New Building Approved in DUMBO Historic District

Image: Courtesy of GreenbergFarrow

Toll Brothers will build 67-unit project on vacant lot formerly occupied by factory building. On April 20, 2010, Landmarks approved Toll Brothers’ proposed 67-unit residential complex at 205 Water Street in Brooklyn’s DUMBO Historic District. The vacant lot fronts Water and Plymouth Streets and was formerly occupied by a factory last used by the Brillo Company. The building was demolished shortly before the district’s 2007 designation. A 2009 rezoning opened the industrial area up to as-of-right residential and commercial development. 6 CityLand 104 (Aug. 15, 2009).

At the hearing, attorney Valerie Campbell, representing Toll Brothers pointed out that the project conformed to the lot’s split M1-4/R8A and M1-4/R7A zoning. GreenbergFarrow architect Navid Maqami described the building’s design. Maqami said he drew inspiration from the varying street wall heights of the area’s architecture, as well as from the rusted metal, cobblestones, and concrete materials that characterize the neighborhood. He explained that the building reached 80 feet along Water Street and rose to 97 feet on the Plymouth Street frontage. A two-story tower would rise above the rest of the building, with a portion cantilevered slightly over Plymouth Street. The building would be faced primarily with castin- place concrete, and its base and entrance would be built with CorTen steel, which forms a rust-like patina as it ages.

Doreen Gallo, of the DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance, testified that the proposed building was generally acceptable in form, shape, and scale, but said it would be preferable if the building were faced in brick rather than concrete. Two residents of an adjoining property expressed concern about the impact of construction on their building. The Historic District Council’s Nadezhda Williams said the Council was “pleasantly surprised” that the proposal was contextual with other buildings in the historic district.

Commissioner Fred Bland said the materials presented were appropriate to the “epitome of a gritty neighborhood,” while Commissioner Diana Chapin noted that Landmarks rarely saw such a successful initial proposal for a new building. Commissioner Pablo Vengoechea called the proposal exciting “in an understated way,” but he thought the Plymouth Street facade could use some “visual relief.” Chair Robert B. Tierney found the proposal appropriate and said the applicants “respected the district.”

Landmarks voted unanimously to approve the design.

LPC: 205 Water Street, Brooklyn (10- 6632) (April 20, 2010) (Architects: GreenbergFarrow).


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