04/15/14 11:30am

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Interior demolition has started at 144 Willow Street, a landmarked building in Brooklyn Heights that Jared Kushner purchased from Brooklyn Law School in February as part of a bigger $36,500,000 deal.

A crew of at least eight started work late last week, a tipster told us. He didn’t see any certificate of no exterior effect, required by Landmarks, he said, except on former Watchtower buildings, which deeds indicate this was not.

An Alt-2 permit filed this month indicates a renovation is planned for the apartments on the basement through the fourth floors.

Kushner plans to turn three of the buildings in the recently acquired portfolio back into single-family townhouses, as we reported last week, but this one will remain apartments.

04/14/14 9:00am

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A Brooklyn Heights brownstone overlooking the Promenade is asking $16,000,000. If 192 Columbia Heights sells for ask, it will set a record, as The New York Times was the first to point out. So far the record for a townhouse in the Heights is 70 Willow Street, where Truman Capote famously rented, which sold for $12,500,000 in 2012.

This place is 25 feet wide, five stories tall and has nearly 8,000 square feet of space. It is in move-in condition.

Now that prices in “emerging” Brooklyn have about doubled in the last few years, do you think prices in prime Brooklyn will recalibrate? What do you guess it will sell for?

A Townhouse Above the Brooklyn Heights Promenade Asks $16 Million [NY Times]
192 Columbia Heights Listing [Kevin J. Carberry Real Estate/Corcoran]
Photo by Scott Bintner for PropertyShark

Fulton Terminal,composite

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

Today’s Past and Present is a rare look at a Brooklyn none of us will see again. This is the Montague Street Slip, on the East River, below Brooklyn Heights. The photograph was taken in 1915, and shows a part of Brooklyn that is forever gone. This is part of the world of Brooklyn’s working waterfront, which once stretched from Greenpoint to Bay Ridge.

This area was the heart of Fulton Terminal, one of three dock terminals operated by the New York Dock Railway. The other two were the Baltic Terminal at the base of Baltic Street and the Atlantic Terminal, at the base of Commerce Street. Between all three terminals, the NY Dock owned the waterfront from Brooklyn Heights to the end of Red Hook. In addition to the piers, the company also owned the storehouses the stretched along the waterfront, a distance of two and a half miles. These were all brick storehouses with arched openings, similar to the Empire Stores and the Tobacco Warehouse on Water Street.

These stores and the piers had originally been owned by the Pierrepont, Clinton, Woodruff, McCormick, Robert, Prentis and other families whose names now grace our streets and institutions. These were the New England merchants who built Brooklyn in the early 19th century, making fortunes on the import and export of produce, grain, tobacco, sugar, coffee, leather, rubber and other commodities. For much of the 19th century, they operated as the Brooklyn Wharf and Warehouse Company. NY Dock bought the entire site in the largest bankruptcy sale in Brooklyn history, up to that point, in 1901, and began operation.

The Fulton Terminal was a floating dock terminal. It had a large wooden pier that held four tracks. These were used mostly as storage of railway cars. On both sides of the pier were the floating bridges. These piers floated on pontoons, although later the wooden piers were replaced by girder float bridges. These piers received the float cars that were pushed by tugboats.

The float cars were barges holding a railway car on a track. The cars came from New Jersey and the Bronx, and were floated across the water and eased between the floating bridges, where the cars would be lifted from the barges and placed on the pier’s railroad tracks, and on to nearby warehouses for loading or unloading. The railway cars then made the land trip to their other destinations across the country. It was a very efficient system; a rail car could be loaded and unloaded in a short amount of time.

By the teens, subway tunnels were being built underneath the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn Heights, and construction of those tunnels necessitated a rebuilding of some of the NY Docks piers, specifically the Montague Street Slip, the pier located near the Montague Street to Wall Street ferry terminal. One of the subway tunnels was right under it. Our period photograph shows the pier under reconstruction. (more…)

04/10/14 4:00pm

The Municipal Art Society is hosting a walking tour of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights and Boerum Hill that will explore its history and the ethnic enclaves that settled there a hundred years ago. Local historian and genealogist Mary Ann DiNapoli will delve into the lives of various members of the Arab American community that moved to the neighborhood in the late 19th and early 20th century.

She’ll also discuss the foods and traditions that are unique to this time of year, and tour attendees will get to sample some wares from some of Atlantic’s wonderful Middle Eastern shops. The tour will take place this Saturday at 10 am. Tickets are $20, and you can purchase them through the MAS website.

Photo by Katia Kelly for Pardon Me for Asking

04/10/14 9:00am

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In an interesting twist, real estate mogul Jared Kushner is planning to turn three dorm buildings he bought from the Brooklyn Law School back into the single-family brownstones they once were. The three properties are 100 Pierrepont Street, pictured above, 38 Monroe Place and 27 Monroe Place in Brooklyn Heights, according to The Real Deal.

There is a high demand for “luxury townhouses” in the neighborhood, which sell for $,200 to $1,600 a square foot, said an associate broker at the Corcoran Group. “These would certainly be absorbed quickly,” she said.

Kushner picked them up along with three other dorms in February $36,500,000. The three other buildings will remain rentals.

This is almost as good as when Steve Jobs bought a Palo Alto bungalow for the purpose of razing it and turning the property back into an apricot orchard. As property values rise in Brooklyn, new townhouse development is on the rise and more owners are jettisoning rentals at the highest end of the market even as developers convert old townhouses into smaller condo units for other buyers.

Kushner to Convert Brooklyn Law Buildings to Mansions [TRD]
Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

04/09/14 12:59pm

If you’re the kind of person who fantasizes about sitting in front of a fireplace in your wood-paneled living room, you’ll want to pay attention to this one. This floor-through one-bedroom at 42 Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights has just hit the market with an asking price of $730,000. In addition to the old-school vibe, it’s also got a private deck off the back and a not-so-hot maintenance of $1,480 a month.

42 Remsen Street, #3 [Brown Harris Stevens] GMAP

04/08/14 12:57pm

You’re definitely paying for the views with this new listing at 214 Columbia Heights — but then again, the views are worth paying for. The two-bedroom floor-through apartment overlooks the promenade in Brooklyn Heights and has the kind of vintage vibe you’d expect from a house in this location. The maintenance is $1,250 and the asking price is $1,500,000.

214 Columbia Heights, #5 [Corcoran] GMAP

04/04/14 10:00am

Brooklyn Heights Cinema Owner Kenn Lowy has bought himself more time in 70 Henry Street by raising $30,000 to purchase digital projection equipment through crowdfunding site Indiegogo, The Brooklyn Eagle reported. Lowy would have been forced to close if he couldn’t afford to buy a digital projector and the server needed to run it. Over 400 people have contributed $31,586 as of this morning, according to Indiegogo.

However, the building at Henry and Orange Streets is still for sale or lease, and BHC’s future remains somewhat uncertain. The landlord still hopes to present a plan to redevelop the building to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Lowy told us:

“Our lease expired almost two years ago. The truth is that when people came in 18 months ago and asked how long we’d be here I said ‘I just want to make it through the holidays.’ Six months later I was saying ‘I just want to be here through the summer.’ Then the fall came and I said the same thing again. So I’m hoping we’re here for a while. If we have to leave, we can bring the projector wherever we go and hopefully bring it back when the landlord gets his plan approved. I still think, and hope, that is what will eventually happen.”

Crowdfunding Saves Brooklyn Heights Cinema [Brooklyn Eagle]

03/27/14 12:15pm

This two-bedroom co-op at 2 Grace Court in Brooklyn Heights looks cheery and well laid-out. The sixth-floor apartment has prewar details and a renovated kitchen along with nice light and views.

There’s only one bathroom, but it’s sensibly located. The asking price is $885,000, and there’s an open house on Saturday at 2 and Sunday at noon.

2 Grace Court, #6E [Halstead] GMAP

03/25/14 11:30am

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The Toll Brothers has released the full website for Pierhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park, its lavish, 108-condo project, as Buzz Buzz Home was the first to note. The development at 90 Furman Street is also offering two new apartments — a one-bedroom for $2,600,000 and a three-bedroom for $3,350,000.

Floor plans for one- and three-bedrooms are now up on the website. We think we spot a couple of new renderings too. 

The luxury apartments include features like 600-year-old heartwood floors reclaimed from local warehouses, high-efficiency and exterior LED lighting, automatic solar shade systems, 18-foot ceilings in most living rooms, and terraces. The kitchens have Gaggenau appliances, Calacutta Tucci marble countertops, 18-bottle under-counter wine storage and odorless under-counter composting units.

Amenities range from the typical — a fitness center, concierge, lounge — to the more unique — a pet wash and a meditation room. Pricing starts at $1,050,000 for a 999-square-foot one-bedroom.

Pierhouse [Toll Brothers]
Pierhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park Releases Full Website Into the 85-acre Wild [Buzz Buzz Home]
Pierhouse Coverage [Brownstoner]
Rendering by Marvel Architects via Pierhouse

03/24/14 1:01pm

This parlor-floor apartment at 8 Sidney Place in Brooklyn Heights is bigger than most, which allows for a decent-sized, walk-through kitchen in the middle of the apartment rather than one in a small alcove. There’s also a small second bedroom in an addition where it doesn’t eat up valuable living room real estate. However, access is through the master bedroom. The asking price for the 1,100-square-foot co-op is $1,100,000, which doesn’t seem out of line with market rates in this blue chip ‘hood.

8 Sidney Place, #Parlor [Corcoran] GMAP

03/20/14 1:30pm

This Brooklyn Heights Greek Revival townhouse is 25 feet wide with a “meticulously restored” facade and ironwork that ends in an iconic swirl. The parlor has an original pier mirror and a black marble fireplace. While some details have been modernized, they don’t look out of place.

It’s set up as a one-family with a traditional floor plan. An addition on the top of the house is used as a TV room and gym with a wet bar. Outside, there is a terrace and a view.

The down lights and baseboard heating are incongruous, but relatively inconspicuous. What do you think of it and the ask of $7,300,000?

19 Monroe Place [Corcoran] GMAP