155-159 Lafayette Ave, CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Flats buildings
Address: 155-159 Lafayette Avenue
Cross Streets: Carlton Avenue and Adelphi Street
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1897
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival with Palladian and Classical details
Architect: Frank Bosworth
Other Buildings by Architect: Was not able to find any
Landmarked: Yes, part of Fort Green Historic District (1978)

The story: The architect of these two twin flats buildings was an unknown named Frank Bosworth. He would have loved the Internet, because it takes only one real estate ad to create a tsunami of positive hype for oneself that is still rather amazing even in this day of jaded Internet use — as our story will show.

When I looked up Frank Bosworth, to see if he had designed anything else, I got a flood of entries. The only problem was that they were all copies of one listing for one of the larger apartments in the building, first run in 2014.

The real estate broker had described the building as being built by “famed architect Frank Bosworth.” Because that description was repeated by all the sites that rerun the listings, “famed architect Frank Bosworth” finally got his 15 minutes of, well…fame. An entire page of Frank Bosworth mentions. Unfortunately for us architect geeks, that was it.

Mr. Bosworth remains a cypher, an unknown in the pantheon of Brooklyn architects. (more…)

213-235 Clermont Ave, NS, PS 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row houses
Address: 213-235 Clermont Avenue
Cross Streets: DeKalb and Willoughby Avenues
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1868-1871
Architectural Style: French Second Empire
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: Yes, part of Fort Greene Historic District (1978)

The story: My introduction to Brooklyn came from my BFF, who was a student at Pratt Institute during the late 1970s, through early 80s. When she graduated, she stayed in the neighborhood for many years afterward. I was living in the Bronx at that time, but used to visit often, and because she moved around a lot, I saw a lot of apartments in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene. Most of them were pretty awful student housing hovels, back in the day when you could rent almost anything to a starving art student. But after she had a decent job, her apartment choices got better, and her last apartment in Brooklyn was in this group of houses.

I was still living in a 1930s apartment in the Bronx, which was a totally different aesthetic than a floor-through in an 1868 row house. I loved her apartment, which was on the third floor of one of these houses. I’ll never forget it had two beautiful intricately carved marble fireplaces, one in the front and one in the back rooms. One had the bust of a woman in the center, and both had the patina of age. Thank goodness, they had never been covered in paint. (more…)

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Exposed brick and decorative mantels give this Fort Greene one-bedroom a sweet, homey feel. The strip kitchen isn’t the newest or the most attractive, but there are a decent amount of cabinets, as well as a microwave and dishwasher. The living room and bedroom are both nicely sized, and there are two large closets for storage. What are your thoughts on it for $2,700 a month?

304 Cumberland Street, #2 [Corcoran] GMAP

259-261 Cumberland St. SB, PS 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row houses
Address: 259-261 Cumberland Street
Cross Streets: DeKalb and Lafayette Avenues
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1876
Architectural Style: Transitional Italianate/Neo-Grec
Architect: Thomas H. Brush
Other Buildings by Architect: Brush was more a builder than architect, with row houses and other buildings in Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Bedford.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Fort Greene Historic District (1978)

The story: People become successful housing developers by getting the most out of a piece of property. Thomas H. Brush, who was the owner, architect and builder of these houses, and many others in Brooklyn, understood this well. He was in possession of a 25 foot plot of land on Cumberland Street between DeKalb and Lafayette Avenue in 1875, when Fort Greene was in the middle of a great building boom. He could have built a handsome 25 foot wide mansion on this lot, it would not have been too unremarkable here, but he chose differently. He built two 12.5 foot wide brownstones instead.

Acting as his own architect, and possessing a fine sense of balance and proportion, he divided the property in two. He designed them to look like one large house by placing the doorways on the ends of the plot, allowing an unrelieved bank of windows on the upper stories and a shared cornice to give the illusion of much larger homes. He gave his houses wide brownstone shelves and lintels, and framed the doors and windows with heavy molded sills. They eye carries upward, and then across, creating the illusion of one big house that just happens to have two doorways. (more…)

231 carlton avenue fort greene 22015

The five brand new townhouses at Carlton Mews in Fort Greene hit the market Tuesday, each with a triplex and a two-bedroom garden apartment. We took a tour in person the same day, and they look as incredible in real life as they do here in the listing photos.

We speculate these were built to sell, not rent, but issues stemming from the collapse that killed a construction worker in 2012 may make that difficult or undesirable for now, at least.

Kudos to the architect, who is Darrin Krumpus of Boro Architects, according to the permits.

For $12,000 a month, the triplexes feature four bedrooms, three and a half baths, a den, large living room and basement storage. The 3,200-square-foot homes have bronze cabinet handles, Viking Stoves, gas fireplaces, zoned central heating and cooling and five-inch-wide oak plank floors. There’s also a deck and landscaped backyard shared with the garden apartment.

Downstairs, the two-bedroom garden apartments are 1,000 square feet and asking $3,750 a month. The finishes are not as nice as the triplexes, but they still sport white oak floors, stainless steel appliances and central heating and cooling. Five of the 10 units — two triplexes and three garden apartments — have already been rented, agent John LaRocca of Arena Real Estate told us.

The Landmarks-approved townhouses at 225-233 Carlton Avenue were built in a traditional 19th century style that mirrors the rest of the block. We’ve been watching them since construction began two and a half years ago, as well as the adjacent church, which was converted to 12 rentals and began leasing last month.

More photos after the jump! What do you think of how they turned out?

231 Carlton Avenue [StreetEasy]
Carlton Mews Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photos by Arena Real Estate via StreetEasy


31 St. Felix St. CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former carriage house, now condos
Address: 31 St. Felix Street
Cross Streets: Dekalb Avenue and Fulton Street
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: Unknown, new addition: 2004-5
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Original building unknown; 2004 addition: Jorge Concepcion, project manager
Landmarked: No

The story: St. Felix Street begins at Dekalb Avenue and ends three blocks later at Hanson Place. The street and its surrounding neighbors began to be developed in the 1840s. A look at the Brooklyn Eagle shows lots selling all throughout the early 40s, and then houses for sale later in the decade. The longer block between Dekalb and Fulton Street was always a mixture of row houses and service buildings. Over the next 40 years, some of the buildings were replaced or made larger, but the block stayed that same mixture of homes and service buildings.

This building has a confusing history. Confusing, because there is information out there about it that I couldn’t verify. I found many references to the building as being a firehouse. One was a list someone had drawn up of old Brooklyn firehouses. It listed this address and building as Engine 226. But the real Engine 226 is on State Street in Boreum Hill. It’s always been there, even when it was Brooklyn Fire Department Engine 26. (It was also a BOTD, coincidentally.) When this building was converted into condos, the owner also called it a former firehouse, and so has every real estate ad since. I don’t think it was. (more…)

154 lafayette avenue fort greene 22015

Ground floors of townhouses typically have low ceilings, and this co-op listing at 154 Lafayette is no exception. The current owners seem to have made the most of the situation, though, with a bright and modern-leaning renovation. Any sense of cabin fever will also be alleviated by the private garden space out back. The owners have also done a nice job on the big media room in the basement, which sports some nice original brick arches and adds another 500 square feet to the 900-square-foot main floor for a total of 1,400. The maintenance is $800 and asking price is $1,295,000.

154 Lafayette Avenue, #1 [Fillmore] GMAP

21-27 North Oxford Street, Google Maps 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former bakery, now empty?
Address: 21-27 North Oxford Street
Cross Streets: Flushing and Park Avenues
Neighborhood: Fort Greene (Wallabout)
Year Built: Early 20th century
Architectural Style: Brick 19th century style factory
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: South Oxford Street turns into North Oxford when it crosses Myrtle Avenue. Before the bakery was constructed, there were four brick houses on these lots. The map for 1886 shows them clearly, and the Brooklyn Eagle records advertisements for servants, as well as stories of the people who lived in 21, 23, 25, and 27 North Oxford Street.

21 North Oxford was home to an apparent suicide in 1895. Maurice Morson ingested arsenic and died. He apparently was a miserably angry man who fought often with his wife. The day before he killed himself, he had taken a stick to her when she tried to stop him from beating their twelve year old son. She told the coroner that the evening of his death, he had poured some coffee, and offered to share it with her. She thought that strange, since he wasn’t prone to acts of kindness or sharing.

He poured some of the coffee into the saucer, and then offered her the cup. After they finished their coffee, she said he was violently ill and threw up. But he refused to allow her to get a doctor, and a few hours later he was dead. The police found arsenic pills on his person, and the coroner found arsenic in his stomach. It was called a suicide, even though his wife admitted that she had once threatened to poison him. Hmmm. (more…)

26 south oxford street fort greene 12015

26 South Oxford Street must have been quite a pad when it was originally built. The limestone facade is beautiful indeed. It’s a little less impressive on the inside these days, where the former mansion has been divided into apartments. A garden floor duplex has just come on the market asking $1,150,000.

The lower level faces the rear (and thus benefits from a private garden) while the garden level faces the street. While the lower level has been gut renovated, the garden floor still has enough original detail to conjure an old-world vibe. What do you make of the pricing?

26 South Oxford Street, #1A [CORE] GMAP

15 lafayette avenue fort greene rendering

The city is moving ahead with an affordable housing deal hammered out during the Bloomberg administration, and plans to sell the prime Fort Greene site on which it will be built to developer Jonathan Rose Companies for only $1, The New York Daily News revealed. The de Blasio administration is also pressuring the developer to keep the apartments at 15 Lafayette Avenue, also known as BAM North Site II, affordable beyond the promised 30 years, the paper said.

It appears the total number of apartments may have changed since we last reported on the plan, in October of 2013. There will be 123 units, all rentals, with 73 at market rate and 50 set aside as affordable housing, according to the story. Of the latter, 25 units will go to those making 60 percent or less of the Area Median Income (AMI), and 24 units will be for renters making up to 130 percent AMI.

Plans still call for 2,800 square feet of retail space, most likely a restaurant, and 19,000 square feet of cultural space. Originally Eyebeam Art + Technology Center and Science Gallery International were supposed to occupy that cultural space, but apparently the deal fell apart.

The site is located just across the street from BAM’s Peter Jay Sharpe building at 30 Lafayette. Construction is expected to begin this spring and wrap by the end of 2016.

City to Sell Prime Land for $1 to Developer for 49 Below-Market-Rate Units [NYDN] GMAP
City Releases Rendering for Last BAM District Build, Announces Developer [Brownstoner]
Rendering by Dattner Architects/Bernheimer Architecture 


We are excited to bring you the first look inside the nearly completed apartments at 232 Adelphi Street in Fort Greene, the church conversion we have been following for years, where leasing launches Wednesday. We thought the 12 apartments would be condos, but it turns out they are rentals. We don’t have too many details on prices yet, but we do know they will start at $2,995 a month and go up as high as $11,500 a month.

As you can see from the photos above and below, the apartments incorporate lots of original church architecture, such as stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings. Exposed brick lovers will have a field day.

“No two homes at the property are alike or similar to what else is currently on the market in Brooklyn for that matter,” said the press release. The units have open floor plans, high end appliances and finishes, and vaulted steel-beam ceilings.

All the apartments will be duplexes or triplexes, including two studios, four one-bedrooms, four two-bedrooms, and two three-bedrooms. There is also a shared garden in back, and storage in the basement.

The formerly crumbling but landmarked 1888 Gothic Revival structure was saved by the conversion. The exterior was restored with the approval of Landmarks.

Open houses are planned Saturday and Sunday. One of the units has been staged by furniture retailer Lazzoni USA. Listings for the apartments are not yet available online and will go up Wednesday. WIRE International Realty is handling leasing. Scaffolding still shrouded part of the exterior when we stopped by Sunday.

The current owner is Serabjit Singh of Beards LLC, according to public records. The renovation was designed by RSVP Studio and N-Plus Architecture and Design. The interior design is by S.DG Design.

Click through to see lots more photos. What do you think of the design?

232 Adelphi Coverage [Brownstoner]
Interior photos by WIRE International Realty