03/31/14 10:00am

This two-story house at 764 Metropolitan Avenue may bite the dust for a six-story apartment building. Plans call for 10 apartments spread across 11,598 square feet of residential space on the narrow East Williamsburg lot, according to a new building application.

Designed by the Redd Group, the proposed building will include storage, two duplexes on the uppermost floors, and a roof deck. No demolition permits have been filed for the house yet. GMAP

02/26/14 9:30am

Boaz Gilad’s Brookland Capital, which has cut a swathe through Brooklyn from Prospect Heights to Flatbush with more than 40 active projects, is now expanding to East Williamsburg. The firm is in contract to purchase a former condensed milk factory at 850 Metropolitan Avenue, which it plans to convert into a 36-unit condo building, The Real Deal reported.

Brookland will pay just under $10,000,000 for the 28,000-square-foot factory, which currently houses knitwear manufacturer Rags Knitwear. “It’s got a great industrial feel,” the paper quoted Gilad as saying of the building.

The 28,000-square-foot property is currently home to a knitwear manufacturer called Rags Knitwear. Other Brookland Capital projects include 531 Vanderbilt Avenue, 735-737 Bergen Street, 691 Marcy Avenue and 1255 Bushwick Avenue, among others.

Got Milk? Brookland to Build 36-Unit Condo in East Williamsburg [TRD] GMAP

02/12/14 3:30pm

180 Graham Ave, 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Flats building with storefront
Address: 180 Graham Avenue
Cross Streets: Meserole Street and Montrose Avenue
Neighborhood: East Williamsburg
Year Built: 1891
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: John H. Scheidt was a successful Brooklyn entrepreneur. For many years he had run a booking agency on Broadway in East Williamsburg, which today would be classified as a travel agency. He booked steamship tickets, arranged for passports and visas, and generally took care of passenger’s needs for traveling overseas. Most of his clients were like him, German-American Eastern District residents who needed to go home or abroad, and trusted him to know the ins and outs of travel. He did very well.

Well enough that he started to dabble in the rich man’s sports of banking, politics and real estate. He commissioned this handsome building in 1891, built on busy Graham Avenue, near Meserole Street. It’s a stately four story building with a storefront and three floors of apartments above. Although I couldn’t find the architect in my search, I’m sure he’ll turn up. It’s a beautiful brick building with terra-cotta trim, and a pressed zinc cornice. It may well be the work of Theobald Engelhardt, whose talented hands seem to be on a majority of the great buildings in this area, during this time. We do know the builder was Jacob Rauth, who crossed a picket line to pass bricks along to the bricklayers building the structure. (more…)

15 Debevoise St. Folly theater site, composite

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

Theater and live entertainment have long been an important part of our culture. We have a need to be entertained, amused or moved by the actions and talents of those who have an equal need to perform. Before our entertainment was delivered to us by devices we keep in our pockets, or sit in front of in our homes, there were theaters, concert halls and auditoriums. Every city had at least one theater district. Here in Brooklyn, we had several.

There were so many theaters and entertainment venues being built in the 19th and early 20th centuries that architects could specialize in designing theaters and concert halls, and make a good living. The needs of a theater space were many and specific. In some ways, a designing a theater could be very similar to designing a church or temple, so sometimes, architects who specialized in one moved easily into designing the other. Given the natures of church and theater, it’s a rather ironic combination of the sacred and the sometimes profane.

The firm of Dodge and Morrison designed churches. Stephen Webster Dodge and Robert Burns Morrison were well known for their church designs throughout the East Coast, as well as for their other design skills. Here in Brooklyn, they were responsible for the beautiful addition to the Bedford Central Presbyterian Church on Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights, between Dean and Bergen Streets. Dodge and Morrison also designed theaters, and one of their best was the Folly Theater, which stood on the corner of Debevoise Street and Graham Avenue in Williamsburg. (more…)

01/23/14 10:00am

Simon Dushinsky’s Rabsky Group has filed new building applications for a sizable eight-story building on Whipple Street in Williamsburg, bringing new development to a mostly commercial and industrial area off Flushing Avenue. The 51-unit residential building at 7 Whipple Street will have 45,970 square feet of residential space and feature a backyard with a playground, storage for 27 bikes and a community room.

Curtis and Ginsberg Architects, who’ve worked on the Navy Green affordable housing project and on the nearby mixed-income Cook Street Apartments, will design the building. The same property owner has held onto three vacant former parking lots at 5, 9 and 11 Whipple Streets since 1988, and  all three lots will become part of the development. GMAP

Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

12/17/13 3:00pm

101 Varet St. CB, PS 2012

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Free Hebrew Burial Society for the Poor of Brooklyn, now supermarket
Address: 101 Varet Street
Cross Streets: Graham Avenue and Humboldt Street
Neighborhood: East Williamsburg
Year Built: 1918
Architectural Style: Early 20th century commercial
Architect: Tobias Goldstone
Other buildings by architect: Lots of smaller buildings in Wiliamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick area in the teens and early ’20s.
Landmarked: No

The story: In this column I cover a lot of buildings where people live, work, do business, or worship, but it’s not too often that I cover what happens to them when they die. Up until the mid-20th century, most people, no matter how humble or grand, had funerals in their homes; the coffin with the deceased often laying in a bed of ice for at least a day. Morticians and funeral directors took care of the details, but having your loved one at home for his or her final send-off was a time honored tradition. But it still cost money to be buried, and while that was no problem for the wealthy, who could afford funeral processions to fancy cemeteries like Green-Wood, and tall, expensive monuments, it was a different story for the poor. And if you were poor and Jewish, it was a whole other story all together.

In 1888, a group of Jewish leaders living in the Lower East Side founded the Hebrew Free Burial Association. Its name in Hebrew was Chebra Agudas Achim Chesed Shel Emeth. (The Society of the Brotherhood of True Charity)The charity was organized to provide a funeral and burial place for Jews whose families couldn’t afford to pay for either. By 1909, the organization had two cemeteries in Staten Island, one of which, Mt. Richmond, is still the Society’s main burial ground. In 1911, they arranged for the burial of 22 of the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. The organization grew, and by the early 20th century, had a branch in Brooklyn’s Jewish community in Williamsburg. (more…)

12/05/13 3:00pm

47-49 Graham Ave, PNB, CB, PS 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally Public National Bank of New York, now Bank of America
Address: 47-49 Graham Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Varet Street
Neighborhood: East Williamsburg
Year Built: 1921-1923
Architectural Style: Neo-Classical
Architect: Eugene Schoen
Other works by architect: other branches of Public Nat’l Bank; several synagogues, and factories. Best known as a furniture and interior designer.
Landmarked: Yes, individual landmark (2012)

The story: The Public National Bank was founded by Joseph S. Marcus, a German-born clothing manufacturer on the Lower East Side, in 1908. By 1930, there were thirty branches in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. It was the one of the largest banks in the entire United States with a predominantly Jewish clientele. In February of 1921, the New York Times and other publications noted that the bank had purchased a plot on the corner of Graham Avenue and Varet Street with the intention of building a new Williamsburg branch. Public National already had a branch in Williamsburg, just two blocks away, but business had grown to the point that they needed to build a larger bank in order to accommodate their customers. Later that same year the architect of the new building was announced: Eugene Schoen.

Mr. Schoen was a big deal in the architecture and design world of the early 20th century. He was born in 1880, in New York City to Hungarian Jewish immigrants. His father had come to America in 1878, and was a highly revered teacher and the Grand Secretary of the Independent Order of B’rith Abraham, a fraternal order similar to the Freemasons. He was a graduate of the Manual Training School in Brooklyn, more recently called John Jay High School, and then went on to Columbia University, where he studied architecture. He worked in the offices of McKim, Mead & White during his university summers, and then worked as a teacher of art and architecture in the public school systems of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

In 1904, as a delayed honeymoon, Eugene and his wife travelled to Europe and visited Vienna. That city was at the center of a new architectural and artistic revolution, home to an Austrian branch of the Art Nouveau movement called the Vienna Secession (Wiener Secession). Artists such as Gustav Klimt and Max Klinger had joined with architects such as Otto Wagner, Joseph Maria Olbrich and Josef Hoffmann to rebel from the staid Austrian conformities of the past, and were creating new and innovative works. While in Austria, Schoen met with Otto Wagner who introduced him to Josef Hoffmann and artist Alphons Mucha. Schoen was especially taken with Hoffmann’s work, and was highly influenced by it. When he returned to NY, he worked many of Hoffmann’s influences into his own work, both in architecture and interior and furniture design. (more…)


A group of buildings in East Williamsburg is for sale for $42,000,000. The broker is Massey Knakal Realty Services. Together, they total 72,333 square feet with 66 apartments and four retail spaces in new construction or newly renovated buildings. At least two of the buildings appear to be owned by the same LLC. They all changed hands in 2010 and 2011 for a total of $16,570,000. They are not next to each other, but within a few blocks of each other in East Williamsburg. The addresses are 484 Humboldt Street, pictured above, 64-68 Maspeth Avenue, and 65 Maspeth Avenue.

Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

09/10/13 1:00pm

You’ll never guess what is lurking under the vinyl siding of this two-family in East Williamsburg: An Italianate house! That kind of makes sense because it’s located in the oldest part of Williamsburg, dating from the 1600s (although the little village was called Bushwick then). We see arched marble fireplaces, a staircase niche, etc….it’s not a hugely fancy Italianate but it is Italianate. The house is in surprisingly decent condition in the sense that it still has some original features but, according to the listing, will take some work. Sure enough, looks to us like it needs skim coating, floor refinishing, and most likely new baths and kitchens — maybe an electrical and plumbing upgrade as well. Thanks to BK to the Fullest for drawing our attention to the listing. Given the location and condition, think $1,150,000 sounds reasonable? GMAP

199 Devoe Street [Liani Greaves]

08/27/13 11:30am

A new six-story apartment building is rising at 42 Maspeth Avenue in East Williamsburg, and we have the architect’s rendering of the planned 53-unit building. The architect, Christopher Papa, said there will be a parking lot in the cellar that can fit 27 cars and bikes, and a backyard. AptsandLofts.com is marketing the apartments, but no word yet on whether they’ll be condos or rentals. What do you think of the design?

Seven-Story Building Going up at 44 Maspeth [Brownstoner] GMAP

08/23/13 1:00pm

Bed Stuy
407 Stuvesant Avenue
Broker: Brown Harris Stevens
Price: $1,800,000
Sunday 11:30 – 1:30

devoeEast Williamsburg
32 Devoe Street
Broker: Aptsandlofts.com
Price: $1,715,000
Sunday 1:30 – 2:30

Bed Stuy
528 Jefferson Avenue
Broker: Corcoran
Price: $1,400,000
Sunday 2:00 – 3:30

65 Harman Street
Broker: Fillmore
Price: $599,000
Sunday 3:00 – 4:30

08/22/13 11:30am

A tipster sent in this photo of the new development rising at 44 Maspeth, in East Williamsburg. He says, “The site was started 2-plus years ago and then I’m guessing the developer lost his cash flow because it sat completely empty for two years until this spring. The superstructure is going up pretty quickly, considering the small team working on it.” The DOB issued new building permits this July. And according to building applications, this will rise to seven stories. We don’t know what the final product will look like, but the architect of record is Christopher V. Papa Architecture. And it doesn’t look like there’s a new developer in the mix — the land last traded hands in 2005 for $4,650,000. To see another photo of the building going up and an image of the lot pre-development, click over the jump. UPDATE: 44 Maspeth is an aptsandlofts.com project. They will know if it will go rental or condo in a few months. GMAP (more…)