A key component of the long-stalled City Point project on the Fulton Mall in Downtown received a final greenlight from the Public Design Commission on Wednesday — setting up a ground-breaking this spring.
The four-story shopping center — slated to be the first phase of a larger retail and residential tower that would be the borough’s tallest — will be the first new building along the busy pedestrian shopping strip in more than 30 years.
“This is the beginning of an exciting project that will bring jobs and much-needed affordable housing to Downtown,” said Tom Montvel-Cohen, a spokesman for the developer, Albee Development, which is seeking a mix of national and local retailers.
The sleek, sharp and beachy rectangular design by architect Rick Cook of Cook + Fox, adheres to the latest green technology with enough room for shrubbery overlooking the fast-paced shopping strip.
“We designed it to fit in with vitality of the Fulton Mall as well as the material palette of the adjacent historic Dime Savings Bank Building,” said Mark Rusitzky, senior associate at the firm.
The retail end of the project was jumpstarted last year with $20 million in tax-exempt bonds as part of the federal stimulus fund. But that money underwrites only a tiny piece of the larger project, which calls for a 65-story tower and as many as 700 units of housing — a project that is expected to cost the developers hundreds of millions of dollars, money that is tough to come up in the current economic climate.
Under current zoning, the site bounded by where DeKalb Avenue meets the Fulton Street Mall, and extending north to where Willoughby Street meets Flatbush Avenue, has no height limit.
Albee Development purchased the long-term lease for the land from developer Joe Sitt for a reported $125 million in 2007.
A subsequent deal with the city requires the developer to include 120 affordable housing units in the project.