Historic Bank Buildings Get a Second Act


The destiny of the soaring, palatial and totally impractical Dime Savings Bank in Downtown Brooklyn was inevitable.

The sixteen,750-square-foot, forty-foot-tall chamber, with seven types of marble floors, a vaulted-tile dome and Corinthian columns, closed in 2016, a sufferer of automatic tellers and virtual payments. Its last full-time tenant, Chase Bank, moved into a squat storefront across the road, about one-10th the scale.

The bank’s 2nd act is greater unexpected: It becomes a part of Brooklyn’s tallest skyscraper, 9 DeKalb, a 1,066-foot luxury condo building with retail at its base. The landmark Beaux-Arts interior may be converted into a flagship store, and the roof becomes an outside living room with a pool that wraps round an ornate Guastavino dome. The marble and crimson granite facade will be fused on one side to a narrow glass-and-steel tower designed by SHoP Architects, with a view to have approximately 425 rentals and 150 condominium apartments.

Across the town, some of antique banks are in addition gaining new forex, as builders look for prime web sites at a time of near-file land fees. In the past, the size of these conversions turned into often smaller — possibly a handful of residences above a financial institution hall, or a drugstore with incongruously ornate chandeliers. Now, thank you in component to residential demand in fast gentrifying regions, the initiatives have become extra formidable.

“The marketplace is still hungry for development possibilities, and these constitute area of interest plays,” stated Jonathan J. Miller, a New York real estate appraiser, who added that he noticed a similar fashion near the peak of the 2007 housing bubble. There is the identical glut of supply now, and developers are hoping the status of these buildings can pay dividends.

Historic banks in New York are uncommon. There are kind of 81 landmark banks within the city, said Sarah Carroll, the chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. That designation requires builders who want to regulate the facades — and within the case of 13 banks, the landmark interiors — to obtain permission.


While the fee does no longer song the current use of those homes, most of these distinctive as landmarks are in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Many different historic financial institution homes don’t have protected status and their original motive for being no longer exists.

“The difficulty is really analogous to church buildings — opulent areas that have been constructed for what was then a totally vast want,” stated William Higgins, an essential at Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, a maintenance firm that has consulted on some of the financial institution conversions. “That want recedes, and what’s left on the shore are those wonderful buildings which have lost their motive.”

In Chelsea, the 1897 New York Savings Bank became a carpet store within the past due 1980s, a connoisseur grocer inside the mid-2000s, and is now a totally stately CVS pharmacy. The 1906 Williamsburg Trust Company, an implementing temple to commerce at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, have become a Ukrainian Orthodox Church within the 1960s. Until last 12 months, the former Corn Exchange Bank on forty-second Street housed Show World Center, a grownup-entertainment relic from the old Times Square. Now it is becoming places of work.

But there may be cost past a financial institution’s bricks and mortar: the air area above it. Most of the grand bank halls within the town have been built earlier than modifications to zoning that allowed for more height and density. By shopping for the unused improvement rights, or air rights, above a financial institution, a developer may additionally build bigger, taller or both on an adjoining lot. That the banks are often in commuter-friendly business hubs additionally makes them appealing for redevelopment.

In South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a 23-tale tower is growing beside the landmark 1908 Dime Savings Bank. The builders, Tavros Development and Charney Construction & Development, sold the adjoining lot in addition to the financial institution’s air rights for $eighty million, in 2016. The purchase allowed the developers to feature 20,000 square feet of ground space to the new tower, making it one of the tallest inside the neighborhood. There may be retail and office space on the decrease floors, topped with the aid of 177 condo residences, 30 percentage rented below marketplace rate. The tower, called the Dime, is predicted to open in late 2019.

In 2017, the developers convinced the department owner to promote the neo-Classical bank corridor outright for $12.Three million, letting them contain the constructing into their design. The forty-foot-tall interior area, with mullioned home windows and decorative columns, will either come to be an workplace or retail area, a beer garden or restaurant. (Only the facade has landmark protection.) The roof turns into part of an outdoor amenity for residents and office people, with perspectives of the Williamsburg Bridge. Amenities within the adjacent tower will encompass an indoor basketball court docket, yoga room and outside “misting stations” to cool down sunbathers.

“When you’re regarded as the huge, horrific developer, how do you get the authenticity that people entering into neighborhoods like this crave?” requested Sam Charney, the important of Charney Construction & Development. Monumental structure isn’t a bad begin. Being a block from the JMZ subway lines additionally helps.

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Those perks could be important to the advertising and marketing pitch. About 80 percent of the gadgets will be studios or one-bedrooms, with the common one-bedroom measuring about 560 rectangular ft, stated Nicholas Silvers, a partner at Tavros. The common size of 1-bedroom leases in the borough turned into 727 rectangular toes in March, said Mr. Miller, the actual estate appraiser.

Prices haven’t been announced, however the developers’ method is to market devices for much less than the ones of close by competition, like 325 Kent, part of the redesigned Domino Sugar Refinery website online, wherein the luxurious leases list for a median of $3,436 a month for one-bedroom residences, consistent with StreetEasy.

“We think this can be leased up in 3 to 5 months, on the most,” Mr. Charney stated.

A few blocks away, Cornell Realty Management is building a 26-story resort and apartment tower adjacent to the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank. The domed bank corridor had already been converted to an occasion space while the developer bought the air rights and adjacent lot.


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