Toll making DUMBO move

They may be growing sour on Gowanus, but a national homebuilder is sweet on DUMBO.

Just before Christmas, Toll Brothers purchased 205 Water Street in the DUMBO historic district for $8.6 million, the company’s first foray into the tony neighborhood.

The deal, which was first reported on the blog Brownstoner, would see the construction of roughly 70 units in a condominium that, pending approvals, could rise to 12 stories.

Because the vacant land sits in a historic district, the project will be forced to undergo a public review. Ultimately, it will be up to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to determine if it may rise.

“The allure is the proximity to Manhattan, great views, and its industrial chic character,” said Toll senior vice president David Von Spreckelsen, a DUMBO resident for the past 11 years.“It is one of the very few neighborhoods which has really held value and there is virtually no new condo competition,” he continued.“Resales in the neighborhood are at very good per square foot numbers, and resales in the neighborhood are at very good per square foot numbers.”

The land was purchased from the Brooklyn-based HK Organization, which itself at one time planned a residential development at the site. Back in 2005, HK paid $5.45 million for the site, which once was home to a warehouse.

Despite a lingering real estate credit crunch, Von Spreckelsen said his firm is in a unique position to build. “Cash is king, and we can build a project of that size without any financing,” he said, adding that the hope is to break ground before the end of the year.

With its Northside Piers, Toll already has a presence in nearby Williamsburg. It is planning a massive mixed use development along the Gowanus Canal, but has said it will likely abandon the project if the canal is designated a Superfund site.

The firm has already been reaching out to local civic groups to discuss its plans.

“They are working on their design. He hopes to come to the community board in late winter or early spring,” said Rob Perris, district manager at Community Board 2.

Kate Kerrigan, executive director of the DUMBO business improvement district called it “wonderful news” that Toll purchased the property.“We think despite the recession, the property values in DUMBO are strong and that this is proof of peoples’ interest in living and working in DUMBO,” she said.

–Stephen Witt contributed to this story