Two Rental Buildings to Replace “Berserk Eclectic” House at 111 Clarkson

111 clarkson avenue prospect lefferts gardens 122013

Last night, developer Seth Brown from Aspen Equities presented his plans for 111 Clarkson Avenue to neighbors at a meeting in a house on the block. He plans to demolish the crumbling “berserk-eclectic” Victorian house there and build two seven-story rental buildings in its place. He said that he would have loved to save the house, but it had become too decrepit and structurally unsound. “It has essentially been wet for 30 years,” Brown said. However, the details, like the windows and staircase, have been removed by an architectural salvage company.

Brown didn’t show any pictures, but described his plans: The 70-foot buildings will have 22 and 28 units each, and there will be a parking lot with 25 spaces between the two buildings. Both buildings will extend to the property line on either side of the 50 by 242 foot lot, with a driveway on each side of the lot, allowing for parking lot access from Clarkson and Parkside Avenues. Architect Joseph Spector will design the rentals, which will be mostly one- and one-plus bedrooms with a few two- and three-bedroom apartments mixed in. Most units will have balconies, and there will be a washer/dryer in each apartment. Both buildings will have an elevator and roof terrace.

Aspen Equities filed an application for a demo permit in December. A crew should begin taking down the 116-year-old house within the next month, as soon as the DOB issues a permit. Construction should begin by the summer and finish in a year, Brown said.

111 Clarkson Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]

12 Comment

  • Montrose Morris

    This is a shame. But when it comes down to it, I blame the previous owner, not Seth Brown. The previous owner was not a destitute old lady who couldn’t afford to repair or keep up the house, he was a lawyer who refused to keep up the house, for whatever ego-driven delusions he was harboring. It was he who enclosed the porch with that awful unsympathetic addition, and then sat there in his office telling people the house was worth three million dollars, ten years ago, preventing anyone who might have wanted to preserve it from ever buying it. It was he who didn’t do basic repairs, and let the place rot. There seems to be some kind of cosmic unfairness in the universe that rewards the wrong people with special and remarkable houses that they then run into the ground, or somehow manage to destroy. This is a prime example.

  • no-permits

    this guy is fooling everyone. it’s about the dollars and that’s why he bought this site. anything can be preserved/restored even with years of neglect.

    • Cate

      Sure, anything can be restored, given enough money. But the house is likely rotted through to the foundation, so “restoration” here would really mean building an entirely new building to look like the old one.

  • Bob Marvin

    “anything can be preserved/restored”

    One of the things that impressed me about Brown at last nights meeting, which I attended, was that he acknowledged this. The fact that he has previously done some restoration/reconstruction work (for example, at 392 Dean Street) lends considerable credibility to his claim that this was not practicable here, given the amount of deterioration. Seth told me that there were 50 gallon drums scattered around the house, full of water, that had been used to catch some of the many leaks.

    Another thing that impressed me was that he stated right off that just about all the interior details, including the staircase, had been removed by Demolition Depot. They took all these items on consignment, so the developer had no immediate gain, other than not having to pay anyone to remove this stuff. No doubt Brown will eventually make money on the salvage, but , to me, this seems like a good example of enlightened self interest; I’m sure many developers would have deposited all the smashed remains of the architectural details into dumpsters.

    I agree with MM that the previous owner, who did nothing to preserve the house over 30 years, is mainly to blame for its demise. I’d also fault the owner before him, because the house looked pretty ratty when I first moved to PLG in 1974. That being said, of course I’d rather have seen this house preserved, but even the staunchest preservationist must sometimes bow to reality.

  • no-permits

    guys, he never intended to restore the house. you’d have to be a fool to think he paid $2.8MM for this house and not the 41,000 buildable allowed here.

  • catboot

    I hope some of the exterior details, such as the wood detail by the entrance is saved as well. It hurts my heart to see the proliferation of dumpsters around our neck of Brooklyn. Every time I pass one, I wonder what kinds of beautiful things are being tossed away, only to be replaced by some flimsy, shiny, Home Depot cheap-o crap.

    • Bob Marvin

      Someone at the meeting last night, either Seth Brown, or the neighbor who hosted the meeting, pointed out that the exterior details were quite rotten. It might be worth contacting the developer about any exterior detail that anyone wanted to save. I have no idea what his response would be, but it couldnt hurt to ask.

  • A tragedy. There is not now, and never will be, a house this remarkable in New York. I’d take one of these in place of a dozen Carnegie mansions. To leave this off the landmarks list, while designating huge swaths of Brooklyn, is egregious. Six years notice – how much time do they need??? Christopher

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/08/realestate/08scap.html

  • And, “scuse me, but it was the 1967 edition (or perhaps 1978), when the AIA Guide singled this building out as a wonderful example of “berserk eclecticism”. So nobody tell me they didn’t know about it. Christopher

  • Cate

    I wish one of the owners had permitted interior photos. We tried to arrange it with a professional photography team who volunteered. Would have loved to see them in the Brooklyn library archive.