Monday, June 01, 2015

"Everything you love about Brooklyn"?: marketing push for 550 Vanderbilt condo begins

It was hard to miss, the half-page advertisement on Page 4 of the New York Times Real Estate section yesterday for 550 Vanderbilt, with that deceptive rendering we have gotten to know.
At the bottom: "A Greenland Forest City Partners project."
"Everything you love about Brooklyn," claims the headline, followed by "COOKFOX Architects draws on the rich heritage of the surrounding neighborhoods to create 550 Vanderbilt, Brooklyn's newest luxury address, where design and amenities connect its residents to nature and community like never before."

Wait a second. The building won't be open for more than a year. Units start at $550,000. (Who's "you"?)

Yes, the design offers some echoes of existing architecture. But, as I wrote last October, the rendering offers a selective perspective on the way this building fits into Brooklyn.

It minimizes the scale transition between low-rise buildings on Vanderbilt south from and across from and this 202-foot tall, 17-story, 275-unit tower.

Consider the rendering from Atlantic Lots, 2008, which incorporates a somewhat different massing model, and rises only 14 stories

Original aerial photography by Jonathan Barkey. Rendering: Municipal Art Society
Moreover, the choice of camera angle makes the three-story, mixed-use red brick building across the street look shorter and wider than the reality.

Check the GIF, which compares a photo of that three-story building at 552 Vanderbilt, which has the restaurant Chuko Ramen on the ground floor, with a similarly cropped piece of the rendering.
Vanderbilt & Dean on Make A Gif

Marketing lingo

And how do they come up with p.r.-speak like "connect... to nature and community like never before"?

Only a fraction of green space--not a park --will be built out with the tower, and the rest nearby is a few years away.

How do you connect to community?

What does that even mean? (Remember how Bruce Ratner told the Nassau Legislature regarding the Nassau Coliseum project, "Yes, we have done community benefit agreements before, access to community is very important." That's a very different deployment of language.)

It's not so easy to see in the reproduction of the advertisement, but it, as in the excerpt at right from the 550 Vanderbilt website, places the street signs designating the intersection of Dean Street and Vanderbilt Avenue near the center.

Those street signs, in brown, indicate a historic district, one designated thanks to neighborhood activism after Atlantic Yards was passed.

We should remember that the historic district nudges up to the project footprint.

So they're taking advantage of that adjacency. At the same time, the developers benefited from the state's finding of blight, which was a prerequisite to eminent domain.

If you think it through, it's hard to imagine that eminent domain is needed to stimulate development next to a historic district. (Or, for that manner, cappuccino.)















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