Landmarks Preservation Commission greenlights thousand-foot Downtown Brooklyn skyscraper

Supertall tower shares a site with iconic Dime Savings Bank

April 19, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn's tallest tower will soar at 340 Flatbush Ave. Extension, right alongside landmarked Dime Savings Bank. Rendering by SHoP Architects via the Landmarks Preservation Commission
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Brace yourself, Brooklyn — a thousand-foot skyscraper is headed this way.

It will be 1,066 feet tall, to be precise — and will be built on a site shared by the iconic Dime Savings Bank, an individual city landmark at 9 DeKalb Ave. in Downtown Brooklyn.

On Tuesday, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to approve a plan by Michael Stern’s JDS Development and the Chetrit Group to tear down one of the neo-Classical bank building’s annexes and partly remove another annex so they can build a 73-story tower.

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As the Brooklyn Eagle previously reported, the developers are combining the century-old bank building and what will be the borough’s tallest skyscraper into a single project.

The planned skyscraper, whose address in city Buildings Department records is 340 Flatbush Ave. Extension, will be almost twice the height of the borough’s tallest existing buildings.

The vote, which followed a public hearing at the preservation agency’s Lower Manhattan headquarters, moves the proposed project a big step closer to becoming a reality.

The developers do not need to seek government approval for the height of the planned tower. They are able to build it one thousand-plus feet tall thanks to air rights from the Dime Savings Bank property.

Stern, the developer, told the Eagle after the vote that construction will start sometime this year.

“We’re very happy,” he said of the vote of approval. “We’re very excited to bring this great building to Brooklyn.”

Commissioners poured out praises for SHoP Architects’ design for the planned supertall rental apartment tower. They said its siting next to the Dime building will not detract from the luster of the historic landmark.

“This project is enlightened urbanism at its best,” Commissioner Frederick Bland said.

Commissioner Michael Goldblum said the project is a “model” of how new development can co-exist with a landmark and create “synergy.”

Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan called the tower’s design “a beautiful piece of architecture.”


Don’t tear down those teller cages just yet

Other changes the LPC okayed to Dime’s exterior include the addition of doors on its Fleet Street façade. And developers got the go-ahead to make some modifications to the banking hall, which is an interior landmark, such as installing new concealed ceiling sprinkler heads.

However, the LPC decided not to give the developers — for now, at least — one thing they asked for.

JDS Development and the Chetrit Group had wanted to remove the teller cages in the banking hall to increase the useable floor area for the space’s future tenant, which will be a retailer.

Commissioners voted that the teller cages must remain intact “for the time being.”

In a discussion before the vote, several commissioners said that when a tenant is found for the banking hall, they would consider altering the teller cages once they are shown a specific plan.

Stern told the commissioners during the hearing that a tenant has not yet been found for the banking hall.

The lovely Dime building, which served until last year as a J.P. Morgan Chase branch, is ringed with columns and looks like an ancient temple. It is now vacant.

The original building, constructed in 1906-1908, was designed by Mowbray & Uffinger. It was enlarged and altered in 1931-1932 according to a design by Halsey, McCormack & Helmer — the architecture firm that designed another high-profile Brooklyn landmark, the clock-topped former Williamsburgh Savings Bank.

The developers paid a combined $133 million for the Dime building and the skyscraper site, city Finance Department records indicate.

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