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We’re sad to report that the city plans to demolish the crumbling mid-19th century wood frame at 69 Vanderbilt Avenue in the Wallabout Historic District. The HPD filed an emergency demolition permit last week.

A complaint from June said the house was shaking and leaning, and the DOB report said “front porch is unstable…neighboring houses may be in danger.”

Back in August after the construction fence went up we speculated the city had no plans to tear it down. Unfortunately, we were wrong.

“The New York Landmarks Conservancy has had No. 69 on its endangered list for years,” said the New York Times’ Christopher Grey in 2010. “There are only two ways it could get off the list, and right now it’s more likely to go feet first.”

Thanks to Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership for the tip and the photo.

69 Vanderbilt Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project LDC

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Big news — although not unexpected — for Prospect Lefferts Gardens and preservationists: The Landmarks Preservation Commission yesterday voted to designate Chester Court. The beautifully intact teens Tudor Revival cul-de-sac was first suggested for landmarking back in the 1970s as part of the original historic district in the area.

Also yesterday Landmarks approved the revised plans for the mixed-use development that will replace a gas station at 112 Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill. The redesign is similar except the windows look more like those of surrounding buildings: Tall and narrow — but still lots of them. Yay, Landmarks.

You can read more about the votes in New York YIMBY, The New York Daily News and The Brooklyn Eagle. Click through to the Eagle story to see a photo showing the 112 Atlantic Avenue redesign.

Chester Court Coverage [Brownstoner]
112 Atlantic Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]

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The condo building at 50 Bridge Street, built in 1894 to house a soap manufacturing company, is wrapping up a $3,500,000, two-and-a-half-year exterior restoration project. The update to the 58-unit luxury building, which went condo in 2004, involved waterproofing and stripping paint off the original brick facade.

“We are thrilled by these significant renovations that have resulted in the restoration of much of our building’s original character,” said the condo’s board in a press release. “The building is a beautiful example of 19th century industrial architecture and we have worked closely with Landmarks throughout this project.” Cowley Engineering and Flag Waterproofing and Restoration did the work.

We presume this fixes all the construction problems that were the subject of a 2007 lawsuit against developer Joshua Guttman. The condo owners received an undisclosed settlement in 2012 from Guttman over construction defects such as a “defective roof and other waterproofing issues,” a press release noted at the time. Click through to see a photo of the building in 2012, before the restoration.

50 Bridge Street Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photo above by 50 Bridge Street; photo below by Sunita Mungol for PropertyShark (more…)

A very pretty house at 118 Rutland Road in Prospect Lefferts Gardens has sold for $2,400,000, setting a record for the area, as BK to the Fullest was the first to report. The house is 25 feet wide and comes with a detached garage. It sits on a corner lot and has windows on three sides, two front entrances and a porch.

It is landmarked, so a developer will not be tearing down this extra-wide limestone to turn it into an apartment tower.

The house was asking $2,995,000 when it was a House of the Day in March. Corcoran, which represented the seller, has it listed on its website as selling for $2,500,000, but public records say it traded for $2,400,000. The deal closed in November.

The record is not a huge bump up from the previous one. In August, a house at 66 Midwood Street sold for $2,300,000, as we reported at the time.

Another Lefferts House Breaks $2 Million: 118 Rutland Road [BK Fullest]
118 Rutland Road [Corcoran]
House of the Day: 118 Rutland Road [Brownstoner]

green-wood cemetery front gates

The Landmarks Preservation Commission will not meet behind closed doors on Tuesday, December 9 to chop 96 proposed historic sites and districts from its calendar en masse without individual public hearings after all, The New York Times reported. The move came after strong condemnation from local politicians and preservation groups, including Landmark West and the Historic Districts Council.

“Preservationists were relieved” to hear of the decision, said the Times. “This is the rare case of a public agency listening to the public,” the paper quoted the executive director of the Historic Districts Council as saying.

The seven sites that would have been affected in Brooklyn included the Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House in Gravesend, Green-Wood Cemetery (pictured above), St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church in Bushwick, and the Forman Building in Williamsburg. By “decalendaring” the sites, the LPC could imperil them because the Department of Buildings would no longer notify the LPC of proposed alterations or demolition, giving the LPC time to act to designate them as landmarks.

Nonetheless, Landmarks Chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan left the door open for a later mass purge — with time for public comment. “In withdrawing the proposal, she said she wanted to provide more time for people to speak up for certain properties while making clear all would be dealt with sooner rather than later,” said the Times.

“We remain committed to making the Landmarks Commission more effective and responsive in its work, and clearing a backlog of items,” she said in a statement quoted by the paper.

Landmarks Panel Drops Proposal to Trim List [NY Times]
Breaking: Landmarks to “Decalendar” Hundreds of Proposed Historic Sites? [Brownstoner]
Brooklyn Sites the LPC Has Targeted to Dump [Brownstoner]

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The Landmarks Preservation Commission has published the list of sites it proposes to dump in a mass decalendaring Landmark West warned about and we wrote about last week. Only seven sites are in Brooklyn, including the extremely significant Green-Wood Cemetery, the Père Lachaise of New York City, and New York’s most popular tourist attraction in the 19th century.

They are:

Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House
27 Gravesend Neck Road
Calendared in 1966

Coney Island Pumping Station
2301-2327 Neptune Avenue
Calendared in 1980

Green-Wood Cemetery
5th Avenue and 25th Street
Calendared in 1981

St. Augustine’s R.C. Church and Rectory
116-130 6th Avenue
Calendared in 1966

Holy Trinity Cathedral/Ukranian Church in Exile
177-181 South 5th Street
Calendared in 1966

St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church
299-307 Central Avenue
Calendared in 1980

183-195 Broadway Building (aka Forman Building)
183-195 Broadway
Calendared in 1986

The cast iron building at 183-195 Broadway in south Williamsburg, opposite the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, is notable for its unusual Neo-Grec cast-iron ornament showing calla lilies rising from shell-like leaves. The Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House at 27 Gravesend Neck Road, pictured above, was built sometime between 1659 and 1700 by English Anabaptists.

Numerous media outlets ran stories on the proposed action yesterday, including DNAinfo, The New York Times, and The New York Post.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer requested 30 days notice be given before any hearing or action, said DNAinfo. The LPC plans to remove the items from its calendar on Tuesday, December 9, without a public hearing, let alone individual hearings for each site. The LPC told the Times this would give it more time to work on current sites — although if the sites are “inactive” we’re not sure what work the LPC is doing on them. Critics such as Landmark West say the mass clearing is a favor to developers who want to alter or tear down the properties.

The full list of 96 sites includes any site that is “inactive” and has been calendared for “five years or more,” said the notice on the LPC website, which was published following inquiries from community groups and elected officials. “This proposed action is without reference to merit.” However, de-calendaring a proposed site could result in the site’s alteration or demolition, since the Department of Buildings will no longer be required to notify the LPC of any permit applications to alter or demo the building.

That is what happened to the historic Renaissance Casino in Harlem after the LPC removed it from its calendar, said DNAinfo. It is now being demolished to make way for a mixed-income apartment building. Click through to see LPC’s map of Brooklyn sites.

Breaking: Landmarks to “Decalendar” Hundreds of Proposed Historic Sites? [Brownstoner]
Photo above by Kate Leonova for PropertyShark; map below by LPC

(more…)

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The Landmarks Preservation Commission is planning to “discard over one hundred heard items in an unprecedented massive ‘decalendaring,’” on Tuesday, December 9, according to a forwarded email we just received from Upper West Side preservationist group Landmark West. We don’t see anything about this in the official published LPC agenda for December 9, which concerns certificates of appropriateness for individual properties.

We’re not sure how Landmark West came by this information, or if it’s true. Which properties would be dumped is unknown.

“This does not bode well for Stuyvesant East, or Bedford for that matter,” wrote an architect and preservationist who passed along the email.

Typically, when the LPC decides to vote on whether or not to designate an individual landmark or historic district and sets a date to do so, after already having heard testimony on the matter, the district is designated. But the LPC has a large backlog of proposed historic sites it promised to vote on and never did, having not set a specific date. Many go back years.

The proper procedure would be to hold a public hearing and a vote for each proposed district individually, as promised, and to vote no, rather than to simply cancel the public hearings.

“Whose interests is the LPC serving by throwing out thousands of hours of professional work by commissioners, staff, national and local experts, community advocates, neighbors and residents? And why the lack of public notice?” asked Landmark West in the email.

Preservationists had expressed fears the LPC under de Blasio would be anti-landmarking, but the recent landmarking of the wood frame at 1090 Greene Avenue in Bushwick and the move to designate Chester Court seemed like promising signs to us. But now that we hear this, we fear for the proposed Bedford District, which has had no action since a hearing a year ago. It unquestionably contains some of the best and most important architecture in Bed Stuy, certainly equal or surpassing anything in the already designated Park Slope and Stuyvesant Heights areas. Pictured above is 240 Hancock Street in the proposed district, designed by noted architect Montrose Morris.

The email ends by saying “Call the LPC (main number: (212) 669-7700) and email Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan to demand that she fully disclose her plans and schedule public hearings on any decalendering of proposed individual landmarks and proposed historic districts. Tell her that you want to know what she is planning to ‘decalendar’ and when.”

Does anyone know more? We will update this story if we hear anything further.

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The Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote on whether or not to designate Chester Court a historic district in January, according to The Brooklyn Eagle. The district was calendared in late October, meaning the LPC decided it would vote, as reported.

The teens Tudor Revival cul-de-sac is largely intact, and development is nipping at its doors, since the block is just off the busy avenue of Flatbush. The 23-story tower at 626 Flatbush is rising just behind Chester Court on one side of the block. Chester Court was proposed as part of the original Prospect Lefferts Gardens historic district, but was not included. We’re glad the LPC is taking action on this, following the transition period between administrations when it was less active.

Amazingly, a representative from the Real Estate Board of New York, not known for favoring landmarking, spoke in favor of the designation on Tuesday, said the Eagle, as did the PLG City Council member, residents and neighborhood associations. (more…)

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Landmarks praised BKSK Architects for its “contextual” design for a mixed-use building to replace a gas station at 112 Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill, but asked the architects to scale down the windows, particularly on the side of the building on Henry Street, and reduce the bulkhead on the roof. Only one attendee at the meeting Tuesday spoke in favor of the building as it was, and the Cobble Heights Association and others spoke against it, New York YIMBY and The Brooklyn Eagle reported.

The building’s “large, industrial-looking windows…might be more appropriate in Red Hook,” said Barbara Zay of the Historic Districts Council, according to YIMBY. Click through to YIMBY to see the full presentation.

As you may recall, Community Board 6 rejected the proposal last month.

Apartment Design for Atlantic Avenue Gas Station Site Needs a Tuneup, Landmarks Decides [Eagle]
Landmarks Commission Not Ready to Approve New Building at 112 Atlantic Avenue [NYY]
112 Atlantic Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Rendering by BKSK Architects via NYY

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Developer Lonicera Partners and PKSB Architects are planning to build a modern-style two-story retail building in a landmarked area of Cobble Hill. The architects will reveal the design for 178 Court Street at a community board meeting December 4, DNAinfo reported.

Plans filed with the DOB call for a 30-foot-high building with 5,454 square feet of space. The building will entirely cover the lot, which is approximately 50 feet by 56 feet.

Lonicera Partners bought the empty lot in August for $1,733,334. If plans are approved quickly, the developers hope to start construction early next year and finish in nine months, an exec with the developer told DNA.

What would you like to see go in here?

Two-Story Retail Center Proposed for Court Street in Cobble Hill [DNA]
Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

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Crown Heights’ oldest home, a mid-19th century wood frame at 1375 Dean Street known as the Susan B. Elkins House, has a new owner, who plans to fix it up and convert it to condos. Community Board 8′s Land Use Committee last night approved Amber Mazor of Perfect Renovation‘s plan to build five two- and three-bedroom condo units inside the house. He plans to fully restore the exterior of the landmarked building to its 1939 tax photo condition, including the balcony, windows and doors, and replace much of the crumbling wood structure with non-combustible material.

The project’s architect, Richard Goodstein of Crown Heights-based NC2 Architecture, explained that the house will get a three-story addition on the back that isn’t visible from the street. The addition will have a glass rear wall and a stucco finish on the sides that matches the existing walls and masonry. Each unit will have a large terrace in the back and open plan kitchen, living and dining rooms. A rear quadrant of the roof will also be removed for a roof terrace.

The home, which is almost a cube, has a hidden half story and a pyramid-shaped roof that is not visible from the street. (The house measures 40 feet wide by 35 feet deep by 33 feet high, according to public records.) “We wanted to design the extension to be purely geometric but in deference to the original building,” said Goodstein. “Undoubtedly, it’s a departure in style. But as architects and designers, we felt that this was more correct.”

The LPC will consider the proposal in a month or two.

Mazor also owns 1372 Dean across the street, which he’s converting to four condos. Work will begin soon on the project, which recently got its alteration permits and received Landmarks’ stamp of approval earlier this year. Mazor bought the property for $1,320,000 in 2013. 

A contract (not a deed) for the sale of the Elkins house to Mazor for was recorded in April. No price is recorded.

The Elkins house has been deteriorating since the early 1980s, and it has been vandalized. The previous owner, Real Properties, paid $194,000 for it in 2011 and promised to restore the exterior and convert it to apartments. That never happened. Instead, the firm gutted what was left of the interior and was sanctioned by Community Board 8 for “demo by neglect” when gaping holes appeared in the roof. Then the firm put it on the market for $1,100,000.

It’s “essentially a ruin right now,” said Goodstein.

Oldest House in Crown Heights North Now More Ruined and Expensive Than Ever [Brownstoner]
1375 Dean Street Coverage [Brownstoner]

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Neighbors on a landmarked block of Prospect Heights are fighting to preserve their interior green space — a concept that has come to be known as the “green doughnut” — from intrusion by a proposed extension at 203 Prospect Place. They have gathered more than 70 signatures on a petition against the two-story tiered extension, which would measure 21 feet deep by 20 feet wide at its biggest points, according to one of the neighbors.

“The addition would jut out into the historic ‘garden core’ and block light and views from neighboring properties,” our tipster said. Above, a photo of the backyard green space sent in by a local.

The proposal did not pass at the Community Board 8 meeting October 9. It goes up in front of the Landmarks Preservation Commission Tuesday, November 18.

The attached brownstone row house at No. 203 was designed by Eastman & Daus in the Neo-Grec style and built in 1885, according to the note in the LPC calendar. The hearing is for more than just the rear yard addition. The owners also wish to “alter the front areaway.”

We have reached out to the architects on the project, but have not yet heard back from them. We’ll update the story if we do.