This Ocean Hill townhouse, at 720 Decatur Street, is one of several better-than-average flips to recently become available in the neighborhood. It and others nearby could be viewed as something of a test case for prices in this section of Ocean Hill, where the sounds of building and rehabbing are getting loud enough to drown out passing trains on the elevated J tracks.

The parlor floor is open plan, with an attractive kitchen in the rear, boasting floor-to-ceiling windows and a door that opens onto a terrace. The living room has one of those flat-screen-style built-in fireplaces that look as much like a place to watch a video of a fire as light one. This floor has a half-bath — and there’s another in the cellar (!).



MacDonough Cafe opened on the dividing line of Bed Stuy and Ocean Hill Tuesday, in a space that had been empty for years. The menu at 83 Saratoga Avenue includes light fare such as avocado toast, pasta, and cheese and fruit plates.

The space had been under renovation for more than a year, and before that was shuttered for about a decade.

It joins a handful of other recent newcomers within a few blocks of Saratoga Park in East Bed Stuy, such as Butch & CoCo and Grandchamps. It will be open from 7 to 6, the owner told us.

Renovations at Long Vacant Storefront on Saratoga Avenue [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photos by Steve Sherman (more…)


We caught the demolition of the People’s Pleasure Palace, built sometime around 1900 at 1674 Broadway in Ocean Hill, last week and over the weekend. For decades, this has been a building supply store called Henry Distributors, aka Henry’s, and an important employer in the area.

As we have detailed in previous stories, this large and strangely shaped parcel will become supportive housing, along with the very large empty lot across the street at 1696 Broadway. Owner Stan Henry is one of the developers, along with SUS and Alembic Community Development, and someday the retail space on the ground floor of this building will include another Henry’s hardware store. The two buildings will be known as the Henry Apartments. (more…)


When we stopped by a few days ago, a four story building at 1666-1668 Broadway in Ocean Hill with interesting reclaimed looking bricks making up its facade was looking nearly complete, at least on the outside. Workers were busy inside and out all through the winter, even in the dark and cold.

Technically two buildings — one is new and one is an enlargement — it will have retail space on the ground floor and eight units on the three floors above, according to new-building permits.



The beginnings of a new stoop have appeared at the wood frame house under construction at 650 Decatur Street. As readers may recall, workers demo’d the old stoop last month.

When we passed by Wednesday, we could also see that a gut renovation is taking place inside. The front facade is also being redone, as the new layer of plywood shows.

Renovation activity has really picked up in east Bed Stuy recently. Not counting new buildings, some blocks have three or more renovations going on at once. Click through for another look.

Bed Stuy Wood Frame Getting New Stoop [Brownstoner] GMAP



The Henry Apartments, a huge affordable and supportive housing complex in Ocean Hill, has officially kicked off construction at 1696-1712 Broadway. City officials and pols such as Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna and local City Council Member Darlene Mealy were on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony, which took place Friday, March 20, a spokesperson for the project let us know. (Check out the press release and photos here.)

Workers have been putting up a construction fence around the very large site for several weeks, and when we peeked through yesterday we could see the ground had been cleared and a hole had appeared close to the corner of Broadway and Rockaway. The site runs along Broadway between Rockaway and Decatur. Years ago there were apartments and stores here, but the property has been an empty lot for decades. (more…)

1677 St. Marks Ave, Presentation, CC 4

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Our Lady of the Presentation-Loreto Roman Catholic Church
Address: 1677 St. Marks Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Rockaway Boulevard
Neighborhood: Ocean Hill
Year Built: 1910-1911
Architectural Style: Byzantine Revival
Architect: Frank J. Helmle
Other Buildings by Architect: St. Barbara’s Catholic Church in Bushwick, St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Crown Heights North, plus Bossert Hotel in Brooklyn Heights, Boat House in Prospect Park, Park shelters in Fulton and McGolrick parks, Greenpoint Savings Bank and Williamsburg Trust bank, and many, many more
Landmarked: No

The story: The more I find out about Frank Helmle’s work, the more I have to move him up in the pantheon of Brooklyn’s great architects. The man had incredible talent and versatility. He had an uncanny and valuable ability to take the architecture of other times, places and cultures and translate it into something modern for his time and place. He used this talent often and well, but it is perhaps most clearly shown in his church architecture.

This parish started out a long way from a corner lot at the joining of several important streets in Ocean Hill. Our Lady of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary was started in 1887 in the South Brooklyn home of the Reverend Hugh Hand. The first real mass was celebrated in Luhr’s Hall, on East New York Avenue and Osborne Street with 30 people in attendance. The congregation purchased this corner plot and had a wood-framed church built within the next year or so. That wooden church was soon too small, and it was enlarged in 1896. When the church was built, so too was the brick rectory building next door.

Rev. Hand remained the pastor here until his death in 1909. That year, Rev. James F. Flynn was made the pastor. He was in charge when the wooden church burned down in 1910. The church rallied, held mass in a large tent erected on site, and began raising money to build a new church. Rev. Flynn had a reputation for appreciating good architecture and knowing his architects, so he must have been quite happy to have Frank J. Helmle on board to design the new church. He may have even suggested him. (more…)

1725 st marks avenue ocean hill 22015

A long-shuttered factory and lot at 1725 St Marks Avenue, between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue in Ocean Hill, sold for $2,200,000 last month, according to public records. That’s about twice what we would expect.

It’s a large lot, nearly 7,000 square feet, but the property has a FAR of 1 and is only zoned for manufacturing. (The existing building is 1.39 over FAR, also.) About a year ago, small residential lots in Ocean Hill on the other side of Atlantic were trading around $180 per square foot. This sale price works out to about $314 a square foot.

Prices have been rising all across the borough, of course, and this property sits right next to the boundaries of de Blasio’s proposed East New York rezoning plan. If that goes through, it will turn nearby commercial-only spaces into mixed-use residential and possibly add as many as 7,000 apartments in the area, as we reported last month.

Signatures on the deeds show the buyer is an LLC managed by local investor Zalmen Wagschal. GMAP

Image via Google Maps

1-19 Jardine Place, CB, PS 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Two-family row houses
Address: 1-19 Jardine Place
Cross Streets: Herkimer Street and Atlantic Avenue
Neighborhood: Ocean Hill
Year Built: 1890s
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival, some with Romanesque Revival details
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: The more you get to know Brooklyn, the more you realize it would probably take a lifetime to really get to know this enormous borough. Of course, we all know it was an independent city up until 1898. Only a few years earlier, in 1894, Flatlands became part of Brooklyn, completing the land mass of the borough we know today. Brooklyn was and is geographically huge, and its neighborhoods are as varied as the different original towns, time periods, and kinds of architecture allow. All of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods have interesting stories.

Ocean Hill, the neighborhood between East New York, Brownsville, Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights has some great residential architecture, as well as a vibrant history. Ocean Hill started to develop in the 1890s, and its boundaries cross Atlantic Avenue, creating a long neighborhood that abuts both Crown Heights and Bedford Stuyvesant. Because of school zones, poverty and demographics, Ocean Hill and neighboring Brownsville have been linked together since the 1960s and ’70s. But architecturally, the neighborhood is more aligned with its neighbors to the west, and less to Brownsville. (more…)


Three huge lots equal in size to almost an entire block have been leveled to make way for a huge public housing project in Ocean Hill. (You can see the future plans for the site here and here.) The property was formerly the Prospect Plaza housing project, home to 1,200 people, which NYCHA emptied out in 2000, promising to rebuild. When we visited a year earlier, the empty, boarded-up apartment houses were still standing.

At 1776 Prospect Place, pictured above and after the jump, the demo work started in May and was signed off on in October. An application for a new six-story building with 101 apartments was disapproved this month. The building that previously stood there was 15 stories.

The area immediately around the public housing sites consists of empty lots or empty apartment buildings, adding up to about eight desolate lots on two and a half blocks between Saratoga and Howard avenues and Prospect and Sterling places, close to Eastern Parkway in Ocean Hill.

Click through to see more photos of the site and a rendering of one of the planned buildings.

City Finally Moves to Redevelop Vacant Housing Project in Ocean Hill [Brownstoner] GMAP
Rendering by Dattner Architects via NYY


When we happened by 880-882 Macon Street Sunday, we were surprised to see the building is looking just about finished — and it looks much better than we expected. We had no idea from the sketch on the fence that it would be all black or even brick. Although it replaced a tiny 19th century brick row house and empty lot, it fits in quite nicely with its surroundings, we think, since there are apartment buildings of the same height just two doors away.

This was one of the first for-profit developments in Ocean Hill in perhaps a decade, and now there are buildings going up on empty lots all around. Click through to see more photos. What do you think of the look?

Rendering Posted for Small Apartment House in Ocean Hill Near Broadway and Saratoga [Brownstoner] GMAP
Development to Boom in Ocean Hill? [Brownstoner]



The housing tower that overlooks Saratoga Park in Bed Stuy is one of six Section 8 complexes owned by NYCHA across the city that are going to be sold to affordable housing developer L+M Partners. The developer will buy a 50 percent stake for $400 million over 15 years plus invest $100 million in renovating the 900 units, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Once an apartment is renovated, the federal government will pay L&M the difference between what the market rate rent would be and what the Section 8 tenants are actually paying. In addition, said the paper, the developers “will be able to sell tax-exempt bonds and federal tax credits under an agreement that expires in 30 years.”

After that period, the properties “could be converted to market rate,” although that decision would be made by NYCHA and “officials said they were committed to preserving affordability.”

The deal is a “partnership” not unlike the ones that have lately been made with libraries, churches and others. NYCHA would retain ownership of the underlying land.

The complex, Saratoga Square at 930 Halsey Street, is technically in Ocean Hill, although locals consider it Bed Stuy. (The Journal said it is in Bushwick, which starts on the other side of Broadway.) It consists of two buildings containing 251 apartments, all of which are senior housing, according to NYCHA’s own website. (Also part of the complex, but presumably not included in the deal, is the notable Saratoga Avenue Community Center at 940 Hancock Street, which has won architectural awards for its design. The architect is George Ranalli.)

The other complexes — Campos Plaza, East 4th Street Rehab, Milbank-Frawley Houses, East 120th Street Rehab and Bronxchester Houses — are not in Brooklyn.

Curiously, we noticed last week, Fordham professor of history Mark Naison claimed in a recent story in BK Nation that Bed Stuy’s famous Marcy Houses, where Jay-Z grew up, are going market rate in a similar sounding scheme. He doesn’t cite his sources for this information. Perhaps residents told him apartments were being set aside. NYCHA has also said it wants to redistribute larger apartments to larger families.

New York City to Sell Public-Housing Stake [WSJ]
Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark