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Where (Downtown) Brooklyn At: Downtown’s LEED Gold Toren Condos Gets FHA Approval, Critical Love

Toren - Myrtle AvenueI spend a lot of time writing about luxury condos as part of my work with gbNYC partner Elegran, and very little time actually visiting said condos. So while it’s tempting to write, “if you’ve seen one luxury condominium, you’ve seen them all,” it’s probably more accurate of me to write, “if you’ve seen one Flash-driven website for a luxury condominium, you’ve seen them all.” At some point, though, all these listings kind of collapse into one — one endless state-of-the-art fitness center, one sprawling rooftop sundeck, and so dully on. But while Brooklyn’s Toren has many of the same amenities and attributes as the endless parade of luxury condos in Manhattan that fills my days, a few notable things set Toren apart. For one thing, Toren is pursuing LEED Gold certification. For another, it’s architecturally striking in the extreme, thanks to a gutsy Skidmore Owings & Merrill design. And for a third, Toren is flourishing where many cookie-cutter condos in Brooklyn and Manhattan are not. Call it real estate meritocracy, if you want. I’m just happy not to have to have to write anything about its gourmet kitchens or windowed baths or whatever.

Stephen wrote about Toren back in early summer of 2008, when developers BFC were still targeting LEED Silver certification and units were moving briskly even as the real estate market began its year-long wipeout. Move-ins have begun at the tower, which is currently 50 percent sold, and sales will likely be helped greatly by the fact that, as Brownstoner reported back in late January, the Toren qualified for Federal Housing Administration approval. (The ins and outs of FHA approval are a longish and fairly dull story, especially for a parenthesis like this, but the gist is that the FHA judged the building a good enough investment to guarantee advantageous, low-downpayment home loans for first-time homebuyers) Details on Toren’s green elements, beyond its vaunted on-site cogeneration plant, are still strangely sketchy — there’s some info here, revealing an air-filtration system and the expected low-VOC finishes and fixtures — but the fact that it’s in the black is news in its own right.

While green condos with Manhattan-grade luxuries and (high end of) Brooklyn prices are probably going to move regardless of what the architectural press thinks, it probably also helped Toren’s case that it received some positive notices in an editorial at World Architecture News yesterday. “A dramatic addition within its context” is perhaps the most surprising laurel tossed at Toren, considering its aggressive architectural stylings and location on a not-terribly-upmarket stretch of Myrtle Avenue, but we’ll trust the architecture critic on that one; there’s also something to be said for a building as dramatic as Toren creating its own context. Some of the other language in the write-up, most notably “a pillar of sustainability as well as style,” kind of reads like sales-brochure copy, but — as someone who spends a lot of time crafting just that kind of copy — it seems more earned than usual in this case.

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