Monday, November 7, 2011

Colossus: Massive 10-Tower Complex to Rise in Greenpoint Next Year

Two weeks ago, the biggest news in Brooklyn since the bubble burst three years ago: a new tower is coming to the Williamsburg waterfront. The largest project of its kind in North Brooklyn, the third tower at North Side piers will house 500 luxury rental apartments in a 40-story tower. But that is nothing —at least next to the development Park Tower Group has planned.

One of the first developers to see the potential of the Brooklyn waterfront, Park Tower procured the development rights to the old Greenpoint Lumber Exchange almost a decade ago, a 20-acre plot at the tip of the neighborhood, where Newtown Creek empties into the East River.

On this site, now home to construction storage and movie back lots - including Boardwalk Empire - will rise 10 luxury apartment buildings with 4,000 units of housing inside. After years of planning, one of them will begin to rise early next year, according to a person with knowledge of the project.

The neighborhood has already seen a major boom and bust in the past five years since the rezoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Park Tower has been at work long before then. The firm is led by George Klein, who built a number of marquee office towers in Midtown in the 1980s while also playing a major role in city and national politics—like his development, it most often done behind the scenes. With its stake in the waterfront, Park Tower helped shape the plan for the rezoning, particularly the high-rise zone on the waterfront. The firm has been biding its time, quietly designing its project, under the direction of architect Gary Handel, whose work includes the Trump Soho, Hudson Square and the 9/11 Memorial.

Park Tower was considering condos, but has shifted its focus to rentals as those are more easily financed and filled. The developer expects to close on construction loans later this month, to enable a ground breaking sometime early next year.

“The project has been there a long time, but now the market is finally there,” a person involved with the project said. Park Tower is confident in its ability to realize the project given the strong demand for housing in North Brooklyn—rents have risen 10 percent in the past year.

The community already supports the project. Unlike other developers, Park Tower is sticking to the parameters of the rezoning, rather than trying to add stories and reduce amenities. Acres of open space and a 20 percent set-aside for affordable housing—some 800 units—will be there, as per the rezoning.