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Crystal-Inspired Facade for 10 Jay Street Wins Over Landmarks

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An eyesore of a warehouse on the Dumbo waterfront will be getting new life as condos with ground floor retail. On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved plans for a makeover at 10 Jay Street, complete with an ODA-Architecture-designed northern façade inspired by the building's history as a sugar refinery. The design was deemed a little too edgy last time it was presented, but the refinements left one commissioner calling it "absolutely perfect." Interior demolition is expected to begin May 1 of this year with the project expected to be completed by fall 2016.

The building dates back to 1898 and was originally designed by the George M. Newhall Engineering Co. for the Arbuckle Brothers sugar refinery. In 1945, it was converted into a warehouse, and in that same decade, a massive portion of the building's north side was demolished, leaving the section extant today, with its northern facade not original. Most recently, the building was home to several creative commercial tenants, but last August, a neighborhood blog reported that the tenants' leases would end on December 31, 2014. The website of Dumbo Sky, a previous tenant in the building, says they "closed as of Jan. 2015."

The renovations will restore the three original facades to their historical masonry condition, while the new one will have a façade that mixes glass, steel, brick, and spandrel to evoke the sugar factory history. It was primarily the addition of brick and more steel and the reduction in the amount of glass that won over the commissioners. Architect Eran Chen said he had created a "tailored, personal design." The 10th floor penthouse will have a new façade that complements the one below it. The loading docks will also be reconfigured with signage added for the ground floor retail as well as a new entrance constructed for the building's residents. The retail will also have a promenade that wraps around the building.

Joseph Stavrach, President and CEO of developer Triangle Assets, told Curbed that the 46 condominium units will range from two to five bedrooms and go up to 3,500 square feet. Most of the floors have 12-foot ceilings, though some will have 14-foot ceilings. They will all have views of the Manhattan skyline and the waterfront. He expects pricing to be in the range of other developments in the neighborhood, perhaps starting between $1,400 and $1,600 per square foot. Among the amenities will be a bike room, gym, and pet spa, and three passenger elevators.

Stavrach was very pleased with Tuesday's vote and said this building will be "not like any other building in New York City." "The façade actually talks to you," he added, referring to how it echoes the history of the building, as well as the surrounding architecture and the Manhattan Bridge. He said the LPC's suggestions were "very, very positive" and led them to a better design. He is excited for the future of the building, which has previously been referred to as a "white elephant," i.e. a great building in a great location that nobody wanted to touch. "We love the [Dumbo] community and we love the people there," he added.

The project also comes with a 10,000-square-foot land donation to Brooklyn Bridge Park, 50 feet by 200 feet. That will create a new entrance to the park from the corner of Pearl Street and John Street. Stavrach said that, for the donation, they got the right to have bedrooms and living rooms overlooking the park and to have the aforementioned retail promenade. The retail space itself is being leased to Glacier Global Partners for development.

Commissioner Frederick Bland, a resident of nearby Brooklyn Heights, said this project was "hugely exciting" for both the commission and for Dumbo. He compared what is happening in that neighborhood now to what happened years ago in the Meatpacking District. He said it was a "fantastic 21st century finishing of something that started in the 19th century" and one of the most thrilling things he's seen in his 16 years on the commission. Commissioner Michael Devonshire said the changes were like adding whiskey to a mint julep, making it "absolutely perfect." Commissioner John Gustafsson called the design "ingenious and smart," but said it was still too distracting. The proposal was approved without his vote.

Check out the full presentation below:


—Evan Bindelglass is a local freelance journalist, photographer, cinephile, and foodie. You can e-mail him, follow him on Twitter @evabin, or check out his personal blog.
· All Landmarks Preservation coverage [Curbed]
· All 10 Jay Street coverage [Curbed]

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