Plans Change for Downtown Brooklyn Development on Site of Former Printing Plant


Plans have shifted quite drastically for a prominent development in Downtown Brooklyn.

In a surprise twist, a developer has abandoned already approved plans to build a 44-story apartment tower and instead will construct a 23-story office building, Building Department records show. The currently empty lot at 141 Willoughby Street was once the site of an early 20th century printing plant. It was demolished at the end of 2018.

The current plans are roughly half the size of what the developer, Savanna Partners, had originally envisioned. The switch could reflect a softening market for luxury rentals in the borough. Savanna declined to comment to The Real Deal, which was the first to write about the change in plans.

In 2014, there were plans for a proposed 49-story glass tower, which required a zoning variance. The City Council voted to rezone the site but with modifications.

They allowed a FAR of 15, rather than the 18 requested, enough to create a roughly 44-story mixed-use building. The Real Deal reported at the time that the building would include 203 apartments with 61 at below-market rates to comply with the mayor’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program.

It’s unclear whether the developer plans to build housing nearby instead. Savanna owns two neighboring lots, located at 383 and 385 Gold Street, the former being a parking lot and the latter public open space, purchased from New York City’s Economic Development Corp. Two of the three lots are currently surrounded by a construction fence, but no plans have been filed for the two lots on Gold Street.

brooklyn development

Rendering via Savanna Fund

Morris Adjami was the original architect on the project; new plans list SLCE Architects as the architect of record.

The previous building at 114 Willoughby was designed by architect Frank H. Quinby and constructed in 1919 as the printing plant of the American Law Book Company. The factory was constructed on a small plot of land created with the extension of Flatbush Avenue around 1906, according to a 1919 story about the then-new building in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The company eventually moved to Manhattan and the building was used for storage.

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The building in 2017

The property is right across the street from Brooklyn Point, which, when completed, will be the tallest building in the borough. Less than a block away, construction is in full swing on another office tower, located at 420 Albee Square.

[Photos by Susan De Vries unless otherwise noted]

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