dime savings clock

Owner JPMorgan Chase has decided to put one of its prime bank branches up for sale: The historic Dime Savings Bank at 9 DeKalb Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn. The 1908 Classical building looks like a Roman temple and sits next to Junior’s in a major development spot in Brooklyn that is currently seeing tons of high-rise construction.

The building is landmarked, so it will not be torn down or altered for development. No asking price has been named, but real estate insiders speculated it could fetch $100,000,000 or more, mostly for its valuable air rights, Crain’s reported.

Chase will move to 490 Fulton Street. The building would make a great event space, or possibly Apple might be interested in opening a store there, sources speculated to Crain’s. Massey Knakal is marketing the listing.

A planned tower at 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension could use the landmark’s 285,000 square feet of development rights to build an even bigger tower. The 100,000-square-feet bank has a gold dome on top; inside is a rotunda with giant marble columns, offices on the second floor, and an underground floor with vaults and a firing range. It was a Building of the Day in 2012.

Dime Savings Bank in DoBro Could Become $100 Million-Plus Buy [Crain's]

Wash Hull, Muni Building, Arch and Design, 1903

In 1903, a young architect born and raised in Brooklyn won the most important architectural competition of the new century. Against all odds, this relative newcomer beat out well-known and experienced architects like the Parfitt Brothers, William Tubby and Rudolfe L. Daus, and was awarded the commission to design the Borough of Brooklyn’s new Municipal Building. Washington Hull was the talk of the town.

You can catch up on Mr. Hull’s upbringing and early history in Part One of this story. He was still establishing his solo career after working as a draughtsman and head of that department for McKim, Mead & White. He left that firm along with two co-workers, and they started their own office as Lord, Hewlett & Hull.

They seemed to be golden, winning a couple of good commissions, including a Reading Room building for Grace Episcopal Church in Brooklyn Heights and a precinct house in Kensington. They also came in second in a competition to design the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And then they landed the big one: the multi-million dollar mansion for Senator William Clark on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan; a building that was to be the largest, most expensive house in New York City. (more…)

56 Court St. Christopher D. Brazee for LPC 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally the “Collegiate Building”, now mixed-use commercial/residential
Address: 56 Court Street
Cross Streets: Joralemon Street and Aitken Place
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights border/Downtown Brooklyn
Year Built: 1926-1927
Architectural Style: Neo-Gothic
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: Yes, part of the Brooklyn Skyscraper District (2012)

The story: Court Street has a fascinating history, and is one of Brooklyn’s most important streets. In the 19th century, the blocks that run through Downtown, and make up Brooklyn Heights’ northern border were a mixture of commercial and residential buildings. This address was part of a group of mid-19th century four and five story brownstone buildings that had retail stores on the ground floors and residential or office space above.

The blocks between Joralemon and Atlantic had all kinds of things going on in them, including theaters, assembly halls, offices, shops and rooming houses. The two buildings that stood on this location prior to this one had a very musical heritage. This address was home to the Mollenhauer Conservatory of Music in 1874, as well as Smith and Bunce Pianos, later in the century, and in 1907, Muller’s Orchestra. There were also rooms for rent. In 1921, a distraught man who worked as a plumber, and who rented a furnished room here, committed suicide by inhaling gas from a tube. He left a note to his mother saying that life was not worth the struggle. (more…)

50-66 Nevins St. Harriet Judson, NE, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Harriet Judson Residence, now an adult care residence
Address: 50-66 Nevins Street
Cross Streets: Between State and Schermerhorn streets
Neighborhood: Boerum Hill
Year Built: 1912-1913
Architectural Style: Transitional Renaissance Revival/Colonial Revival
Architect: Frank Freeman
Other Buildings by Architect: Eagle Warehouse, Brooklyn Fire HQ, Behr mansion, Crescent Athletic Club, Brooklyn Union Gas HQ, Germania Club (demolished), Thomas Jefferson Building (demolished), Brooklyn Savings Bank (demolished)
Landmarked: No, but should be

The story: The Young Woman’s Christian Association in Brooklyn was founded in February of 1888. It immediately elected officers, all prominent Brooklyn society women, and secured a meeting and office space in a building on Fulton Street, near Flatbush. The goal of the organization at its inception was to provide a meeting place for young women who were employed in retail stores, as office workers and other occupations throughout Brooklyn. These young ladies could listen to lectures, concerts, enjoy the reading room, and receive Christian instruction, if so desired. It was the first major organization of its kind in Brooklyn to be entirely run by women. (more…)

Times Plaza, Composite

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

Wow, Brooklyn’s changed in the last 64 years! Well, Downtown Brooklyn certainly has. This is one of Brooklyn’s busiest intersections, where Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues cross. Our “Past” photo from the Brooklyn Collection at the Brooklyn Public Library is from 1950. The Korean War was on the front page of the newspapers, the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel opened that May, and the Cold War and Russia’s nuclear capability was on everyone’s minds.

Communists were seemingly everywhere, and Jay Leno, Samuel Alito, Bill Murray and Britain’s Princess Anne were born that year, among many others. Had any of them been taken for a ride up Flatbush Avenue that year, they would have seen what the camera saw here. And like many of us, they may not have known what they were looking at. (more…)

88 schermerhorn street screenshot downtown brooklyn

The wrecking ball is coming for this attractive circa-1900 walkup at 88 Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn, which sold for $11,000,000 last month and will be replaced by condos. The new owner, Second Development Services, filed a demolition application for the four-story, eight-unit building last Friday.

A deed dated October 1 lists Second Development as the buyer. The site’s zoning allows a building as large as 33,330 square feet, which works out to a sale price of $330 per buildable square foot, a record for the area, according to GlobeSt.com, which covered the sale.

SDS told the publication they’re going to build a 20-story condo on the lot between Boerum Place and Court Street. The developer is also working on the 29-story Vos Hotel at 95 Rockwell Place. GMAP

Photo by Google Maps


New York YIMBY has published the first rendering of the 28-story tower that is coming to replace a brownstone with rent-stabilized units at 436 Albee Square. It will be part of a growing cluster of towers rising downtown, sitting across the street from City Point, next door to a 65-story tower, and not far from the tower planned to rise next to Junior’s.

ODA is the architecture firm behind several lower rise developments in Brooklyn that look like stacks of cubes. This tower is more sleek but still interesting with undulating balconies and screens that form a geometric design on the facade. What do you think of it?

Revealed: 436 Albee Square, ODA-Designed Downtown Brooklyn Tower [NYY] GMAP
Mixed-Use, 28-Story Tower Planned to Replace Brownstone Near City Point [Brownstoner]
Rendering by ODA via NYY


Community Board 2′s full board voted last night to oppose the 13-story Ace Hotel proposed for Bond and Schermerhorn Streets in Downtown Brooklyn, Curbed reported. The developer, GFI Capital, wants a variance to build 50,000 square feet larger than as-of-right zoning allows, and the board’s Land Use committee voted against it last month. Almost the full board agreed, citing concerns about increased traffic on Bond Street and the hotel’s lack of parking. GFI can’t include underground parking or a basement because the hotel will sit directly over the A/C/G stop at Hoyt-Schermerhorn. Although the developer conducted a traffic study, the board said it wasn’t convinced.

Permits were filed in July for the development at 53-61 Bond Street, which specified 285 rooms distributed across 156,984 square feet. By contrast, an as-of-right building would have 169 rooms spread over 107,760 square feet. The board’s vote is only advisory.

Local Board Opposes Possible 285-Room Ace Hotel in DoBro [Curbed]
Ace Hotel Coverage [Brownstoner]

554 Atlantic Ave, NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Gross Building, now Islamic Center
Address: 552-554 Atlantic Avenue
Cross Streets: 3rd and 4th avenues
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn
Year Built: 1928
Architectural Style: Art Deco, with neo-Classical ornamentation
Architect: Henry I. Oser
Other Work by Architect: Trinity Court Building, lower Manhattan, loft and showroom buildings in the Garment District, Madison Avenue, and other midtown Manhattan locations
Landmarked: No

The story: I’ve always wondered what the story was on this building. Its glazed terra cotta façade rises up over the neighboring buildings, immediately dating it as an Art Deco-era building, although it has very neo-Classical ornamentation. Its wide arched windows and polychrome décor are a nice piece of detailing in a neighborhood that already has some Art Deco masterpieces. My friend Joe Svehlak, who leads walking tours all over the city, and often conducts walking tours of Atlantic Avenue, asked me to find out the building’s history.

I found out the building was commissioned in 1928 by the 554 Atlantic Avenue Corporation, with offices in Jamaica, Queens. The building was designed by Henry I. Oser, and is six stories tall, with stores and offices. The building cost $160,000 to build. By 1929, the building was called the Gross Building, for realtor Joseph M. Gross, who had offices there, and may have been the name behind the developers. The buildings first tenants were real estate companies, trade union offices and lawyers. (more…)

185 Flatbush Ave rendering

A Mobil gas station at 185 Flatbush Avenue Extension in Downtown Brooklyn is now on the market and asking $27,000,000, which shakes out to $425 per buildable square foot, Crain’s reported. Zoning allows a building as large as 63,400 square feet on the triangular site bounded by Johnson and Gold streets. With an affordable housing bonus, a development could be up to 76,000 square feet and house 75 apartments.

Any developer who purchased it would likely build condos or a hotel to justify the asking price, Crain’s pointed out. Most likely a developer would have to decontaminate the site as well before starting construction. CPEX, which is marketing the property, included the rendering above to show what a potential development there could look like.

The 6,300-square-foot plot, which is across the street from the Oro condos at 306 Gold Street, last changed hands for $604,918 in 2011, according to public records. So this is quite a leap.

Downtown Brooklyn Mobil Station Hits Market at $27 Million [Crain's]
Rendering by Montroy Andersen Demarco via Crain’s

301-309 Schermerhorn St. Odd Fellows Memorial, Google Maps 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally Odd Fellows Memorial Hall
Address: 301-309 Schermerhorn Street
Cross Streets: Nevins and Bond Street
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn
Year Built: 1924-25
Architectural Style: Colonial Revival
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: The Odd Fellows can trace their origins back to the minor trade guilds of Europe in the 14th century. The name comes from the fact that some trades did not have enough members in a town to have their own guild, so they joined together – a membership of odd fellows. In addition to social activities, these organizations provided financial services for members, especially for the elderly. Many began as burial societies for members. By the late 19th century, they were one of many fraternal societies that were very popular in the United States. Brooklyn was home to chapters of just about every society possible, for every group possible, and some of those societies are still very active today.

After World War I, Brooklyn’s Odd Fellows decided to honor the members of their fellowship who had died during the war. They began collecting funds to build a memorial hall in 1920, and by 1923 had collected over $300,000. Odd Fellow lodges from all over the country contributed to the fund, as this was the only Memorial Hall for Odd Fellow war dead in NY State. The Hall would also serve to honor the over 7,000 Odd Fellows in New York who served in the war. (more…)

365 bridge street downtown brooklyn 102014

The price of this penthouse unit at the Belltel Lofts in Downtown Brooklyn has come way down since hitting the market in August. It started at $2,250,000 and is now asking $1,850,000. What do you get for your money? Great views of New York Harbor and 1,645 square feet of living space. Unfortunately there’s no outdoor space, something that many other higher-floor units in this building have. Monthly charges are still low — $1,290 a month. What do you think this’ll end up going for?

365 Bridge Street, #23A [Corcoran] GMAP