The building at 70 Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights is in contract to be sold, and Brooklyn Heights Cinema will close August 27, theater owner Kenn Lowy told Brooklyn Heights Blog and DNAinfo. He plans to reopen in a new location in Dumbo, and is working on signing a lease there. He said he hopes to reopen in the new location in late September or early October.

The blog published a letter to customers Lowy planned to post last night: (more…)

292 court street cobble hill

A private Montessori school group is presenting its plans next week to alter the facade of a landmarked former movie theater at 292 Court Street in Cobble Hill. The school needs LPC approval to change the facade and “to install storefront infill, two barrier-free access ramps, a flag, a canopy, and an elevator bulkhead, “according to the LPC agendaCalifornia-based LePort Schools signed a lease in April for the 15,700-square-foot building, which includes an additional 6,000 square feet of rooftop and back terrace space, as we reported at the time.



The Bossert will not re-open as a hotel until 2015. “Clipper Equity is excited to open a fully renovated and modernized world-class hotel in Brooklyn Heights by early next year,” a spokesman for owner David Bistricer told The Brooklyn Eagle in a written statement. The opening date has been moved at least twice, with the most recent date spring 2014. (more…)

259 decatur street bed stuy 32014

We were surprised and delighted to hear Australian investment firm Dixon plans to restore the unusually lavish but far-gone limestone at 259 Decatur Street in Bed Stuy, an estate sale and a flip that was boarded up and open to the elements for decades. The landmarked 1895 Renaissance Revival house was designed by architects Axel Hedman and Magnus Dahlander.

“We will be preserving and restoring this house back to the grand beautiful one-family that it once was,” Managing Director and CEO of Dixon Leasing Alan Dixon told us. “We have yet to appoint an external architect but our preliminary plans will create a four-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom single family residence over some 4,423 square feet. None of the original beautiful fabric of the house will be lost and it will be restored to its former glory.”

We have to give them props for taking on a project that does not look easy. When we toured the house, every level appeared to have some kind of water damage, and the floor of the dining room on the garden level bounced when someone walked by in the hallway. There is much spectacular detail to preserve, including an elaborate entry, a church-like middle parlor, a built-in icebox and quirky shelves in the butler’s passthrough, and a stained glass window in an upper-floor bathroom.

After an LLC bought it for $875,000 from an estate in February, it was on the market asking $1,699,000 all cash or at least 40 percent down. Dixon closed in May for $1,650,000.

We also noticed Dixon has started work at 605 Decatur, a small single-family house that was also in very poor condition but with a lot of detail when Dixon bought it last year. When we passed by last week, there was a construction fence up around the property and a Dumpster outside.

For those of you keeping score at home, Dixon now owns a total of 73 properties in Brooklyn, including 29 in Bed Stuy, 11 in Crown Heights, 10 in Bushwick and eight in Park Slope. More will be coming on the rental market soon.

Click through to the jump to see the preliminary restoration plans and photos of the interior from our visit.



As part of its ongoing effort to preserve Sunset Park’s historic homes, the Sunset Park Landmarks Committee recently submitted its Request for Evaluation to the Landmarks Preservation Committee, the first application in the landmarking process. “We’ve had an amazing year in our community, finding so much support for a historic district, from residents, community organizations, our community board, our councilman, our state assemblyman, and our congresswoman,” the committee’s Lynn Massimo told us. “We’re hoping the wheels will turn quickly and we’ll get a historic district soon, though we know it’s slow process.”

In the meantime, the group is also giving one of its walking tours of the area on Sunday, June 22. The website copy reads: “Tour the heart of Sunset Park. Learn how Sunset Park’s history makes it special and wonderfully different from other Brownstone Brooklyn nabes. Learn about how its built environment shaped Sunset Park: from the history of Bush Terminal, the 4th Avenue subway, and the first coops in the U.S. in the early 1900s, to the Section 8 housing of the 1970s, which stabilized the neighborhood and helped it transition out of blight.” Above, houses on 59th Street between 4th and 5th avenues in Sunset Park.

The tour starts at 10 am. For tickets or more information, please check the group’s website.

Photo via Sunset Park Landmarks Committee


The former coffee warehouses at Empire Stores will have a rooftop beer garden and an upscale restaurant, the Brooklyn Eagle reported. There’s a French brasserie slated for the ground floor, and developer Midtown Equities is in talks with a few well-known chefs who might open two other eateries in the huge brick building. Leases are out for all three food businesses, but they haven’t been signed yet. Ground-floor restaurants will face Brooklyn Bridge Park and its iconic views of the bridges and Manhattan. On the Water Street side, Midtown Equities is negotiating space with a yoga studio and a gym.

When construction on the landmark building finishes, Empire Stores will offer 430,000 feet of rentable space — 150,000 square feet of which has already been taken by furniture retailer West Elm and fancy coffee shop La Colombe. And the asking rents are high, even by Dumbo standards. Midtown Equities wants $90 per square foot for office space in a glass-faced rooftop addition, $65 a square foot on other floors, $150 a square foot on the ground floor facing the park, and $125 for the ground floor retail space facing Water Street, the Real Deal reported last year.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry – in Empire Stores’ Rooftop Beer Garden [Brooklyn Eagle]


The Mayor plans to nominate an urban planner to head the Landmarks Preservation Commission, a move that is seen as friendly to developers and the mayor’s pro-development agenda, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal. Architect Meenakshi Srinivasan has been chairwoman of the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals for about a decade, where she oversaw a department that grants exemptions in zoning.

Under her watch, the agency ruled to allow the oversize building at 1882 East 12th Street in Homecrest to stand. (The Department of Buildings subsequently ordered it torn down, and the architect is no longer permitted to self-certify.) Srinivasan, who is from India, also worked at the Department of City Planning for 14 years.

The Real Estate Board of New York, an industry association that has blamed landmarking for high real estate costs in New York City, said it was pleased with de Blasio’s choice. REBNY President Steven Spinola also said the landmarking process “has no structure” and “lacks transparency,” the Journal said.

The nomination will be announced today. It is not a done deal but requires approval from the City Council.

What do you think of the Mayor’s choice?

Mayor to Appoint Head of Landmarks [WSJ]


One of the first of a recent spate of new townhouses in Brooklyn designed in a traditional style is finishing up at 67 Greene Avenue in Fort Greene. When we stopped by, workers were busy completing the interior of the garden level.

The architect is  Rachel Frankel, who is also handling the reconstruction of the wood frame houses at 578 and 580 Carlton Avenue in Prospect Heights. All three had to pass muster with Landmarks.

This one will be a two-family. Click through to the jump to see the rendering posted on the construction fence. How do you like the way it looks so far?

New Townhouse Finally Under Construction at 67 Greene Avenue [Brownstoner] GMAP (more…)

We found drawings posted to the fence for the complete restoration of the two houses at 578 and 580 Carlton Avenue in Prospect Heights that architect Rachel Frankel is handling. As you may recall, a developer bungled the renovation of 580, causing the dilapidated wood frame at 578 to collapse. Both landmarked homes were reduced to facades and put in braces last year.

Now 578 is getting a completely new three-story house and 580 has approved permits for a two-story addition and rehabilitation of the existing structure. Frankel is known for designing new buildings that look historically correct. Click through the jump to see a schematic and how the building site looks now.