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144 North 8th Street

Between Bedford Avenue & Berry Street

Carter Horsley
Review by Carter Horsley
Carter Horsley Carter B. Horsley, a former journalist for The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Post. Mr. Horsley is also the editorial director of

This project at 144 North 8th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn got its knickname - the  Finger - from the community because its developer, Mendel Brach, had planned a 16-story building in a low-rise neighborhood.

The developer eventually lost the building to a bank and the building’s height was lowed to 14 floors.

The project architect was Robert Scarano Jr., the incredibly prolific architect who peppered northwestern Brooklyn with dozens of attractive, but controversial buildings, many with "mezzanine" floors.

His dicing of the city’s zoning made him a developer’s delight but eventually incurred the wrath of the city’s Department of Buildings that ruled in 2008 that he could no longer "certify" that his designs were in compliance with the city’s zoning and planning regulations. He appealed but in July 2010 lost in the Appellate Division.

The building, which was completed in 2011, has 41 residential condominium apartments.

Curated was the interior designer.

Bottom Line

Despite an acrimonious battle with the community over its height, this handsome, mid-rise building eventually was completed in 2011 after changing hands a couple of times. 


The building has an orange façade with glass balconies and a setback with pink façades.

An October 3, 2011 article by Kelsey Keith at noted that “it’s by far the tallest thing in Williamsburg that’s not on the waterfront, and the views prove it….The lower floors aren’t lacking, either, the second, third and fourth floor units look directly onto the grass law (interspersed with wildflower beds) planted across the entire first-floor structure reaching out to North 7th, Berry and North 8th streets.  The law in insanely thick and verdant, the sort of coddling, sweet-dreams-inducing amenity that makes even a Williamsburg condo building fit in the luxury category.”


The building has a 24-hour doorman, 24-hour attended parking, a fitness center, a common entertaining kitchen, bicycle storage, and an 18,000-square foot green roof deck for gardening and leisure. 

The pet-friendly building is one block away from public transportation.


Apartments have wide plank white oak flooring and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Kitchens have Bertazzoni range ovens, Sub Zero refrigerators, and black granite countertops and backsplashes and dark cabinetry.

Baths have hand-painted ceramic tiles, Robern medicine cabinets and mirrors and Hansgrohe plumbing fixtures.

Apartments 3D, 5D, 7D and 12C are one-bedroom-units with a 18-foot-long living/dining room with an open, 9-foot-long kitchen and a 16-foot-wide balcony.

Apartments 10A and 11A are three-bedroom units with long entry foyers leading to a 28-foot-long living/dining room with a 13-foot-wide pass-through kitchen and a 25-foot-long balcony.  A17-foot-wide balcony can be entered from two of the bedrooms.

Apartment 9A is a three-bedroom unit with a 28-foot-long living/dining room with a large pass-through kitchen and a 23-foot-long roof terrace.  There is also a 17-foot-long balcony that can be entered from two of the bedrooms.

Apartments 3C through 8C and 9B through 12B are two-bedroom units with 16-foot-long living/dining rooms with 10-foot-wide open kitchens and 16-foot-wide balcony.  There is also an 11-foot-wide balcony adjoining one of the bedrooms.


A March 18, 2011 article about Mr. Scarano by Andrew Rice in the magazine section of The New York Times was headlined "The Supersizer of Brooklyn" and stated that Scarano had met zoning requirements at the "Finger" building "by proposing a shared outdoor deck - on the roof of a neighboring property."

The current charges grew out of a 2008 inquiry by the city’s Department of Investigation and the Buildings Department. In 2006, the city brought charges against Mr. Scarano claiming that he violated zoning rules or building codes in the design of more than two dozen apartment buildings, many in Williamsburg, and also that he failed to guarantee safe conditions at a building site on Ocean Parkway where a worker was killed in a wall collapse. The charges were settled.

Despite complaints about dozens of his projects in recent years, Mr. Scarano was ultimately brought down by his work on just three buildings, including one project, at 145 Snediker Avenue in East New York, where the issue was a lamppost.

An August 19, 2009 by Bonnie Kavoussi at noted that "It’s become a cliché now: for the past few years, the Finger Building has been getting the finger from Williamsburg residents.”

"Though construction had stalled and the building had even entered foreclosure, the Finger (as it is still known in Williamsburg) at 144 North Eighth Street is finally under construction again and may actually get finished. After years of heated debate in the courts and the streets about how high this aesthetically challenged building should rise, it’s been resolved: the Scarano-designed Albero will be 14 stories high, according to the project’s construction manager Mike Schon, and it will be finished in 10 months," the article said.

"The second floor is going to be the condo’s crown jewel. With a gym and a few apartments on the inside, a large green roof-deck will surround the second floor, with patios and other amenities," the article continued.

The GFI Development Company, which owned the Ace Hotel in Manhattan and is developing the NoMad Hotel at 1170 Broadway in Manhattan, bought the building in 2009 from HSBC after the bank had foreclosed on the property.  GFI dropped its name of The Albero (Italian for tree) for the building and changed the design to create a “green roof garden and meadow for the residents” on the second floor, according to its website.


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