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Longtime residents of East New York care about the historic bank building at 91 Pennsylvania Avenue and want to save it. A group of about eight stood in the bitter cold Tuesday to protest its planned demolition, the Village Voice reported. As it happens, the protest was sparked by our story, we were surprised to read. Residents had seen the scaffolding and netting shrouding the building but assumed it was being repaired, not demolished.

We spoke last night to one of the organizers of the protest, Chris Banks, who is the director of local community group East New York United Concerned Citizens and a member of Community Board 5. He said the owner of the building has been in touch and they plan to meet, as he also told the Voice. Banks has also reached out to local Council Member Rafael Espinal and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries for help.

We hope a new use for the building can be found that will benefit both the owner and the community. Click through to the Voice story to read what the protesters said about the building.

Residents Brave (Seriously) Bitter Cold to Fight to Preserve Historic Brooklyn Bank Building [Voice]
Historic East New York Bank Building Will Be Torn Down [Brownstoner]
Demo Has Started at Historic Bank Building in East New York [Brownstoner]

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A mutual friend forwarded these photos, taken by a neighbor about two months ago, of the inside of the Carpenter Gothic church at 809 Jefferson Avenue. The photographer commented:

Friends of mine belong to this church and tell me that they struggled with the situation for a very long time but ultimately decided they couldn’t afford to save a very deteriorated structure. It is very sad, indeed. I don’t know who could have saved this building. To anyone in the neighborhood, this is not a surprise. We will always wonder what could have been done to save it, and let this inspire us to prevent further loss of these old gems.

Click through to see the stained-glass windows in the balcony over the entrance.

809 Jefferson Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]

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Interior demolition has begun on McGuinness Boulevard between Greenpoint Avenue and Calyer Street in Greenpoint, where several low-slung buildings will be knocked down to make way for a big six-story apartment building designed by Gene Kaufman. Demolition permits have been filed for five buildings at 209, 211, 213, 227, and 231 McGuinness, which includes the two-story house at left, above, and four single-story commercial buildings, at right. (Note: PropertyShark says the four commercial buildings above are actually only two buildings.)

The new development will include 112 apartments spread across 78,168 square feet of residential space, as well as 21,960 square feet of commercial space, according to permits filed in September and disapproved last month. The 100,000-square-foot project will also have 101 bike parking spots, 112 subterranean parking spaces, a library and a roof deck. Stellar Management is the developer, according to permits. The address of the new building will be 211 McGuinness.

The mostly commercial block was rezoned for residential back in 2012. Four properties under the one address of 211 McGuinness sold for $13,900,000 last year. The commercial buildings used to be a warehouse, strip club pool hall, and a Pep Boys auto parts store. Public records don’t show any recent sale of the house at 209 McGuinness. GMAP

 

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Unfortunately, the construction boom has reached one of Brooklyn’s most notable structures: The pre-Civil War-era Carpenter Gothic (or New England Gothic) wood frame church at 809 Jefferson Avenue in Bed Stuy. The structure, which appears on an 1854 map and could be as old as the 1840s, is one of Bed Stuy’s oldest buildings.

It’s in a very old area in the northeast of the neighborhood that at the moment is sleepy and bare and dotted with the occasional mid-19th-century wood frame building. The area is not landmarked, and not likely to be, and we won’t be surprised if in 10 years it’s utterly transformed with Williamsburg-style glassy mid-rise apartment buildings.

Interior demo began in January, and the whole thing will be gone by the end of this month, according to DNAinfo. (more…)

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Demo has started at 91 Pennsyvlania Avenue, the historic bank building in East New York we told you about last week. So far, only the interior has been demolished, and as far as we could see, the outside has not been touched. But it is probably only a matter of days before demo starts on the exterior.

Scaffolding has gone up on two sides that abut the sidewalk. The windows are out and the building appears to now be an empty shell. The building, designed by one of New York City’s most important architects, Richard Upjohn, Jr., has stood on a prominent corner in East New York since 1889. It is being torn down to make way for a seven-story medical office building.

The area is the focus of the Mayor’s affordable housing plan and will be rezoned for residential and taller buildings in the spring, which officially begins March 20, 31 days from now.

Historic East New York Bank Building Will Be Torn Down and Replaced by Medical Mid-Rise [Brownstoner] GMAP

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A tipster sent us this this rendering posted to the construction fence and some shots of the construction inside at 159 Smith Street. This 19th century wood frame, the only wood frame on Smith Street, according to Pardon Me For Asking, was in perfectly intact original condition, although decrepit, before construction started. It is being altered to make way for a modern four story building.

At this point, it looks like all that is left of the original building is the shared party walls and one floor of joists — no beam and nothing in the front or the back, as far as we can see. It’s located between Bergen and Wyckoff streets in Boerum Hill.

Click through to see the construction and what the house looked like before.

Demo Starts for Wooden House on Smith Street [Brownstoner]

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We’re sorry to report that the former East New York Savings Bank at 91 Pennsyvlania Avenue will be demolished to make way for a seven-story medical building. A demolition permit for the four-story Renaissance Revival building was issued in December.

One of New York City’s most important architects, Richard Upjohn, Jr., designed the bank, which was built in 1889 and occupies a full block on Atlantic between Pennsyvlania and New Jersey avenues, smack in the middle of the soon-to-be-rezoned East New York business district. The property was a Building of the Day last year.

An application for a new-building permit filed last week calls for a seven-story building with 121,000 square feet of space, as well as 153 parking spots. It will house “ambulatory diagnostic or treatment health care facilities,” according to schedule A filings. Udo Maron of Array Architects is the architect of record.

The 34,000-square-foot structure last changed hands for $5,500,000 in 2005, according to public records. Jonas Rudofsky of real estate firm Squarefeet.com appears to be the owner and developer, according to permits.

With so much empty and underutilized land available in East New York, we think it’s a shame the developer chose this particular location. This building looks ideal for adaptive reuse, such as a mixed-use condo development. We haven’t seen a rendering yet but we’re not hopeful it will be better than the building there now.

Building of the Day: 91 Pennsylvania Avenue [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photo by Kate Leonova for PropertyShark

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A drive down Bushwick Avenue Sunday revealed three new holes where 19th century buildings used to be. At least one, and possibly all three buildings, was a mid-19th century Italianate; all are on oversize lots. The longtime owners got relatively little for the properties, where two developers are planning two medium-size apartment buildings with 20 and 14 units each.

All three houses had been altered over the years, obscuring their origins. No. 894 Bushwick Avenue, which is now gone, was an Italianate wedding cake of a house, with a porch with fanciful brackets spanning its width. The narrower house next door at No. 890 appeared to be a brick house built in the teens, but its oversize lot indicates it could have been much older or had replaced an older house. It is also now gone.

Further up the street at 774 Bushwick Avenue is another 19th century wood frame building with tall arched windows that might have once looked much like No. 894, or it could be a later house, perhaps from the 1890s. It has been partly demolished. We found a rendering on the fence of the modern apartment building, above, that will replace it. (more…)

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Demolition had just started at the former Huxley Envelope Factory when we checked in a few weeks ago, but now the big one-story building at 145-155 West Street in Greenpoint is completely gone. Last summer, Mack Real Estate and Palin Enterprises resurrected long-stalled plans to build a 39-story tower on the site next to the India Street Pier. Ismael Levya will design the 800,000-square-foot high-rise, which will include more than 600 apartments and 23,000 square feet of retail, as previously reported. Twenty percent of the apartments, or roughly 120 units, will be affordable. The developers have also promised to build a 22,000-square-foot waterfront park and playground between India and Huron Streets.

Demolition Begins Next to India Street Pier [Brownstoner]

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Hats off to Times reporter Matt Chaban for his piece yesterday about the sad story of 69 Vanderbilt. The owner, 85-year-old retired lawyer Louis Somma, grew up in the house and lived there among piles of refuse and with a cracked foundation until the city ordered him out in 2009. He has refused offers for as much as $800,000 to buy the house. He is holding out for $3,000,000, he told the Times, but now that the city has demo’d the lot, he believes it may be worth $5,000,000. (In 2013, the renovated twin house next door sold for $1,000,000, and Landmarks rules prevent a building taller than four stories.)

Meanwhile, he owes $120,000 in back taxes, and the city has sold the lien, so if he does not pay, the bank will foreclose, leaving him with nothing.

“It was such a nice house, so full of memories, until Louie filled it up with his junk,” said his youngest sister Marie Brown. “He defies everybody. I still don’t know what he thought was going to happen here.”

An Eyesore, Also a Piece of History, Is Demolished in Brooklyn [NY Times]
69 Vanderbilt Coverage [Brownstoner]
City tax photo below via NY Times

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The city has finished demolishing the mid-19th century wood frame at 69 Vanderbilt Avenue in the Wallabout Historic District, DNAinfo reported. A construction fence went up around the home in August, after the DOB responded to a complaint in June that the house was shaking and leaning. The HPD filed demolition permits to knock down the house in December. The house was still standing when we passed by January 4, although demo may have started earlier.

Preservationists had spent years fighting to save the house, which was built in the Greek Revival style with Italianate details. Wood turner Richard Pease built the home – as well as the much better-maintained twin house next door at 71 Vanderbilt – no later than the summer of 1850, according to the historic district’s designation report, although it could be older.

The LPC decided the building had deteriorated too much, and sued the property owner to demolish it, said DNAinfo. Once the court ruled in favor of the LPC, the city moved forward with demolition. Now the vacant lot is in the process of being sold, according to DNAinfo.

164-Year-Old Landmarked Home Reduced to Rubble in Clinton Hill [DNAinfo]
Closing Bell: City to Demolish Landmarked Greek Revival Wood Frame in Wallabout [Brownstoner]
Photo by Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project LDC

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Demolition has started at the old Huxley Envelope factory on West and India Streets in Greenpoint, where long-stalled plans for a 39-story tower are finally moving forward. The megaproject will bring more than 600 apartments and 23,000 square feet of retail to the block-long site at 145-155 West Street. Last year, developer Richard Mack of Mack Real Estate Group told WSJ the development will be aimed at “millennials” looking for “affordable luxury.” In addition, 20 percent of the apartments will be affordable.

Ismael Levya Architects first filed plans for the building in 2009, after the developers secured special permits from the City Planning Commission. In exchange for the right to build so big, the developers promised to create a 22,000-square-foot waterfront park and playground.

Palin Enterprises paid $84,570,000 for the 100,000-square-foot factory in 2006. Then it sold again last August to Palin’s development partner, Mack Real Estate Group, for $120,000,000, according to public records.

Click through the jump for a few more demo photos.

Update: Reps for the developers told us that the interior design for the project will differ from previously published renderings, and that Ismael Levya will still be the architect of record.

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