Tuesday, September 11, 2007

PM Update: 360 Smith's Morph From Metal to Easy Listening

As we noted this morning on Curbed, developer Billy Stein (pictured here) made a long presentation to Carroll Gardens residents attending the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association meeting last night. Mr. Stein brought a rendering of the redesigned building at 360 Smith, whose early version we dubbed the Heavy Metal Building, but did not want any photos taken of the drawing because he said it is still subject to change. (After the meeting, we overheard Mr. Stein telling a reporter that that his comments and the rendering were intended for residents rather than for publication; the CGNA meeting is open to the public and the press.) Of the rendering, he said that "I'm uncomfortable showing it...it will show up on the blogs."

So, we can only report what we saw in the drawing. The building materials have changed from gray and silver to a brick-colored and white terracotta. (He said that brick might be substituted if the price of terracotta proves too high.) There are rows of big smoked glass windows, many balconies and a white structure at the building's front corner on Smith Street that rises seven stories. The street side of the building is six stories, with a seventh story of penthouses that has been set back. The building leaves the plaza in front of the Carroll Street station open. The impression we jotted down in our notepad about it is that it "still towers over its surroundings." The 44-unit, 50,000+ square foot building would, in fact, be the tallest structure in Carroll Gardens. Mr. Stein said that the perspective used in the rendering, which was from street level, makes the building "look a lot taller than it is."

While one resident called the new building "pretty," we heard many others saying that they liked the design better than the Heavy Metal original, but that it was still "too big" in a neighborhood of two- and three-stories brownstones. Mr. Stein noted that zoning "dictated" that he build up to 70 feet.

As for the design, Mr. Stein told residents that "You have asked for some changes and I'm trying to accommodate them." He said that he had worked with architect Robert Scarano to "significantly change the appearance of the building and address some of the concerns" and added that "I always had in my heart something more contextual." He said that the Heavy Metal version of the building was "an early conceptual drawing."

The original building covered the plaza in front of the Carroll Street station, where residents like to wait for trains because they can see them approaching. The new version leaves the plaza open. "I don't want to change that," Mr. Stein said, calling it "New York City's answer to East Hampton beach real estate. You watch the trains roll in like the waves."

He acknowledged sentiment in the community to downzone and opposition to current zoning that allows him to build to 70 feet "as of right." He said the building will give "young families that can't spend $1.5 million to buy a brownstone an opportunity to enter this community."

Mr. Stein characterized the new design as "not there yet," but that he was "choosing to try this redesign to come up with something that is more palatable to the community" and said he was doing it "because I think it's right." The developer also described himself as "incredibly thoughtful" in considering the new design.

City Council Member Bill de Blasio, who had been very critical of the building in the past, said that "the jury is still out" on the 360 Smith building. He said, however, that "this developer is a hell of a lot better than a lot of developers I've dealt with who wouldn't give the community the time of day."

The construction timetable on the project is unclear. Mr. Stein said he had hoped to break ground soon, but it could be months before he begins construction. Earlier plans have already been approved by the city.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"young families that can't spend $1.5 million to buy a brownstone[..]"

As a brownstone can be partially financed by renting an apartment, I am not sure that these young families will be able to pay $1 million for a 2 bedrooms in Stein's building.

12:17 PM  

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