Few buildings have symbolized the city’s real estate boom and bust more than the notorious tower at 144 North Eighth Street in Williamsburg. The developers, exploiting old zoning codes that gave empty manufacturing sites an excess of air rights, planned a 16-story tower in a low-rise neighborhood of rowhouses of only three to five stories. The infamous architect Robert Scarano was brought on, and using his mezzanine trick and other loopholes, he pushed the plans to essentially 21 stories.
It was 2004, and the locals were in the midst of having the neighborhood rezoned, but “the finger building” as it came to be known for its perceived sleight to the neighborhood, snuck through. That is until a fight with the neighbor mired the project in court, its developer could no longer afford the loan, and was forced to sell. Now, nearly complete at a more modest but still very tall 10 stories, 144 North Eight Street is hitting the market, according to The Journal.
The paper reports that prices will start at $550,000 for a one-bedroom and go as high as $2 million, about par for the Williamsburg’s “luxury” apartments, like those on the waterfront and in refurbished lofts. It turns out this is one of at least eight buildings to become unstuck in recent months, which could be a good sign, so long as the economy improves:
Just as the “Finger Building” readies for its close-up, other previously stalled sites around the neighborhood are moving forward in a flurry of construction activity not seen in Williamsburg, or in many other neighborhoods in the city, since early 2007.
Others warn the optimism could be premature, saying construction financing for condo projects remains extremely tight, and the economy as a whole could be heading for another dip.
If only there were a Whole Foods for all the BroBos to go shopping at.