Want a unique place to get married in Williamsburg? Go to the bank.
The iconic Williamsburgh Savings Bank branch on Broadway is being transformed into an exhibition space and banquet hall that will put an Old Brooklyn spin on North Brooklyn nuptials.
Juan Figueroa purchased the landmark last fall from HSBC for $4.5 million but only now, his $3-million restoration plan is being revealed as workers begin a two-year job.
So far, they’ve polished tarnished bronze hinges and fixtures, smoothed out oak railings, stripped decades of paint from ironwork, and restored ceilings.
The building’s two massive safes will remain intact — one will likely house a bar while the other is big enough to hold a private party.
“I found the crown of Williamsburg in the gutter, and I picked it up,” said Figueroa. “Nobody took care of it in 100 years and now I will.”
He originally contemplated a restaurant in the 136-year-old building, or perhaps a hotel modeled on his Bushwick-based New York Loft Hostel business.
But the success of other bank reinventions, such as Skylight One Hanson in the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower in Fort Greene, and his reverence for the building convinced him to establish a special events space rather than a destination restaurant to compete with Peter Luger, Diner and Dressler nearby.
“You’ll only be successful if the people around you are successful,” said Figueroa. “If you are a competitor with your neighbors, it’s not good for anyone.”
The Williamsburgh Savings Bank branch was designed by famed architect George Post and landmarked by the city in 1966. With its domed interior and ornate tile work, remains a prominent example of Italian Renaissance architecture.
The empty main hall, where bank customers cashed their checks at teller windows for decades, has a cavernous presence unlike any in Williamsburg — a perfect setting for a society ball or a fight scene from an action picture.
Figueroa has not yet decided what to do with the lot behind the former bank adjacent to Bedford Avenue — though the site is zoned to allow residential use with retail stores on the ground floor.
©2011 Community News Group
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