Supertall Brooklyn building proposal finds fury among area’s residents

A proposed 1,066-foot-tall skyscraper in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn has fury soaring among residents and community groups over concerns the neighborhood will be vertically engulfed by “supertalls.”

JDS Development Group and the Chetrit Group revealed their plans this week for the 73-story residential building at 9 DeKalb Ave., which would be the tallest structure in the borough and sit right next to the iconic Junior’s restaurant.

The design didn’t sit well with some Brooklynites, who said the building’s towering stature will destroy the neighborhood’s character.

“This is becoming more and more like skyscraper Manhattan-type of living,” said Kenneth Peterkin, 52, of Bed-Stuy. “Instead of office buildings, they’re building these high rise apartments and how many of us can really, honestly, get into them?”

Mario Messina, an over-development watchdog, said the tower is a strong indication that the “supertall” trend hitting in parts of Manhattan has crossed the East River.

“These tall buildings turn the neighborhood into high rise wastelands,” he said. “When the developers see that they don’t have any more room to butcher Manhattan, they will go elsewhere.”

JDS and Chetrit can build the tower as of right, due to zoning changes for Downtown Brooklyn that were enacted in 2004. However, they need to get approval from the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission to remove part of the Brooklyn Dime Savings Bank building, which is on the same block. A LPC spokeswoman declined to comment ahead of the agency’s hearing about the plan on March 15.

JDS declined to comment about 9 DeKalb Avenue.

City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who chairs the council’s housing committee, called the development “concerning” since there has been little input from the community about its effects.

“We have to build up but we have to build with measure. This is happening too quickly,” he said.

Messina, who runs the non-profit coalition New Yorkers for a Human-Scale City, said Downtown Brooklyn is suffering the same fate as “Billionaires Row,” just south of Central Park, which has six buildings taller than 1,000 feet completed or in the works. The buildings include One57 and 432 Park Avenue, which are 1,004 and 1,396 feet tall respectively.

Esther Rivera, 61, of Clinton Hill, said the change in scenery is getting out of hand.

“Probably, it’s going to be a beautiful building, but I don’t think that we need any more,” she said.

Robert Perris, the district manager for Brooklyn Community Board 2, which represents the area, embraced the new identity the skyscraper could bring to the neighborhood.

“I’ve lived in Brooklyn long enough to remember when Downtown Brooklyn looked like a rust belt city. There are people who are proud that Downtown Brooklyn has grown as the city’s third central business district,” he said.

David Maundrell, who handles new development in Brooklyn and Queens for the real estate group Citi Habitats, said the new tower will enhance that skyline.

“They are building a very sharp building. Brooklyn appreciates art and appreciates interesting architecture, and I think it will fold in that mix,” he said.

Brian Evans, 36, of Clinton Hill, however, pointed out the price of the architectural status symbol: higher-priced real estate. Although there are reports that 9 Dekalb Avenue will have affordable units, Evans expressed doubt that the average Brooklynite had the cash to live in the tower.

“They’re going to have to migrate somewhere else,” he said of residents and small busineses. “It’s just like New York is becoming more of a tourist attraction.”

Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the Historic Districts Council, said it’s impossible to block the tower or other “supertalls” in Brooklyn due to the zoning rules, but the city needs to have serious discussions with the community about how to integrate the towers.

“How those units are being built and where they are being built is important. Five hundred units going up in a block versus 500 units spread out through an area is a big difference,” he said.

New York’s Supertall Club

  • Central Park Tower. Height: 1,550 feet. This building, when completed in 2019, will be the tallest residential building in NYC. 217 W. 57th St.
  • 111 West 57 Street. Height: 1,428 feet. Slated completion date: 2018.
  • 432 Park Avenue. Height: 1,396 feet. This is currently the tallest residential building. 432 Park Ave. S.
  • 53W53 (MoMA Tower). Height: 1,050 feet. Under construction until 2018. 53 W. 53rd St.
  • One57. The building offers both commerical and residential units. Height: 1,004. Completed in 2014. 157 W. 57 St.