Toll Brothers hopes to get Northside Piers back in fashion

By Sarah Ryley | March 12, 2008 10:39AM

With sales slowing at Toll Brothers City Living’s Northside Piers and a second tower under construction, the developer has devised a way to draw fashion-savvy buyers past busy Bedford Avenue, blocks of warehouses, construction sites and out to its waterfront sales office.

Toll Brothers, known for its sprawling, suburban enclaves, has donated the cavernous parking garage at Northside Piers for the BK-Fashion Week{end}, an annual, three-day fashion show that starts on Friday evening. Northside’s raw space has also hosted the buttoned-down Opera Company of Brooklyn, and the developer has arranged to curate shows for Slate Gallery in the lobby, where the model ice blue towers will try to position the waterfront project as the haven of hip. 

“We are the first people out here; over the next few years there will be thousands,” said Shirley Jaffe, vice president for the development team, which includes RD Management and L&M Equities.

Jaffe, speaking after a press lunch held Tuesday to promote the fashion show, acknowledged the credit crunch prolonged the developer’s loan process with Citibank for the second tower, which will also be condos. Adam Gottlieb, assistant project manager, said the overall condo market is struggling.

“Nothing is doing well right now,” he said.

Although Northside has sold only about 60 percent of its 180 units since the sales office opened in January 2007, Gottlieb said he is confident things will pick up. As The Real Deal reports in this month’s issue, Toll Brothers has had more success in New York during the housing market’s slowdown than in other parts of the country. The firm’s net signed-contracts have been cut in half, while its share price has dropped by more than 60 percent from its 2005 high.

Toll Brothers has no plans of offering free rent for its retail space, as Two Trees Management did back when Dumbo lacked neighborhood amenities. Jaffe said that a waterfront restaurant is planned for the second tower, which will have 274 units. That tower will overlook a giant sculpture by local artist Mark Gibian that could be 30 feet tall and weigh eight tons, according to one estimate.

Under city zoning laws, Toll Brothers is required to create a waterfront esplanade on its property along with a pier that contains some shade element, which is how the sculpture came to be. 

BK-Fashion’s show, which last year brought in 1,000 attendees per evening, kicks off Friday at 5 p.m. with the Rozz Nash Band. The show is entitled

“Brooklyn Underground Fashion Rocks” (the show will be held underground).