04/23/14 10:00am

Seven homes out of nine have sold at the Townhouses of Cobble Hill development, according to a PR rep. The Landmarks-approved modern-yet-contextual houses at 110-126 Congress Street went on the market in May for $3,650,000 to $4,200,000, and only 110 and 114 are still available.

The four-bedroom, five-bath house at 110 Congress has 3,318 square feet of interior space and a 485-square-foot roof deck and is asking $3,900,000; the one at 114 has three bedrooms, five baths, 3,630 square feet of interior space and a 694-square-foot garden for $3,850,000. Construction should finish by the end of this year.

Designed by Adjmi and Andreoli (Adjmi was the architect of the Wythe Hotel), the project has been jointly developed by JMH Development and Madison Estates and Properties. GMAP

Rendering via Townhouses of Cobble Hill

04/23/14 9:30am

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Average rents rose 77 percent in Brooklyn while city wide real median income fell 4.8 percent from 2000 to 2012, according to a report out from the city comptroller described in The New York Post. The increases were the largest in any borough.

A story in the Times implied that meeting Mayor de Blasio’s stated goal of keeping or creating 200,000 affordable units will not fix the problem:

In an interview, Mr. Stringer said numeric goals were not enough. He noted that the Bloomberg administration spent $5.3 billion of city money and leveraged another $18.3 billion to both create new affordable units and preserve existing housing — for a total of 165,000 units over 12 years — yet the city today is still grappling with record homelessness and the loss of low-rent housing.

A separate story in the Post described a young woman paying only $1,256 a month in rent for a spacious two-bedroom rent stabilized in Crown Heights — on the face of it, an excellent deal. But, with a salary of only $30,000 a year before taxes for her retail sales job, she can barely afford it. Her landlord has offered her money to move, but she didn’t take it, knowing she would not be able to find a lower rent elsewhere.

Rents are going up and wages are falling everywhere, not just in New York City. “In the rest of the nation, rents rose by 50.1 percent over the same period — hitting an average of $773 per month,” said the Post.

The comptroller’s report recommended that affordable housing in New York City should focus on the poorest, not middle income New Yorkers. What do you think should be done?

New York City Housing Push Should Aim at Poorest, Report Says [NY Times]
NYC Rents Skyrocket as Incomes Lag [NY Post]
As Rents Rise, Some Stuck in Affordable Homes With Moving Too Costly [NY Post]

04/23/14 9:00am

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Three community boards are fighting over jurisdiction of the 22 acres that make up the Atlantic Yards development. Most of the complex, which runs along Atlantic Avenue near the intersection of Flatbush Avenue, is technically in Prospect Heights, with a small section in Park Slope. But the Community Boards don’t exactly follow neighborhood lines, so bits of it belong to CB 2, 6, and 8.

Why it matters is not really clarified by a story examining the matter in detail in The New York Times. The CBs are responsible for things like trash pickup, liquor license reviews and noise complaints. Developer Forest City Ratner says “all the districts would share local hiring and affordable housing opportunities regardless of what happens.” A few observers say it would be easier to oppose the development if responsibility for it were concentrated in one community board.

Click through to the story for a helpful map showing exactly where Atlantic Yards is going to go. Above, the rail line portion that runs along Atlantic Avenue from Barclays Center to Vanderbilt Avenue in the snow in February. It’s eventually supposed to be covered by a platform and six towers.

A Community Tug of War in Brooklyn [NY Times]

04/22/14 10:00am

Eight condos have hit the market at Barrett Development’s 440 Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, with two- and three-bedrooms starting at $875,000. The thoroughly modern building replaced two decrepit 19th century townhouses and is still under construction.

BuzzBuzzHome spotted the listings, which range from $875,000 for an 888-square-foot two-bedroom to $2,200,000 for a 1,687-square-foot three-bedroom, two-bath penthouse. Corcoran is marketing the condos, which include features like wide plank white oak floors, powder coated steel cabinetry, washers and dryers, and private basement storage. The building materials are cast-in-place concrete over steel deck, which “allows for extra-high ceilings and superior soundproofing” says the listing.

Four of the units come with private outdoor space, and Unit 2A has the largest terrace at 900 square feet. You can check out the floor plans on the development’s website, and we have more renderings after the jump.

What do you think of the look of the building, interiors and pricing?

Say Hello to Barrett’s 440 Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, Starting at $875,000 [BuzzBuzzHome] GMAP
440 Atlantic Avenue Listings [Corcoran]
440 Atlantic [Barrett Development]

Renderings via 440 Atlantic

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04/22/14 9:30am

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The number of Manhattanites moving to Brooklyn has dropped dramatically, with only 13 percent signing new leases in North and Northwest Brooklyn in the first quarter, vs. 53 percent back in 2006, according to a report out from Ideal Properties. The number of renters coming in from out of state rose to 22 percent in Q1, vs. 18 percent in the same period last year. Connecticut (21 percent) accounted for the majority, California for 17 percent and New Jersey for 10 percent; 10 percent were from out of the country. People who were already living in Brooklyn made up 40 percent of new leases.

Park Slope was the area’s most popular destination, “with 28 percent of all rented units in Brownstone and North Brooklyn last quarter concentrated” there, said the report. The majority of renters analyzed in the report, 33 percent, had average incomes ranging from $75,000 to $99,000. Most of them, 15 percent, worked in media, and 13 percent worked in design and architecture, the report found. More than half, 59 percent, of tenants in North and Northwest Brooklyn are between 21 and 30 years old.

The report was based on tenant profile data on close to 4,300 forms collected by Ideal Properties.

04/22/14 9:00am

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Forest City Ratner and Greenland Holding Group will break ground on three more residential towers this year, even as the first Atlantic Yards tower, B2, is woefully delayed, The New York Times reported over the weekend in a story we missed. The towers will be built with conventional, not modular means.

Two will be rentals and one a condo. Forest City is having trouble with the modular process, which was supposed to speed construction and reduce costs, the Times said. Only five of the planned 32 stories at B2 have risen so far, as others such as Atlantic Yards Report and Curbed had recently noted. The developer has stepped up its pace to install three modules a day, according to Atlantic Yards Report.

The date to finish up B2 is now late 2015, more than a year behind schedule. One of the apartment buildings, a rental, will go up next to B2. The other two will be located at the “eastern end of the site,” said the Times.

Slow Start Spurs Shift for Towers Near Arena [NY Times]
Photo by Curbed

04/21/14 10:00am

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The passive-house affordable apartment building at 424 Melrose Street wrapped in February and 22 of the building’s 24 units are already filled, reported The New York Daily News. A joint project of the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and the United Mennonite Church, which owned the land, it was paid for by private bank loans, a federal tax credit and the New York State’s Housing Trust Fund.

Rents range from $400 to $1,100 for a studio to a three-bedroom. Eight units are for low-income residents and 15 are for handicapped. Interior photos in the Daily News show beautiful long windows and tiny radiators. There are two small boilers on the roof and 16 thermal solar panels. The 28,000-square-foot building cost $8,500,000 to construct and uses about 10 percent of the energy of most buildings of its size, according to the story. The architect is Chris Benedict.

Construction caused evacuation of nearby buildings in 2012, as we reported at the time.

The finished building looks different from the rendering, but we like it. The beige and white color scheme is not particularly inspiring, but we like the rhythm and pattern created by the grouping of the passive-house windows, whose look too often detracts from older buildings. This is one of many affordable projects in Brooklyn with admirable architecture, including a number spearheaded by the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council. Another passive building with 24 units at 803 Knickerbocker Avenue is scheduled to finish this summer.

Click through to the Daily News article to see the finished building. What do you think of the design?

Inside the Country’s First Multi-Family Affordable Passive House Apartments [NY Daily News]
Bushwick Buildings Evacuated After Cracks Appear [Brownstoner]
Rendering by Chris Benedict via Inhabitat

04/21/14 9:30am

Brownsville’s Stone Avenue Library is commemorating its 100th anniversary and its recent reopening after five months of renovations and improvements at a press conference this morning. When it first opened in September 1914 as a children’s library, hundreds of children lined up to explore the Gothic-style building at 581 Mother Gaston Boulevard, which was designed to look like a fairy tale castle by William B. Tubby, said a story in The New York Times.

Financed by Andrew Carnegie, it was one of the country’s first libraries devoted entirely to children. If you want to see what the library looked like when it first opened, the Times has a great slideshow with photos from its early years.

The branch has received several improvements, including a gigantic chess board and a “Word Wall” displaying 600 words children should know by 5th grade. During construction, the library was closed as briefly as possible — from November 30 to January 16 and from March 8 to 17. Check out the new interior after the jump!

A Brownsville Sanctuary, 100 Years and Counting [NY Times]
Photo via Historic Districts Council

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04/21/14 9:00am

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A story in The New York Times suggests Mayor de Blasio can do an end run around Albany and forge a public transportation route to meet new needs with a modern streetcar line along the waterfront from Brooklyn to Queens. The line would make it easier for residents to get around Brooklyn; tie together transit starved areas such as Red Hook, Greenpoint and the Navy Yard; connect to ferry, bus and subway routes; and link Brooklyn to Queens.

The author estimates it would cost somewhere around $600,000,000 or so. Now that Brooklyn is less Manhattan-centric, do you think this is an idea whose time has come, or should we just improve existing bus and subway service?

Imagining a Streetcar Line Along the Brooklyn Waterfront [NY Times]

04/18/14 10:00am

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A tipster sent us a construction-site rendering of the seven-story, 35-unit building going up on the large empty lot at 1035 Fulton, and we then found more on the website of the now-ubiquitous Issac & Stern.

The red brick building resembles 19th century warehouses of the type you see in Soho, Dumbo and the South Street Seaport. If it’s executed like the rendering shows, we think the retail section at ground level is going to be appealing, with a canopy and lots of steel or iron mullioned windows and doors to attract passerby. We also appreciate the thoughtful treatment of the under-window air units, which are covered in matching steel or iron cross bars.

The building is obviously modern yet should fit well into a historic context. (Nearby are other 19th century warehouses as well as carriage houses and townhouses.) We’d like to see more of this type of design in Brooklyn. What do you think of it? Click through to the jump for more.

Large Apartment Building Planned for Fulton and Downing in Clinton Hill [Brownstoner]

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04/18/14 9:30am

Construction continues on the corner of Strong Place and Kane Street in Cobble Hill, where Brennan Realty is building three Landmarks-approved neo-traditional townhouses. The first of the townhouses, 2A Strong Place, is a 3,720-square-foot five-bedroom, 3.5-bath home that’s entered contract after an asking price of $4,475,000. This house first hit the market last spring at $4,150,000, and the other two will be listed for sale in the fall, a spokewoman for Brennan Realty told us.

Designed by CWB Architects, the homes in the Cobble Hill Historic District are meant to resemble classic brick Brooklyn townhouses. Pictured above are the three townhouses at the corner of Kane Street and Strong Place. All three will have yards and there will be a carriage house in back on Kane Street with a studio and garage. Click through to the jump to see that part of the construction site.

Second Strong Place Townhouse Debuts [Brownstoner]

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04/18/14 9:00am

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There is probably no more all-consuming home design trend in the last 35 years than the “great room,” a giant open plan room that combines family room and dining room with kitchen. This has resulted most recently in Brooklyn in flippers who rip all the walls out of 19th century houses and the building of so-called luxury apartments with tiny strip kitchens in the living room.

Now, according to The New York Times, renters and home buyers both are demanding separate kitchens and dining rooms, and builders are building them. The story details home hunters who purchased a one-bedroom Art Deco apartment in Kensington with a traditional kitchen and a townhouse in Ditmas Park with a separate kitchen and formal oak-paneled dining room. Above, the separate dining room and kitchen at Jessica and Doug Warren’s house in Clinton Hill. Reasons given include:

*Better for entertaining.
*Don’t have to see dirty dishes.
*Hides the prep work.

“So much new construction features open floor plans that there’s a pent-up desire for apartments with separate dining rooms and kitchen,” said one real estate agent. “For a certain demographic, they’re a definite selling point.”

The Times cited many new buildings with traditional floor plans, including one with pocket doors that let the inhabitants decide whether to open or close off the kitchen. All of them, tellingly, are in Manhattan where new construction is focused on the very high end of the market, except for one, the rental building at 250 North 10th in Williamsburg. A third of the studios there feature “single-opening galley kitchens separate from the living area.” They are priced at about $2,500 a month.

“People say, I’ve been looking for this,” said the developer. “Not a majority, but you hear it from people who like to cook. Nevertheless, they don’t want to cook in the middle of their living room.”

Which do you prefer?

The Separate Kitchen Makes a Comeback [NY Times]
Photo by Desire to Inspire