After Landmarking, 70 Lefferts Back in Play

70 lefferts
After its surprise eleventh-hour landmarking last month, the Italianate manion at 70 Lefferts Place (which hasn’t always been yellow, as the photo from NYC archives shows) is back on the market. Unable to proceed with the condominium development he had been planning, developer Chris Morris (who, to be fair, got pretty shafted in all this) is looking either to sell the property outright or partner with someone with the vision to do something profitable within the envelope of landmark rules. Given that he’s got a $2 million mortgage, the house is probably costing him $12,000 to $15,000 a month to carry — reason enough to seek a swift solution. We looked at the house last Spring but were unable to convince a developer we know to put up the dough to buy and renovate it. And while the potential returns of dividing the existing structure into a handful of condo units may not provide the sky-high returns that many pros target, we still think there’s decent money to be made from doing a historically respectful conversion. You know, if 100 readers put of $10,000 each, you’d have more than enough equity to see this through.
1854 Italianate Villa [Craigslist] GMAP P*Shark
BREAKING: 70 Lefferts Place Landmarked! [Brownstoner]

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  • It’s criminal for the government to landmark a property just because a developer plans to demolish it.

    Landmarking should be up to the owner of a property as well as the governement. The recent buyer is getting royally screwed.

  • Exactly. Plus, he was going to build lots of housing to alleviate the housing crisis, and I would have liked to buy a new condo over there.

    Now all we have is a rat-invested yard plus a white-elephant building with the odor of white castle.

  • yea, you were gonna buy condo right there. Sure. Now we’ve got a housing crisis.
    Bunch of clowns.

  • The Craig’s list advertisement says it’s two block from the “upcoming Nets stadium”.

    That’s not true. It’s much further than than. Two blocks and your on Washington Avenue. Then there’s Waverly, Clinton, Vanderbilt, Clermont, Adelphi, Carlton etc.

    Eventually, at Vanderbilt and Atlantic (the other side of Atlantic, and southa and west of this house), there will be residential towers that are part of the AY’s project, but the proposed arena is quite a hike.

    As for the housing crisis comment, Chris Morris bought the place to tear down and build expensive condos with unit prices of $500,000 plus.

    This whole area will be landmarked soon, maybe this year, as a part of the Clinton Hill and Fort Greene landmark extension.

  • Can anyone give me the short version of how this place got rushed through landmarks so quickly?

    Great tracts of Victorian Flatbush are currently in danger of being eaten up by unscrupulous developers (the Coney Island Avenue side of Stratford Road is zoned R6, as are the houses in a few lots from Cortelyou, as well as several other main drags…). Several houses along Stratford have already gone done… More in BSE, another in South Midwood. This is a crisis situation. We need someone in the know to really help us get the Beverley Square West and Ditmas Park West applications through and approved.

    Also, if a building (nabe) is tabled, does that mean that no alterations can be made? Is the property protected during that period?

    We are currently waiting to see what happens with zoning applications as well, but this only provides partial protection.

    Collectively, the 2,500+ houses between Avenue H and Caton Road, Ocean Pkwy and Coney Island Avenue, plus the contiguous Brooklyn college nabe, constitute the largest surviving collection of freestanding Victorian frame houses IN THE NATION. With every house that is inappropriately remodelled, every house that is torn down and the site turned into condos, this designation is at risk.

    PPS and DP enjoy landmark status due to their unique architectural heritage. However, without the preservation of the surrounding community, notable in its own rig ht, but particularly collectively, these enclaves will become increasingly isolated.

    If anyone is willing to help with the application for BSW, can offer advice, or have been through the process themselves, please contact me.

  • That was me above. And I meant to type “you’re” not your.

    I do feel for the developer to a degree, but I understand from this site that other developers passed up on buying this property because they did not want to tear it down and thought that if they did there would be opposition or potential problems from landmarks.

  • Sorry to the investor/developer BUT: what housing shortage? NOT 2 blocks to the new stadium area. why can’t he change the plans and still do something that works for everyone?

  • I got to get you White folk out to Philadelphia. There are Brownstones and some of the finest historical townhouses that can be had for CHEAP!!!!
    (I’m talking less than $100K)

    The city is so backwards that they labels these gems as “blighted” and knock them down.

    True, these properties are in the HOOD, but wasn’t CH and FG and Harlem. All I need (for my property value to go up, so I can cash the hell out) is a few well meaning new-comers and rabble-rousers to take on some physic connection to the area.

    If I can get critical mass these suckers can sell for 3x’s the value in about 2.5 years and 7x’s in about five years.

    I’m talking N.Philly around Temple University.

  • It would make a nice bed and breakfast (similar to the Akwaaba mansion in bed sty). If it was well run, I’m sure he could generate enough income plus more to cover his $12000/mth mortgage.

    The house looks like it could support at least 10 bedrooms (without modifying the original layout).

    10 furnished rooms at $100/night each = $1000/night total for all rooms = $30,000/monthly for the house.

    I don’t see why he’s in such a rush to unload this property.

  • anon 11:03am again.
    Some of the inner rooms could also be used to host small receptions, conferences, meetings, etc. I would imagine that those rooms could also generate monthly income.

  • If the buyer wanted to build a condo development, he is not going to be interested in a bed and breakfast for God’s sake. I also think he got the royal shaft and said so when everyone was opining on this issue with the last minute rescue action. Where was Landmark’s before this deal was done? It shows how unsystematic and arbitrary the whole Landmark’s process is. I am not a developer, broker or in any way involved with this — just a homeowner not far away.

  • why do people selling expensive property put it on craigslist? why not with a reputable broker? so stupid no wonder he bought it thinking he could tear it down.

  • there should be something in place to protect buyers from sonething like this. that is terribly unfair for him to have to pay (literally) for a choice that was made beyond his control.

  • watch this thing turn into a eyesore and the new owner really got shafted!

  • i have no pity for this developer. he used some pretty nasty tactics to force the previous owner to sell it to him. besides, why doesn’t he just build his condos on the large vacant lot next door? for those of you who wish there were condos available in that area, just wait a few years and get in line for your place at atlantic yards.

    and mr. philly, unlike nyc’s neighborhoods which have changed enormously over the past decade, philly has changed remarkably little. the block i grew up on in west philly is essentially unchanged since the late 70s. i think that’s a great thing, however none of those homes are going to double or triple in price anytime soon.

  • Potential for landmarking is cost of doing business. As to threat of place turning into an eyesore, well that is what a lot of developers do to avoid landmarking or to fight against it. Mega bad karma. And we shouldn’t afraid to say it to them. Building a community is not about maximizing every dollar.

  • ok, not 2 blocks from the nets arena, but walking distance, right? if I were jason kidd or one of those guys, I’d totally buy it…

  • Those who play the world’s saddest song on the world’s smallest violin over this developer’s financial ruin at the hands of the Landmarks Commission might want to remember that in the NY Times profile of him a couple of months ago, he boasted of having $15,000,000 worth of property in the Atlantic Yards area just waiting to skyrocket in value. If this is true, the landmarking of #70 Lefferts is more of an inconvenience to him than a tragedy.

  • The arena site is one mile away if you walk down Atlantic avenue. It would take about 25-30 minutes to walk there from this house on Lefferts Place.

  • But 8:54, what if he hadn’t been a rich man? What if he had been a smaller developer, or an individual who just wanted an investment property? Something like this could quite literally ruin someone financially. I’m all for protecting historical structures, but I found this whole process disturbing. It was very keystone cops in the way it was done, too. If the building was so important than it should have been declared protected ages ago, like before it was ruined by bad renos for one thing. It’s become an ugly house.

  • A very basic rule of investment is knowing what you’re investing in, and being prepared to deal with the possibility it may not pay off. Investment is a gamble, by definition. This developer speculated in the hope of making a large, fast profit, and nobody who does that, whether by building condos or day-trading, is guaranteed success. The wise investor gets an in-depth knowledge of what he’s buying before he puts out the $$, but this guy never made any attempt to learn the community’s attitude toward what he was doing until he’d already bought the property–at considerably over market price.

    And there was nothing “Keystone Cops” about the landmarking process–the procedures for getting a house landmarked are specific and fixed, and the property owner is given considerably more opportunity to make his case than those in favor of landmarking. The Commission moved quickly in this case because demolition permits had already been filed, and another few months of consideration weren’t an option.

    And the only ugliness about the house is the lack of maintenance since the developer bought it. His best chance to realize a profit on his investment is in the best possible renovation and maintenance. Take a look at the former Graham Old Ladies’ Home on Washington north of Lafayette for a successful example of this approach.

  • That’s right 9.07 – and if the developer had taken the time to look into the area, he’d know that the zoning will likely be changing this year which would limit the height of any proposed development, that this street is part of a district listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and that in the next year or so it will likely be incorporated into the Clinton Hill Landmark district. All easy to find out if he did a bit of homework. He simply decided to try to move quickly before those changes occurred and the community noticed it and brought the case to the Landmarks Commission.

  • 9:07, you need to know it’s not very convincing when you are so completely 100% on one side of the issue. I’m sure you can find one little tiny thing the Landmarks Commission, the community, or the previous owners of the house did wrong. Can’t you? You’re even blaming the guy who owned the house for mere months, for the ugliness of its renovations over the decades. You’ve drunk the kool-aid. Try getting some objectivity. Otherwise how will the community to learn how to handle these situations better in the future, if nobody is going to admit any flaws or take any responsibility whatsoever? You sound like you work for the city. All defensiveness and passing the buck.

  • This house cannot be converted to any kind of multable dwelling because it is a frame house. What owner occupant is going to buy this as a 1-2 family for more than 2 million plus another $4-500,000 to restor it to Landmarks specifications, and live with whore houses on the block?. If the Lefferts Block Assoc is so powerful, why are the whore houses still there?
    I think it is outragous that the City can with the flick of a pen devalue someones investment without copensating them.

  • Anon 8:15: The house has been a multiple dwelling from when it was renovated in 2001 until the new owner evicted the tenants and cut off the sewer and water lines. I believe it had 4 or 5 units.

    If by “whore houses” you mean the Lefferts Hotel, that was closed down for prostitution last year after a lot of pressure from the police, city council and block association. It’s re-opened now under heavy scrutiny, and so far seems to be operating clean. Block associations are not government agencies, and have no power at all in the official sense, except as a way of organizing people to improve and take care of their neighborhoods.