|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Lccal News in Brooklyn
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Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Lccal News in Brooklyn
From: Ruben Safir
Organization: Brooklyn Linux Solutions
X-Mailer: Ximian Evolution 1.4.4
Date: Sat, 28 May 2005 15:36:24 -0400
May 28, 2005
A Brooklyn Tower Packed With Dentists, and They All Have to Come Out
By DAN BARRY
DENTISTS, dentists, dentists. Orthodontists, periodontists and those
conversant in lower porcelain laminates. Lerner, Greenberg, Klemons and
Teplitsky. Donato, Eisenberger, Franzetti and Klein. Dentists.
For decades now, the sight of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building
rising from the Brooklyn flatness has reminded people to open savings
accounts, invest wisely and brush their teeth twice a day. That is
because within its light-brick facade, high above the bank vault, there
lurk dentists drilling, filling and speaking of gingivitis.
It is not entirely clear how the tallest building in Brooklyn, a bank
building at that, came to be a castle of dental care. Could have been
the cheap rent during the Depression. Could have been the lure of the
Atlantic Terminal transportation hub across the street. Or maybe one
dentist told another dentist, and, well, there went the neighborhood.
Before long, dozens of dentists were distracting their benumbed patients
by pointing out the windows to a breathtaking panorama of Brooklyn and
beyond. It was a jaw-dropping view, which helped with the business at
"Beeueefoo!" the patients exclaimed.
Well more than 100 dentists had offices in the building - which is
actually in Fort Greene, not Williamsburg - along with lab technicians,
dental-supply businesses and the august Second District Dental Society.
How many children studied the tiny tiles in the lobby's ceiling and
imagined them to be the extracted teeth of other kids? How many people
gazed at the building jutting from the horizon and thought of the single
tooth in the maw of that hapless cartoon character, the Brooklyn Dodgers
"This building has a long history with dentistry," lamented Dr. Ian
Lerner, a dentist on the 29th floor. He might as well have used the past
The building has only 40 dentists now; new ones have not come along to
replace the old ones. More devastating, though, was the 35-story
building's sale last week to Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds and the Dermot
Company, which plan to transform it into a luxury condominium complex.
The current tenants - doctors, nonprofit groups and so many dentists -
have been told it's time to go. Time to pack up those pamphlets on
This means Dr. Gilbert Kringstein in Suite 2301, a tenant since the
mid-1960's, who remembers the convenience of practicing in a dental
colony. "I'll bet you I had - on the 16th floor? - maybe eight referring
doctors," he said. It means Dr. Gary Klemons in Suite 708, whose father,
Jerry, retired in December after working in the building for 50 years.
"Dad was a dental technician," he said. "He made the dentures. Actually
fabricated the teeth."
And it means Dr. Lerner, who jokes that his occupancy of the highest
office makes him "Brooklyn's top dentist - in a geographic sense."
Devoted to his profession, he is vice president of the Second District
Dental Society and even displays a "History of Dentistry" poster in the
office bathroom. ("249 A.D. Apollonia, the patron saint of dentists, is
burned after having her teeth knocked out. Depictions of her are usually
shown with forceps.")
He is also devoted to this building, so much so that his business card
depicts its famous dome and clock face. His deep understanding of its
place in dental history includes this little nugget: "I think the office
I have now used to be an oral surgeon's office that treated some of the
When it became clear that the luxurious renovation would not have room
for dentists, Dr. Lerner became Dr. Braveheart, rallying a small band of
fellow tenants to stand up for dentistry. This week, he presented the
owners with a proposal to reserve some space for dental and medical
suites. At the very least, he argued, tenants need more time to find or
build new offices.
ANDREW MacARTHUR, one of the principal owners, knew of Dr. Lerner's
proposal, but said, "That's not in our plans." He said that some
dentists in the building were close to finding office space elsewhere
and that he would try to accommodate those who needed more time. But he
emphasized that the owners wanted to move forward with their "major gut
rehab" - a total extraction, if you will.
Suspended between its past and its future, the tallest building in
Brooklyn has a spooky air these days. HSBC Bank, which sold the
building, has moved out of most of the offices it occupied. Other former
tenants are remembered only in the gold lettering on the frosted panes
of their old offices. Abandoned sets of letters - D.D.S. and D.M.D. -
The other day, a dentist, surgical mask dangling from his neck, walked
down the nearly empty 16th floor. He was whistling - maybe in sadness,
or maybe in gleeful contemplation of affluent condo owners with aching
teeth, and no good dentist nearby.