The city’s Economic Development Corporation has announced plans to develop Downtown Brooklyn’s first new office building since the neighborhood was rezoned in 2004. The new development at 420 Albee Square will bring 400,000 square feet of commercial space to a site across the street from City Point, between Willoughby and Fulton Streets.
“Office vacancy rates [here] are at 3%, essentially functional zero,” explained deputy Mayor Alicia Glen at a press conference for the project this afternoon. “And that shortage will definitely impede the momentum we’ve seen going on around here…We’re trying to take a series of measures to make sure that the heat of the residential market doesn’t undermine the ability of this neighborhood to be a major generator of jobs.”
Plans for 420 Albee Square were first filed over a year ago. They initially called for a 65-story tower with 650 apartments and over 270,000 square feet of commercial space on the lower floors. Another round of applications scaled the building down to 35 stories in March, and those plans detailed a 232,000-square-foot project with 248 apartments and 36,500 square feet of commercial space on the first four stories.
Now the city has persuaded the site’s developer, JEMB, to switch the development to office space. In order to make the project happen, the city sold 120,000 square feet of air rights and 3,000 square feet of land from a parcel next door. JEMB paid $15,500,000 for the whole package, according to an EDC spokesman. Although the same spokesman told us that the building wouldn’t receive any city funding or tax incentives, Politico New York heard it would benefit from “certain ‘as-of-right’ city incentives.”
The development rights and the property came from Willoughby Square, a public plaza planned on top of an underground parking garage on Willoughby Street between Gold and Duffield Streets. The city sold the air rights for the one-acre green space, but it still plans to build the plaza.
Kohn Pedersen Fox will design the project, and SLCE was the architect of record on the most recent building applications. Plans for the new office building have not yet been filed.
JEMB originally picked up the collection of lots at 420-428 Albee Square for $38,500,000 last year.