500 State St, NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Our neighborhoods evolve over time, and a building built for one use can be repurposed for something the builders never would have imagined.

Name: Row houses, then funeral parlor, now Zen temple
Address: 500 State Street
Cross Streets: Nevins Street and 3rd Avenue
Neighborhood: Boerum Hill
Year Built: Probably 1850s
Architectural Style: Originally Anglo-Italianate
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The architecture
Boerum Hill is one of Brooklyn’s older row house neighborhoods. The houses on these blocks represent development taking place from the 1840s until about 1870.

492-500 State Street — originally a group of five 15 foot wide houses — was probably built in the late 1850s to early 1860s, when the Anglo-Italianate style of architecture had a brief popularity.

These were the first “English basement” houses, with low stoops, leading into an ornate reception area and the central stairs. The kitchen and mechanicals were also down here behind closed doors. Guests would go upstairs to the parlor level. Above that were the bedrooms floors and private parlors.

498 and 500 State Street were combined in 1924 to create the State Street Chapel. Up until the early decades of the 20th century, funerals were generally held at home.



OUT OF A 1930s WAREHOUSE on a commercial block between Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill, architect Ben Herzog and Brooklyn-based interior designer Kiki Dennis conjured a family home that’s both fun and functional.

The homeowners, a couple with three young kids, had lived in the 25-foot-wide, three-story building for years. However, the “functional lifestyle things were not working for them,” Dennis recalled. The answer was a total renovation. (more…)


Boerum Hill is a little less buttoned down now, thanks to the Jerkface street art adorning what will soon be designer Steven Alan’s third shop on the corner of Atlantic and Hoyt Street in Boerum Hill. Steven Alan Optical, the company’s first standalone eyewear store, plans to open Thursday in a former garage at 83 Hoyt Street, behind the Atlantic Avenue women’s store.

Until now, eyewear occupied a corner in some of the clothing shops.  (more…)

495 Pacific Street1

This two-bedroom apartment in a former carriage house at 495 Pacific Street in Boerum Hill has hardwood floors, original moldings and a working fireplace. A spiral staircase leads up to a private roof deck.

According to the listing the apartment is 1,000 square feet — large for a two bedroom. Cats are allowed.

The house is near Pacific Street and 3rd Avenue. It’s not the most quiet location, but close to BAM, Barclays Center, just about every subway line in the city and plenty of restaurants, shops and more.

What do you think of it for $3,750 a month?

495 Pacific Street, #2 [Corcoran] GMAP
Interior photos by Corocran, exterior photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark



A big and ambitious development going up in Boreum Hill, the hotel-condo complex at 265 State Street known as The Boerum, is up to the second story. When we last stopped by in December, the foundation was being poured for the 21-story tower.

Sales launched the same month, with asking prices ranging from $800,000 to $4,250,000. Now 100 of the 128 units are in contract, a spokesperson for the developer told us. (StreetEasy shows nine apartments available out of 107 on the market.)

Designed by Flank, the luxury development will have large apartments with as many as five bedrooms, but no studios, as we have reported. The facade design mixes brick and glass, and the brick divisions appear to weave over and under each other. See below for a previously published rendering of how it will look when complete.

A hotel will occupy the first six floors of the building, which also goes by the alternate addresses 140 Schermerhorn Street and 71 Smith Street. Flank and the Carlyle Group are the developers. Click through to see lots more photos.

265 State Street Coverage [Brownstoner]
71 Smith Street Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP (more…)

Gowanus Houses Baby Buggy Brigade, composite 1

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

Debates over the placement and cost of public housing are as ingrained in our city’s history as the buildings that surround us. Tenements and the abysmal conditions of our poorest areas were hot topics in the 19th century, and are still hot topics now.

Through hard fought reform, by the very beginning of the 20th century, tenants of these buildings were required by law to have indoor bathroom facilities, running water, fresh air and light. The fact that some thought providing those necessities was giving too much shows how we’ve progressed.

By the time the 1930s rolled in, the lack of quality affordable housing in our city was a dire situation, made much worse by the Great Depression. The need for government-financed public housing was clear.

In 1934, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) was established. The Authority’s first project was called, appropriately, First Houses, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

The first federally funded Brooklyn project was the Williamsburg Houses, completed in 1938. The Red Hook projects were the first to be funded with state money, through NYCHA. They were built in 1938-39. (more…)

38 Wyckoff Street

This two-bedroom condo for rent at 38 Wyckoff Street in Boerum Hill is not huge, but it does offer two proper bedrooms as well as a wood-burning fireplace, a washer/dryer in the unit, and its own private roof area.

It has been renovated, and the kitchen is open to the combined living and dining area. What do you think of it for $3,595 a month?

38 Wyckoff Street, #3R [Corcoran] GMAP


241 Dean Street

This one-bedroom apartment on the second floor of a Boerum Hill brick row house has two decorative marble fireplaces. There is a second room off the master bedroom which the listing says could be used as a home office. The unit also has two large walk-in closets.

The downside? The kitchen appears to be tiny and lacking counter space. Heat and hot water is included. What do you think of it for $2,700 a month?

241 Dean Street, #3 [Corcoran] GMAP
Interior photos by Corcoran, exterior photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark



The Atlantic Galleria mini mall at 252 Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill has reached its full height. Insulation and cladding are going on in preparation for the glassy facade, which comes next. Click through for a close-up and updated rendering.

Crafts store Michaels, TD Bank and Blink Fitness are the tenants so far, as reported previously. Renaissance Realty Group is the developer and SBLM Architects is the designer.

After years of no action, the foundation was dug in December and the frame started rising in January. This site has been a long time in development — we reported back in 2007 that it was going to be an apartment building!

252 Atlantic Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP
Rendering by SBLM Architects


A lot of townhouses in Boerum Hill seem to be on the market lately, and here’s another. It has some very pretty details in the parlor, although we’re underwhelmed by the kitchen and the bedrooms. Still, it all looks to be in very good condition and very liveable. The yard is also nicely landscaped.

It’s set up as a rental apartment over an owner’s duplex. The windows are new.

It’s a little less expensive than some of the Boerum Hill listings we’ve been seeing lately. What do you think of it and the ask of $2,795,000?

213 1/2 Bergen Street [Corcoran] GMAP (more…)

173 Smith St. J. Kurtz, NS, PS 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former J. Kurtz & Sons store, now Wyckoff House Condominium
Address: 169-173 Smith Street
Cross Streets: Corner Wyckoff Street
Neighborhood: Boerum Hill
Year Built: 1901-1902
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Albert Ullrich (often spelled Ulrich)
Other works by architect: Row houses in Park Slope, Clinton Hill, Prospect Lefferts Gardens and elsewhere in Brooklyn. Also churches, houses and other buildings in Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Dallas.
Landmarked: No

The story: Jacob and Gittle Kurtz came to America in 1867, settling in New York and then Brooklyn. In 1870, they opened a small store at 175 Smith Street, selling furniture, rugs and carpets and other home furnishings. They were extremely successful and over the years expanded into the storefronts of 169, 171 and 173 Smith Street.

The company celebrated its 17th anniversary with a large picnic at Ulmer Park in Bath Beach. By this time, J. Kurtz & Sons had added women’s clothing to their line of goods and expanded to a second store, at 773-781 Broadway in Bushwick. Both stores had annexes as well — the Smith Street location had its annex at 82-90 Wyckoff Street, around the corner.

The Kurtzes’ family expanded alongside their company — they had a daughter and six sons, three of whom would go on to work in the family business.

Then in 1901, disaster struck. (more…)

90 Dean Street1

This Italianate in Boerum Hill is a little bigger than most, thanks to an extension on three floors. It has many pretty details with upgraded kitchens and baths, and looks to be in excellent condition, going by the photos.

There are four marble mantels, a triple parlor with elaborate crown molding, new floors, updated mechanicals and central air. It’s set up as a one-family.

It last sold for $2,270,000 in 2006, and looks like it’s been completely overhauled since then. It was an Open House Pick in 2006. Now the ask is $4,500,000. Do you think they’ll get it?

90 Dean Street [Elliman] GMAP
Photos by Elliman (more…)