A planned 1000-foot tower located adjacent to the historic Dime Savings Bank building in Downtown Brooklyn was approved by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission Tuesday morning. The developers, the Chetrit Group, and JDS Development wanted to incorporate parts of the landmarked building into the supertall, and the LPC voted unanimously to support the project.
In order to create the 1,066-foot tower, the developers wanted to demolish a one-story annex to the central bank building, and part of a five-story annex that will connect the main building to the supertall.
The developers, and the architects for the project — SHoP Architects, argued that their proposal would put the bank building in focus, and wouldn't obstruct the views from within — as opposed to an as of right building that would have significantly impeded the light filtering into the bank structure.
The interiors and exterior of the bank will also be restored as part of the residential project, and the bank building itself will be used as retail for a as-yet-to-be-determined tenant (though it will be a single tenant). The interior portion of the bank was the only point of contention for the LPC.
Developers wanted to reconfigure the teller stations inside the bank (the interior of the bank is landmarked as well), but some LPC commissioners asked they be maintained as is until a retail tenant had been finalized. The Commission postponed approval on this particular change until that requirement was met.
Some of the other specifics (PDF!) of SHoP's proposal include restoration of the Albee Square Portico and Stairs, replacing the existing flooring in the bank with marble flooring, and restoring the original terrazzo flooring at the rotunda.
"We've seen several cases where skyscrapers were built next to smaller landmarked buildings, and they do not diminish the landmark," Meenakshi Srinivasan, the LPC chair, said at the meeting. "This design is interesting, exciting and respectful in the way that it tips its hat to the primacy of the landmark."
Plans so far call for the creation of a 73-story building with 500 rentals, of which 20 percent will be affordable. As of right, the developers would have been able to construct a building of the same height, but they argued that incorporating the bank makes it more contextual with the neighborhood. This particular proposal had already received the support of the local community board.
A notable voice of dissent at the LPC meeting was the Historic Districts Council, which also argued against making changes to the interior without a fixed tenant. A representative for the group also said that the 1000-foot plus tower had enough space to incorporate retail into the skyscraper without altering the bank.
The Dime Savings Bank was built in 1908. The annexes that developers want to alter were added in the 1930s and designed by Halsey, McCormack and Helmer, the same architecture firm that designed the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower. Both the interior and exterior of the Dime building were landmarked in 1994.