NEW YORK | 285-293 Schermerhorn St | 140 FT | 14 FLOORS

Continuing the discussion from NEW YORK | Flatbush Ave Corridor (DoBro + BAM + PP):

Permits Filed: 14-Story Tower Planned for Downtown Brooklyn, 285 Schermerhorn Street


285 Schermerhorn Street, image from Google Maps

Last year, the Brooklyn Eagle reported that Brooklyn Community Services was “in listening mode” for offers on its seven-story downtown Brooklyn headquarters, calling out TF Cornerstone as a possible buyer.

The land hasn’t traded hands yet, but a new building application filed with the Department of Buildings has revealed the developer for 285 Schermerhorn Street: Second Development Services, or SDS. The Brooklyn Heights-based firm plans to double the size of the existing office building, bringing it to 14 stories, and turning it into a 106-unit, 91,000-square foot apartment tower.

285 Schermerhorn Street, image from Bing Maps

The architect, listed on the permit as GF55 Partners, described the job as “a vertical enlargement and conversion of [an] existing building,” which means that the handsome prewar structure’s façade may be retained.

SDS has a few high-design projects under its belt, and hopefully 285 Schermerhorn will be another. Richard Meier’s On Prospect Park is perhaps their most famous, another two are under development. Just a few blocks away, The Vos Hotel at 95 Rockwell Place has a glass curtain wall that looks like it was rattled in an earthquake, and in Manhttan, 22 Bond Street is as attractive and avant garde as one would expect for a starchitect-studded corridor in NoHo.

In addition to 285 Schermerhorn’s apartments – which are rental-sized, averaging 800 square feet each – there will be 6,600 square feet of commercial space, including retail and office, on floors one and two. The building includes no parking, which is generally only allowed in downtown Brooklyn if 20 percent of the apartments are set aside as affordable housing. It will, however, have enough space to park 54 bicycles.

The project will sit next to a much larger one, on the site of the massive parking structure at Schermerhorn and Bond. There, at 33 Bond Street, TF Cornerstone will soon start construction on a quite substantial 714-unit rental building.

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Revealed: 285 Schermerhorn Street, Downtown Brooklyn


285 Schermerhorn Street, rendering via Heights Advisors

In October, YIMBY brought you word of a permit filing for a residential project at 285 Schermerhorn Street, currently the home of Brooklyn Community Services’s seven-story downtown Brooklyn office building. The filing called for doubling the structure’s size, to 14 stories and 140 feet, and hinted that the old structure would be retained.

Now, YIMBY has come across a rendering of the project – developed by Second Development Services and Heights Advisors, with some apparent involvement by Brooklyn Community Services – which is currently wending its way through the Department of Buildings.

The rendering depicts the old structure (which dates back to 1926, if city records are to be believed) renovated and topped with a modern addition, with floor-to-ceiling windows on the first and part of the second new floors, and a white surface around the windows for the rest of the façade. GF55 Partners is listed as the architect on the permit application.

The permit filing calls for 106 apartments spread over a bit more than 84,000 square feet of residential space (plus a 6,600-square foot retail space at the base), whose 800-square-foot average unit size we said suggested rentals. The unsightly PTAC units shown below the windows in the rendering confirm our suspicions than the apartments will be rentals. (The unfortunate design decision to include PTACs is almost never to be made anywhere else in the country – or world – but nearly all rental builders in the five boroughs use the inefficient air conditioning units, for reasons that continue to confound us and grate on our eyes.)

While the developers did not return our request for comment, we believe the developers may be planning to set aside 20 percent of the apartments to be let at below-market rates, since the new building permit application does not mention any parking – something only allowed when affordable housing is included.