Vision: Watchtower Redevelopment, DUMBO Heights Residential Tower

DUMBO Heights, image by LEESER ArchitectureDUMBO Heights, image by LEESER Architecture

Last year, several developers joined together to purchase the former Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower complex in Dumbo Heights for $375 million. And now, YIMBY now has the first renderings of a potential residential tower at the site, though they are conceptual and will not translate into reality.

LEESER Architecture is behind the renderings, and the firm’s website describes the project thusly:

The project developed concepts for 5 prime existing buildings in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The design features a tower incorporating residential penthouses, a commercial base of retail, restaurants, bars and theatres, technology hub and the original sky bridges being activated through the introduction of an outdoor running track, pool and fitness center.

DUMBO Heights, image by LEESER ArchitectureDUMBO Heights, image by LEESER Architecture

DUMBO Heights, image by LEESER Architecture

Given the location immediately to the south of Dumbo proper, plans for the site’s residential tower likely won’t be tabled for long, as the surrounding real estate is some of the most expensive in Brooklyn. Kushner Companies, LIVWRK, and RFR Realty are jointly developing the site, and when reached for comment, Jared Kushner said “Kushner Companies valued Thomas’ creative ideas and contributions as illustrated in these early renderings.”

While the LEESER plans may not be happening, the potential for the site is clearly enormous, and the rendered scope of the residential tower would make it the tallest building in DUMBO, rising approximately 30 floors above the existing warehouses. Though the tower’s ultimate form will likely deviate significantly from LEESER’s collection of cantilevers, something equally contemporary would complement the bevy of ultra-modern skyscrapers rising across Brooklyn.

DUMBO Heights, image by LEESER Architecture

DUMBO Heights, 90 Sands at far right, image by LEESER Architecture

Besides the eventual addition of a residential tower, it appears the other most significant change to the complex will come to 90 Sands Street, which has not yet formally switched hands to the new developers. The hotel will continue to be operated by the Jehovah’s Witnesses until 2017, but afterwards, it appears the building may be repurposed and reclad.

DUMBO Heights, image by LEESER Architecture

DUMBO Heights, image by LEESER Architecture

Re-activating the Watchtower buildings as a mixed-use complex where New Yorkers can both live and work is clearly in the best interest of both the neighborhood and the old buildings, and the development’s website offers a comprehensive look at changes already afoot around the site. As for the residential tower, no completion date has been announced, and the site is still awaiting its final design.

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