Developers Start Work to Turn Crown Heights’ Parfitt Brothers House Into Affordable Housing


Work has started at 96 Brooklyn Avenue on the corner of Dean Street in Crown Heights, where NIA JV LLC and partner ELH Management LLC plan to turn this house into affordable housing.

A tipster sent in this photo and word that the house is being gutted. The owner has cut down an enormous amount of overgrown vegetation that was hiding the house. Our tipster said he’s seen “wheelbarrows of debris being carted out.”

ELH Management has been in the affordable housing business since 1992 and was responsible for the award-winning restoration of Montrose Morris’ Imperial Apartments on the corner of Pacific Street and Bedford Avenue. So we have no fear this place will end up gutted but then abandoned or put back on the market like the Susan B. Elkins house.

The exterior of this 1880s house by noted architects the Parfitt Brothers will be fully restored to its original splendor, as we wrote in October. ELH has already filed plans with Landmarks. We are a little wistful about the interiors. We do wish not every adaptive re-use or conversion into affordable housing has to mean gutting historic interiors and turning them into white boxes.

However, the upper floor of this house appears to have been open to the elements for some time, so there may be extensive water damage that requires a full gut and nothing the developers can do about it. Still, it would be great if they were able to salvage some doors or, on the parlor floor, which is less likely to be damaged, all the plasterwork and details such as mantels and molding.

The permit says “renovation of seven apartments; new fixtures, appliances, finishes, flooring, and sheetrock. Minor reconfigurations.”

In October, our columnist Montrose Morris wrote “Crown Heights North community is looking forward for this house to stop traffic on this corner. Like the Imperial, it is one of our architectural jewels.”

Building of the Day: 96 Brooklyn Avenue [Brownstoner] GMAP

7 Comment

  • I’m overjoyed that the building is being rehabbed and saved. The developer does indeed have a great track record, and his Imperial is literally, award winning. I hope he did save some interior goodies, and if he has to remove them, I hope they are sold to a salvager, or they go to another project. I also hope he documented the “before.” I wish I could have seen it. Andrew Dolkart, the head of Columbia’s Historic Preservation graduate program, and a long time historian of all things architectural, got to go in a long time ago, and he said the interior had a lot of details remaining.

    It’s so good to actually see the house. The trees and vegetation had overgrown the place tremendously, hiding it.

    But all in all, the building is being saved. Hooray!!!!
    Next is the Elkins House…A simpler house, but more complicated in many ways.

    • But if this is to be affordable housing, where’s the margin that would allow for the historical details to be preserved? Surely the economics of the renovation won’t permit that.

      • If the details are in good shape, then there’s very little expense. The most common one is skim coating, which can be done correctly and permanently for the same as the cost of painting.

        • I can’t agree, Cate. We’ve spent a lot of money over the years refinishing woodwork, repairing and replacing staircase spindles, stripping mantels, sourcing period appropriate door hardware, investing in high-end wood windows, restoring stained glass panels, recreating baseboard moldings, etc etc ad nauseam. Putting in a new IKEA kitchen or sheetrock ceilings is easy by comparison.

        • in addition to everything neo grec said, retrofitting an old building around the detail with modern electric and plumbing is expensive and time consuming. it can definitely be done, but don’t say “there’s very little expense.”

  • What exactly does “affordable housing” mean? I looked for a definition on the NYC gov site and all I found was complicated documents with percentages for if/when situations, no concrete numbers. Is it a term with real meaning?