Neighbors Fighting Addition on Landmarked Park Slope Block Win Round One


A controversial proposal to build a large extension on the back of a house on a landmarked Park Slope block did not pass at the community board level Wednesday night. The Landmarks Preservation Commission will consider the proposal at a hearing later this month, according to a tipster who sent us these photos.

At least 40 residents of the block have signed a petition to prevent new neighbors at 115 Lincoln Place from building a 15-foot, two-story high addition to their brownstone that would jut out into the historic “garden core” and block light and views from neighboring properties. The residents won substantial modifications to the plan at the committee level at various community board meetings, and then on Wednesday the proposal failed to pass the full board. (Votes were tied 16 for and 16 against, with many abstentions.) After that, the board voted to recommend to the LPC that they disapprove the extension, our tipster told us.

“The materials are out of keeping with the rest of the core,” she continued. “The height, width and depth are intrusive and also way out of scale with the gardens overall. The overriding fear is that this would be the thin end of the wedge for others to do the same. Landmarks guidelines suggest that preserving this kind of greensward is one of their aims.”

Opponents of the proposal previously said they would accept “a one-story addition extending 12 feet into the yard,” according to a story in the Brooklyn Eagle. The block successfully opposed another proposed addition in 2006, at 105 Lincoln Place. In that case, the addition “would have been visible from the street through a gap in the houses,” said the Eagle.

It can be tricky to go the Landmarks route to prevent backyard additions. Neighbors of 149 Bergen Street in Boerum Hill fought a 20-foot-plus deep extension there, and proposed altering Landmark rules to preserve intrusions into the “green donut,” but were ultimately unsuccessful.

The above photo shows the backyard green space from across the area. The back of the house at 115 Lincoln Place is the first tall building on the right, three up from the white house on the right. Click through to the jump to see a rendering of the proposed rear extension from one of the community board meetings and a photo of the rear of the house as it stands today.

Rendering by Zambrano Architectural Design


Below, the back of 115 Lincoln Place today, with white windows.

29 Comment

  • I can see at least three rear extensions in the photo. The neighbor seems to have installed a new fence (8feet?) that subdivides the center green donut… Let’s face it we are talking about people with F U kind of money now.

  • I have to say, I don’t find that addition to look that intrusive in the rendering, but I do think the rendering probably makes the addition look a lot flatter than it really is. A one-story addition certainly seems like a reasonable compromise.

  • Seems pretty harmless to me. If anything, the extension, with its terrace and big window, gives a warmer, friendlier impression than somewhat closed and dead existing facade. In my eyes, it adds to the garden core.

    Plus, everything that townie already mentioned.

    • warmer and friendlier like a road side motel. all that is missing is neon lighting on top. Yes, it adds to the garden core: bulk and mass. A side view would probably make it clear to you

  • Long back I worked on a few rear yard additions in the UES. The community reaction was always negative on even the most thoughtful schemes. Ultimately the boards view is only advisory….

  • “Garden Core”? Trying to make it sound like it is community space doesn’t make it so. A few more trees and you won’t see a thing past your little privacy fences. I thought landmarking was for the front of the house anyway?

  • I dont think the rendering looks that bad. After all, it is the backyard.
    and from looking at the picture above all the backyards look pretty crappy to me.

  • “Garden core” is the official term for the interior of any block. It’s also called ‘the doughnut’. The amount of shade that would be cast across 3 gardens on either side is significant. The photos can’t do justice to the open feeling of that area: I don’t live there, have only visited, but the difference in that open space & the claustrophobia of the one behind me is massive. There was another, larger house for sale at the time – it’s too bad the buyers didn’t just get that one.
    Petty tyranny? One family against 40 others?

    • I was referring to the “reach around” that LPC has on LIGHT FIXTURES.

    • Go take a look at Google Earth. There are at least 15 existing extensions on this pristine “doughnut,” most on the St. John’s place side, but some on Lincoln Place as well. So this is literally a case of NIMBY. Of course the term “massive” is relative, but this extension is not massive, its only 15 feet wide, nor it it bad looking, imho.

      Interestingly, if the owners chose to chop down every tree and piece of shrubbery on their property and cover it with gravel, they could do so without a permit from Department of Buildings, Parks or Landmarks and create a giant black hole on one side of the doughnut. Here, they make an effort to add some space and are pilloried by their neighbors.

    • I really can’t see how this could possibly affect 40 families.

  • I don’t see anything so bad about the purposefully-flattened perspective of the rendering provided by the people who want it built. I must remember that trick when I want to dupe 25 watt blog commentors.

  • The little extensions along the left of the top photo are original to those houses. There are 3 large extensions; 2 were done before the neighborhood was landmarked & one was permitted in error. The worst aspect of the proposed development is its precedence setting – how do you stop yet more similar encroachments until there’s no green space left.

    • Because the building code and zoning limit the amount you can build on a lot. They are not seeking a variance from current zoning to build bigger than they are allowed, they have to get approval from landmarks because this is in a landmarked area.

    • They are not original. By definition, an “extension” cannot be original since it was “extended”… Most one or two story appendages on the rear of townhouses were added after the original date of construction. IMO, This proposal is fairly benign compared to other proposals that have received approval in the past. 15′ is not massive by any sense of the word. LPC approves rear yard extensions regularly in all historic districts. This proposal is by no means unique and would not be setting any precedent that hasn’t already been set. Zoning requires a minimum 30′ rear yard so your fears of similar encroachments eliminating green space are off base.

  • ditto – It also helps to cite the angle of the sun at mid-summer when discussing shade that results from the building of such an extension.

  • The trees seem to be casting some mighty big shadows onto other backyards. I hope that the trees got permission from LPC before they grew so tall.

    We have some decent rules on this in Brooklyn (e.g., preserving at least a 30 foot backyard). Abusing the landmarks rules makes a mockery out of otherwise decent ideas and makes otherwise reasonable people oppose landmark initiatives.

  • Trees don’t cut back the breezes & the leaf canopy is high enough so that it doesn’t impair the vista.

  • that is why there was 50% in favor, representing ignorance and jealousy, and all of you that are in favor of the ‘Disneyfication’ of Park Slope. Replace trees and soil with metal and glass, heat up Park Slope! bring Orlando in the historic district!

  • i think that it is an extension on one of the houses that has an existing extension….and that is the rub

    • that looks like a mud room to me… is that what you call existing extension?

      • the building with the white windows identified as 115 lincoln already projects at least 8 feet past the neighboring 2 story building…they now want to go even further into the yard..sounds like it would be well past the 30 foot setback from the rear yard

        • the building with the white windows identified as 115 lincoln already projects at least 8 feet past the neighboring 2 story building…they now want to go even further into the yard..sounds like it would be well past anything else on the block