The top of the facade on this brownstone at 424 Jefferson Avenue in Bed Stuy collapsed early yesterday evening, a reader let us know. Luckily, no one was hurt, he said. We managed to snap a few pics this morning. The debris was mostly all cleaned up by then.

We’re not sure what caused the collapse — it could have been a falling tree branch — but the owners appear to have been working on adding height to the top floor, from what we can tell from PropertyShark photos from January and earlier. Click through for more photos. The one at the end is from our tipster, and was taken just before the collapse, he said.

Did anyone see this last night or does anyone have more info about what happened?


806 president street park slope 22015

This Park Slope brownstone at 806 President Street has been gut renovated and just hit the market with rents from $2,450 a month. While the interiors don’t look anything like a typical brownstone — we don’t see any original detail, for example — we think they look much better than typical new construction.

The brick has been exposed on the chimneys and the kitchens and bathrooms are a little more interesting than most, with green cabinetry and white subway tile and, in the bathrooms, what appears to be patterned cement tile on the side of the tub. Some of the rooms aren’t white, either — is that pale-gray paint we see on the walls, above?

Pricing for the eight rentals ranges from $2,450 for a studio or one-bedroom to $2,600 for a two-bedroom simplex (three rooms) or $5,100 for a two-bedroom duplex (four rooms) with private garden. There’s also a common roof deck.

We don’t see any floor plans, so we’re not sure how big the units are. Click through to see more interior photos. What do you think of the finishes and pricing?

806 President Street [Aptsandlofts.com] GMAP



The John C. Kelley House, site of a Sharon Stone film shoot and a visit from President Cleveland, is now officially on the market for $6,000,000 and photos went up on the listing Friday afternoon.

As we reported in July, the longtime owner, a retired advertising executive, bought it when it was an illegal SRO and meticulously restored it. The double-wide house at 247 Hancock Street is 41 feet wide by 60 feet deep, according to the listing, and sits on an even bigger 81-by-100 square foot lot. The Neo-Renaissance house with Romanesque Revival features was designed in the 1880s by architect Montrose Morris, who lived across the street. The block, between Marcy and Tompkins, is one of the most architecturally distinguished in Bed Stuy, but is not yet landmarked.

It’s set up as a rental apartment over a grand owner’s triplex, complete with bar and ballroom in the basement. It also has an extensive landscaped garden with koi pond and roses. It is Bed Stuy’s most expensive listing and will set a record when it sells.

Click through for more photos and a floor plan. What do you think of the price?

247 Hancock Street Listing [Halstead] GMAP
Bed Stuy Mansion to Ask $6 Million [Brownstoner]
Photos by Halstead (more…)


A new building going up at 353 Jefferson Avenue isn’t an exact replica of a brownstone, but it’s surprisingly close. Neighbors feared the worst when construction started and are pleasantly surprised the building did not turn out to be a typical Fedders or developer’s special. The empty lot sits at the end of a Parfitt Brothers-designed row on a distinguished but so far not landmarked Bed Stuy block in the proposed Bed Stuy North Historic District.

It was hard to get clear photos because the building is shaded by trees, but the four-family structure is about the same height as the other buildings on the block, and is covered in brownstone-style stucco with 19th-century style window surrounds and lintels. It does not have a stoop, and the windows and ceiling heights are smaller than would be the case on an authentic brownstone. It has a cornice, although it is made out of the same color stucco as the rest of the facade.

“We were all worried they were going to put a monstrosity – they ended up doing an imitation brownstone,” said commenter juanus_superbus about the building. “Not authentic, but 100 percent better than the alternative.”

The building is clearly new but blends into its surroundings well, similar to the recently erected “Brownstone” apartment building on the subdivided Order of Tents property at 196 Macon Street. Click through to see a photo of the cornice and a rendering found on site.

What do you think of this building so far and the trend of new, traditional style buildings in Brooklyn?

Fedders to Ruin Elegant Bed Stuy Block? [Brownstoner]
Building of the Day: 353-363 Jefferson Avenue [Brownstoner] GMAP



A beautiful Amzi Hill house built in 1886 but in estate condition at 136 Macdonough Street sold for $1,650,000 at a Kings County public auction yesterday. It was an eye-popping price for a house of its type at auction — so much so that the buyer “got 60 seconds of applause,” according to a developer who attended. Another, smaller house with less elaborate detail at 716 Monroe went for $505,000 at the same event.

“A developer looking guy bought it and I hope he does not ruin this super-intact home,” another tipster said, referring to the house at 136 Macdonough Street, which is 20 feet wide and four stories.

The developer told us he was somewhat skeptical of the recent steep increases in sale prices but said offers for “finished product” and rents “are still booming,” so they seem to be justified.

One of our contacts sent us his photos of 136 Macdonough Street. Click through to the jump to see more. What do you make of the sale?


A narrow house on a famed block, 22 Arlington Place, is scheduled to close at noon today for $2,250,000, beating the existing record for a sale of a Bed Stuy town house by $50,000. Prices in Bed Stuy have been rising sharply lately.

With an asking price of only $1,850,000 and a width of less than 16 feet, even with a surfeit of immaculate Victorian detail and a recent renovation, 22 Arlington Place did not seem a likely candidate to beat the existing record. The deal is for $400,000 over the asking price.

The highest sale to date was a stunning, Parfitt Brothers-designed Queen Anne townhouse in perfect condition at 254 Gates Avenue near the Clinton Hill border, which traded for $2,200,000 back in January 2013.

The house at 22 Arlington Place was designed by well-known Brooklyn architect Amzi Hill in 1886. A House of the Day in April, it is set up as an owner’s triplex over a garden rental and features new encaustic style tile in the basement, central air, and marble in the kitchen. A house down the street at 7 Arlington Place was the setting for the Spike Lee movie “Crooklyn.”

The seller, an LLC, bought it from an estate last year for $725,000. The agents representing the seller were Halstead’s Bed Stuy brownstone specialists Ban Leow and Morgan Munsey.

22 Arlington Place Listing [Halstead]


A Brooklyn Heights brownstone overlooking the Promenade is asking $16,000,000. If 192 Columbia Heights sells for ask, it will set a record, as The New York Times was the first to point out. So far the record for a townhouse in the Heights is 70 Willow Street, where Truman Capote famously rented, which sold for $12,500,000 in 2012.

This place is 25 feet wide, five stories tall and has nearly 8,000 square feet of space. It is in move-in condition.

Now that prices in “emerging” Brooklyn have about doubled in the last few years, do you think prices in prime Brooklyn will recalibrate? What do you guess it will sell for?

A Townhouse Above the Brooklyn Heights Promenade Asks $16 Million [NY Times]
192 Columbia Heights Listing [Kevin J. Carberry Real Estate/Corcoran]
Photo by Scott Bintner for PropertyShark


In an interesting twist, real estate mogul Jared Kushner is planning to turn three dorm buildings he bought from the Brooklyn Law School back into the single-family brownstones they once were. The three properties are 100 Pierrepont Street, pictured above, 38 Monroe Place and 27 Monroe Place in Brooklyn Heights, according to The Real Deal.

There is a high demand for “luxury townhouses” in the neighborhood, which sell for $,200 to $1,600 a square foot, said an associate broker at the Corcoran Group. “These would certainly be absorbed quickly,” she said.

Kushner picked them up along with three other dorms in February $36,500,000. The three other buildings will remain rentals.

This is almost as good as when Steve Jobs bought a Palo Alto bungalow for the purpose of razing it and turning the property back into an apricot orchard. As property values rise in Brooklyn, new townhouse development is on the rise and more owners are jettisoning rentals at the highest end of the market even as developers convert old townhouses into smaller condo units for other buyers.

Kushner to Convert Brooklyn Law Buildings to Mansions [TRD]
Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

plaster walls, lath and keys, wiki 1

When it comes to real estate in a city like ours, with housing that spans the space of a few hundred years, there are two types of people in the world: old house lovers and new house lovers. The reasons we like what we like are myriad and often complicated, but if one can afford to have a choice in what kind of building they live in, just about everyone has a preference.

A house or apartment is made up of many components, many of which are cosmetic, but one thing that is not is framing. Whether new or old, where we live is made up of walls, ceilings and floors. Two of those components beg the question – plaster or drywall?

I have never lived in a new house. I grew up in a 200-year-old vernacular Italianate farmhouse upstate. When I went to college, I lived my first year in a dorm from the 1890s, followed by three years in another built in the 1930s, designed to look like a medieval college in England. When I moved to New York City, I lived in an Art Deco apartment building in the Bronx, followed by almost 30 years in two different Brooklyn row houses. One was from the late 1870s, the other from 1899. I write this article from a Troy row house from that same year. All of these places had one thing in common – nice thick old plaster walls. (more…)

It’s the money shot of the home design world: The pale gray marble mantel with the arch-topped firebox clad in a black iron summer cover. It’s a classic brownstone Brooklyn look, typical of the Italianate brownstones of the 1860s and 1870s that dominate highly desirable Brooklyn brownstone neighborhoods such as the Heights, Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, and Clinton Hill.

The arched marble fireplace first started appearing with regularity as a fetish object — a sign that its owner had made it and had the whole brownstone as well as the lifestyle to go with it — in Domino magazine some years ago.

This year, The New York Times reports, the Brooklyn brownstone “is on track to become the aspirational space of the year,” thanks to its appearance in catalogs, ads, and TV shows such as “Girls.” The Times writes:

The Brooklyn brownstone has been fetishized in so many catalogs, ads and television shows, including Design Within Reach, Target and Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” to name a fraction, that location scouts like Andrea Raisfeld of Bedford, N.Y., say it has become the bulk of their business. After rattling off the addresses of seven of her “cash cows,” as she described her most-requested Brooklyn brownstones, Ms. Raisfeld, who has 100 Brooklyn properties in her portfolio, recalled how in the 1990s it was Westport, Conn. — Martha Stewart country — that beckoned.

Do you agree with the Times? What do you think of the interiors they show? Click through to the story to see some really stunning photographs of these covetable spaces, including a magnificently proportioned Clinton Hill Italianate whose frothy yet bold white marble mantel and ornate ceilings make a jaw dropping contrast with inlaid parquet floors and a modern kitchen.

It’s That Brownstone. Again. [NY Times]


Over the weekend, the Times took a look at a miniscule but interesting trend: Converting formerly single family townhouses back into single family townhouses. The paper wrote:

These stately buildings started life as single-family houses sheltering comfortable middle- and upper-class families and their servants. By the Great Depression, most had been chopped into single-room apartments, the unlucky among them getting the greatest wear, as rooming houses for the down and out. In the ‘60s, plucky young New Yorkers with more enthusiasm than cash began buying these down-at-the-heels beauties and spiffing them up for their families, usually retaining tenants who provided rental income and in many cases were impossible to dislodge. In the past few years, the historic townhouse has started to come full circle. Thanks to the growing appetite for larger and more luxurious private urban dwellings among people happy to pay upward of $10 million, many townhouses have been returned to the elegant single-family homes they once were.

In the last few decades, a floor-through apartment (or three) helped most townhouse owners in Brooklyn pay the mortgage — sometimes all of the mortgage. But as prices in certain neighborhoods soar — Brooklyn Heights comes to mind — at a certain point you have to ask if the buyer of an $8,000,000 townhouse really needs or wants a rental unit. (And in fact, it’s increasingly common to see such units labelled “guest suite” on floor plans.) The Times story profiled two couples in Brooklyn turning townhouses into single families.

A family in Prospect Heights plans to use an extra floor as a work space and another area for visiting grandparents. Another family in Park Slope who bought their house some years ago are just now getting around to reconfiguring it for their exculsive use. Above is pictured the restored facade of 1234 Dean Street, whose owner has set up the house as a single family and is converting it from SRO status. It is on the market for $2,195,000.

Of course, there is another countervailing trend that is more common, as prices approach $1,000 a square foot, although the Times didn’t mention it: Developers buy a townhouse in an expensive neighborhood and convert it into condos.

Townhouse Turnaround [NY Times]