Fix-Up for Jay Street Firehouse

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The Brooklyn Fire Quarters at 365 Jay Street was designed in 1882 by Frank Freeman and now serves as an affordable apartment building. (For some history, check out this NY Times Streetscapes article.) The city has owned the building since 2005, and as the article points out, it hasn’t done the greatest job with this piece of history: “It now has a musty, neglected air, even though most apartments are still occupied. The storefront is empty, and the ground floor has a menacing, abandoned look. Few of the tenants have their names on the buzzers.” But more recently, Pratt Area Community Council has received funds to purchase and renovate the site. Danise Malqui, who works for Pratt development, says the 18 affordable housing units currently in the building will remain, and hopefully a non-profit will be moving into the ground floor. Construction is planned to begin Spring of 2011, but first plans must go through the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Great to see this building will be getting the repairs it deserves. GMAP

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  • Yea! (Montrose does a happy dance!) This building is one of our architectural treasures. Glad to see some needed repairs will be done at last. The roof looked to be in worse condition every time I saw it. And the entrance had lost the grandeur that Frank Freeman intended.

    This building was one of our civic show-off buildings, designed to show that Brooklyn was a major city to contend with. (Right before the Great Mistake, being annexed to Manhattan.)As fire headquarters, we had a better building than Manhattan. We also had an impressive Post Office and a new Boys High School, among Brooklyn’s great civic Romanesque Revival masterpieces of the 1880′s and 90′s.

  • that entrance is depressing. Hope something is done soon. Could be really nice.

  • I seem to recall that people displaced by construction of Metro tech were relocated to this building – and so Bruce Ratner had some role in converting it to residential. Anyone have more info?

  • This is outrageous.
    The city needs cash. Sell the building to the highest bidder.

  • fex’ is right, which may be why this is going to a not-for-profit. There may be deed restriction(s) dating back to MetroTech.

  • I have always been fascinated by this building. I hope it gets the thoughtful attention it deserves.

  • Yes, this building was part of the MetroTech deal. It had been leased to (then) Brooklyn Polytechnic on condition that they use it for educational purposes and maintain it. They barely used it and did no maintenance. The building was falling apart.

    The low income tenants being displaced by MetroTech filed a class action suit against Ratner and the City to stop MT. A deal was struck to relocate some to a building in Prospect Heights(?) that Ratner bought and the others to be relocated into the renovated firehouse. I don’t know who has been responsible for maintaining the building (I’m sure no one paid attention to this when making the deal), but they clearly are doing a terrible job.

    The Art Supply Store that was relocated to the firehouse ground floor and Sid’s Hardware which went in the new Brooklyn Union Gas Building was part of this deal and dropped their lawsuits as well.

    In any case, the current tenants are rent regulated as part of that arrangement approved by the Board of Estimate in 1987. It would be hard to get them out.

  • Our firm, Nomad Architecture are the architects for the project. The exterior will be very faithfully restored to its original condition, terra cotta roof tiles, prismatic glass, brownstone arch and all. The only original interior features remaining are at the entrance lobby. these will also be restored. The existing apartments will be renovated – but no changes to layouts. All agency approvals have been obtained.

    The building is currently owned and maintained by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

  • Following on bobjbkln’s comments:

    “I don’t know who has been responsible for maintaining the building…”
    The previous not-for-profit went bankrupt.

    “A deal was struck to relocate some to a building in Prospect Heights…”
    That would be the former school building at the corner of Sterling and Vanderbilt.

  • Nomaddamon, I’m looking forward to your renovation and restoration of the historic facade. Good luck to you. Please keep us up to date. I, for one, am very interested.