Rally at 163 Washington Avenue for Shorter Building

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If you were wondering why folks who live in the vicinity of Washington and Myrtle Avenues aren’t too psyched about the 18-story development that is planned, one neighbor has created this mash-up to try to put it all in perspective. On Saturday afternoon, 40 or 50 people turned out at a rally against the project, with Council Member Letitia James and a representative from the Wallabout Historic District at the mic. The group is trying to persuade the developers to create a lower building better in keeping with the scale of the neighboring structures without sacrificing square footage; of course, what this ignores is the fact that developers typically make the most money from the units highest in the sky. There’s another meeting on Wednesday night at 7:30 at St. Luke’s Parish House; email buildingtootall AT yahoo DOT com for more information. Update: A reader took us up on our offer to post alternative interpretations of how the proposed tower relates to its neighbors, hence the second rendering above.
Tower Plans for Washington Ave Ruffling Feathers [Brownstoner] GMAP P*Shark DOB

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  • Tall and samll buildings can live in harmony. People need to stop this crusade.

  • I agree. The neighborhood can use more density.

  • Is this mash up accurate? – the floors on tower seem to be about twice the height of neighboring houses. Are these mezzanined apartments?

  • plus I think the scale is off .. he made the bldg look much bigger. No matter though … this is what happens over time — change.

  • This “mashup” also seems ridiculously out of scale. Is it true that one floor of the new building is the same height as two floors on the neighboring brownstones? If so those’ll be some nice units…

  • B’stoner…if you want to be credible on these crusades…check the veracity of graphics like this before you publish.

  • That looks more like what a 30 story tower will look like. So pathetic. These NIMBYs seem so desperate these days.

  • 9:55,
    This is not our crusade. We’re just putting it out there and readers are now discussing how realistic it is. If someone else wants to send us a different collage we’re happy to post that alongside this one…

  • When we saw this on the news the other day both of us went “whoa, that bad” — getting a better look at this makes it obvious how silly the concerns are. Maybe they’d prefer a public housing project? gawd.

  • Not a lot of architects on the board this morning are there? I don’t think this image was graphically altered to appear larger. I think what you see is the real scale.

    The reason each floor on this image of appears large is that the new building would have 9 or 10 foot clear ceiling heights, and the windows are from the floor to the ceiling. In the townhouses directly adjacent, the floor heights range from around seven feet on the garden level, 10 or 11 on the parlor, and then 8 or nine on the next two floors. On these townhouse floors, none of the windows take up more 50% of the vertical space on the facade.

    It is a really tall building, but if they don’t get the foundation in before the rezoning takes effect, they can’t build it that tall.

  • I’m not defending the building, but I don’t think one can call a 14-story building “really tall”.
    That makes it seem like the folks opposed to the project have skipped over the last one hundred years of architectural history.

  • I would like to see these greedy developers put up out of scale buildings in their cushy suburbs where they live. then we’ll see who screams ‘NIMBY’ – we know that Mort Zuckerman had the daily news editorilize against a tall building that would block his sunshine (literally)

    if we build build build and build everywhere what are we going to have left? how is increasing population density making things better?

  • I say more population density, less sprawl, and preferably less people breeding in general — but that’s a whole other issue.

    Does anyone have a map (or link to one) showing CH historic district? Where does this building land in relation to LPC oversight?

  • I created the new image, according to the DOB the building will be 177 ft. tall. – 16 Stories.

    How tall is the average house nearby? 40 ft. tall (153 washington) so 4 times the height… so my rendering is a little short – I still think it’s too big!

  • I was just going to ask how tall (in feet) the new building is. 35′ to 40′ (closer to 35′) is a good estimate for a row house like those shown. In which case, the first rendering is much closer to 177′ – perhaps a bit tall, but close.

  • this is why people are spending crazy money on landmark areas these days.

  • I hope they start to build a few more towers in the vicinity. Then it won’t look out of place.

  • go check out the building on classon and myrtle. the first 3 floors of that building are = to the top of the brownstone or brick there. also, the developer’s original rendering has the scale of neighboring houses even smaller. also, is 177 ft total scale or are there planned set back areas? i don’t believe the first picture is very far out of scale.

  • also imagine if you lived on Hall street. it’s a much more quaint, smaller street with smaller wood frames. if this rendering was from Hall street it would be bafflingly high looking.

    there were previously plans for MORE DENSITY with less height (they were planning only 7 story on Washington) but that got dashed and now they’re building this monstrosity. so the more density argument does not work here folks. and to add insult to injury, this will be all luxury, no affordable units.

  • Some of the fights over tall buildings in landmarks areas lately have been very interesting. The Landmarks Commission has approved new tall buildings in certain districts because they contain may historic tall buildings. Tall building construction was invented and perfected here and in Chicago starting in the 1880′s.
    In certain historic districts such as the Upper West Side and Brooklyn Heights, the locals do not want new buildings to be as big as the historic towers built in the 1880-1930 period. This height-phobia is peculiar to our time. Prior generations of course embraced tall buildings as expressions of civic pride and of the “good life”. How things change.

  • w/o an opinion on the building, how did they get the FAR to build that tall?

  • Uh there will be plenty of affordable units over at the old brig development. More market rate apartments please!

  • Height Phobia has to do with Shadow. No one wants it.

  • So it’s really shadow-phobia, rather than architecture-phobia. I’m glad to hear it.
    It’s intersting to me that in the period these row houses were built, folks put up deep awnings and planted street trees in order to create as much shade (aka shadow) as possible.

  • “w/o an opinion on the building, how did they get the FAR to build that tall?”

    R6 zoning baby! Sky’s the limit, literally…

  • Build it….it creates a lively streetscape, something an 8 story hulker hugging all lot lines wouldn’t do. Plus, Karl Fischer is a rising architect, I think it’ll look nice.

  • Serge, I think the difference is choice. It’s nice to be able to give YOURSELF shadow, if you want it. It’s really brutal to have the sky literally blocked from view by a neighbor.

    The sky may be the limit for developers, but it’s becoming a threatened luxury for everyone around them.

    And hey, I know it’s the city. But I can understand how horrified people must be to see a structure block their sky, light, and privacy with some gigantic yuppie sardine can.

  • Either interpretation is from a vantage point that doesn’t exist.
    Where could you possibly be standing
    to have this scope of view?
    so much sky, houses so far away and view of front of most of the block.

  • the original plans were far more sensitive to the architecture and community and provided more units. this new plan is not. it is unbelievable that they could get approval to build this building which belongs downtown, not towering over the largest unbroken block of 1850′s wood frame houses in new york city.

    Serge, clearly you support this tower but why? this area of brooklyn is not about skyline, there are plenty of great places to put towers downtown. it simply doesn’t make sense to put up an 16-18 story tower in this spot, especially when you can get more units out of a 7 story building at the same site.

  • Dear 1:18
    I completely understand people’s concerns, it’s a crowded city.
    But I think it is more than about shadows. I think many people just don’t like modern buildings. The shadow thing is bit tenuous, In the summer, (when the sun is high) the shadows are minimal, in the winter (when the sun is low) they are more pronounced but so are the shadows from short buildings. In any case, you need to have canyons like the ones in the financial district to create a noticeble diminution of daylight. A tower here and there is not going to plunge the neighborhood into darkness. A visit to Rockefeller Center may help to dispel fears of gloom near tall buildings. I think the dislike that verges on phobia of tall buildings stems from the architecure itself.

  • I think this could be great for this end of Clinton Hill. Nearby are the Willoughby Walk apartments and they’re pretty tall so it’s not entirely out of context. More apartments can only ease the housing crisis.

  • Just as a matter of record, I don’t support the tower, I’m not even sure where exactly it is upposed to rise.
    I just do not instantly hate it because it is over six stories.
    As a design, it is actually pretty nice. i think that some of the squat, ugly fedders do more to harm streetscapes than handsome taller buildings like this one.

  • yes this was the trick used by the developer, he slyly used Willhoughby Walk for contextualization. these buildings are 3 blocks away! how on earth can you argue context by using buildings 3 blocks away?? and as stated before, the more apartments argument is moot here because by building the tower higher than originally planned they have actually REDUCED the number of apartments they are building!

  • Serge, point taken. I love Rock center! Thanks for putting it in a different light, ha ha.

    – 1:18

  • Let me get this straight: This building has LPC approval?

  • To clarify my comment of earlier, when I said, “It is a really tall building”, I meant “really tall” only compared to the buildings around it.

    The developer of this project should take a cue from Bruce Ratner and publish renderings of the building at 50 stories tall, so that when he decides out of the kindness of his heart to reduce it to 18 stories, it will seem almost reasonable.

    I think tall buildings should be built and need to be built, but that they don’t belong on every block with antiquated zoning laws.

    Lastly, if the building were the size of the second rendering posted above, the ceiling heights and floor to ceiling windows would be 6.5 – 7 feet tall, which would make them illegal for residential occupancy.

  • I wonder if they could include some sort of pneumatic tube system for deliveries from Kum Kau next door?

  • This building is outside of the landmarked district.

  • I see no problem with the original scale. More units = more affordable for others to enjoy the neighborhood. I think the NIMBYs just don’t want to share.

  • actually willoughby walk is one block away, regardless, i’m against, smaller is better in this case.

  • imagine them trying to build Willoughby Walk today. The hysteria would be deafening. You’d think the neighborhood would turn into ruins.

  • 3:18, this is not more units, it’s actually less units.

  • The current R6 zoning allows the developer to transfer the 2.43 FAR into a tower. The is compounded by the fact the site in a through-block allowing them to max the FAR. The development looks centerd in the middle of the lot.

    It’s not the height that’s the problem but the fact the street wall is broken. I would support giving the developer more FAR if they seperate the structure into two buildings meeting the street wall on each side.

    btw- Aren’t those NYCHA projects just around the corner anyway. Those things are about 15 stories right??? It’s okay if a NYCHA builds a vertical ghetto into the sky… but market rate units have a different standard?

  • “imagine them trying to build Willoughby Walk today. The hysteria would be deafening. You’d think the neighborhood would turn into ruins.”

    Actually at the time there was quite a bit of outcry from preservationists…who were not NIMBYs. The Pratt family owned most of the ‘nabe, and financially when push came to shove, MANY historically significant (from an architectural perspective) were leveled for Willoughby Walk. Same thing over on Hall & Dekalb. One trade off, Pratt acquired one of the towers closest to the campus.

    Many a late night in the Willoughby Dorms as an art student burning the midnight oil. Got to see quite a few aerial shots of the area pre-Willoughby Walk…but I tip my cards ;)

  • I can think of countless intersections and streets around the world where taller modern buildings stand beside and over quaint shorter buildings and mixing up the streetscape like so can actually be quite a pleasant contrast. Buenos Aires, Montreal, much of Europe. Cities change over time, why resist it? It’s amazing that people living in NYC of all places can champion America’s disdain for anything over a few floors. I say extend the context beyond 3 blocks.

  • “I can think of countless intersections and streets around the world …”

    give me a break!!!

  • “I can think of countless intersections and streets around the world where taller modern buildings stand beside and over quaint shorter buildings”

    Money where your “bouche” is…

    Photos or links, multi-story worldly person.

    Me thinks not. Only in wacky mis-thought areas of NYC.

    Though I am sure there are exceptions.

    Remember that Bugs Bunny cartoon?

  • as to the other tall buildings in the area:
    they are on a larger lot
    they have parking
    they are 100+ feet from any other building in the neighborhood

    its the last part that keeps them from overpowering the area

    my vote would be for a round or stacked offset square tower, just not another office building.

    as to zoning the area is under consideration for R5B, so a 177 foot tower would be against the planning for the area.

  • or build a shorter version of the Singer building on this spot

  • It’s realistic in that at 16 stories is about 4 times as big as the 4 story bldg next to it and reasonably wider for the sake of stability.

  • In addition to the concerns about the scale of this project, the community should also be concerned about the very shady developers (GLC Group: Mark Caller and Pinny Loketch). Given the opportunity, they will always do the wrong thing.

  • for the record i just read an artical in the star ledger about these guys mark caller and pinny loketch…they are good people doing the right thing… that site was going to be developed by someone, we are lucky it was them.