Developer and architect Alex Barrett of Barrett Design and Development has just bought the Broken Angel building at 4-8 Downing Street in Clinton Hill for $4,100,000. He closed on the site last week and wants to stick with the plans approved by the DOB under the previous developer, which include converting the existing building at 4 Downing to eight residential condos. Those plans also call for a four-story, two-duplex-unit condo building at 8 Downing.

Barrett couldn’t give us too many details, but he knows that 4 Downing will have eight two-bedroom, two-bath units, with two per floor spread across the four floors. While he hasn’t been in touch with former owner and artist Arthur Wood, who made what many consider outsider art out of what was originally a brick tenement building, Barrett wants to incorporate some of Wood’s “quirky design elements” (the few that are still intact). “Our intent is to reference the building’s history but see it occupied as an eight-unit building,” he said.

He added that it was a shame to watch the Broken Angel become so derelict over the last five years, and neighbors were looking forward to the building finally being completed and occupied. (Above, the Broken Angel intact in 2006. Click through to Arthur Woods’ son’s Flickr account for tons more great photos.)

The building is still an open shell with no windows or permanent roof. Wood and developer Shahn Anderson had done some work on it, including reframing the floors and exterior walls, building an elevator shaft and stairs, installing some basic electrical and putting on a temporary roof, Barrett said. However, he plans to tear most of that out and build his interiors from scratch. Also, the Broken Angel’s new owner wants to revive some of the building’s brick details, which date back to its beginnings as an 1880s tenement.

“We want to rehabilitate some of the original details in the building which still exist under all the interventions Mr. Wood put in,” said Barrett, who is known for high-end and harmonious conversions of historic buildings. “The building itself has a lot of nice detail around the entrance and the windows, in the façade. And the ceilings are very high, the windows are quite large.”

Sadly, Barrett will have to dismantle the Angel’s front-yard addition with its crazy roof, the last remaining piece of Wood’s unique creation. The DOB long ago ordered that the addition be removed, because it went against building codes and was built partially on city property. Before Wood was evicted, he threw a pretty epic party and left behind a sad yet defiant note dated May 22, 2013, which you can read after the jump. Also after the jump is a photo of the building as it looks now.

Broken Angel Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo above by Onebadapple


We stopped by the party friends and neighbors threw to celebrate artist Arthur Wood, above, Friday afternoon. He was busy giving interviews, so we didn’t speak. There was a lot of food and a steady stream of people coming to say goodbye. We wish the Broken Angel could have been preserved as an art work rather than dismantled to conform to building codes, a la Watts Towers, as a commenter here suggested. (more…)

While friends and neighbors gear up for a block party later today to send off Broken Angel creator Arthur Wood, he has been granted a temporary respite from eviction of just a few weeks, reported The New York Daily News. The Brooklyn Housing Court has postponed his eviction date to March 31. The block party will start with a late-afternoon barbecue followed by dancing at the Irondale Center. The organizers expect a turnout of 1,000 people. After long foreclosure proceedings, which Wood fought in court, the building is now under possession of a new owner. It recently went back on the market for $4.5 million. Above, a photo of the building after Woods partly dismantled it because the structure did not meet the building code. “It’s one of the weirdest, most beautiful buildings in New York — and his life’s work,” said one of the party organizers, Shalin Scupham. “And it’s being taken away.”
Eviction Postponed for Artist Who Created Broken Angel Building [NY Daily News]

CPEX Real Estate just listed 2-4 Downing Street, better known as the Broken Angel building, on the market for $4,500,000. They’re marking it as an “amazing conversion opportunity in Clinton Hill” rather than a teardown. Here’s what the listing says:

4 Downing Street is a four-story Old Tenement building. The property comes with approved plans to convert it into an eight-unit building with ground floor duplexes. 8 Downing Street is an approximately 20-by-100-square-foot lot that comes with approved plans to build a four-story, 4,385-square-foot mixed-use building with community facility space on the ground floor and below grade. The price for both properties is $4,500,000. Ownership will consider selling the properties separately.

And here’s a copy of the property setup. The previous owner, Arthur Wood, who turned this building into a towering art project with his wife Cynthia, long battled foreclosure here. Despite word that Arthur would be evicted from Broken Angel, he’s fought pretty hard to stay in the building. We have no idea if he still lives there now. According to public records, the property sold to an LLC named 4-8 Downing Purchaser LLC for $2,050,000 this January. That’s a quick turnaround to put it back on the market; guess they decided they didn’t want to develop.
Eviction Coming for Broken Angel’s Arthur Wood [Brownstoner]

A reader sent in this photo with the following story: “Friday afternoon I was walking with my husband up Gates near Downing and we saw a group of suited men carrying folders who could only be real estate developers. We followed them to Broken Angel where they stood around looking at it and saying things like ‘this is a low risk deal’ and ‘the guy still lives there. He’ll say bad things about us but who cares. He doesn’t own a bead!’ and ‘the whole thing needs to come down, it’s not safe.’ “

We haven’t heard much on the Broken Angel front since late May when the DOB was trying to force the demolition of the masonry walls constructed by Arthur Wood, despite having signed off on earlier plans that showed them being left in place. Since then, the only major development has been the Stop Work Order placed on the building for “additional work outside the scope of the permits.” In a recent email, Arthur’s son Chris writes that the SWO came suspiciously on the heels of his father’s refusal to drop his lawsuit against the city for abusing his civil rights. This part of his email hints at what Arthur comes right out and says in a recent video: That the city is carrying out a “sick vendetta” against him. Recent examples he points to are the revocation of his Veteran’s Tax Exempt Status by the Department of Buildings and its failure to lift the stop work order after more than five weeks. It’s impossible to know how much of Arthur’s position is conspiracy theory and how much is fact, but it’s certainly worth the time to listen to him make his case. While we can’t begrudge DOB doing its job to make sure this is a safe and by-the-book project (especially since we spend so much time urging it to be more vigilant), it’s impossible not to sympathize with Arthur and Shahn Andersen, the developer working with him, over the intense level of scrutiny and apparent lack of straight dealing they’ve received from both DOB and the courts, especially in light of how many real dirtbags are out there evading enforcement every day. It seems unfortunate that DOB and the city in general aren’t working more in partnership, rather than in opposition, with Arthur and Shahn’s efforts to do this project responsibly while trying to salvage as much of the neighborhood landmark’s design and spirit as possible. We’ll be interested to see what readers think when they’ve watched Arthur’s video and read Chris’ email which is pasted on the jump. You can also check out Chris’ collection of Broken Angel photos and archives here.
Broken Angel Video July 2007 [] GMAP
The Lowest Point [Broken Angel Reno] (more…)

So Arthur (shown in photo) and Shahn got the shaft from turf-guarding bureaucrats and now have to remove the entire top portion of the Broken Angel. Read the bizarre story of the judge and her entourage coming to the site and then dawdling in her decision despite the fact that she ended up relying on the opinion of the DOB engineer that the structure posed an imminent danger. And learn why Shahn and Arthur have decided not to appeal the decision and just rebuild the sucker.
The Hearing, The Verdict, The Decision [Broken Angel Reno]
Clinton Hill Fixture Coming Down After Decades [NY1]

Not wasting any time (it’s been 28 years since the Woods first bought the former trolley factory but less than a month since they inked their deal with Shahn Andersen), work begins today on the conversion of the Broken Angel. To coincide with the first piece of scaffolding going up, we’re happy to announce that the Broken Angel reno blog, which Shahn has titled “An Angel Rises,” also launches today. You can access it off the navigation bar above or directly through We wish both Shahn and the Woods the best of luck and are sure we speak for everyone when we say we look forward to being a fly on the wall for the next several months.
An Angel Rises: Broken Angel Reno Blog [Brownstoner]
Photo by plemeljr