Williamsburgh Savings Bank
Developer: Dome Voyagers LLC
Owner: Driggs Broadway LLC
Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.
The 2014 Historic Development that Overcame Significant Obstacles Award is presented to Dome Voyagers LLC for transforming the historic Williamsburgh Savings Bank building into a cultural event and exhibition venue in Brooklyn, N.Y. The building, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, operated as a bank for nearly 135 years. Over time, the structure fell into disrepair until it was purchased by Driggs Broadway LLC in 2010.
During the rehabilitation of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, Dome Voyagers overcame several construction and financing obstacles. Because Dome Voyagers had to preserve the exterior and interior of the former bank building’s original structure and update the existing systems, construction was difficult and costly. Dome Voyagers thoroughly researched all documentary and physical evidence to determine the original finishes, materials and hues of the building. Creating decorative ceiling murals using custom digital wallpaper, recreating damaged exterior features, consolidating original fabric and restoring the limestone masonry were just some of the tasks Dome Voyagers undertook to preserve the site’s original structure. The building also had to be updated to modern codes so it could be used as an event venue. To accomplish this, Dome Voyagers integrated new systems and updated existing systems to meet the venue’s functional needs and to fix numerous problems caused by years of deferred maintenance.
Financing the project was difficult because its rehabilitation and future use entailed costly preservation work. But Dome Voyagers collaborated with several investors to finance the building’s preservation, which cost $23.9 million. The financing package included equity from several U.S. corporations, a bridge loan from Emerald Creek Capital, $3.8 million in federal historic tax credits (HTCs) and $2.5 million in state HTCs. Dome Voyagers also worked with several talented preservationists who lowered the cost of their services for the opportunity of preserving the property.
The Williamsburgh Savings Bank was also recognized with the 2014 Excellence in Historic Preservation Award, presented by the Preservation League of New York State (PLNYS).
"Very hard to finance and restore to this use - operations are a long term challenge ahead." – Steven Stogel, DFC Group