Borough’s first supertall skyscraper tops out in Downtown Brooklyn

The view from the 65th floor of Brooklyn’s first supertall skyscraper.
Photos by Susan De Vries

A Downtown Brooklyn historic landmark, the Dime Savings Bank, is now the base for the borough’s first supertall skyscraper, which recently topped out at 93 stories and 1,066 feet, developer JDS Development Group and designer SHoP Architects announced in advance of a hard-hat tour on Thursday.

The building of one on the back of the other — a meeting of “heritage and modernity,” as the press release put it — sums up much development in Brooklyn these days. The height of 9 Dekalb, now known as the Brooklyn Tower, speaks to the value of real estate and the supersizing of the borough of homes and churches with high-rise apartment towers in recent years.

An email from a spokesperson called Brooklyn’s first supertall an “important architectural milestone for the borough” on par with the Empire State Building in Manhattan. It’s a towering symbol of this era of development in Brooklyn where, until recently, the borough’s tallest building was the iconic Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower in Fort Greene.

JDS founder and CEO Michael Stern called the development a continuation of “Brooklyn’s long history of design innovation and bold thinking” in a prepared statement.

Sales for its 150 condos start early next year, followed by leasing for 400 rental apartments, 30 percent of which will be income-restricted “affordable” units. Move-ins are expected to start in late 2022, the principals said. (The building was originally slated to wrap in 2019.) There will be shops at street level and, for residents, three swimming pools on the roof of the Dime Savings Bank, clustered around its dome, as well as another pool inside the tower. There will not be, however, an observation deck or restaurant from which the public can get a 360-degree view of the entire borough, SHoP Architects principal Gregg Pasquarelli told Brownstoner.

The most sweeping vistas will be enjoyed by the condo owners, whose units will make up the top half of the building. Residents will enter through the historic bank, whose landmarked interior will be restored starting next year.

Visible from the 65th floor is the Gowanus Canal in its entirety and all of Fort Greene Park. Signs painted on concrete piers identified the points of interest, including the Statue of Liberty. Holes cut in the netting allowed photographers to capture the views.

The project required approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission because of planned alterations to the Dime Savings Bank, which the developers bought for its air rights. Thanks to those air rights, the development was as of right and didn’t require a rezoning and its attendant public approval process or affordable units aimed at low- and medium-income renters. Its income-restricted units will likely be part of the state’s 421-a tax abatement program, which allows relatively high incomes of 130 percent of Area Median Income.

The project comes amid a building boom that is changing the character of Brooklyn. It also comes at a time when real estate values are higher than ever, despite recent bankruptcies of a small number of longtime Brooklyn condo developers and COVID-related rental challenges.

Doubts have also surfaced recently about the safety of unusually tall, slim buildings. Many of New York’s tallest new buildings lack final certificates of occupancy, and one Manhattan supertall, 432 Park Ave., is in litigation over leaks, elevator breakdowns and other safety concerns apparently related to its height, the New York Times has reported.

This story first appeared on Brownstoner.