Near the top of the 1,066-foot Brooklyn Tower in Downtown Brooklyn, wind whipped across the unfinished concrete slab, and the developer, Michael Stern, showcased the stunning, sky-high views.
There was the shimmering New York harbor; the distant beaches of Queens; the mottled rooftops of low-rise Brooklyn; and the building’s closest spiritual kin: the supertall condos of Manhattan’s Billionaires’ Row.
But don’t expect a tour.
“The price of admission to the observation deck?” Mr. Stern deadpanned. “You’ve got to buy or rent a unit.”
After five years of construction, his firm, JDS Development Group, has nearly completed the city’s first and only supertall tower outside Manhattan — defined as exceeding 300 meters, or 984 feet. The next tallest tower in the borough, the nearby Brooklyn Point condo, is almost 350 feet shorter than the Brooklyn Tower — the difference of a Statue of Liberty, plus a few townhouses stacked on top.
The project is hitting the market as luxury real estate is once again surging in the city, especially in parts of Brooklyn where tight inventory and growing demand has pushed prices above prepandemic levels. But this is also a market more wary of supertall apartment towers, which critics have derided as piggy banks for the ultrawealthy. And complaints of serious construction defects last year at the nearly 1,400-foot tower at 432 Park Avenue on Billionaires’ Row may have fueled more hesitancy about their future.
Still, the developer is betting on high design and higher altitudes to stand apart from its peers across the river — and perhaps break price records in the borough.
The tower at 9 DeKalb Avenue — designed by SHoP Architects, the firm behind the supertall at 111 West 57th Street in Manhattan, another JDS project — will have 150 condos ranging from about $875,000 for studios to $8 million for four-bedroom apartments. The penthouses have yet to be priced, but the developer will likely aim higher.
The condo units begin at 535 feet in the air and will have 11-foot ceilings, European white oak flooring, and interior design by Gachot Studios, the modern-minimalist New York design firm that was cited in Architectural Digest’s AD100 list.
There will also be about 400 rental apartments, of which 30 percent, or 120, will be reserved for “middle-income” renters, in exchange for tax breaks from the city. The income-restricted units, all but 19 of which will be studios or one-bedrooms, will be pegged to renters making 130 percent of the area median income.
Prices have not yet been set, but a single person applying for an income-restricted unit could make up to $108,680 a year, while a family of three would be capped at $139,620. The median household income for renters in Brooklyn was about $54,000 in 2019, the latest reliable survey, according to the New York University Furman Center.
Leasing begins in the summer, and the developer expects its first residents to move in before the end of 2022. Douglas Elliman Development Marketing will lead sales and rentals, and MGNY Consulting, based in New York, will handle income-restricted units.
But since the project broke ground in 2017, attitudes toward supertalls have changed. Reports last year of flooding, stuck elevators and safety hazards at 432 Park may have shaken buyer confidence, said Nancy Packes, the president of Nancy Packes Signature Marketing Services, a consulting firm.
“There may be some reticence because of issues that might arise,” she said, adding that the emergence of residential supertalls is still a very recent phenomenon.
Among the apartments currently listed, the average price per square foot is nearly $2,300, which places it above its closest competitors, according to Marketproof, a real-estate analytics company.
But the apartments will likely sell, said Kael Goodman, the company’s chief executive.
“Big buildings are selling very well right now,” he said, in part because remote work has given an edge to projects with more space and amenities. (And the prices are still a far cry from Manhattan, where some units have sought well over $10,000 a square foot.)
New development sales in Brooklyn, especially on the high end, are booming. Sales volume in 2021 was more than $1.5 billion, up 154 percent from 2020, and up 77 percent from 2019, before the pandemic, according to the consulting and marketing firm Brown Harris Stevens Development Marketing.
The tower stands out for other reasons: It is connected to the landmark Dime Savings Bank, a palatial bank hall with 40-foot ceilings and a domed ceiling created by the famed Guastavino Fireproof Construction Company. With the purchase of the former bank’s unused development rights, the tower gained about 30 more floors than it could have otherwise built. The bank hall will become a “flagship” retail space, part of a 100,000-square-foot retail plan, Mr. Stern said.
The bank interior, with its hexagonal tiles and patterns, inspired the facade of the building, a mix of stainless steel and anodized aluminum in contrast to many of the blue-glass towers around it, said Gregg Pasquarelli, a founding principal at SHoP Architects.
Where the new tower connects to the roof of the bank, the building will have three outdoor pools surrounding the dome. There will be an array of amenities, including a movie theater, gym, billiards room, children’s playroom and — a late pandemic addition — co-working spaces and conference rooms for remote workers. Renters get access to all the amenities, except the 85th floor “sky lounge,” which is reserved for condo owners.
Other features lean into the building’s toweringheight. Two open-air amenity spaces, on the 66th and 85th floors, will include alfresco basketball (with fencing to prevent an errant pass off the side of the building) and perhaps the world’s highest dog run, Mr. Stern said. The floors are open to the elements in part because it helps wind pass through the tower to mitigate building sway — a complaint raised at other supertall towers.
But the pandemic delayed construction for about four months, and more recently, supply chain issues have slowed the delivery of several items, including doors and some high-end finishes, Mr. Stern said.
And in February, companies connected to the Chetrit Group, a former partner on the project, filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court. The companies say they are owed more than $17 million as part of a buyout agreement with JDS and Mr. Stern. A spokesman for JDS said Mr. Stern and the company would not comment on the lawsuit, and Chetrit did not respond to requests for comment.
As for concerns about the perception of supertalls, Mr. Stern is undeterred. He points out that, unlike the skinny supertalls in Manhattan, some of the slenderest in the city, his building has a wider base that is less prone to swaying, and they have studied the problems at other supertall towers.
“When you pioneer, sometimes there are growing pains,” he said in defense of the developers of 432 Park Avenue, where residents are suing for at least $125 million after reports of intolerable noise, electrical explosions and burst pipes related to the construction of the building.
“I think we’ve learned all these lessons already,” he said.
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