Yesterday at One Hanson Place - better known as the Williamsburgh Savings Bank - was a study in contrasts.
Magic Johnson of the Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds (yes, that Magic Johnson), partnering with the Dermot Company, towered over Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz as they touted the latest development at Brooklyn's tallest building: One Hanson Place, 189 luxury condos, starting at $350,000, to be completed in mid 2007. Markowitz maintained his commitment to an income-and-ethnic-diverse borough and Magic Johnson explained that the ground-level retail spaces would bring jobs to the area. Later, Magic spoke at a gala - to which some 600 brokers RSVP'ed.
Meanwhile, ACORN protesters, standing just outside the 1927 building, urged Johnson to build affordable housing.
Of all the transformations in brownstone Brooklyn these days, One Hanson Place, designed by H. Thomas O'Hara Architects and just steps from Flatbush Avenue in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, has to be one of the more poignant developments. Imagine the top of the Empire State Building being off-limits to the public.
Standing on the 26th floor in one of the two soon-to-be penthouses (with 2,000 square feet of outside space, it's going for $3 million), we couldn't help remembering years ago when we sauntered inside, rode those two sets of elevators, noticed the proliferation of dentist offices (now being displaced) and sighed as we took in the expansive view.
Until yesterday, we didn't know how lucky we had been.