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Toll Brothers looks to DUMBO

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Toll Brothers may try to reach for the sky in DUMBO.

The mammoth suburban developers — fresh from a bruising withdrawal from the toxic Gowanus Canal — says it may seek to build as high as the law allows in the famously hot neighborhood between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.

That would mean a 120-foot tower at 205 Water St. between Jay and Bridge streets.

Toll Brothers bought the lot just before Christmas for $8.6 million and needs the go-ahead from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which oversees new construction in the DUMBO Historic District.

The company is confident.

“It’s a big vacant site — people would like to see some activity there,” said Toll Brothers spokesman David Von Spreckelsen. “Our goal is to have the whole process finished by April, and start building shortly thereafter.”

He was less specific about what the 70-unit building would look like — or even if the tower would include below-market-rate apartments, which would give the developer a bonus that would allow a bulkier structure.

“We’re going back and forth on height at this point,” he said. “If there were no Landmarks Commission, we’d go to 12 stories without question.”

Von Spreckelsen didn’t comment on whether the site is a backup plan for Toll Brothers’ bid to build along the Gowanus Canal, a 575-unit development that the company says is dead if the waterway is designated a Superfund site.

The DUMBO property fronts both Plymouth and Water streets, which gives the developer plenty of options, even in a neighborhood that was rezoned to cap residential development at 12 stories last year.

Getting the nod for new development has not been easy of late in DUMBO. Not only does Community Board 2 often reject residential development in the area, but the new DUMBO Historic District adds another hurdle for the developers to jump.

Toll Brothers is following in the footsteps of other big developers that have sought to build controversial projects. After a bitter fight last year, David Walentas won approval for a 17-story tower on Dock Street next to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Oddly, the Toll Brothers site was briefly linked to that Walentas project when opponents suggested 205 Water St. as a potential location for the middle school that comprised the main public amenity in Walentas’s proposal.

But the city ended up choosing Walentas to develop the middle school on Dock Street, dashing opponents’ hopes.

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Reader Feedback

Brooklyn from the neighb says:
Toll is hedging their options here. They have filed plans for both an 8 story New Building and a 12 story New Building on the same site. So it looks like they are prepared to go with 8 stories if Landmarks doesn't approve 12 stories.
But if you look up and down the narrow Plymouth and Water streets you see that the buildings around this site are 1 to 4 stories with a rare 6 story. Even 8 stories will be overly imposing on these narrow streets.

Lets hope that Landmarks has their heads on straight when they vote on this one. The building design would really have to be something significant to justify such a tall imposing structure here.
Feb. 18, 2010, 7:15 pm
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:
“If there were no Landmarks Commission, we’d go to 12 stories without question.”

Ummm, if there was no Landmarks Commission, you wouldn't even be thinking of the area. The historical aspect of the area is what got people here in the first place, with yuppies right behind who want to feel 'cool'. So quit your complaining.
Feb. 24, 2010, 1:42 am
Lofty from DUMBO says:
In New York, 120 feet does not equal a tower. It's typically a 12-story building, usually with set backs above 8 stories. For comparison, the picture in the article centers on J-condo, a 33-story TOWER. So a proposed 12-story building is only about a third of the size!

In DUMBO the buildings are LOFTs with 14-15'h ceilings, so a 6-story loft building is some 90' tall. An 8-story loft building might be 120' tall. For context.
Feb. 24, 2010, 9:43 am

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