Newly appointed Chairman of the City Council’s Land Use Committee, Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield, who represents Bensonhurst, Borough Park, and Midwood, came out against landmarking Thursday, saying it reduces affordable housing, Crain’s reported.
“None of us exists in a vacuum,” he said to Robert Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, at a hearing. “In the grand scheme of the city we are very focused on affordable housing … those are two competing interests.”
As of March 2013, 2 percent of the city is protected by landmarking, according to the story, which cited a Wall Street Journal report.
At the same event, Brooklyn Council Member Jumaane Williams also called for a slow down in landmarking, saying the lack of affordable housing in historic districts is “appalling.”
We respectfully disagree: Continuing to protect the city’s architectural heritage is not at odds with the Mayor’s laudable effort to increase affordable housing. Merely limiting landmarking will do nothing to increase affordable housing, as development in non-landmarked areas of Brooklyn such as Williamsburg and 4th Avenue has shown. We call on Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to step up the pace of landmarking in Brooklyn, particularly in Bedford Stuyvesant, an architecturally remarkable but largely unprotected area where developers have become very active lately.
If the proposed areas up before Landmarks were to be landmarked today there would still be huge sections of these neighborhoods where new affordable housing can be built, as well as many other means of increasing affordable housing in Brooklyn. It’s not a zero-sum game. Great architecture should be preserved for all to enjoy.
Brooklyn is transforming from the borough of churches into the borough of condos. Yet another church property is up for sale as a development site, this one at 519 Vanderbilt Avenue, BuzzBuzzHome reported.
The prominent Clinton Hill Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew, where Tish James has been known to attend services, is asking $8,600,000 for its excess FAR. It’s not clear if the offer includes the church or not, but it does include a parking lot and rectory that wrap around the church. The Halstead listing says: “The Church itself is landmarked and will NOT be demolished. Can be sold for development or as transferable air rights.”
The Romanesque Revival church was built in 1891 and designed by John Welch, according to Wikipedia. Its address is 520 Clinton Avenue. In 2012, an arson fire damaged the church, which was used as a homeless shelter and hub for Occupy Sandy relief efforts.
The development property, just down the street from Atlantic Avenue and the Atlantic Yards rail site, has 100 feet of frontage on Vanderbilt and a total of 43,000 buildable square feet.
Update: We heard from the agent, who said the church “is absolutely NOT for sale. The church remains in place and the active congregation remains.” They are looking to sell their FAR, which can be sold as air rights and transferred to a nearby site. Or the FAR can be sold in the form of land on the Vanderbilt side of the site, she told us. (more…)
If you’re ever wondered what the interior of Bushwick’s landmarked Cook Mansion looks like, we have the answer. Bushwick Daily spotted this one-bedroom for rent on Craigslist last week and surprisingly, the ad is still up.
Well, the 546-square-foot pad at 670 Bushwick Avenue (on the corner of Willoughby) has been completely gutted and looks like any new (or not so new) rental. It’s on the second floor with a balcony — presumably the one over the front door. There is baseboard heating, replacement floors, vinyl flooring in the kitchen, and what looks to be plenty of drywall. On the plus side, the replacement doors are solid wood and there seems to be tons of windows and light all around.
Also known as the Catherina Lipsius House, the American Round Arch style mansion was completed in 1890 and commissioned by Catherina, who owned the Claus Lipsius Brewing Company. It’s right next to KFC and the elevated track, and down the street from two apartment buildings under construction. Wonder how loud the train is.
Click through the jump to see a few more photos of the apartment.
As REBNY fights landmarking across the city, The New York Times looked at the arguments pro and con for landmarking the proposed Bedford Historic District in Bed Stuy. For those who’ve been following the landmarking fight all along, there isn’t anything new here. But there are some fantastic quotes from our columnist Montrose Morris and reader and preservationist Claudette Brady, a founder of the Bedford Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation.
“Bedford Stuyvesant is a hard-working community of proud people who, when the city and government failed them, took back the streets, one block at a time,” said preservationist and Montrose Morris columnist Suzanne Spellen. “We swept our sidewalks, planted flowers in our yards and watched everyone else’s children as if they were our own. Landmarking is an affirmation of that struggle, a reward for holding on tight to something of great value, and that is this remarkable community of brick and mortar, tradition and pride, flesh and bone. It will protect what has been preserved for the last 150 years so that it can be handed down for those who will come after us, without the dangers of overdevelopment or arbitrary tear-downs and alterations.”
Those quoted against it say it will usher in gentrification and force renters and owners to move because they won’t be able to afford to maintain their buildings. Yet Crown Heights and other parts of Bed Stuy were landmarked by enthusiastic black homeowners well before gentrification, which has now arrived in the not landmarked Bedford area with a vengeance. Now that gentrification is here, we would argue that landmarking is needed even more urgently. Developers — who have been fighting landmarking as far back as the late 1950s in Brooklyn Heights — are putting up inappropriate buildings and Fedders specials in formerly pristine blocks.
In fact, this section is arguably the most architecturally significant in Bed Stuy. (Above, a few houses on Halsey Street close to the famed Alhambra Apartments.) If Stuyvevsant Heights and Park Slope deserve landmarking, then this area is even more worthy, in our opinion. In fact, we can’t understand why it wasn’t landmarked first.
It appears the townhouse at 149 Bergen — the one with the controversial backyard addition that helped introduce the term “green doughnut” — didn’t sell last year and now it’s back on the market. The price is slightly higher and the interior has been reconfigured, according to the listing.
The listing mentions the extension and now has a floor plan on which it is clearly shown. Besides doubling the space of the formerly tiny house, the remodel brought light into the first floor with a skylight over the stair, and the owner’s triplex has a double height living room.
The broker is one of the owners. The ask is $4,600,000. Think they’ll get it now? If they do, it could set a record for Boerum Hill.
Plans for a Wyckoff House Visitors Center have been in the works for two years, and yesterday the Parks Department filed an application for a new building. The plan calls for a two-story visitors center and caretaker apartment at 5914 Clarendon Road next to the Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House, the city’s oldest structure and now a museum.
As we reported in March, nArchitects is designing the 4,780-square-foot building, which is strategically placed to shield the 17th-century house from the street. The strikingly modern building will house museum activities and displays, event space and administrative offices. GMAP
An anonymous urban explorer sent us these photos of his trip inside the landmarked but dilapidated Coignet building at 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street, which Whole Foods is supposed to begin restoring soon. The organic food giant had promised to finish restoring the building before it opened its doors in Gowanus, but construction may have further damaged it. The Landmarks Preservation Commission fined Whole Foods $3,000 in December for failing to maintain the property.
When we stopped by last month, the building was open to the elements, with broken windows accessible on the ground floor and what looked like new structural cracks at the base of the building.
Here’s the explorer’s description of the interior:
“For the most part the interior is characterless in terms of details and finishes, but it’s really neglected, which isn’t justified for it being such a badass New York City landmark. There’s a pretty cool spiral staircase that goes from the basement to the second floor and in the basement there’s a walk-in vault. For some reason I spent most of my time down there — a combination of incredible low light and the feeling like it was the only part that didn’t have a cheap 1950′s renovation. Didn’t Whole Foods make a deal whereby they can straddle the shit out of the Coignet Building as long as they help to restore it? Some of the floors and parts of the staircase are collapsing from water damage so clearly something needs to be done. I would hate to see this follow in the footsteps of Admiral’s Row.”
Click through the jump for the rest of the photos!
It looks like the crumbling but landmarked Coignet building may finally be getting some love.
In December, the city approved new permits for Whole Foods to restore the building at 360 3rd Avenue. The permit, filed on October 11 and approved on December 3, outlines plans to “renovate building facade, repair, replacement and repointing cast stones wall, reconstruct stairs, install new windows and doors as shown on drawings.”
In early December, neighborhood residents complained to the city that construction of the new grocery store had damaged the landmark. On December 20, the Landmarks Preservation Commission fined Whole Foods $3,000 for failure to maintain the property, The Brooklyn Paper reported at the time. Although Whole Foods does not own the building, it promised to restore and stabilize the exterior in exchange for being able to build its store on the landmark property.
A year earlier, Whole Foods had said it planned to finish the building restoration before it opened its new store.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted yesterday to designate the 88th Precinct Station House in Clinton Hill a landmark. The Romanesque Revival structure at 298 Classon Avenue is 123 years old and was designed by George Ingram, the architect of several Brooklyn police stations.
The Swiss chalet style house at 100 Rugby Road that was a Building of the Day in 2011 is on the market for $2,275,000, as Curbed was the first to note. The Prospect Park South home was designed by John J. Petit and built in 1900. The landmarked house still has some of its original interior details such as mantels and inlaid floors. It has a two-car garage. The ask makes it one of the most expensive properties in the area.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote tomorrow on landmarking the Romanesque Revival style 88th Police Precinct Station House in Clinton Hill, according to its agenda. Originally Brooklyn’s 4th Precinct, the red brick building at 298 Classon Avenue was built in 1890.
Community Board 2 voted against landmarking the building until the NYPD constructs a new home for the precinct, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported at the time. The building’s architect, George Ingram, designed six or seven precinct houses in Brooklyn, all of which look like castles, as our columnist Montrose Morris has noted.
The full City Council Thursday approved the proposal championed by outgoing Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz to turn Childs restaurant into an entertainment complex and public park. The $53,000,000 project, now called the Seaside Park and Community Art Center, will involve restoring the landmarked facade and building a 5,000 seat amphitheater, park and playground.
“By restoring this iconic section of the Boardwalk, Coney Island’s revitalization will continue, providing multiple cultural and educational benefits, as well as economic and residential advantages,” said the owner of the complex, iStar Financial, in an emailed statement.
Coney Island’s Community Board 13 voted against the plan, although their land use committee was in favor. The Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously supports it.