Fedders Building Replaces Brick Beaut in Boerum Hill


Says a reader: “There was once a perfectly good federal brick townhouse at 11 Wyckoff Street in Boerum Hill. Now there is an ugly, seemingly over-height ‘Fedders Building.’ After months of demolition and construction, the scaffolding was recently taken down and the new building is a perfect case for landmarking.” Check out a picture of the brick townhouse once there after the jump. GMAP

Via PropertyShark

50 Comment

  • Not a “fedders” – Original building is nondescript tenement. Nothing lost, nothing gained.

  • Not a “fedders” – Original building is nondescript tenement. Nothing lost, nothing gained.

  • The new building isn’t done,, so I’ll reserve judgment on it. But the old building looks like it was at one time a one family – hardly a tenement.

  • The new building isn’t done,, so I’ll reserve judgment on it. But the old building looks like it was at one time a one family – hardly a tenement.

  • This is a good case for some sort of less restrictive type of landmarking. How about we save the facade and allow the developer to go up a few stories with an addition that is set back 10′ feet. I realize that this sort of structure was never “great architecture” and we need to be able to add more housing in desirable areas well served by transportation. At the same time, I hate to see 150 year old craftsmanship end up in the dump.

  • I don’t see a tenement, I see a perfectly good original one family house, probably 1-4 families when it was torn down. Now we have an oversized 4 family condo box with those hideous balconies.

  • “150 year old craftsmanship???”

    Its a simple brick building with a standard (but attractive) cornice; just cause something is reasonably old doesn’t mean its wonderful or a landmark.

  • “150 year old craftsmanship???”

    Its a simple brick building with a standard (but attractive) cornice; just cause something is reasonably old doesn’t mean its wonderful or a landmark.

  • I agree I think this was a former one family…. how can we outlaw new Fedders …. why is new construction so ugly in brooklyn… other cities seem to be much better at infill housing.

  • Please, this was never a 1 family (not that it matters).
    It was a generic brick building. You people have a fetish with anything old.

  • There must be a difference between a landmark and that. If every generic, blah looking, building in Brooklyn is a landmark just because its old we’ll never build anything new. The new building isn’t a work of art, at least not in its half finished state, but neither is the old one. Look on the bright side, the new building is a fine scale for what’s around it, and the balconies and big windows make it look like it will probably be a more pleasant place to live then what’s there now.

  • while not every building should be landmarked or saved, this one should have had its facade saved, at the very least. the street is very beautiful and this new building is like poking granny in the eye.

    craftsmanship? well, look at the new buildings; they are built with crap. chinese sheetrock, anyone?

  • The new building is just a brick filing cabinet for the storage of humans. Not a whit of effort was given to how it would look or how it could improve the appearance of the block.

  • The new building is just a brick filing cabinet for the storage of humans. Not a whit of effort was given to how it would look or how it could improve the appearance of the block.

  • The old building was the 1840-60′s version of the new building – they’re both dull. Maybe they should’ve saved and reused the cornice since that’s the only decorative element on the original -

  • The old building was the 1840-60′s version of the new building – they’re both dull. Maybe they should’ve saved and reused the cornice since that’s the only decorative element on the original -

  • what a damn shame. and it’s also a shame how some people in this thread are characterizing preservationists.

    perhaps the old bulding was ‘dull’, but it was never built to be an architectural treasure. what is — WAS — a treasure was the rhythm of design the original nondescript ‘dull’ building aided on this block. that is part of what defines the essential character of brownstone brooklyn. when you take out these ‘dull’ buildings one by one, you lose that character, the block suffers.

    why couldn’t the architect/developer design something in a historic idiom for this block? i’m not even talking ‘contextual’, a concept which i find placative and offensive btw, but something actually in the style of these buildings — greek revival, italiantate, etc.? why is it so wrong to make new buildings in an older style?

    • To answer your question at the start of the 3rd paragraph – because he doesn’t have to, or more importantly, because there is no apparent financial incentive to do so. The goal of this project is to maximize FAR and profits. All other considerations are secondary or do not even enter into the developer’s thought process.

      Most of the comments on this thread are looking for a change in the aesthetics here, which NYC does not legislate or control, except on public buildings.

      Heather (below) has some spot on analysis about the potential motivations of the buyer and developer. Until the market doesnt support these kinds of buildings, they will continue to be built. If it goes rental and the developer cant make payments, then something may change in his next development.

      • bored-at-work over half of the foreclosures in Clinton Hill,Bedford Stuyvesant Crown Heights etc.. are the Fedders. So I do not think the market really supports these buildings… In the Brownstone belt the old stuff sells for more… I wish these developers would walk around the neighborhoods before they build. Hire architects that understand urban infill development.

      • bored-at-work over half of the foreclosures in Clinton Hill,Bedford Stuyvesant Crown Heights etc.. are the Fedders. So I do not think the market really supports these buildings… In the Brownstone belt the old stuff sells for more… I wish these developers would walk around the neighborhoods before they build. Hire architects that understand urban infill development.

  • Fsrq, this was most certainly not a tenement. It was a house. And yes “1-family” though that meant something different in the nineteenth century – servants, extended family, maybe a boarder or two. So yes it did house more people than just the Cosbys.

    It may have lost most of its decorative facade elements over time, but there were more. You can see the lintel over the original door entry which undoubtedly was nicer than the aluminum awning and fire door special. Original windows would have been nicer too.

    If the inside was a wreck, just a little creativity and probably not much more money could have yielded the same 3-4 condos.

  • In Brooklyn there is a HUGE disrespect of historic buildings taking place. Developers here just don’t care about the surrounding context. I was in DC this weekend and was very impressed at the new development taking place:
    I think Brooklyn needs to hire people like this who respect the architectural heritage of Brooklyn:
    http://www.eya.com/neighborhoods/harrison_square

    http://www.eya.com/neighborhoods/The_Brownstones_at_Park_Potomac

  • on a block of traditional architecture where all the buildings have vertical double-hung windows, why design a new house with horizontal sliding windows as if it were in a 1960′s suburb?
    Why not place the projecting terraces on the rear facing a garden instead of the front facing traffic?
    Why punch an a.c. hole through the facade, and why do it asymmetrically? Why place the ranch-house style windows asymmetrically on the projecting portion of the facade?
    It is almost as if the builders deliberately want to make the design as ugly, as banal, as vulgar as humanly possible. This sort of building, which is ubiquitous, is not a good omen for the future of our city. The uglier and coarser our neighborhoods become the less appealing they will remain to the next generation and the one after that.

    • “It is almost as if the builders deliberately want to make the design as ugly, as banal, as vulgar as humanly possible.”

      this is the philosophy of modern architecture that almost every major architecture school in the country now teaches. if our architecture students are constantly trying to design something as novel as possible, always aiming to outdo the architect that came before, this is what our buildings are going to look like. there is a complete lack of respect for historic and classical architecture in this country..

    • “It is almost as if the builders deliberately want to make the design as ugly, as banal, as vulgar as humanly possible.”

      this is the philosophy of modern architecture that almost every major architecture school in the country now teaches. if our architecture students are constantly trying to design something as novel as possible, always aiming to outdo the architect that came before, this is what our buildings are going to look like. there is a complete lack of respect for historic and classical architecture in this country..

  • Have you been inside, fsrq? If no significant detail, then maybe you’re right. Windows on a bonafide brownstone aint really supposed to be the same height all the way up. At least the parlor could have been much taller.

    ***Half Peak Comps Euroding***

  • Go back to the original listing and look at the photos, look at the lack of Parlor floor and the location. This was always a simple small tenement. (which btw had a non conforming set back – which sucks)
    It is irrelevant that the new building may not be attractive or your taste. There is nothing about this building that is worthy of preservation minus its age. As for using the facade – why? The facade is plain brick – the only ‘decorative’ is the cornice, which is as ubiquitous as yellow cabs in manhattan. Besides, who want’s faux history? What is this disneyworld?

    the building probably wont be great, just like the old building hasnt been great for the last 100 years or so – nothing lost, nothing gained. I wish I had a time machine when our ancestors will be arguing about the preservation of the then ‘historic’ fedders.

  • Well, the old building sold for $1.9 million dollars.

    I know this might come as a shock to some preservationists, but when a modest one-family house is worth that much to a buyer sometimes they don’t want to restore it to its former glory for another $500K. Sometimes they want to knock it down and build condos with they will sell for $1.2 each.

    This is not something personally that I like–I’m still crying about Orient Avenue–but that’s how it is. And, while, yes, it would be nice if the new building was more interesting, or nicer, it looks like it’s being built to maximize profits–and with the lot itself costing $1.9 million, it probably had to be.

    Truth is this location is good enough that even a bland fedders building will do quite well.

    But this is what happens, this is a casualty of the real estate Brooklyn bubble. It isn’t the first and it won’t be the last.

  • duck, you think this was designed by an architect, in the true sense of the word?????? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • duck, you think this was designed by an architect, in the true sense of the word?????? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • I agree that new houses and multiple dwellings that are going up in other cities are far nicer than those here in Brooklyn. It is as if we are living up to the old stereotypes of a place with no class or style.
    Then there are the prices. Our prices are high-end boutique but what you get is a polyester leisure suit.

  • minard – the scale of NY is so much bigger than any othe U.S. city so comparisons arent easily made, but it would be nice to see some photos to back up your assertion

  • there are a lot of communities developing where more traditional architecture — and a shared vision of the community’s architecture — are key features of the development. that’s what brooklyn used to be.

  • Amizill – Are you kidding?? Really!!!????
    you are citing a make believe village built in the middle of suburban Maryland right off the interstate as an example that we should be following in Brooklyn???
    I mean if you have to live in the suburbs I am sure these faux towns are great but come on, these faux-stones cost ONE million dollars and they are in the middle of nowhere, that isnt even comparable to urban brooklyn – but at least you get a pool and a clubhouse. Jeesh

  • Interesting. If you look at street view and turn to the other side of the street, you’ll see they’re shooting “talk stoop”…

  • minard, I meant scale in the number of new buildings being developed and old buildings being converted (of course I thnk you knew that)
    Point is one nice new building built in downtown Albany (for example) can’t be compared to the thousands of buildings being built in NYC. then again you haven’t linked to even a single building that supports your contention that outside of NYC the architecture is “better”

  • minard, I meant scale in the number of new buildings being developed and old buildings being converted (of course I thnk you knew that)
    Point is one nice new building built in downtown Albany (for example) can’t be compared to the thousands of buildings being built in NYC. then again you haven’t linked to even a single building that supports your contention that outside of NYC the architecture is “better”

  • Let’s face it – lowest-common-denominator “Fedders” type development is a cancer on Brooklyn. We have so many know-it-alls in the city who “really don’t need architects because we’re sensible people who know how to put a building together” that the profession here comes to be dominated by cheap plan stampers. Oh yes, and there are parts of the building community here who also know everything about everything. It’s a problem. The more people pooh-pooh the benefit of hiring a good architect, the more we’ll see of the Fedders.

  • I hope that the cornice was saved and will be used by some needy house.

  • I’m with fsrq. Just not a big deal. There are plenty of legitimately historic buildings that have been saved over the years and are worth fighitng over. You can’t save everything.

  • fsrq Alexandria and DC are not suburbs… I guess you did not look at the site but The faux brownstones are much better and more tasteful than the Fedders that you like…

  • So I have a theory about this: a LOT of Brooklyn was built by developers, and I’m guessing that the market was a bit softer back in the day than it is now. That would encourage developers to build attractive buildings to lure buyers, since most were built on spec, and there seemed to be a fairly high bar that had to be met.

    Today, however, there is a severe lack of housing available in prime neighborhoods. A developer doesn’t need to pretty up the exterior of the building because there are so few choices for buyers. If the interior is good, and the views/neighborhood is good, the buyer will pay almost as much as if the exterior were a much higher quality anyway.

    So is the lack of attention paid to exteriors by developers today a direct result of downzoning and landmarking, which stifle inventory and options for buyers? What economic shift would be needed for a developer to need to build a more attractive building than we are currently getting? Most single-family houses are built with attention paid to some style or another; and seriously upscale buildings in Manhattan hire the best architects, so why doesn’t that translate to multifamily housing in Brooklyn? Is land still too expensive to build a more attractive building with the interior finishes that are a must and still make a decent profit?

  • I think that some of the landmark designation critics are missing the point. Historic District designation is not about mummifying any district in a past period, nor is it anti-development. The point is that development should be contextually appropriate to maintain the fabric of the streetscape, the neighborhood, the community.It’s not about whether this one little Federal house is preserved, it is about the fact that the new building has nothing to do with the rest of the neighborhood. It looks like it fell from outer space. Landmark designation would add the influence of critical evaluation so that old and new are happy together.