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Avid church and factory convertor Yoel Werzberger and Watermark Capital Group are moving ahead with the construction of a 19-story, 230-foot tall residential building in the heart of Williamsburg. Filed plans and a newly posted rendering reveal the tower will be tallest building in the neighborhood not along its waterfront --taller than even the much-maligned 16-story "Finger Building" planned a decade ago at 144 North 8th Street.
The active development site at 321 Wythe Avenue was formerly a surface parking lot and a single-floor church owned by the Parish of Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church. The church, who will now renovate and expand into Henry McCaddin Memorial at 288 Berry, owns an acre of property spanning the center of the block between Wythe and Berry streets. Last year, DNAinfo first reported that the struggling church entered a long term lease agreement with Watermark Capital Group that will allow the firm to develop a multifamily residential tower as it makes payments to the church that begin at $2.1 million annually.
The stipulation attached to the lease grabbed headlines when DNA reported that a variety of activities would be banned and any violation would be grounds for a lawsuit. The clause in the lease bars any activities associated with abortion, birth control, euthanasia, stem-cell research, or the sale of distribution of pornographic material within Watermark's space. DNA also mentions, "The lease gives the church some power of approval over the development’s design, stating that the look is of “utmost importance” due to the spiritual role of the neighboring church property that will remain on the grounds."
The new rendering posted on the site's construction fence shows a multi-textured, T-shaped tower rising on stilts above a broad, low base. Watermark's go-to design firm, ND Architecture & Design are handling the project, and have wielded they're trademark exterior aesthetic of randomly placed balconies, materials and setbacks. The cacophonous design is reminiscent of the work Robert Scarano, who coincidentally designed the famous "Finger Building," and who ND's founder, Nataliya Donskoy, is a protege of. Much of the T-shaped tower's bulk will rise along Wythe Avenue, while the large remainder of the site will house a one- to two-story podium slated to house a 92-car parking garage and an ambulatory diagnostic/health care facility. The roof of the base will provide a landscaped deck for residential tenants and from floors 4 through 19 are the apartments that will average eight per floor.
The posting on the fence also states Watermark's tower will be finished in 2019. Watermark recently finished another church-to-apartments conversion at 81 Ten Eyck Street, that was once St. Mary's Catholic Church.
Now flush with cash, Saints Peter and Paul is preparing to rebuild and is embarking on the restoration, renovation and conversion of Henry McCaddin Memorial at the opposite end of their one-acre lot. Handled by Tobin Parnes Design (TPD), the structure will be transformed into a multi-use cultural center housing a new church, classrooms and theater.
Henry McCaddin Memorial Expansion