251 12th Street, 12th St. Reformed Church, KL, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Built as the Twelfth Street Reformed Church, now the Park Slope Community Church (Baptist)
Address: 251 12th Street
Cross Streets: 4th and 5th Avenues
Neighborhood: South Slope
Year Built: 1869
Architectural Style: Rundbogenstil Romanesque Revival
Architect: Gamaliel King
Other buildings by architect: Brooklyn City (now Borough) Hall, St. Paul’s Church in Cobble Hill, Kings County Savings Bank, Williamsburg (with Wm H. Willcox). Demolished – Kings County Courthouse
Landmarked: No

The story: In 1840, members of the South Reformed Dutch Church, located in Gowanus, at 43rd and 3rd, met to discuss dividing the church into two different churches, with a new church in the northern part of what was then called South Brooklyn. Among those advocating starting the new church were members of the Bergen and Van Nostrand families. There would be 40 new members splitting off, in all, in an amicable division. They called the new congregation The North Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Gowanus. They bought a plot of land on 3rd Avenue, between 20th and 21st Streets, and built a church. For several years, both shared the same pastor, the Rev. S. M. Woodbridge.

In 1851, the hierarchy of the Reformed Church formally separated the two churches and North Reformed got their own minister. A few years later, in 1856, a yellow fever epidemic struck Brooklyn and decimated the population of the older South Church. Many of them joined North Reformed. They needed a new building. Funds were raised, and the congregation purchased another plot of land, this one on 12th Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenues. (more…)

194-ralph-avenue-102414

A small spot called T Roc Homestyle Cooking has just opened at 194 Ralph Avenue between Decatur and MacDonough in Bed Stuy, half a block down from Burger & Brew. They are serving breakfast, lunch and dinner for eating in or takeout. Menu items include burgers, philly cheesesteaks, grilled cheese, pancakes, eggs, and egg with bacon or sausage sandwiches. GMAP

Seney Hospital, NY Methodist Hosp. composite

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

Park Slope’s New York Methodist Hospital is much in the news nowadays due to its plans to demolish the row houses and apartment buildings it owns in order to expand its hospital and clinic facilities. But how did Methodist end up being in Park Slope in the first place? Well, there is quite a difference between today’s modern hospital and the buildings that made up the original complex. There is even a difference in the name; Methodist Hospital was built as the Seney Hospital. It was founded by a man of great philanthropy and generosity named George Ingraham Seney.

George Seney was the son of a Methodist preacher. He began his professional career as a bank teller at the Metropolitan National Bank of New York. In 1855 he was promoted to cashier, a management position, and by 1877, he was president of the bank. He was also an astute stock investor, and actually made the bulk of his considerable fortune by investing in railroads. When one of his companies, the lucrative New York-Chicago-St. Louis Railroad was sold to the Vanderbilts, he had more money than most people could imagine. (more…)

flatbush-avenue-072914

The zoning review that Community Board 9 asked City Planning to conduct of parts of Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Crown Heights is going forward after a failed attempt to rescind it at a community board meeting last month. The zoning review covers half of District 9, including Flatbush Avenue, pictured above, where a 23-story development is rising as-of-right, and Empire Boulevard, some blocks of which are currently zoned only for commercial and not residential, Laura Imperiale, first vice chair of Community Board 9, told us.

At issue is limiting high-rise development to preserve the character and affordability of the neighborhood. A number of community groups, including PPEN, have called for limits on high-rise development in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Community group MTOPP opposes both high-rise development and any rezoning of Empire Boulevard.

The board conducted several meetings with community groups and had a community listening session in March, consolidated the comments, created a resolution requesting a study, and sent in the request to City Planning in March. After that, there was one meeting of the community board and City Planning. Now the board is waiting for City Planning to conduct the study, said Imperiale. The board would have liked a broader study of the entire district, but the city said it did not have the resources, and “we only get so many bites at the apple for this,” she said.

The resolution, which has been posted on CB9′s website, asked for zoning to preserve the “existing character of the neighborhood,” specifically to “prevent/limit of context i.e. high-rise development in the R7-1 zoned areas of the district.” It also asked for “opportunities for affordable housing development” to “protect residents from displacement” and “identify areas for inclusionary zoning.” It requested increased density along transit and commercial corridors, and specifically asked that Empire Boulevard be rezoned to permit residential development — “allow contextual mixed-use developments along commercial corridors, including Empire Boulevard.”

MTOPP disrupted last month’s community board meeting and passed a resolution calling for the zoning study request to be rescinded, but then it turned out the resolution had not been passed after all. They also sued the board to get a copy of the board’s bylaws, which are also now posted on the board’s website.  

The zoning study is not on the agenda of the next board meeting, but Imperiale said she expects MTOPP to bring it up anyway. 

She also expects City Planning will hold community forums about District 9 zoning in the coming year, she said. Any events will be posted on the Community Board 9 website in advance.

Chaos at Community Board 9 Meeting on Empire Boulevard Rezoning Tuesday [Brownstoner]

33 Lincoln Road3

Construction is moving along at the eight-story, 87 unit apartment building at 33 Lincoln Road in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. The site is a long L-shaped lot that abuts the B/Q/S tracks and faces both Lincoln Road and Flatbush Avenue. The image above is from the Flatbush side of the development where foundation work is under way.

The building is being developed by Anderson Associates and had faced delays because of issues with obtaining financing through the city Housing Development Corporation’s New Opportunities Program. Now it is being funded by private investment. However 20 percent of the units will still be set aside for those making a maximum of 60 percent of the area median income.

Construction should be complete by April of 2015. Construction is expected to wrap in fall 2015, according to the sign on the construction fence. Click through for a rendering and more images.

New Round of Permits Issued for PLG Affordable Build [Brownstoner]
PLG Affordable Build is Waiting for Funding [Brownstoner]
Work in Progress on Lincoln Road in Prospect Lefferts Gardens [Curbed] GMAP (more…)

After years of legal and financial woes, New York City’s last public bath building, completed in 1910, has been snapped up at auction by developer Greystone for $7,600,000, DNAinfo reported. Landmarked in 1982, the building at 227 4th Avenue has in recent years been used as a private arts, events and community space known as the Lyceum.

Greystone told DNAinfo it would not comment on its plans for the building until the close of the sale in 60 days. There are windows all around so apartments would be possible, but the entire space is only 12,200 square feet inside. The building’s FAR would allow a total of 33,060 square feet on the site, but its landmark status is likely to prevent any additions. The developer could carve out 10 or so luxury condos, but unless Landmarks allows a modern addition on the roof, our guess is it will become a mall, office space, or a big box store.

A lien for $5.05 million led to the foreclosure sale, Here’s Park Slope reported earlier this week.

The photo of the building partly shrouded in netting in 2012, above, does not show the Renaissance Revival building’s elaborate terra cotta detail, which includes dolphins, urns of flowing water, and images of Triton, the father of the sea-god Poseidon. It was designed by architect Raymond F. Almirall.

What would you like to see in this space?

Developer Buys Landmarked Brooklyn Lyceum for $7.6M at Foreclosure Auction [DNA] GMAP
Brooklyn Lyceum in Foreclosure, Being Auctioned Today [Here's Park Slope]
Lyceum Coverage [Brownstoner]

537 Sackett St, KL, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Majestic Quality Products Company Factory and Warehouse
Address: 537 Sackett Street
Cross Streets: Corner of Nevins Street
Neighborhood: Gowanus
Year Built: around 1950
Architectural Style: Industrial Moderne
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No, but part of proposed National Register of Historic Places Gowanus Industrial District.

The story: We get so many products from all over the world now, especially from China, so it’s hard to imagine where the things we put in our homes are made. If we were living in the 1950s, and we wanted lighting fixtures for our homes, we might have purchased them from a company like Majestic Quality Products, which had its factory right here in Brooklyn, at 537 Sackett Street, in Gowanus. (more…)

142 A Hull StreetCombo

This little two-family at 142 A Hull Street has been unfortunately over-renovated to our way of thinking, but even so it appears to be in move-in condition with a relatively low price tag for Brooklyn these days.

It’s set up as a top-floor rental over a three-bedroom duplex. The facade is mostly intact and we like the quirky offset window and the Neo-Grec detail.

The house is located in Ocean Hill close to the Broadway Junction subway station. The ask is $719,000. Do you think it might make a good investment property?

142 A Hull Street [Halstead] GMAP

37 3rd Place Combo

The best thing about this garden apartment in Carroll Gardens is that it’s in an impressive Second Empire townhouse (the one on the left). Unfortunately, with the exception of the tin ceiling in the bedroom, it lacks the details one would hope for in a building like this. And it is narrow — the building is only 16.5 feet wide.

Nonetheless, the unit has wood floors throughout and central A/C. The railroad layout is a little awkward — the kitchen is off the bedroom rather than near the living room or the den. Small pets are allowed. It’s not clear if tenants have access to the garden just outside the kitchen window. The building was a House of the Day back in March of 2013 when it was on the market for $2,995,000.

These days $2,400 a month for a place like this doesn’t seem outrageous for Carroll Gardens. What do you think?

37 3rd Place, Garden Unit [Patricia Mones] GMAP

macon-street-stoops-102314

Did anyone catch this essay in The New York Daily News, called “Goodbye, My Bed Stuy”? The writer, a black man who grew up in Bed Stuy and is a journalism professor at Brooklyn College, laments the growing number of whites moving into Bed Stuy and the rising rents, which are pricing out longtime black renters in the neighborhood.

He mentions that Bed Stuy is mostly townhouses, which means most units aren’t rent regulated. He also says part of the problem is investors who are purchasing homes “as bundles.” We haven’t heard of that, but we think he is referring to investors buying townhouses in the area to rent out. (Incidentally, a building he mentions as an example of landlord harassment is in Crown Heights, not Bed Stuy.)

What do you think of the essay?

Dyker Heights 1897 BE Ad

As most people know by now, the city of Brooklyn developed from the six original towns settled by the Dutch, or in the case of Gravesend, the English, in the mid-1600s. Using their English names, they were Brooklyn, Bushwick, New Utrecht, Flatbush, Gravesend and Flatlands. England took over the whole thing soon afterward, calling the territory Kings County. Over the course of the next two hundred years, those towns grew to encompass smaller villages, adjacent cities like Williamsburg and Ridgewood, and stretched and moved around to become the boundaries of Brooklyn that we know today.

As the city grew, those separate towns, which once had space between them, grew closer and closer to each other, as farms and estates became streets and plots. The city spread out in all directions out from the Brooklyn Heights shoreline, as roads and public transportation made it easier and easier for people in the outlying areas to be connected to Brooklyn’s piers, and on to jobs and markets in Manhattan. (more…)