And the Buyer of 111 Clarkson Is…

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Brooklyn Ink has published a remarkable story, well worth reading, about 111 Clarkson, the famous berserk-eclectic Victorian in Prospect Lefferts Gardens that in September sold to a developer for $2,675,000. The author spoke to the seller, the buyer, our Montrose Morris columnist Suzanne Spellen, frequent Brownstoner commenter and long-time PLG resident Bob Marvin, and even an owner of the property from the 1970s.

The latter was once offered $50,000 for the windows, or half the price he paid for the house! He refused. Other revelations: The building’s third story is occupied entirely by pigeons. There is a smell of wet wood and water damage in the enclosed porch. And, incredibly, the house still has some furniture in it from the house’s original occupants. (It belongs to the seller and will not be staying with the house.)

Perhaps the biggest revelation is the identity of the buyer: Seth Brown, a small developer here in Brooklyn, whose historic restoration of 392 Dean Street in Park Slope we covered in detail. That was not a literal restoration — the exterior never had a mansard roof, for example, as it does now — but it looks authentic and fits in beautifully with the neighborhood. He rebuilt most of the structure, keeping the old foundation, and inside is a mix of new and old-looking details, such as some salvage marble fireplaces of the same type the building probably had originally.

If anyone could save 111 Clarkson, it would be Brown. He has not yet decided for sure if he will raze the building, according to Brooklyn Ink, but it sounds likely. As the paper put it, “The choice is a stark one: tear the house down, or make it financially viable. Brown said market forces will decide its fate. ‘The question becomes, can the house be restored and rented out or sold for more than what it would cost to restore it?’ ”

In the parking lot behind the house, he plans to build a five- or six-story high-end apartment building. There will be solar power, garden plots, and bike storage.

Update: We just heard from Brown. “We’re still thinking about what to do there, but there is severe water damage,” he said. “If we can’t save it, we will definitely hire a reputable architectural salvage company to photograph and reclaim any usable details.”

Death Knell for Flatbush’s Haunted House? [Brooklyn Ink]
“Berserk Eclectic” House Sold for $2.675 Million, Will Be Razed for Luxury Rentals [Brownstoner]
We Hear “Berserk-Eclectic” But Imperiled 111 Clarkson Has Closed [Brownstoner]
Berserk Eclectic Masterpiece on Market Again [Brownstoner]
Building of the Day: 111 Clarkson Avenue [Brownstoner]
“Berserk Eclecticism” on Clarkson Avenue [Brownstoner]
Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

7 Comment

  • Brown’s Dean Street project is pretty impressive. I hadn’t realized that this developer has a track record of contextual development. That’s some comfort and I’ll keep my fingers crossed over the future of 111 Clarkson, although I won’t be holding my breath.

  • I am so glad to see some developers begin to eye properties in this neighborhood. I have been very bullish on PLG and I think others are starting to agree.

  • …Or, move the house. Offer it for free. Be green and restore it as housing for a tax credit. “Market forces” will tear it down if there’s no advocate for a creative solution. I think this house could have a better context than it does presently – just a few blocks in a number of directions would get it back into a single/family residential scale context.

  • Up-Zoning and Lack of Landmarks protection will most likely lead to this home’s demise. The same issue is arising all over the city. Victorian wood-frame homes are being demo’d and replaced with multi-family’s. In contrast to brownstones, the wood frame houses do not lend themselves well to multi-family conversions. The up-zoning kicks up the property values and then makes them not economically viable option to renovate as a single-family. If the house was replaced by a well constructed 6+ story apartment building, it seems like a reasonable trade-off. Unfortunately, in many parts of the city, developers will demo a beautiful old Victorian and replace it with atrocious two&three-families with the A/C covers, exposed utilities, prolific rust, etc. Those buildings seem like a step backwards in the evolution of New York City. Google Street View “2535 Grand Avenue, Bronx NY”. Victorian houses in this particular neighborhood are being systematically replaced by shoddy two-families. It is one example of a more widespread issue. I fail to see how the new construction is an improvement to the quality of life of New York City.