brooklyn tile supply boerum hill 82014

Later this month, the Historic Districts Council will host a panel on the evolution of historic districts and the possible creation of new ones, as part of its Annual Preservation Conference Series. Panelists will explore the changing definition of what is considered worthy of preservation, which has slowly broadened from Brooklyn Heights, the first historic district, designated in 1965, to include areas with a mix of modern and industrial buildings, like the Soho Cast-Iron District. The panel, “Tomorrow’s Yesterdays: Historic Districts of the Future,” will take place in Gowanus, pictured above, and consider whether the eclectic, industrial neighborhood could ever gain landmark designation.

First, architectural historian Francis Morrone will give a presentation on the development of historic districts. Then urban planner Paul Graziano, Gowanus advocate Marlene Donnelly and Ward Dennis, a Columbia University professor and CB1 member, will discuss “potential historic districts, technological and bureaucratic strategies for looking ahead,” according to the HDC’s description. Pardon Me for Asking was the first to post about the panel, which will take place March 18 at 6:30 pm at the Shapeshifter Lab at 18 Whitewell Place. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here.

463 union street gowanus 22015

This one-bedroom garden apartment in Gowanus is almost completely open from one end to the other, which might help bring some light into what appears to be a very long space, with two extensions, although PropertyShark says the building is only 38 feet deep. It has a nice loft-y vibe and a cool white-painted brick wall dividing the front room from the kitchen.

The Home Depot-style cabinets in the latter don’t add any style points, but there are lots of them and plenty of space for an island or dining table. Renters also get a walk-in closet, access to the shared garden and some basement storage. The Carroll Street F/G stop is two and a half blocks away, and the townhouse is located about a block and a half from the Gowanus Canal, in Flood Zone 2. Do you think it’ll rent for $2,700 a month?

463 Union Street, #1 [Corcoran] GMAP

340 4th avenue construction gowanus 22015

After years of delay, a long-planned three-story commercial building is pretty far along at the corner of 4th Avenue and 3rd Street in Gowanus. The building at 340 4th Avenue will include 7,945 square feet of commercial space and 3,485 square feet for a community facility, according to permits first filed back in 2011.

Schedule A filings reveal that there will be retail on the first two floors and a school on the third floor, in addition to six parking spots.

Way back in 2008, there were rumors that Starbucks was considering a location on the empty lot, which sits in front of a Staples. The site is across the street from the park housing the Old Stone House in Park Slope — and now a block from Whole Foods.

Ultimately, developer Joseph Zafarani of BYP Capital LLC bought it for $3,250,000 in 2007, according to public records and a story in the Brooklyn Eagle at the time. It has been and out of lis pendens since then, and Zafarani seems to have bought it out of foreclosure at auction in 2012, according to public records, which may explain the construction delay. The architect is Douglas Pulaski of Bricolage Designs, according to the permits.

It’s not clear whether the building has topped out or will go higher, as per the rendering. Click through to see the rendering, which appears to be covered in Obama conspiracy theory graffiti.

Commercial Development Coming on 4th Avenue [Brownstoner] GMAP

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470 4th avenue park slope 1 22015

Excavation is under way at 470 4th Avenue in Gowanus, where a 12-story building will eventually rise. The Aufgang Architect-designed project will bring 105 apartments and 5,000 square feet of commercial space to the corner of 4th Avenue and 11th Street, according to permits approved this month.

It looks like the development also has a new or alternate address at 237 11th Street. The 84,000-square-foot building will have ground floor retail, a courtyard, a medical office, a gym and 29 cellar parking spots, per Schedule A filings.

Developers Adam America, Slate and the Naveh Shuster Group paid JBS Project Management $20,000,000 for six 19th century wood frame houses and three small commercial buildings on the corner last year, and demolished them last summer. Click through to see another construction photo and the rendering posted on the fence.

470 4th Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP

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255 Butler St. KL, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally publishing plant for R. G. Dun & Company
Address: 255 Butler Street
Cross Streets: Corner Nevins Avenue Street
Neighborhood: Gowanus
Year Built: 1913-14
Architectural Style: Vaguely Renaissance/Gothic Revival early 20th century factory
Architect: Renwick, Aspinwall & Tucker
Other Buildings by Architect: American Express Building, 65 B’way, Manhattan, Grace Church Neighborhood House, Provident Loan Society Buildings, both Manhattan. Also Sanitarium additions to Seaview Hospital, Staten Island, and Dollar Savings Bank, Bronx
Landmarked: No, but part of proposed Gowanus Canal Historic District for the National Register of Historic Places

The story: The R. G. Dun Company was founded in 1841 as the Mercantile Agency by Brooklyn Heights merchant and financier Louis Tappan. He established the company as a network of correspondents who would be reputable, reliable and neutral reporters of companies and their credit worthiness. It was one of the first companies to give its subscribers business information, and helped create the modern business world. In 1849, Tappan turned the company over to his clerk, Benjamin Douglass. He capitalized on the telegraph and other modern means of transportation and information gathering, and was able to greatly expand the company across the country.

He created the profession of credit reporters; skilled in interpreting and reporting on financial measures. Four of Douglass’ many reporters went on to have impressive careers as President of the United States. They were Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland and William McKinley. In 1859, Douglass turned the business over to his brother-in-law, Robert Graham Dun. He changed the name to the R. G. Dun Company, and further expanded the company during the Civil War and beyond, so that by the 20th century, R. G. Dun was one of the most respected national and international credit reporting firms. (more…)

A group of researchers from NYU Polytechnic has sent a roving, camera-equipped robot into the Gowanus Canal to capture images and collect water quality data from the sewage-laced Superfund site. Now Brooklyn Atlantis has posted its latest set of panoramic images on Google Maps, enabling anyone to take a look at construction sites along the waterfront, like the Batcave or Lightstone’s 700-unit project on Bond Street, or just see what it’s like to explore the canal from water level. Check it out here, and take a look at the water quality data and find out how you can help with the research.

160 7th street gowanus dark room 22015

We don’t know too many places in Brooklyn where a photographer can rent a darkroom, which is why we’re happy to hear the Gowanus Darkroom opened last week at 160 7th Street in, naturally, Gowanus. Photographers can pay hourly or monthly rates for the second-floor space, which has a group darkroom with 10 enlarger stations, film changing room and a film processing/print washing area.

Soon, it will also have digital printing and scanning, an 8-by-10 mural printing station, and photography classes. Membership costs $180 a month for 20 hours of printing, or $350 a month for access to all the facilities and a private locking flat file drawer. The darkroom is also available to rent short-term for $12 an hour. The facility will celebrate its grand opening this Friday from 6 to 8 pm.  Click through to see the interior. GMAP

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third street development site next to gowanus batcave 52014

Arts Gowanus has issued an open call for artists to create public art on either side of the Carroll Street Bridge, in front of Whole Foods, and other public sites around the neighborhood, as Brokelyn was the first to note. Projects should highlight “the history, the Canal, the culture of creativity and the diversity of the community,” according to the organization.

A panel made up of reps from the Parks Department, Department of Transportation and local arts nonprofits will select three to five works to display throughout Gowanus. Projects can be in any medium and must follow the Parks Department guidelines for public art. A $35,000 grant connected to Brad Lander’s “Bridging Gowanus” program will fund the installations.

The deadline for proposals is March 2, 2015, and all artwork must be ready for installation by June 30, 2015. Work will be on display outdoors for up to 11 months. Anyone who’d like to participate is encouraged to attend a community meeting on Monday, February 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Old Stone House, located at 336 3rd Street. At the meeting, local leaders and community members will discuss what makes Gowanus unique and what they’re looking for from artists. 

239 Nevins St. Scranton and Lehigh, SSPellen 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Scranton & Lehigh Coal Company Garage
Address: 239 Nevins Street
Cross Streets: Corner Douglass Street
Neighborhood: Gowanus
Year Built: Somewhere between 1924 and 1930, research has conflicting dates
Architectural Style: Art Deco
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No, but part of proposed Gowanus Historic District, on the National Register of Historic Places

The story: The Scranton & Lehigh Coal Company was one of Pennsylvania’s large coal companies, supplying the Northeast with anthracite and other coal products. The engines that powered Brooklyn ran on coal; everything from heating homes and apartments, to heating the offices, schools, and churches of the borough, to the huge boilers that powered the many factories in the city. Coal was the fuel that kept it all going until well after World War II. Even today, a coal furnace still turns up here and there; they were long lasting, powerful, but simple heat producers. (more…)

15 2nd avenue gowanus 82014

The State Department of Corrections planned to concentrate all parole reporting for Brooklyn at its new offices at 15 2nd Avenue, but now that will not be happening. The department agreed to see only a third of parolees there and to decentralize parole reporting throughout Brooklyn, in exchange for community group Gowanus United dropping its lawsuit against the department, the state and the city, Gowanus United announced yesterday.

The location will serve 2,000 parolees — not 6,000, as was previously planned — for at least two years. The department will also meet regularly with local representatives and provide statistics on the number of parolees assigned to the office, Gowanus United said in a press release we received.

When we attended a planning meeting for Gowanus development in November, local business owners and growth advocates said they were concerned the office would have a negative effect on the area.

Construction on the offices is supposed to wrap this month, and the building will open in April, as we have previously reported. Above, the building in August. It is located between 5th Street and the Gowanus Canal, just behind Whole Foods.

Brooklyn Paper was the first to report on the settlement.

15 2nd Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]

smith-9th street bridge gowanus

Creative agency Vanderbilt Republic, who lit up the Kentile Floors sign one last time using projections, will project a constantly changing “light sculpture” onto the Smith-9th Street Bridge in Gowanus. Beginning January 12, “this half-mile light sculpture will evolve nightly through two weeks of research, transforming the frame of the Smith-9th Street Bridge into a canvas for ecstatic creation,” according to the group’s website. The show will start after dark every night until January 23. There will also be an artist reception January 16 featuring an installation from light artist and scientist Colin Bowring, aka “the Wizard,” at Gowanus Loft, 61 9th Street, Loft C8.

Flyer via Vanderbilt Republic

226 Nevins Street, SSPellen 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former City of New York Water Supply-Distribution, Gowanus Station
Address: 226 Nevins Street
Cross Streets: Corner of Butler Street
Neighborhood: Gowanus
Year Built: Around 1911 for Butler St. Nevins street building, after 1916.
Architectural Style: Late 19th-early 20th century brick factory style buildings
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: Everyone who loves all kinds of industrial architecture should wander around Gowanus. Perhaps you should do it sooner rather than later, if recent rumors of mass construction prove to be true, especially in the outer parts of the district, away from brownfields and the canal. In a car, Gowanus can be a maze of one-way streets and short streets with familiar names that are suddenly blocked off by other streets, the canal, or housing projects. But walking – that’s where you can really get a feel for the Gowanus that was, a hub of industry and manufacturing, with layers of history stacked on top of each other, with buildings that span the businesses that thrived from the last quarter of the 19th century, to the present day.

As times change, so too do the functions of these buildings. Some are easily converted into new kinds of businesses, while others don’t do so well. Some could be, and have been, converted into new housing, or event spaces, restaurants and galleries, while others can’t be imagined as anything but an empty lot upon which new buildings can be built. I always enjoy wandering around Gowanus, because I don’t know it well, and am always surprised when I run across a building that I’ve never seen before. Like this one, the former City of New York Water Supply, Distribution – Gowanus Station. (more…)