Toll Brothers looks to DUMBO

Toll Brothers looks to DUMBO
The Brooklyn Paper / Lara Gross

Toll Brothers may try to reach for the sky in DUMBO.

The mammoth suburban developers — fresh from a bruising withdrawal from the toxic Gowanus Canal — says it may seek to build as high as the law allows in the famously hot neighborhood between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.

That would mean a 120-foot tower at 205 Water St. between Jay and Bridge streets.

Toll Brothers bought the lot just before Christmas for $8.6 million and needs the go-ahead from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which oversees new construction in the DUMBO Historic District.

The company is confident.

“It’s a big vacant site — people would like to see some activity there,” said Toll Brothers spokesman David Von Spreckelsen. “Our goal is to have the whole process finished by April, and start building shortly thereafter.”

He was less specific about what the 70-unit building would look like — or even if the tower would include below-market-rate apartments, which would give the developer a bonus that would allow a bulkier structure.

“We’re going back and forth on height at this point,” he said. “If there were no Landmarks Commission, we’d go to 12 stories without question.”

Von Spreckelsen didn’t comment on whether the site is a backup plan for Toll Brothers’ bid to build along the Gowanus Canal, a 575-unit development that the company says is dead if the waterway is designated a Superfund site.

The DUMBO property fronts both Plymouth and Water streets, which gives the developer plenty of options, even in a neighborhood that was rezoned to cap residential development at 12 stories last year.

Getting the nod for new development has not been easy of late in DUMBO. Not only does Community Board 2 often reject residential development in the area, but the new DUMBO Historic District adds another hurdle for the developers to jump.

Toll Brothers is following in the footsteps of other big developers that have sought to build controversial projects. After a bitter fight last year, David Walentas won approval for a 17-story tower on Dock Street next to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Oddly, the Toll Brothers site was briefly linked to that Walentas project when opponents suggested 205 Water St. as a potential location for the middle school that comprised the main public amenity in Walentas’s proposal.

But the city ended up choosing Walentas to develop the middle school on Dock Street, dashing opponents’ hopes.