Fort Greene

First residents move into The Ashland

Eye On Real Estate: And food hall in Fort Greene tower will open soon

September 21, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Ashland stands tall in the Brooklyn Cultural District. That's Mark Morris Dance Center in front of it. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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The construction of a glam new neighbor for BAM is nearly finished.

All the work should be completed at The Ashland by Nov. 1 at the latest.

That’s the word from David Picket, president of Gotham Organization, the developer of the 53-story  rental-apartment tower at 250 Ashland Place in Fort Greene.

And Brooklyn foodies take note: Gotham Market at The Ashland, a food hall in the base of the building, will open in late October, Picket said in a recent interview.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

The Ashland is the newest addition to the Brooklyn Cultural District — which until recently was known as the BAM Cultural District, as in Brooklyn Academy of Music, which operates multiple theaters in the mini-neighborhood.

Readers with long memories will recall that before this project was called The Ashland, it was known by the address 598 Fulton St. The property had belonged to the city, which chose Gotham Organization as the developer through a request-for-proposals process.

The City of New York sold the site through its Department of Housing Preservation and Development to the developer for $1, city Finance Department records indicate.  

Affordable units for $801 per month

The first residents began moving into The Ashland in mid-August. The other day, when we met with Picket and Nancy Holland, the director of leasing at The Ashland, they said tenants had moved into 16 of the building’s apartments.

The two-toned brick skyscraper is located on property with frontage on Fulton Street and Rockwell Place. It’s right next door to the Bard’s Brooklyn home, Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center (TFANA).

A momentary digression: TFANA will have an office on the second floor of The Ashland, Picket said. The rest of the second floor will serve as an office for another cultural institution, probably one from the neighborhood.

About the residents who have just moved into The Ashland. They are market-rate tenants.

One of the most important things to know about the 586-unit building is that nearly half the apartments are affordable. They’re being rented for below-market rents to people with a range of incomes from low-income to middle-income.  

Tenants of the affordable units are being selected by a city-run lottery with specific income limits, which is how lotteries work.

For example, there are $801-per-month studios for single people with annual household earnings of $28,835 to $36,300 and three-bedroom apartments for $1,196 per month for three-person households with annual household earnings of $42,892 to $46,620 per year.

At the other end of the affordable-apartment range, studios rent for $2,455 per month for single people who earn $85,543 to $121,000 annually and three-bedroom apartments go for $3,649 per month to three-person households earning $126,995 to $155,400 annually.

Applications were gathered earlier this year; the deadline was in April. There were 82,262 applications for The Ashland’s 282 affordable apartments.

It will probably take 18 months to complete the process of selecting the affordable-apartment tenants and signing leases for those units, Picket said.

Indie films for club members

Market-rate apartment leasing started on July 21. Forty units have been leased, Picket said.

Gotham Organization recently got a temporary certificate of occupancy for all the apartments in the building. So it was just able to start leasing the apartments above the 40th floor, which is where two-bedroom and three-bedroom units are located.

A lot of apartment-hunters coming to The Ashland are from Fort Greene.

“They live in charming brownstones, but are trying to decide if they want to live in a modern high-rise,” Holland said.

Other apartment-hunters live and work in Lower Manhattan.

“We’re seeing a ton of families,” she said.

Asking rents for currently available apartments range from $2,690 per month for a studio to $6,750 per month for a three-bedroom apartment, The Ashland’s website indicates.

The 568-foot tower’s high-end amenities include 53rd-floor resident lounges and roof terraces with jaw-dropping views of the East River curving around the Lower East Side plus Brooklyn landmarks of all sorts. On the third floor, there’s a huge gym with space for fitness classes and an outdoor movie-screening area where indie films will be shown with directors’ talks afterwards.  

Tenants must pay an amenity fee for access to the gym, fitness classes and film screenings. The property’s low-income residents will get a mandated statutory discount of 10 percent on the amenity fee.

“What drives the ability to provide affordable housing in New York City is the ability to set market-rate rents as high as you can. Super-duper amenities help,” Picket said.  

“We’re getting our asking rents,” he added. “So far, so good.”

Long live art

A digression about the building’s design: Picket didn’t want The Ashland to be a glass tower. It’s built with a lot of brick.

The colors of the brick are brownstone and limestone, inspired by Fort Greene rowhouses, Barclays Center and BAM’s Beaux Arts-style Peter Jay Sharp Theater, Daniel Kaplan of FXFOWLE Architects, The Ashland’s designer, said in 2013, as we’ve previously reported.

Also, Picket said during our interview, “recessed windows add texture to the façade. It’s a more costly way to build. I hope people notice.”

Another subject: We asked Picket to talk about The Ashland’s location within the Brooklyn Cultural District.

“It’s so energizing,” he said.

“I love Lincoln Center — we’re big supporters,” Picket explained.

“But I love being around here [in the Brooklyn Cultural District] because of the organic nature of it.

“There’s a dance company here, somebody blowing glass there. It’s what makes New York great — the ‘What is it doing on this block?’ feeling you get.”

To encourage The Ashland’s tenants to enjoy their neighborhood, Gotham Organization is handing out “cultural passes” entitling them to perks and discounts from local arts organizations including TFANA , Mark Morris Dance Group and others.

By the way, Picket is a member of BAM’s Board of Trustees.

Pizza, pizza

He and Holland gave us a tour of The Ashland. We saw spacious, light-filled apartments that made us feel so serene. The tremendous views made our heart race.

On the building’s first floor, interior buildouts of the food hall’s vendor spaces were being done.

The 16,000-square-foot Gotham Market at The Ashland, as it’s called, will occupy all the ground-floor retail space in the building. There will be basement space for food prep.

Gotham Organization is an experienced hand at food halls. Its development Gotham West on W. 45th Street in Hell’s Kitchen has one called Gotham West Market that website New York Eater says is “wildly popular.”

John Stage, the founder of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, will be well-represented at The Ashland’s food hall. An Italian restaurant he owns, Apizza Regionale, will have a pizza oven made from clay from Mount Vesuvius, Holland told us.

Stage’s other eateries at Gotham Market at The Ashland will be a rotisserie-inspired restaurant called Flip Bird, a breakfast counter called Egg at The Bird and a watering hole called Bar Granger.


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