Spare a Dime? Iconic Downtown bank hits the market

Handicap ramp blocked at Dime Savings Bank

There is money in this bank, sure, but there’s money above it, too.

The landmarked Dime Savings Bank building on DeKalb Avenue is hitting the market, and the firm selling the property and the air rights above it is expecting they will fetch more than $100 million. Even that price would be a steal, according to a realtor who called the 1908 neoclassical building one of a kind.

“It’s one of the most architecturally distinct structures in Brooklyn. In all of the city,” said Robert Knakal, a partner with realty company Massey Knakal. “It’s iconic.”

A branch of JP Morgan Chase currently operates out of the building, and would likely be relocated if it is sold. The lot sits at a focal point of development in the neighborhood, across Fleet Street from the block-long, high-rise mall and residential project City Point, and a few-minutes’ walk from the two tallest buildings in Brooklyn, and the under-construction tower that is set to take the title.

“That area is just booming right now,” Knakal said.

The Dime building has enjoyed both interior and exterior landmark designations since 1994, when the Landmarks Preservation Commission called it one of the most important structures in the borough.

“The building with its interior banking hall is among Brooklyn’s most notable works of commercial architecture,” the commission’s designation report says.

The protected status prevented Chase from adding a wheelchair ramp to one of its cash machines last year, and means that tearing down the Greek-like dome and column structure is all but out of the question. But thanks to the lot’s zoning, the property includes a heap of unused development rights, which can be transferred to add height to a nearby property.

Junior’s Restaurant, located up the block on the corner of DeKalb Avenue and Flatbush Avenue Extension, is one eligible neighbor, but the owner said he turned down a $45 million offer and took the cheesecake haven off the block back in September because he couldn’t bear closing, even temporarily. Knakal says other properties in the vicinity could also qualify to use the air rights.

The bank building could be used for retail or an event space, he said, acknowledging that the corner would make a good place for an Apple store. The tech giant is rumored to be opening a store on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, and the siting of the first of its retail outlets in Brooklyn has provided fodder for years of speculation.

“Absolutely. That’s one of the many retail possibilities,” he said.

An exact asking price has not been disclosed.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperl‌man@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.