Brownsville Brooklyn -- 1698 Pitkin Ave Provident Loan Society History

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Contrary to popular belief, Brownsville still has some great architecture, especially on its main commercial streets.

Name: Originally Lafayette Trust, then Provident Loan Society. Now a T-Mobile.
Address: 1698 Pitkin Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner of Rockaway Avenue
Neighborhood: Brownsville
Year Built: Early 20th century, before 1909
Architectural Style: Simplified Beaux-Arts
Architect: Arthur G. Stone
Other Works by Architect: Row houses on Hancock and other streets in Bedford; also flats and store buildings in Williamsburg, and other buildings throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan
Landmarked: No

Most people think Brownsville is little more than rows upon rows of high-rise NYCHA housing. There certainly is plenty of that there, but there is much more to the neighborhood. (more…)


Jazzy Jumpers perform at MGB Pops market. Photo via MGB Pops

Gentrification has not yet reached Brownsville but is lapping at its shores. Local residents are making a push to improve the area on their own terms, or gentrify “from within,” according to a story in Al-Jazeera. The idea is to improve employment, education, safety and quality of life before high rents arrive to push out longtime locals.

Efforts include job training, an outdoor marketplace with locally made goods and performances, a cafe and business incubator and street improvements:

  • MGB Pops, a seasonal outdoor marketplace at 425 Mother Gaston Boulevard, kicked off in fall 2014. In addition to locally grown produce and other locally made products, it features art and performances. Recent events have included a ribbon cutting for a street improvements such as seating and a happy hour.
  • Made in Brownsville offers architecture and design training and jobs to local youths.
  • A revitalization plan, spearheaded by the Brownsville Community Justice Center, will improve Belmont Avenue.
  • Dream Big Foundation’s Three Black Cats Cafe, set to open later this year on Belmont Avenue, will serve as a community hub and business incubator.

“We’re trying to disrupt the normal flow of things,” the story quotes one of the organizers of MGB Pops, Quardean Lewis-Allen, as saying. “If we can empower the residents with jobs and skills that will help them shape the neighborhood’s future, then they are less likely to be displaced when Brownsville suddenly becomes hip.” (more…)


Brownstoner recently received this email from the pastor of a prominent church in Ocean Hill-Brownsville:

“I recently saw several notices online advertising two newly constructed homes on St. Mark’s Avenue. Both of these listings called the neighborhood Crown Heights. This neighborhood is, always has been, and always will be Ocean Hill-Brownsville. It is not Crown Heights. In fact it is a significant distance from Crown Heights. Calling it that is misleading to potential buyers and disrespectful to the people of this community. We who live and work in Brownsville are proud of our community and resent others labeling us as someplace we are not for their own personal gain. (more…)


The City is moving ahead with plans for the long-delayed public housing project in Brownsville known as Prospect Plaza. On Monday, the New York City Housing Authority filed plans for the third and final building in the complex, at 1845 Sterling Place. (The Real Deal was the first to write about the filing; NY YIMBY had more info.)

In 2000, the city moved 1,500 residents out of three behemoth public housing towers at the site, saying they’d have new apartments for residents by 2005. But as readers may recall, it wasn’t until 2014 that NYCHA and developers finally demolished the long-vacant buildings.



Mayor de Blasio intends to lease unused land at public housing projects to private developers to build towers with 50-50 market rate and subsidized rentals, he announced Tuesday. Van Dyke and Ingersoll Houses as well as one complex in the Bronx will be the first in the project, which aims to raise $200,000,000 in fees from developers over 10 years as well as create 10,000 affordable units, The New York Times reported.

The money will go toward maintaining existing NYCHA housing, to make up for losing more than $1 billion in federal subsidies since 2001. Separately, an advocacy group for the elderly today recommended in a report that 39 parking lots at low-income senior housing be transformed into housing for seniors, The Wall Street Journal reported. (more…)

581 Mother Gaston Blvd, Stone Ave Library, KL, PS 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Stone Avenue Library
Address: 581 Mother Gaston Boulevard
Cross Streets: Corner Dumont Avenue
Neighborhood: Brownsville
Year Built: 1914
Architectural Style: Jacobean Revival
Architect: William B. Tubby
Other works by architect: Three other Carnegie Libraries, as well as fire houses, police stations, factory buildings, row houses, stables and free-standing mansions in Park Slope, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn Heights and other parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Best known for his Pratt Institute buildings and his house for Charles M. Pratt at 241 Clinton Avenue and the William Childs house at 53 Prospect Park West
Landmarked: No, but it was recently calendared by the Landmarks Preservation Commission

The story: William Tubby was one of Brooklyn’s most talented and well-rounded architects. There wasn’t much he couldn’t do. His houses, whether row houses or mansions, were all spectacular. There isn’t a bad one in the bunch. Even his stables and carriage houses were great. Living in a Tubby house would be a privilege; the man designed thoughtfully and well, using only quality materials.

Private homes are one thing, but his work for the public good was arguably just as good or better. (more…)

camba van dyke housing rendering 32015

Dattner Architects posted tons of new renderings and diagrams for the 12-story, low-income housing development planned for a parking lot at Van Dyke Houses in Brownsville. The form of the building has not changed, but the most visible and interesting part, a rounded curved corner, has been recolored, and is now a cool and refreshing oyster white instead of orange-brown.

Here is the one rendering released two years ago, when the New York City Housing Authority first announced the project. CAMBA Housing Ventures is the developer. (CAMBA is also working on the second phase of affordable rentals next to Kings County Hospital in Flatbush, an otherwise unrelated project.) It will rise next door to the 100-year-old, William Tubby-designed Stone Avenue Library, at 581 Mother Gaston Boulevard, which the LPC is considering landmarking.

Also new are interior renderings, details, other exterior views, and diagrams. Click through to see them.

Permits don’t appear to have been filed yet, but we assume the project is finally moving forward because it received a $6,000,000 grant from the state. The completion date has also been pushed back from this summer to 2016, although that could still be ambitious.

For now at least, the development has no address apart from 603 Mother Gaston Boulevard, the location of the existing Van Dyke Houses. As we have mentioned before, it will have 100 permanently affordable apartments, including 44 one-bedrooms and 56 two-bedrooms, in addition to community space and a mental health clinic. Thirty percent of the units will be reserved for homeless families or families at risk of homelessness, 25 perecent will be set aside for current NYCHA residents, and the rest will go to households making 60 percent of the Area Median Income or less, or $51,540 a year for a family of four.

We think it’s an attractive design for affordable housing. “The L-shaped building is designed to create a transition between the street and the Van Dyke campus,” said Dattner, and the curved corner “serves as a gateway to the neighborhood.” What do you think of the look?

Affordable Homes Slated for Brownsville [Brownstoner]  GMAP
Renderings by Dattner Architects

stone avenue library 1

The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted today to calendar Stone Avenue Library in Brownsville, a spokesperson for the agency told us. That means the William Tubby-designed Gothic Revival structure at 581 Mother Gaston Boulevard is one step closer to possibly someday being designated a landmark, as the LPC has decided it will hold a hearing to consider designation.

The Andrew Carnegie-financed library celebrated its 100-year anniversary and a renovation last year. It opened in September 1914 as one of the country’s first libraries built specifically for children, although today it is a general library. It was intended to look like a “fairy tale castle,” according to a story in the Times last year.

Castle-Like, Tubby-Designed Brownsville Library Celebrates 100 Years [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photo via Historic Districts Council

hpd tenants rights forum

If you’re confused about rent stabilization, Section 8 housing, or any of your legal rights as a tenant, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is hosting a forum next month in Brownsville to answer your questions. HPD reps will also discuss housing code violations, NYCHA housing, bed bugs, rent protections for seniors and the disabled, discrimination and affordable housing lotteries. The forum will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at P.S./I.S. 323 in Brownsville, located at 210 Chester Street. Check out the Facebook event for more details.

1678 Park Place, Cong Men of Justice, GS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Congregation Men of Justice (Anshe Zedek), now Bright Light Baptist Church
Address: 1678 Park Place
Cross Streets: Ralph and Howard Avenues
Neighborhood: Brownsville
Year Built: 1913
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival with Moorish details
Architect: Faber & Murick
Other Buildings by Architect: None found
Landmarked: No

The story: The Congregation Men of Justice was organized in November of 1909 by ten Brownsville men, just enough to form a minyan, the minimum number of men necessary in Jewish tradition to conduct public worship. That number soon grew as the Jewish population of Brownsville soared in the early 20th century. By 1913, there were 300 people in the congregation, and the space they were renting on Ralph Avenue was not big enough. It was time for the congregation to build their own synagogue. The name of their congregation in Hebrew was Anshe Zedek.

This plot of land on the Crown Heights/Brownsville border was purchased, and the architectural firm of Faber & Murick was chosen to design the building. On August 17, 1913, a grand parade was held in the neighborhood, and the congregation marched from Ralph Avenue down to the new site, where the cornerstone of the synagogue was laid with great pomp and ceremony. The stone had the date and inscription in both English and Hebrew. (more…)