A Controversial Path From Historic Bank to Luxury CondosThe Williamsburgh Savings Bank renovation is a case history in the re-purposing or adaptive reuse of Brooklyn's historic 20th century buildings, a trend that defines so much of Brooklyn's most interesting, innovative and often charming, real estate development today.
Once the home to an elegant bank on on the ground floor and offices above, the landmarked 1929 Williamsburgh Savings Bank building interior was converted to over 170 condos in the first decade of the 21st century.
(For more about the historic Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, see this article, "A Beloved Little New York City Skyscraper, Brooklyn's Tallest Building for Decades.")
Rebranding: As part of the conversion to residential use, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building was renamed One Hanson Place. It has been marketed as a "landmarked loft building featuring four common terraces, an owners lounge, meeting room, game room " and a doorman, one of Brooklyn's few.
Penthouses, with panoramic views of the East River and Brooklyn's bridges (not to mention the less beautiful new Barclay Stadium (home to the Brooklyn Nets basketball team), were priced at over $5 million when condos went on sale in 2010, in the midst of a real estate market downturn. In 2011, the last three penthouses went on sale at auction.
The Lobby: Re-named "Skylight One Hanson," the ground and basement floors, including the ornate former bank lobby, are rental venues for such special events as corporate parties, movie and TV shoots, wine tasting events. Up to 1,500 people can be accommodated. The popular Brooklyn Flea, one of New York City's best weekend flea markets, is located in this space during winter weekends.
Controversy over Union Labor, Magic JohnsonThis building's location is less than a mile from the historically black community of Bedford-Stuyvesant. One of the project developers was basketball legend Magic Johnson, through his company, Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds. His involvement in this project proved contentious. As reported in local media, in April 2009 New York City Councilwoman Letitia James scolded the star, saying, "Magic Johnson should be ashamed of himself," for claims by the local Service Employees International Union that Johnson's company hired non-union labor.
Luxury Condos Adjacent to Brooklyn's New Barclay Center, A Basketball Stadium and Mega-Event VenueThe 2012 opening of the highly controversial Barclay Center will substantially change the area around the Williamsburgh Savings Bank. Controversy swirled around the construction of the stadium, which seats about as many spectators as Madison Square Garden, and a proposed but, as of this writing, not yet built, development of sixteen high rise residential towers in the adjacent property known as Atlantic Yards.
If and when these buildings are built, they will likely eclipse the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, compromising both its commanding views over Prospect Heights and Park Slope, and its standing as the tallest building in the area.
Want to go take a look? Get directions to One Hanson Place, the former Williamsburg Savings Bank, a Brooklyn and NYC landmark skyscraper. It is a 21st century case history in gentrifying Brooklyn's adaptive reuse of historic buildings.