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It was a long winter, and nothing much happened at 645 Union Street in Gowanus, the future site of the Gowanus Inn & Yard.

The quaint, vintage-style hotel and restaurant is being built on an empty lot by Matt Abramcyk — founder of the Beatrice Inn, “the hippest nighttime destination in all of Manhattan” —  and two partners. Back in 2013, we reported that Gowanus was becoming a hotel district, and there are currently three other hotels located within five blocks of the Gowanus Inn, and more on the way.

Over the last few months, the site’s made progress. The cellar is nearing completion, with a number of internal walls dividing future rooms, as you can see in the photos above and below. (more…)

194 Butler Street, Google Maps 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Detached wood-frame house
Address: 194 Butler Street
Cross Streets: Bond and Nevins streets
Neighborhood: Gowanus
Year Built: Around 1880
Architectural Style: Italianate
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: This small block, right at the edge of the Gowanus Canal, is a rare surviving example of what Brooklyn housing once looked like.

The Gowanus Canal was more or less finished by 1869, and the development of all kinds of industries sprang up over the next decades. The largest of these needed the canal to transport raw materials and fuels into Brooklyn, and finished products out.

The area grew rapidly as an industrial hub, and that meant jobs and workers. Working within walking distance of home is something well appreciated by everyone throughout history, no matter the job or status.

Builders and developers understood this, and jumped on any available land that was not slated for industry. They knew that most of the work force would be unskilled, lower echelon immigrant workers — a group that needed quantity.

They built fast and they built cheap, constructing small houses, tenements and multi-unit buildings on the side streets leading to and around the Gowanus Canal. (more…)

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It looks like notable real estate character James McGown — known for closing Brooklyn’s oldest bar and filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy at least six times since 2009, among other things — is losing a building at 555 Union Street, just a stone’s throw from the Ample Hills Creamery and Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. A tipster wrote-in:

“I know that George and Jim McGown (McGowan, McGowen) always drum up good conversations on the real estate blogs, most recently with their privately held auction on March 27, 2015 that seemed to be selling over a dozen prime properties but nothing actually sold.

There is currently a Sheriff’s Sale being held on July 8, 2015 at 1030am in the Kings County Sheriff’s Office, Brooklyn, New York on the property located at 555 Union Street.

This sale was previously advertised in the Daily News however McGown filed an Order to Show Cause which was inevitably lost. Since then the sale has been rescheduled.

Whats good about the Sheriff Sale as opposed to the privately held auction is that the winning bid will (more than likely) be more than the current debt and therefore the successful bidder should own the property free and clear.”

Any takers?

McGown Coverage [Brownstoner]
James McGown buys, bankrupts and bruises [Crain’s]

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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…)

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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]
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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…)

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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…)

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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.

(more…)

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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]

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