139 15th Street

Earlier this month a demolition application was filed for this Italianate style wood frame house in Gowanus. The building, at 139 15th Street, is small, only 20 by 30 feet on a 22 by 95 foot lot.

However, the lot has a FAR of 2.93 according to building permits. A developer can build a 6,164 square foot building on this relatively small lot.

And it seems that is exactly what is going to happen. Way back in 2011 plans were filed for an eight-unit building with five stories, if you include the penthouse. (more…)

421 DeGraw St. NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally St. Agnes Catholic School, now apartments
Address: 421 DeGraw Street
Cross Streets: Hoyt and Bond Streets
Neighborhood: Technically Gowanus, although most consider it to be in Carroll Gardens
Year Built: 1898-1900
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Original building by Thomas Houghton. Apartment conversion by Grasso-Menziuso Architects, PC.
Other works by architect: Houghton: Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, Stuyvesant Heights; St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Park Slope; Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Fort Greene, row houses in Stuyvesant Heights, and more. Grasso-Menziuso: Schools, institutional buildings, many new and rehabbed affordable housing projects in New York and several other cities.
Landmarked: No

The story: During the 19th century, South Brooklyn developed as an industrial hub, with the factories and plants in Gowanus on one side and the Red Hook docks and manufacturing facilities on the other.

Industry is nothing without a ready work force. Developers built up the residential streets in between and in the surrounding neighborhoods, and workers quickly moved in.

A vast majority of those workers were Catholics, first the Irish, then Italians, Poles, and much later, Spanish-speaking Catholics. The Irish community petitioned the Church for their own neighborhood parish, and in 1878, the first Catholic Bishop of Brooklyn, Bishop Laughlin, instituted the parish of St. Agnes here, with Father James Duffy as its first pastor. A wooden church was built on the corner of Hoyt and DeGraw. (more…)


Lightstone’s huge 700-unit rental development at 363 and 365 Bond Street in Gowanus that we’ve been hearing about for years is starting to look like a building, finally. Well, several buildings, to be more precise. The windows were going in and the brick facade was rising at 365 Bond Street when we stopped by a couple weeks ago.

The size and shape of the overall complex is starting to be visible. It will occupy two blocks. So far at least, the sections of the buildings visible when you’re standing at the corner of Bond and 2nd Street are only six stories tall. But there will be sections that will rise as high as 12 stories, as you can see in the previously published rendering we found posted on the construction fence, below.

The controversial development on polluted land on the banks of the very polluted Gowanus Canal has been in the works for years. When it’s all finished, there will be 140 affordable units as well as ground-floor stores, community space and parking. Lightstone is also planning luxury amenities such as an outdoor pool, libraries, custom Italian kitchens and wide plank white oak floors. The architect is Goldstein, Hill and West.

Lightstone Gowanus Coverage [Brownstoner]

550 4th avenue

Brookland Capital, which has made a name for itself by developing a remarkable number of condos in Bed Stuy, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights and even in East Flatbush, has unveiled a new building in a bit of a more expensive neighborhood: the Gowanus side of 4th Avenue.

The rendering, which was first published by New York YIMBY, shows a glassy 11-story tower. Many units have terraces and there is a penthouse unit set back at the top.

When complete, the building will be 31,859 square feet and will have 30 apartments, according to plans submitted in December and yet to be approved. (The developer told NYY it will have 38 units.)

There will be a gym and a common terrace on the second floor. At street level, the building will have a 5,000 square foot retail space divided into two units — much preferable to a blank wall for parking, we think. The building was designed by architecture firm RoArt. (more…)


The remaining three “Four on Degraw” townhouses from developer H Holding Group are now up for sale, with an ask of $4,999,000 each. The first townhouse, No. 451, hit the market in April 2014 asking $1,000,000 less and is in contract.

Part of the Brooklyn new-construction townhouse trend, the residences are neo-Georgian on the outside and contemporary (and very luxurious) on the inside. The architect is Gerald J. Caliendo, who has designed quite a few midrange apartment buildings in Brooklyn. (more…)

422 Union Street

A new-construction townhouse with a traditional brick row house exterior in Gowanus is now on the market and asking $4,250,000. A Google Maps photo of the building under construction at 442 Union Street shows a four-story building with a traditional black cornice, lintels, and extra-long windows on the parlor floor.

Inside the interiors are clean and modern. The 4,320-square-foot home features 10.5-foot ceilings and four-inch rift-sawn oak flooring on the parlor level. A private garden, roof terrace and — notably — an elevator are among its amenities. (more…)


Newtown Creek Alliance Historian and Brownstoner Queens columnist Mitch Waxman will lead a boat tour of Newtown Creek, pictured above, next month for the Working Harbor Committee. The two-hour tour of one of the nation’s most polluted waterways will leave from Pier 11 in Manhattan at 11 am on May 31.

A collection of guest speakers will also help narrate the tour. A separate two-hour tour of Gowanus Bay will leave from Pier 11 at 1:10 pm the same day.



Big news: The original cement facade of the Coignet Building, not been seen in decades, is now visible at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street. The uppermost story of netting that has shrouded the landmark at 360 3rd Avenue in Gowanus for about a year as it undergoes restoration came down sometime in the last few days. We snapped these photos yesterday as we were passing through the area.

The red brick veneer applied sometime in the mid-20th century has been removed, per the restoration plans. It looks to us as though the restorers are planning to add a top coat of cement to finish and seal the exterior. Perhaps this explains why some of the netting has been removed.

The historic restoration of this landmark is certainly not finished, as more photos below reveal. The front stoop has greatly deteriorated in the last year, since the scaffolding went up — perhaps a result of this unusually snowy winter.

Whole Foods, which is handling the restoration as part of a deal to build its adjacent store, is also stabilizing the interior. Click through to see behind the fence.

Coignet Building Coverage [Brownstoner]




Whole Foods’ restoration of the crumbling landmark next door known as the Coignet Building is well under way, although almost nothing can be discerned under the netting. When we stopped by 360 3rd Avenue in Gowanus last year, we could see that almost all of the red brick facade — not original to the building and not staying — had been removed, save a small strip or so.

When we stopped by again Thursday, we found this rendering posted on the fence. A little bit of the exterior was also visible through a gap in the netting.

Whole Foods got going on the project after being fined twice by Landmarks twice for failure to maintain the structure, which was one of the first all-concrete buildings in the U.S. Click through to see the construction project shrouded in netting.

Coignet Building Coverage [Brownstoner]


71 2nd street 2

Here’s a lovely brick Italianate that has been updated with a rustic — but not overly so — vibe. There are three marble mantels and crown moldings as well as some exposed beams and brick. It’s set up as rental over an owner’s duplex, and the parlor floor has been opened up. There’s also a stained-glass skylight and deck.

Two opens houses are planned for Saturday from 1 to 3 pm and Sunday from noon to 1. What do you think of it and the ask of $2,700,000?

71 2nd Street [D’Andrea Craig Realty] GMAP


463 carroll street 4

The architects at OPerA Studio took a crumbling townhouse at 463 Carroll Street in Gowanus and transformed it into a modern four-bedroom home with new facades and Juliet balconies. The client was a developer who intended to sell the house.

“The concept was to create a modern dwelling that retained the warmth and texture of a traditional townhouse,” OPerA’s Thomas Barry told us. Exposed brick walls and warm reclaimed wood in the window surrounds and stairs help balance out the house’s modern feel.

“The deep wood window surrounds create a play of shadows on the facades while providing a natural materiality, but rendered in a modern formal vocabulary,” he continued. “This balance is carried inside with the details of the stairs and the continuation of the play of warm and cool material combinations.”

The house required major structural repairs. The underlying wood frame structure was so termite-damaged that the “brick facades were literally hanging on nothing,” Barry said. OPerA Studio removed the facades, shored up the unstable wood framing, repaired the foundation and replaced the cellar slab. Then new facades were built at the front and back with a 2-by-6 wood frame. Half the floor joists were replaced.

After the renovation, the 2,400-square-foot home has three and a half baths, a blindingly white chef’s kitchen, gas fireplaces and a double-height master bedroom on the third floor. It hit the market with renderings in the fall of 2013 and sold for its aggressive asking price, $2,649,000, last December.

Click through to see photos from before and after the renovation. What do you think of how it turned out?

Major Renovation in Works at 463 Carroll Street [Brownstoner]
Photos by OPerA Studio