Ashland Place, whose designer is star architect Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos.

Even so, it’s quite an Eye pleaser to glimpse the real-life building as it takes shape.

The Ashland Place development is nearly three-quarters of a mile from our Court Street office. But its glowing metal façade is very noticeable — in a good way — from our windows.


Coming Soon: BAM Karen

We haven’t had a chance to mention this detail until now. One of the venues in the new building’s 50,000-square-foot cultural facility will be named after Karen Brooks Hopkins, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s recently retired president.

BAM Karen, as it will be called, will be expansion space for BAM Cinemas and a home for BAM’s archives.

BAM previously named a building after a retired leader: 651 Fulton St. is called the BAM Harvey Theater in honor of Harvey Lichtenstein.

In 286 Ashland Place’s cultural facility, there will also be a public library, a dance studio for 651 ARTS, which is a performing arts presenter devoted to artists of the African diaspora, and space for the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts.

The city will own and operate the cultural facility.

The new building will also have 35,000 square feet of retail space, Lombino mentioned.

And it will have a big public plaza.

It will have 379 apartments, 76 of them affordable units for people earning 60 percent of area median income. The process for applying for the affordable housing will begin early next year, Lombino said.

Two other rental-apartment buildings with affordable-housing units and cultural facilities are also under construction on formerly city-owned sites in the Brooklyn Cultural District — which was known until recently as the BAM Cultural District:

* The Ashland is the 52-story tower that the Gotham Organization is building at 250 Ashland Place, next door to the Polonsky Shakespeare Center.

* Brooklyn Cultural District: Apartments (BCD:A) is the 11-story building that Jonathan Rose Cos. is constructing at 280 Ashland Place. It will house the Center for Fiction as well as new studios for Mark Morris Dance Center.  

Also, a glamorous apartment tower is rising skywards at 333 Schermerhorn St., right across Flatbush Avenue from 286 Ashland Place.

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