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Downtown Brooklyn is finally beginning to look like the hub of a borough of more than 2.5 million inhabitants. With its first supertall skyscraper, 9 Dekalb Avenue, swiftly leaping into the sky, the mass transit-friendly neighborhood is a formidable candidate for the metro area's most impressive business district outside of Manhattan.
To add to its vibrant mix of office, retail, and residential uses is a planned 40-story residential tower at 111 Willoughby Street, near the MetroTech business and educational center. To rise from a midblock site between Duffield and Bridge streets, the tower will overlook the planned Willoughby Square Park and is a short walk to the Fulton Street Mall and CityPoint shopping center.
The Michaels Organization is listed as the developer of the tower who acquired the lot and additional air rights from The Oratory Church of St. Boniface, a Roman Catholic church adjacent to the project site. Permits filed in June 2020 have yet to be approved. The 200,000-square-foot development will usurp three small and stately pre-war buildings that belonged to the church.
111-Willoughby-Street-06 Google Earth aerial of 111 Willoughby Street
Belltell lofts Ralph Walker-designed telephone building now known as the Belltel Lofts
The buildings adjacent to the Art Deco tower to be demolished
The building will stand across from Avalon Willoughby Square and shoulder Belltel Lofts, the converted headquarters of New York Telephone that became one of the first sizeable condominium buildings in the neighborhood. Sadly, the new building will obscure the entire face of the Ralph Walker-designed building and blot out several lines of east-facing windows. There are currently ten condos priced from $650K available in Belltel Lofts, and many of which could have their views decimated.
The architects at the helm are GF55 Architects, who have penned an array of market-rate and affordable multifamily buildings throughout NYC. Among their most interesting works is The Kalahari, a 250-unit mid-rise condo in Harlem whose brickwork and common spaces are inspired by specific African motifs. Renderings and filed permits show this Downtown Brooklyn affair will be the firm's tallest to date. Set to soar 434 feet tall, the building will offer some of its 227 apartments majestic views of Manhattan and of Brownstone Brooklyn.
Illustrations posted by GF55 show the tower will have an uncompromisingly modern and forgettable design with patterned fenestration of metal and glass. The quality of the facade will make or break the design, and given the quality of nearby rental high-rises such as The Brooklyner, our hopes aren't high.

Few, if any apartments will have private outdoor space, and the floor schedule/elevation suggests robotic layouts with little individuality. The podium fronting Willoughby will have full-height windows bordered by a contextually colored frame. The first five floors will hold offices and space for the church. Amenity areas and a common terrace will be on the sixth floor, and no more than seven apartments per floor above. The 39th floor will be a sky lounge and dining area. There will be an accessible roof deck one floor above that will have wide-angle views of Manhattan and the East River.
Given the average unit size of 675 square feet, the apartments inside will most likely be rentals. CityRealty listings show that there are currently 107 publicly listed apartments for rent in Downtown Brooklyn with a median rent of $3,409/month. A look at June 2021 median asking rents found that Downtown Brooklyn is one of the priciest neighborhoods in the borough, coming in behind Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights, and DUMBO.
Willoughby-Square-Park-01 Rendering of Willoughby Square Park which will be built catty-corner from the project (via NYC EDC/Hargreaves Jones)
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