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


69 vanderbilt avenue wallabout 122014

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

huxley envelope 155 west street demo greenpoint 12015

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.



Demo has stared at 19-25 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, the future site of a huge office development that will cover the entire block. As far as we know, the 400,000-square-foot building developed by Heritage Equity Partners is the first spec office building to be built from the ground up in Brooklyn since World War II. Thanks to a reader for the photos. Click through to see a worker chipping away at a brick wall.

19 Kent Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP (more…)


We found a rendering on the fence of the building architect Morris Adjmi has designed to replace Theobald Engelhardt’s 1885 Palace Rink at 89 Grand Street. It looks something like a Soho commercial building, and it looks good, we think.

There are large windows for stores on the ground floor, with an awning above. The top story is set back and looks like a penthouse. Only three apartments are planned. The living space will consist of an enormous triplex on the top three floors over two apartments on the second floor, according to the Schedule A. The new building plans, filed in June, are still disapproved.

The Palace Rink, a roller skating rink that later became Palace Hall, is gone, except for part of the back wall. Click through to the jump to see inside the construction fence, and a photo of the old building that stood here, taken in June.

It was a favorite of ours, and we miss it. What do you think of the change? (more…)

brewery dean and franklin crown heights 122014

Jackhammering erupted yesterday on Dean Street near Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, where workers are putting up a plywood fence around part of the old Nassau Brewery complex. Demolition applications were filed and approved but not yet issued in July for the brick building at 1048 Dean Street and the wood buildings at 1042 Dean Street and 1046 Dean Street. (The brick building is pictured to the right of the blue shed, above, and after the jump.)

As we’ve already reported, ODA is designing a glassy mixed-use building here that will be eight stories high with 120 units, including 20 percent affordable.

Click through to see another photo of the work yesterday and a rendering of the planned building.

608 Franklin Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP


299-301 Livingston Street

The wrecking ball is coming for two small storefronts on Livingston Street in Downtown Brooklyn, where a developer is planning a 17-story apartment tower. The two buildings at 299-301 Livingston are four stories each, with retail on the ground floor and apartments above. Demolition applications were filed earlier this month.

After they’ve been knocked down, construction will begin on a 37-unit, 38,000-square-foot residential development. It will have 29 parking spaces spread between the cellar and the ground floor, according to Schedule A filings.

The architect of record is Stephen B. Jacobs Group, and permits list the developer as Izzy Neiman. Plans were first filed in August and disapproved in November. In August, New York YIMBY wrote about the project and said it probably will include 20 percent affordable housing, based on the planned square footage of the building. GMAP

Photo by Google Maps


Three huge lots equal in size to almost an entire block have been leveled to make way for a huge public housing project in Ocean Hill. (You can see the future plans for the site here and here.) The property was formerly the Prospect Plaza housing project, home to 1,200 people, which NYCHA emptied out in 2000, promising to rebuild. When we visited a year earlier, the empty, boarded-up apartment houses were still standing.

At 1776 Prospect Place, pictured above and after the jump, the demo work started in May and was signed off on in October. An application for a new six-story building with 101 apartments was disapproved this month. The building that previously stood there was 15 stories.

The area immediately around the public housing sites consists of empty lots or empty apartment buildings, adding up to about eight desolate lots on two and a half blocks between Saratoga and Howard avenues and Prospect and Sterling places, close to Eastern Parkway in Ocean Hill.

Click through to see more photos of the site and a rendering of one of the planned buildings.

City Finally Moves to Redevelop Vacant Housing Project in Ocean Hill [Brownstoner] GMAP
Rendering by Dattner Architects via NYY


We can’t keep up with all the 19th century wood frames being marketed as development sites or torn down. We are sad to report that a rambling, two-story frame house with a porch on a big lot in Bushwick near the graveyards that looks like it could date from the 1850s or ’60s will be torn down to make way for a six-story apartment building with 13 apartments.

Brookland Capital bought the property, whose address is 189 Cooper Street, pictured above, for $1,145,000 in August. Click through to see what it looked like in the 1970s, when it was still a freestanding house and not covered by siding.

Wyckoff Heights was the first to report on the plans, back in September. An application for a demo permit was filed in October but has not yet been issued.

Also threatened by sale as a development site is 165-171 Veronica Place, another wood frame that looks as if it could be very old indeed, in Flatbush. Click through to see it. Real estate firm Epic Commercial Realty has the listing, which is asking $1,160,000. Already approved plans for the site call for three three-story, two-family row houses.

And finally, 309 Lenox Road in East Flatbush, a wood frame from the latter quarter of the 19th century, is also for sale as a development site. The asking price is $1,700,000 for 20,640 buildable square feet on a 30 by 200 foot lot. Click through to see it.

Photos by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark


752 Pacific Street After

The big warehouse at 752 Pacific Street in Prospect Heights is now gone, demolished to make way for two Atlantic Yards (aka Pacific Park) buildings, according to a rep from Greenland Forest City, who sent us these photos. Demolition of the 70,000-square-foot building began two weeks ago at the large site between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues, as reported.

Two buildings are planned for the property — an affordable development at 535 Carlton Avenue and a market-rate one at 550 Vanderbilt Avenue. Click through to see what the warehouse looked like.

Greenland, Forest City Start Demo on Pacific Street [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photos by Greenland Forest City


88 schermerhorn street screenshot downtown brooklyn

The wrecking ball is coming for this attractive circa-1900 walkup at 88 Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn, which sold for $11,000,000 last month and will be replaced by condos. The new owner, Second Development Services, filed a demolition application for the four-story, eight-unit building last Friday.

A deed dated October 1 lists Second Development as the buyer. The site’s zoning allows a building as large as 33,330 square feet, which works out to a sale price of $330 per buildable square foot, a record for the area, according to GlobeSt.com, which covered the sale.

SDS told the publication they’re going to build a 20-story condo on the lot between Boerum Place and Court Street. The developer is also working on the 29-story Vos Hotel at 95 Rockwell Place. GMAP

Photo by Google Maps


The dilapidated and empty, partially detached wood frame house at 447 Decatur in Bed Stuy was being demolished over the summer, and when we passed by recently, it was completely gone. Brookland Capital is planning a four-story, six-unit apartment building on the double wide lot, which it purchased for $995,000 in January, as we reported previously.

The firm has applied to turn the lot into two, so we presume Brookland is planning a second building identical to the first, but we can’t find any record of the property at the DOB yet.

The property sits between an apartment building and the recently restored Evelyn F. Veres house at 451 Decatur, which was pictured in Dinanda Nooney’s 1978 photographs of Brooklyn.