Got your steppin’ stone! 388 Bridge Street is Brooklyn’s tallest tower, for now

Got your steppin’ stone! 388 Bridge Street is Brooklyn’s tallest tower, for now
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

It is Brooklyn’s Chrysler Building.

The just-completed 53-story tower at 388 Bridge Street is the borough’s new tallest building, but only for a year, as an under-construction skyscraper across the street will take the title when it is finished in 2015. The Brooklyn Courier got the grand tour of the soon-to-be-second-tallest structure in Brooklyn, which is bringing 378 of the estimated 3,300 new apartments coming to Downtown in the next three years.

“This, along with several other buildings, is going to change the character of the neighborhood,” said William Ross, managing director of Halstead Property Development Marketing, which is handling sales and leasing at the new behemoth.

The $270-million luxury residential high-rise between Willoughby and Fulton streets unseats The Brooklyner, half a block away on Lawrence Street, as the borough’s highest edifice. The 37-story Williamsburgh Savings Bank held the distinction for more than 80 years until The Brooklyner opened its doors in 2010. But, just as Manhattan’s Chrysler Building only enjoyed 11 short months at the top spot in that borough between 1930 and 1931 before being dethroned by the Empire State Building, 388 Bridge Street’s reign will be cut short by Avalon Willoughby West, directly across Bridge Street on Willoughby Street, when it rises to 57 stories next year.

For now, though, Avalon Willoughby West is just a hole in the ground and 388 Bridge Street wears the crown. The glass spire is already attracting tenants, the first of which started moving in on Feb. 28. So far, only 20 of the 378 units have been filled, said Ross, adding that many of the new residents came from recent developments nearby.

“An enormous number of them are from the neighborhood, and were in other buildings that aren’t quite as nice as this one,” Ross said.

Residents of the new high-rise will enjoy such amenities as a terraced common area on the roof of the building, an on-site dog spa, a media room, and a gym.

The lower 31 floors contain 234 rental apartments, ranging in price from $2,345 a month for a studio to $5,850 per month for a two-bedroom. The condos are on floors 32 through 44, and will cost from $725,000 from $1.25 million.

The two penthouses on the top floor come with their own outdoor spaces, and could cost as much as $6 million.

High life: Apartments like this one in 388 Bridge Street are renting for as much as $5,850 a month.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The tower also holds 48 below-market-rate units, ranging in price from $546 to $908 per month. Phipps Houses, a social service provider, received 4,500 applications for these apartments, according to Ross. Six low-income families have already moved in, he said.

The glass facade is easy to spot from the streets, especially at night. The top is wrapped with Light-Emitting Diode bulbs that can put on a light-show the likes of the Empire State Building’s. Eventually the flashy array will be lit up to symbolically honor various charitable causes, but for now they only represent the whims of an on-site electrician.

“I told him to have some fun,” said Ross.

Construction on 388 Bridge originally began in 2008 with an all-condo plan. But the project stalled during the excavation stage because of the Great Recession, Ross said, and restarted four years later with the current owner-rental mix.

Roger Fortune has seen the highs and lows of construction as the project manager since 2009 for what is now Kings County’s highest habitat. This spring, it is pay-off time.

“Getting out of the subway at Borough Hall one day, I saw it for the first time from afar,” Fortune said. “I asked, ‘whose building is that? Oh, that’s where I’m going!’ ”

Skyscraper experts say that Brooklyn’s battle for the tallest building is real, but it is a mole-hill compared to the monumental war between 40 Wall Street, the Chrysler Building, and the Empire State Building that raged in Manhattan 80 years ago.

“It’s comparable, but to a lesser scale,” said John Tauranac, author of “The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark,” back in 2009.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Reach for the sky: The borough’s newest and tallest skyscraper is open for business.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham