The Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower
URBAN OMNIBUS - SEPTEMBER 12, 2012
The condos went on the market during the height of the last real estate boom, when it seemed that the demand for luxury living in this part of Brooklyn would only increase. After some post-crash price cuts, most of the 190 units sold by 2009, when the remaining 19 went rental. The asking price for the five floor-through, clocktower penthouses, however, proved too high at 3.7 million (and one duplex, four-bedroom penthouse at 5.8 million), and these units were eventually sold at auction in 2011.
Finding a suitable tenant for the magnificent (and landmarked) lobby also proved challenging, and a diverse range of retailers were courted, including Borders, Microsoft, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Throughout, the meticulously restored space has been managed as an event venue, Skylight One Hanson, which has seen its share of weddings, wine and craft beer festivals, travel expos, and the Brooklyn Flea. As such, Skylight One Hanson is part of a pattern: the craftsmanship and grandeur of late-19th and early-20th century banking halls recommend a particular kind of repurposing. The Bowery Savings Bank (the design of which greatly influenced Halsey, McCormack & Helmer) is now Capitale restaurant and event space. The Union Square Savings Bank is now the Daryl Roth Theatre. The Greenwich Savings Bank is now Gotham Hall. And the conversion of George Post’s original Williamsburgh Savings Bank, also historically designated, into yet another event venue is currently underway.