07/24/14 12:56pm

189 schermerhorn downtown brooklyn 72014

The high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows are the big selling points at this one-bedroom condo at 189 Schermerhorn Street (aka be@schermerhorn). The 15th-floor pad weighs in at only 662 square feet, though, making the asking price of $739,000 aggressive — especially when you consider that it traded for $425,000 in 2010. On the other hand, a 75 percent rise in value in four years isn’t out of line with a lot of other properties in the area. And those views sure are nice.

189 Schermerhorn Street, #15B [Corcoran] GMAP

07/23/14 9:00am

oro 2 72014

The 40-story Oro 2 tower at the corner of Gold and Johnson Streets has been rebranded “BKLYN Air,” and it already has a teaser site listing rents from $2,315. The Ismael Levya-designed, 255-unit project at 309 Gold Street has been in the works for two years, and the building looks nearly finished in these photos a tipster sent to us. (more…)

07/17/14 10:45am

LIAC Cumberland Ave Clubhs, 1907 BE

In 1900, a small group of rich Brooklyn swells organized this borough’s first automobile club. The automobile was still a novelty at this time; an expensive toy that only a few could afford. The Long Island Automobile Club (LIAC) was founded so these men could get together, discuss the wonders of this new technology, plan road trips, advocate for better highways and most importantly, race their automobiles. Whether they had fine horses, speedy bicycles or the new horseless carriages, wealthy men just loved races.

Part One of this history outlines the first years of the LIAC. The club grew fast, as more and more men bought automobiles. The earliest models were really just carriages with motors. They were open buckboards, some of them, with a steering wheel. They couldn’t go very fast, they stalled out a lot, and riding in one was a dirty and dusty adventure. As the technology improved, and automobiles got better, more and more people began motoring, and the national love affair with the automobile began. The autoists, as the club members were called, led the way. (more…)

07/16/14 2:00pm

422-fulton-street-071614

Macy’s is contemplating selling its downtown Brooklyn store and building another nearby, according to a report in Women’s Wear Daily reblogged by Racked. Alternatively, the store could “redevelop the existing structure with apartment units on higher levels and a shrunken version of the department stores on the first few levels, á la the forthcoming Nordstrom,” as Racked put it. (more…)

07/16/14 9:00am

downtown-071614

The mayor from Brooklyn has a vision for downtown: To make it feel more like a community. To that end, he plans to announce a series of initiatives today, The Wall Street Journal reported, including:

*Expanding a 21-acre greenway from the courthouses to the waterfront by linking park spaces.
*Launching a business improvement district association.
*Allowing retail on the ground floor of some buildings owned by the city. (more…)

07/15/14 10:45am

LIAC first run of season, 1905, BE

By the turn of the 20th century, bicycling had become the most popular sport in New York, as well as a practical form of transportation. Almost anyone could afford a bicycle of some kind, whether new or used, and almost anyone; young or old, rich or poor, male or female could ride. Cycling clubs brought people together for races, excursions and the shared love of biking and fun. The clubs and the sheer number of bikers had also successfully advocated for the improvement of streets. They put pressure on the city to pave more streets and open up dedicated biking paths.

Everything was going well for bikes and biking until the arrival of the car. When the first “horseless carriages” rolled down the street, they caught the imagination of the public like little has, before or since. Like small children whose attention is caught by some new toy, for a certain segment of the population, the bicycle was dropped like an old stuffed bear, as the car was taken up and embraced like an old friend. At this stage of the automobile’s development, it was a toy for only the wealthy. As quickly as the automobiles could roll out of the workshops, they were purchased by a select group of men who just as quickly formed clubs. Our story is about one of those clubs, Brooklyn’s own Long Island Automobile Club.

The first automobiles were not the sleek roadsters and touring cars of the Jazz Age, or even the practical designs of Henry Ford’s Model T’s. They were literally “horseless carriages.” The first car makers had taken carriage bodies and put simple combustible engines and a steering wheel on them. They were not enclosed, nor were they comfortable. They did not go particularly fast, and they were not mass produced. But they were still the coolest things on earth. (more…)

07/11/14 10:00am

61-bond-street-071114

new-building permit has been filed for the site of the planned Ace Hotel at 61 Bond Street, pictured above, in Downtown Brooklyn, as New York YIMBY first reported. The 13-story tower will feature 285 rooms distributed across 156,984 square feet, as well as a coffee shop, ground floor retail, radio station, restaurant, fitness center and event spaces. (more…)

07/10/14 9:00am

10 metrotech demo 9

A piece of facade and two stories of steel frame are all that remain of 10 MetroTech Center on Fulton Street, a former candy factory that Forest City Ranter converted to office space. Forest City plans to build apartments on the site between Hudson Avenue, Rockwell Place and Dekalb, but we don’t know much more than that. The seven-story, 359,000-square-foot structure was built in 1963, and the Internal Revenue Service, the city’s Human Resources Administration and the DMV all occupied the building at one time.

(more…)

07/09/14 3:30pm

376 Fulton St. SB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Commercial loft building
Address: 376 Fulton Street
Cross Streets: Smith and Red Hook Lane
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn
Year Built: 1873
Architectural Style: Second Empire
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No, but should be

The story: This tall commercial lofts building is one of the very few remaining cast iron fronted buildings in Brooklyn. As in Soho and downtown Manhattan, cast iron buildings were a standard for commercial buildings in New York and Brooklyn in the 1870s, when the material was at the height of its popularity. They were really just brick buildings with sheet metal elements cast into classical columns, carved decorative trim, busts and other ornamental detail, applied to the brick understructure.

It was great stuff, enabling developers to have very attractive storefronts without paying for all of that carving in stone. The cast iron could be painted to resemble marble, limestone, brownstone or granite. The iron made the buildings more fire-resistant, and the structure enabled builders to construct more windows in the front facades. All of it made for beautiful and impressive commercial buildings, as anyone who frequents Soho knows. We had them here in Brooklyn too, but not nearly as many, and unfortunately, very few have survived. (more…)

07/02/14 3:30pm

418-434 Fulton Street, MAS 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally the Wheeler Building, then Abraham and Weschler, then Abraham & Straus, now Macy’s
Address: 418-434 Fulton Street
Cross Streets: Gallatin Place and Hoyt Street
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn
Year Built: 1883
Architectural Style: Second Empire with much alteration on ground floors
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No, but should be, as should be much of the Fulton St. shopping corridor

The story: Anyone who has ever been downtown and stood in front of what is now Macy’s knows that this store is not one building, but several buildings joined together by a common façade along Fulton and Livingston Streets. There is the main store building today; a large Art Deco era store, then this building, a large mansard roofed, Second Empire gem. If it’s possible to mentally strip away the Deco building altogether, as well as the modern 20th century display windows that stretch from one end of the store to the other, you might be able to imagine the wonderful store that Abraham and Weschler established on this site. They purchased what was called the Wheeler Building in 1881, and established one of the poshest department stores in Brooklyn and all of New York City. But what was the Wheeler Building?

The Fulton Street corridor between Boerum and Flatbush was slowly developing as Brooklyn’s shopping and entertainment district by the Civil War. The homes and churches that lined Fulton fell one by one to the wreckers, as large commercial loft buildings, theaters and stores replaced them. The building housing Gage and Tollner is one of the last remaining brownstone homes of that era. The plot where Wheeler built his building had been the cemetery of the nearby Dutch Reformed Church. Both church and graveyard were removed in the growth of downtown. The large, now empty hopefully, lot became a circus ground, where travelling circuses pitched their tents to entertain the masses.

Mr. Andrew S. Wheeler was a keen observer of trends and he realized that this was going to be a prime site. He bought it, and in the early 1870s, built this large, five story, mansard roofed Second Empire loft and store building. He thought that Fulton Street was going to take off, and he was ready for the merchants and other tenants to come on in. Unfortunately for him, he was a man ahead of his time. Below his building was next to nothing. A few scattered buildings and many empty lots. Fulton Street’s time had not yet come, and Wheeler was forced to rent to anyone who needed the space. According to newspaper reports, there was space for several storefronts along the street. (more…)

07/01/14 12:57pm

75 livingston street brooklyn heights 62014

We’ve always taken special notice of this building at 85 Livingston Street because it’s named after an ancestor of ours but have rarely had the chance to include it on Brownstoner. This third-floor one-bedroom at the Robert Livingston in Downtown Brooklyn is about as straight-ahead a one-bedroom as you’ll find: good-sized rooms, sensible layout, reasonable maintenance of $995. It ain’t particularly sexy though so check your ego at the door. Asking price is $475,000.

85 Livingston Street, #3K [Corcoran] GMAP