04/15/14 3:00pm

1301 Grand Street, Google Maps 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Charles J. King Iron and Scrap, formerly Louis Bossert & Son Co.
Address: 1301 Grand Street
Cross Streets: Gardner Avenue and New Town Creek
Neighborhood: Bushwick
Year Built: Unknown
Architectural Style: Eclectic factory
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: Louis Bossert was a lumber man. He was one of the thousands of German immigrants who came to the United States and settled in Bushwick and Williamsburg in the mid to late 19th century. Bossert was an officer during the Civil War, and began a lumber business after the war. It was a fortuitous move, as Brooklyn had a series of building booms for the next fifty years, and Louis Bossert & Son was there to meet the needs of their customers.

By the end of the 19th century, in the 1890s, if not sooner, Louis Bossert’s lumber company was located here on Grand Street, along the Newtown Creek. The company was huge, with lumberyards, planing mills, warehouses and offices. Having the canal just behind the plant enabled Bossert to move goods by barge, and deliver large amounts of lumber to projects in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn with ease. This building was the headquarters and office of the company.

Lumber yards often had fires, so this may be the reason the Bossert HQ looks like a fireproof fortress. I was not able to find the date it was built, or the architect, and since the design is so eclectic, it’s also hard to date, but I’m going to go with early 20th century, in the ‘teens. By that time, Bossert’s plant was well established, and this building consolidated their operation, and replaced the company’s offices on Union Street. It’s an interesting building, certainly not pretty, but strong in personality. (more…)

04/15/14 1:30pm

This flip in the farthermost reaches of Bushwick has somewhat better than average finishes, including white subway tile, flat (not routed) white kitchen cupboards and vintage style lighting. The plumbing is all new, as are the floors, kitchens and baths. The owner left the mantels and exposed the brick.

There is also a deck and parking in the front yard. It’s set up as an owner’s duplex over a two-bedroom garden floor rental. But what really caught our eye about the listing is the price. It last traded to Boaz Gilad of Brookland Capital in November for $395,000. Now the ask is $1,195,000.

We could see this going to an investor, perhaps. But we’d be surprised if they get anywhere near ask. (To put it in perspective, a somewhat similar house nearby at 770 Macdonough Street sold for $692,000 in April 2013.) What do you think?

25 Moffat Street [Corcoran] GMAP

04/14/14 12:15pm

The newish (2005) condo building on Wyckoff near the Dekalb L train stop has a one-bedroom available for rent. The 520-square-foot pad comes with a balcony, an eat-in kitchen with a dishwasher, a washer and walk-in closet in the bedroom.

Oddly, the listing doesn’t mention a dryer. It’s on the second floor, and the building is a walk-up. What are your thoughts on it for $1,800 a month?

93-95 Wyckoff Avenue, #3C [Elliman] GMAP

04/11/14 1:00pm

Park Slope
364 Butler Street
Broker: Corcoran
Price: $2,195,000
Sunday 1:30 – 2:30

Columbia Street Waterfront
109 President Street
Broker: Corcoran
Price: $1,995,000
Sunday 12:00 – 2:00

Bay Ridge
429 73rd Street
Broker: Warren Lewis Sotheby’s
Price: $1,795,000
Sunday 3:00 – 5:00

1284 Putnam Avenue
Broker: Elliman
Price: $815,000
Sunday 12:00 – 1:30

03/28/14 3:00pm

675 Central Ave, CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Administration building at Evergreen Cemetery
Address: 675 Central Avenue
Cross Streets: Moffat Street and Evergreen Cemetery
Neighborhood: Bushwick
Year Built: Perhaps 19th century wood frame with Art Deco alterations. Or maybe 1930s new build.
Architectural Style: Art Deco
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: There used to be a television show on HGTV about people who lived in non-traditional buildings, which showcased the buildings themselves and what the owners did with them. It was my favorite show on that network. As much as I love row houses and mansions, a part of me would dearly love to find an odd old building and make it my own. I could put whatever I wanted in there, (assuming I had a lot of money, of course) mixing period styles and all the features I liked from different eras, and different kinds of buildings, all in a cool and unusual building that would be like nothing anywhere else. A building like this would work just fine.

This little gem sits alone on the last street before you get to the enormous Cemetery of the Evergreens on the Bushwick/Queens border. It’s literally the last building on the right. It appears to have beeen built sometime in the 1930s, as the administration building for the cemetery. It has two stories, and is the size of a row house in the neighborhood, 22×43. (more…)

03/20/14 3:00pm

161 Varick Ave. Sanit Dept HQ, Dettner Arch. 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: New York City Department of Sanitation, District 1 and 4 Garages and Borough Offices
Address: 161 Varick Avenue
Cross Streets: Scholes and Stagg streets
Neighborhood: Bushwick
Year Built: 2002-2008
Architectural Style: Neo-futurist, perhaps?
Architect: Dattner Architects
Other work by architect: Soundstages for Navy Yard’s Steiner Studios, many civic architecture projects in New York, Dallas, Boston and elsewhere. Upcoming projects at BAM, Rockaways, New Jersey PATH stations, and more.
Landmarked: No

The story: Civic architecture can be a great thing. Projects paid for by a municipality are often chances for fine architectural works that stretch the boundaries, inspire, and enhance that city or location where it stands. During the Victorian age in Brooklyn, some of the finest buildings to be found in our city were built for the people: firehouses and police stations, court buildings, post offices, schools, public hospitals and the headquarters of city agencies.

The City Beautiful Movement, which grew out of the 1893 Chicago World’s Exhibition, promoted this philosophy further, encouraging cities to build gleaming and impressive public and private buildings that would inspire the masses to civic pride, thrift and hard work, so they could lift themselves up and out of the steamy slums, and into the light of prosperity. There were a few practical problems with that idea, but we did get some impressive architecture. Manhattan’s Municipal Building and the Central Post Office are a prime example of this philosophy at work.

On the flip side of this, banal and just awful buildings also mark a city and the psyche of its people. I think of the Brutalist movement, and the siege mentality generated from the many police stations built in Brooklyn and the rest of New York City in the 1960s and ’70s. Many a city, including ours, has a collection of meh concrete bunkers holding social services, fire and police stations, and schools. Architecture does matter.

So it comes as a great relief and even joy to see this building, built for the New York City Sanitation Department. Yes, the people who pick up our nasty garbage and plow the streets got one of the better new buildings in the city, and deservedly so. It’s too bad most people will never see it, because it’s really cool. (more…)

03/10/14 11:30am


This yellow brick corner building at 240 St. Nicholas Avenue has been renovated with reclaimed wood paneling, oak floors, and stainless steel appliances and is for sale for $2,295,000. There is an owner’s duplex — unusual for a multi-family in Bushwick — four rental apartments and a two-car garage.

There’s also lots of FAR and the lot is 90 feet deep. At one point the building was a two-family with a doctor’s office. We couldn’t find a new C of O but permits indicate one for a five-family is in the works.

The building is located in a desirable part of Bushwick near the Dekalb L stop, close to bustling Wyckoff Avenue, Wyckoff Hospital and near the Ridgewood border. The current owners picked it up for $680,000 in January 2013. The configuration and size of the building is unusual, but if it sells near ask, it will be quite a jump for this type of building in the area.

Click through to the jump for more photos. What do you think of the renovations?

240 St. Nicholas Avenue Listing [Massey Knakal] (more…)

03/03/14 3:00pm

261-267 Meserole Street, BC, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Factory
Address: 261-267 Meserole Street
Cross Streets: Bushwick Avenue and Waterbury Street
Neighborhood: Bushwick
Year Built: Sometime before 1919
Architectural Style: Turn of the 20th century brick factory
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: Today’s BOTD is not really an architectural treatise, because let’s face it, this is a utilitarian turn of the 20th century factory building that got a new façade recently, and it’s pretty unremarkable. But I chose it for a reason, because even the most nondescript buildings sometimes have a story to tell. I was looking for something else in this neighborhood, which I’ll write about at another time, and I thought of this building, and went to look for it, via Google Maps. I must have gone up and down the street between Newtown Creek and Bushwick Avenue 10 times, virtually, before realizing that the building I was looking for had been radically changed.

Unfortunately, there are no “before” pictures, but it didn’t look all that impressive before, and was just another one factory building on a street of factory buildings, both large and small. It was old red brick, had very few windows, and was really dark inside. It’s a long building, and stretches back for quite a few feet. There used to be a roll-up loading dock on the left, in the part of the building that’s only one story, and then there was only one other door to the other part of the building.

For many years, this was home to Just Lace, a fabric and trim dyeing company. Back when I was working in the garment and home furnishings industry, one of the companies I worked for used their services to dye fabric. We had our own specially dyed colors for a line of terry beach towels. We also used them to wash and roll fabrics that we imported. The goods were manufactured with a heavy coating of sizing pressed into it, making the fabric as stiff as a starched collar. Just Lace would wash the sizing out, dry and roll the goods into bolts. I used to have to drive our company vehicle out here from our Manhattan studio, bringing goods back and forth, and working with the dyer and washers.

This was my first foray into Brooklyn industry, and that’s why I’m strolling down Memory Lane today. (more…)

02/27/14 10:00am

Prolific Williamsburg architect Gene Kaufman is designing a new six-story building at 100 Bogart Street in Bushwick with artist studios and retail, according to a new building application filed Monday. The commercial project will include ground-floor retail and five artist studios (one per floor) spread across 46,900 square feet.

The site at the corner of Bogart Street and Johnson Avenue is currently a 9,375-square-foot warehouse. No demolition permits have been filed. The developer behind the project is IBK Construction, which purchased the property last February for $3,472,000. GMAP

02/27/14 9:00am


In an interview with the Observer, newly elected District 34 Councilman Antonio Reynoso called Williamsburg development “irresponsible.” He grew up in Williamsburg in Section 8 housing and still lives in the neighborhood, although he’s currently house hunting. District 34 covers Williamsburg and parts of Bushwick and Ridgewood, Queens. Reynoso has previously said he plans to rezone Bushwick so it will avoid the same fate as Williamsburg. He told the Observer:

I’m looking to rezone Bushwick, but we’re going to look at it comprehensively. We’re going to sit with community groups, scholars, government [representatives] and residents and talk about how we are going to preserve the character—I mean physical character. Some people thought I meant I wanted to keep the Latinos in Bushwick, and that’s not what it’s about. Bushwick is a beautiful, beautiful neighborhood. Right now, there are small mansions in Bushwick that are gorgeous, and none of them are protected. Rezoning would state that a developer can’t knock down one of these mansions and build a six-story building, for example.

He also denounced Williamsburg developers for putting up condos rather than rentals — apparently unaware most development in Williamsburg and in Brooklyn generally is, in fact, rentals. Developers “promise you the world, but once they build, they’re gone,” he said. “There’s no accountability to anyone in the community. The Edge may be the worst affordable housing project that I’ve seen in my time as a liaison and as a councilmember. The poor [were put in a separate building] on one side. They also did a terrible job with marketing, which is insane,” he said, meaning the availability of affordable units was not well advertised to those who could use them.

What would you like to see happen in Bushwick?