The great thing about the Atlantic Yards imbroglio is that, while everyone's busy yelling about that, other developers can do all sorts of things right next door. There are, for example, at least three condo towers quietly rising on the edges of Bruce Ratner's megaproject. And now, with very little fanfare, a deal has been reached to erect one of Brooklyn's tallest buildings mere blocks from the epicenter. Where, you ask, will it go? Let's see how to break this to you. Remember Fulton Mall? Excellent. Now forget it.
That's right, the low-rent (if not actually low-rent), somewhat blighted three-story mall is set to go, replaced by a million-square-foot development known as the Center at Albee Square. The developers, a coalition of big names, are planning to keep half of that footage for retail and add — say it together — a thousand rental apartments. Ratner himself, incidentally, has had his dalliance with the property: He bought it in 1990 and called it the Gallery at MetroTech before losing interest and unloading it to Thor Equities. In the Times' hilariously deadpan recount, Thor then promised to remake the mall in the Beverly Hills–like image of an Italian villa, promising major chains and "tuxedoed greeters." Needless to say, that didn't quite happen. And so it's good-bye to black Brooklyn's prime shopping arcade, and back to yelling over whether the shadow of a Gehry building will ruin the bucolic charm of Park Slope.