420-albee-square-041714

A real estate firm named JEMB Realty bought a parking lot in downtown Brooklyn for $38,464,188. If that seems like a staggering amount to pay for a parking lot, well, it’s located at 420-428 Albee Square, right across the street from City Point. It’s got 185,000 buildable square feet, The Real Deal reported.

That works out to be $205 per buildable square foot. No word yet on what is planned, but we’re guessing a mixed-use building. The deal closed March 26.

Morris Bailey’s JEMB Buys Brooklyn Lot for $38.5 Million [TRD]
Photo by Scott Bintner for PropertyShark

Kings County Penitentiary, 1906

On a chilly day in late November, 1905, thirty-six year old Benjamin F. Chadsey was taken to the Raymond Street Jail in Brooklyn. He had been brought back to New York from Indiana after being on the run for two years. In 1903, he faked his suicide, and disappeared on the evening before he was to go to trial on a charge of grand larceny. Chadsey had been one of Brooklyn’s up and coming legal talents, an aggressive and arrogant pitbull of a lawyer who loved his fancy clothes and his diamond jewelry. That was all showmanship, because he was also highly efficient and had a large private practice with a lot of clients. He was also a rising star in the jungle of Brooklyn politics, and was called upon often to stir up the Republican faithful with his gifts of oratory and persuasion. Benjamin Chadsey was the last person anyone would expect to be dishonest, or to run from his troubles. But here he was.

The man who had once sported bespoke suits with diamond stickpins and fingers glittering with diamond rings was now standing in handcuffs before a judge, surrounded by the police and District Attorneys who had to go out to the suburbs of South Bend Indiana to get him. The private detective, J. Edward Orr, who had tracked Chadsey down once before in San Francisco had found him again. But this was not the old Chadsey they knew. The man standing before them was sickly looking, emaciated and gaunt. He had shaved his signature moustache and would have looked years younger, had he not been looking over his shoulder for the last two years.

The judge stared down on him without a lot of pity. The charges against Chadsey were serious, but had he not skipped bail and disappeared, he probably would have been let off easy. Wealthy and well-connected men convicted of much larger thefts usually did not suffer the same consequences as those of lesser breeding. But faking your death, and thumbing your nose at the same authorities you once ate dinner with and invited to your home makes for bad feelings, and Brooklyn’s legal world was more than happy to throw the book at Chadsey. For the time being, though, they tossed him back in jail. (more…)

19th century steamship, hasselisland.org 1As the cynical and world-weary people we can be today in 2014, it doesn’t really surprise us when those who are entrusted with much, or are held up as paragons, fail spectacularly. Sadly, we see it almost every day. But 100 years ago, life was simpler. Back then, (and now, as well, to be honest), people expected certain criminal activities like thievery and dishonesty from the classes and groups they felt were beneath them. But they held the upper classes to a higher standard, one of dignity and success through hard work and privilege. Therefore, when one of their own was suspected of, or caught doing wrong, the stories fascinated the newspaper reporters and their editors, as well as the general public. The fall of a prominent lawyer, or a banker, was news for days.

We met Benjamin F. Chadsey last time, the scion of an important Albany area family, and an up and coming lawyer here in Brooklyn at the beginning of the 20th century. He lived here in Brooklyn with his wife at 88 Decatur Street, in an upscale apartment building in Stuyvesant Heights. Like another occupant of the same apartment house, J. Edgar Anthony, the topic of our first story from this building, young Chadsey was also an attorney who worked in estates, wills and trusts. Mr. Chadsey had a fine reputation in the law, and was a rising star in the world of Brooklyn Republican politics. Benjamin Chadsey, it was said, could persuade you to vote for anyone, and his silver tongue was put to use at political rallies all across the city. He was soon on a first name basis with some of New York’s most important Republican political figures.

Unfortunately, Chadsey was arrogant enough to think that he knew best in the matters of his clients, as well as the voters, and had been playing loose with some of his client’s money. He had been administering the estate of Daniel M. Collins, a wealthy Brooklyn Heights jeweler. The deceased Mr. Collins’ wife suspected that her brother-in-law and Chadsey had conspired to cheat her out of her inheritance, and that Chadsey had grossly overbilled her for services rendered. The widow retained another lawyer, and filed suit. A judge agreed, and had chastised Mr. Chadsey, and ordered him to pay back about $900 in overcharged fees. That may not seem like much in today’s money, but in 1902 it was around $20,000 worth, certainly enough for most of us to file suit. (more…)

This morning at Borough Hall, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announced he plans to make the 166-year-old building LEED certified by retrofitting the windows, installing solar panels, and implementing geothermal heating. “Borough Hall is going to lead by example, that’s L-E-E-D,” said Adams. “If a government building built in 1848 can be transformed into an energy efficient structure, then every building that’s built in this borough and this city can follow.”

He promised to set aside capital funding to update the Greek Revival structure, one of the borough’s oldest public buildings. On top of that, he has already pledged $1,000,000 in capital funds to repair the bluestone and courtyard behind building.

Adams also announced the first meeting of his Renewable and Sustainable Energy Task Force (ReSET), which aims to encourage green building practices in Brooklyn and the rest of the city. “I’m helping the mayor infuse the green technology concept into the [planned] 200,000 units of affordable housing,” he explained.

No word on whether he has already checked with the Landmarks Preservation Commission on his plans for Borough Hall.

04/09/14 3:00pm

Editor’s note: In honor of the 50-year anniversary of the Pratt Area Community Council, we are pleased to feature historic buildings PACC has redeveloped as our Building of the Day for four consecutive days. PACC is a community development corporation that preserves and develops affordable housing in central Brooklyn. Brownstoner is a proud media sponsor of PACC’s 50th Anniversary Gala, which takes place April 23.

Fire HQ, 365 Jay St. pacc.org. 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Brooklyn Fire Department Headquarters, now affordable housing
Address: 365 Jay Street
Cross Streets: Willoughby Street and Metrotech Roadway
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn
Year Built: 1892
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Frank Freeman. 2013 Rehab architect: Nomad Architecture. Historic Preservation Architect: Thomas A. Fenniman.
Other work by architect: F. Freeman – Eagle Warehouse in Dumbo, Herman Behr mansion on Pierrepont Street, in Brooklyn Heights, among others. Nomad – Reno of Actor’s Temple, Manhattan, as well as many other nonprofit, commercial and residential projects nationwide and globally. T. Fenniman – Historic restorations in New York City, including St. Francis Xavier Church, Manhattan
Landmarked: Yes, individual landmark (1966) National Register of Historic Places (1972)

The story: A great city has great civic buildings, and Brooklyn, near the end of the 19th century, was well on its way to making its mark with a collection of excellent municipal buildings. The Fire Headquarters was one of them, along with fine schools, courthouses, houses of worship and clubs, a monument to the power and pride of a great city. It was designed by the great Brooklyn architect Frank Freeman, who was responsible for many of the late 19th century’s most important buildings. The beautiful Behr mansion on Pierrepont and Henry Street is his design, as is the massive Eagle Warehouse in Dumbo. He also designed banks and other commercial and civic buildings in the Downtown and Brooklyn Heights area, but unfortunately, most of them did not survive.

Fire fighting in Brooklyn had become a professional affair, and a large headquarters was needed to consolidate the various offices and divisions, as well as to provide this part of downtown with a firehouse. But what a headquarters! The Romanesque Revival style of architecture was considered to be the highest form of architecture, especially for civic buildings at the time, and so it’s no wonder some of the best civic buildings were built in that style. The massing of shapes, with bays, turrets, dormers, varying rooflines, the voluminous arches, the use of florid terra-cotta ornament, and the contrasting use of texture in building materials — all of those elements of the style are here.

The building opened with great ceremony in 1892. The sight of fire vehicles and men rushing out of that magnificent archway was inspiring to all. Little did they know that only six years later, there would be no Brooklyn Fire Department. In 1898, the consolidation of New York City made the BFD redundant, and it was absorbed into FDNY. All of the Brooklyn fire houses were re-numbered, and this headquarters was no longer needed. It remained an active firehouse, however, and thereby was one of the largest and finest in the city. (more…)

04/01/14 12:57pm

This 10th-floor one-bedroom is probably the slickest looking pad we’ve seen at Downtown Brooklyn’s Oro. The 1,176-square-foot apartment was “custom designed” by an architect, according to the listing, and it shows. In addition to the custom floors and built-ins, there’s a wall of windows and an eating nook too. Asking price is $1,150,000.

306 Gold Street, #10G [Corcoran] GMAP

03/21/14 9:00am

The Gene Kaufman-designed Holiday Inn on Schermerhorn Street in downtown Brooklyn, in the works going back to 2008 at least, has reached six stories. The large lot at 300 Schermerhorn Street between Bond and Nevins will eventually become a 14-story, 247-unit hotel, according to the most recent DOB permits.

The rendering shows only 12 stories, which was the original plan for the hotel when permits were first approved two years ago. Construction signs say that the project will finish in “winter 2014,” which probably originally meant early this year, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they mean at the end of it.

The developers are still the Mehta family, which bought the 13,765-square-foot site for $11,000,000 in 2007. Curbed first published a rendering for the hotel in December, and we’ve included it after the jump. It matches the one posted on the fence.

Two Hotels, Both by Kaufman, Slated for Schermerhorn [Brownstoner] GMAP

(more…)

03/19/14 2:00pm

505-fulton-street

We were walking down Fulton Street last weekend when we noticed signs announcing a May 1 opening date for Nordstrom Rack in the Offerman Building at 505 Fulton, pictured above. There was also a sign on the building for T.J.Maxx, which has also taken space there, but it said only “coming soon” and did not give a date.

Last time we heard about the landmarked former department store, owners Jody and Al Laboz of United American Land said the building’s conversion to 120 luxury condos would be ready by the end of this year. The building has been under construction for nearly three years. Click through to the jump to see the signs announcing the openings.

Offerman Loft Conversion Chugs Along on Fulton Mall [Brownstoner]
Offerman Conversion Slated for Summer Completion [Brownstoner]
Construction Under Way on T.J.Maxx at 505 Fulton Street [Brownstoner] GMAP (more…)

03/18/14 3:00pm

567- 571 Fulton St. Google Maps

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Cast iron front stores
Address: 567-571 Fulton Street
Cross Streets: Bond Street, Flatbush Avenue Extension and DeKalb Avenue
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn
Year Built: 1869-1870
Architectural Style: Italianate
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No, but should be, and soon

The story: If you want to know what Brooklyn’s first and best shopping and entertainment hub looked like in the boom years after the Civil War, you have to go no further than this part of Fulton Street, near Flatbush Avenue. But you better look quickly, because the way things are going, it won’t be here for much longer. These buildings are living on death row, as this site is a prime development area for the New Brooklyn.

Often, our attention is further up Fulton Street, near Borough Hall and Brooklyn Heights, which probably saved these buildings in the first place. As Brooklyn developed away from the piers and harbor, Fulton Street became the main street for commerce and entertainment. Before the large department stores of the last decade of the 19th century were built, these cast-iron commercial buildings filled Fulton Street, home to stores, often with more retail space, offices and warehouse space above.

Cast iron has been used as façade material in New York City since the 1850s. It was an economical and practical way to design and build ornate Italianate palazzo-style commercial buildings without the cost or craftsmanship of stone. It was lightweight and touted as fire resistant. The cast iron elements were cast locally, and could be made to order or chosen from a catalogue, and came in manageable sized pieces that were bolted to the brick buildings underneath. The plates could then be painted to resemble stone, or other metals. Cast iron architecture lent itself to larger windows, often with elaborate arches, often a series of colonnades and arcades, depending on the size of the building.

Although Soho and lower Manhattan have the greatest collection of cast iron fronted buildings, Brooklyn had quite a few itself, but fewer and fewer remain today. All of these cast iron buildings are part of our city’s architectural heritage, and make up some of our most beautiful buildings. These three stores, although not the large warehouses of Manhattan, are certainly a handsome group, even though their ground floor retail spaces no longer have any relationship with the upper stories. (more…)

03/17/14 2:00pm

Candy retailer It’sugar opened last Friday in Downtown Brooklyn’s Municipal Building, joining Sephora, the soon-to-open YogaWorks and a planned Neiman Marcus outlet. The candy and gift company already has one store in Coney Island and three in Manhattan. They’re on the Court Street side of the building with an official address of 210 Joralemon Street, Unit E. We’ve included another photo after the jump.

Neiman Marcus’ Last Call Leases Large Space in Downtown’s Municipal Building [Brownstoner] GMAP
Downtown YogaWorks Sets Spring Opening [Brownstoner]
Sephora Will Open in November at the Municipal Building [Brownstoner]
Municipal Building: From Marriage Licenses to Lattes? [Brownstoner]

(more…)

03/17/14 10:45am

The former 11-story home of the city’s Human Resources Association is now nothing more than a rubble-strewn lot at 210 Livingston Street in downtown Brooklyn, as demolition that began last summer finally finished. The Wall Street Journal published a photo of the final bits of the building being taken down last month and reported that two developers are planning a mixed-use high-rise for the site. Benenson Capital Partners and Rose Associates want to construct a 300,000-square-foot tower with rental apartments and ground-floor retail, according to the Journal. No new building permits have been filed yet.

The development site is two blocks from City Point, the huge project whose second phase is going up now. Right now this stretch of Livingston is home to discount stores, furniture stores and the gigantic Macy’s.

Demolition for Former HRA Headquarters 210 Livingston [Brownstoner] GMAP