04/08/14 10:00am

A new six-story rental building next to the BQE in Sunset Park has begun leasing one-, two- and three-bedrooms. Although development plans have been in the works since 2007 for 314 52nd Street, construction finally began last fall at the corner site.

Town Residential is marketing the apartments, which start at $1,900 for a one-bedroom, $2,550 for a two-bedroom and $3,300 for a three-bedroom, two-bath. There are eight units on the market now, but the finished building will have 17, according to new building permits. Each unit has stainless steel appliances, including a dishwasher, a laundry hookup, and private outdoor space. Building amenities include a shared roof deck and parking available for an additional fee.

The developer is an LLC who bought the formerly vacant land for the surprisingly low price of $185,000 in 2012, property records show. Click through the jump for more interior photos.

314 52nd Street [Town Residential] GMAP

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03/31/14 3:00pm

5200 1st Ave,KL, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Brooklyn Heights Railroad Company power house
Address: 5200 1st Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner 52nd Street
Neighborhood: Sunset Park
Year Built: 1892
Architectural Style: Rundbogenstil Romanesque Revival
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: Public transportation has always been a necessary component of a vital and growing Brooklyn, and that was as true in the 19th century as it is today. By the end of the 19th century, the new elevated trains were being built all across the city, but below those tracks, the trolley car lines reigned supreme. They had more tracks, went along more streets, and connected parts of the city together that the elevated trains couldn’t or wouldn’t.

All of the transportation companies, whether ground or above, were all private companies. They were a broiling mass of competition, at times merging, breaking away, and then re-consolidating with each other, all in a battle for mastery over public transportation. One of the largest of these was the Brooklyn Heights Railroad Company. They had one of the largest systems of trolley lines in Brooklyn, and they were growing in leaps and bounds.

The company was founded in 1887, and began by running cable cars down Montague Street towards the Wall Street ferry. In 1891, they tested their first electric trolley car on Montague, and then began laying tracks wherever they could; expanding their routes and service area. Trolley car operations still run very much as they did when the system was invented. The cars run on tracks, powered by the electric current that passes through a pole and roller system that connects the car to the cable. The roller does just that, rolls along the live wires, delivering the current that powers the engine of the car.

The electricity needed to power the lines was generated from powerhouses. These were buildings placed in strategic places along the routes that made electricity and fed it to the lines. As can be imagined, this operation took a lot of power, which was all fueled by coal, so powerhouses tended to be next to water, whenever possible, in order for enormous amounts of coal to be easily delivered by boat or barge. Large quantities of water were also necessary to cool down the machinery. (more…)

03/10/14 9:00am

industry-city-sculpture-102113

It’s not exactly news that as neighborhoods gentrify, the artists who jump started the process are priced out. However, it may be the end of the line for some artists priced out of Industry City in Brooklyn, the huge industrial complex in Sunset Park, according to a story in The New York Times.

The Times followed up with some 24 of nearly 50 artists who left the complex more than six months ago after new owners raised rents there. After moving every few years for decades, some are using their living space as studios, changing the art they do to accommodate cramped quarters. Meanwhile, a few artist organizations are working on buying or leasing spaces for artists in Brooklyn in the affordable $250 to $400 a month range. The article noted that affordable space is even difficult to find in areas that are “too remote” such as Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx.

Many reader comments said it’s no longer necessary for artists to live in New York City, thanks to social media, and they should consider alternative locations such as Newburgh, Philadelphia and Buffalo.

“To own in Manhattan, you need an income over $250,000,” said commenter avery_t. “People with an income of $150,000 are getting pushed into Brooklyn. People with an income under $100,000 are getting pushed further into Brooklyn. People with an income of $50,000 are getting pushed out of Brooklyn. Etc.”

Here’s how reader RG of La Jolla, Calif., described the process: “Artists are the worms in the compost heap of redevelopment. Developers are the ones with the pitchforks.”

Do you think the city should give tax breaks or other assistance to artists in Brooklyn or let them move out of the borough?

Rising Rents Leave Sunset Park Artists out in the Cold [NY Times]
Photo by Chris Havens

02/26/14 3:00pm

322-354 43rd St. Sunset Park 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Wood-framed row houses
Address: 322-354 43rd Street
Cross Streets: 3rd and 4th avenues
Neighborhood: Sunset Park
Year Built: Before 1885
Architectural Style: Vernacular Victorian
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: Sometimes, when wandering around our fair city, you come upon a street that’s just a mystery to people like me who want to know the what, when and why of the architecture of the neighborhood. When were these houses built? Who were they built for, and who built them? Sometimes, after much digging, the truth is revealed. Sometimes, it’s not, but you get a bit more than you had before. Fourth Avenue has become a dividing line between the very late 19th and early 20th century development of the rest of Sunset Park, and What Came Before. Crossing the street is entering an architecturally different world, where the area’s industrial and residential paths cross.

Sunset Park, the park itself, sits on one of the highest ridges of Brooklyn, and affords an incredible view down to the harbor and piers of the old Bush Terminal, and beyond. The hill rolls down from the park to the shore, and the houses on Sunset Park’s streets stair step down the hills, one of that neighborhood’s most charming and picturesque features. When you look at the houses on 43rd Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenue, it’s easy to see some of the changes in Brooklyn’s topography.

These houses are early, in terms of this neighborhood’s growth. The 1888 map of the area shows that this group of wood framed houses is the largest singular block of development in the area. Groups of speculative wood framed row houses are bunched here and there on the surrounding blocks, but none are as large as this; a group of fifteen buildings. They are all set much farther back from the street than other houses on the block, and are all similar in size and design. (more…)

01/29/14 1:30pm

On the plus side, this three-family in Sunset Park has high ceilings, lots of nice old details such as plaster moldings, and a gorgeous brownstone exterior with carved relief work and the original front doors. There are also recently updated kitchens and baths.

On the not-so-plus side, it’s divided into three tiny floorthrough units, each with only one bedroom. And then what’s with the ask of $1,687,000? The last time we looked at Sunset Park listings, row houses were still trading for under $1,000,000. Have prices really doubled in the last six months?

443 45th Street [Charles Rutenberg] GMAP

01/03/14 10:45am

4th Ave from 53rd St. composite

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

What a difference a century makes. Busy 4th Avenue is one of Brooklyn’s older thoroughfares, an important north-south conduit linking the old towns of New Utrecht and Brooklyn. As the city of Brooklyn developed, the modern neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Park Slope, Gowanus and Downtown Brooklyn all lay along its route. As each neighborhood developed in its own unique way, and in its own time, 4th Avenue developed as well, with a mixture of commercial, residential and civic buildings.

Today, many people think of 4th Avenue as either a street of modern high rise condos or run down stores and auto repair shops. Both may be part of 4th Avenue’s story, but most of the street’s buildings are neither new high rises nor auto shops. There are blocks and blocks of turn of the century flats buildings with stores, many of them quite fine buildings, as well as a great number of churches and municipal buildings such as a courthouse, public library, police and fire stations, and schools.

During the late 19th century, the street was lined with a smattering of row houses, as well as private free standing homes in wood and later bricks and stone. But it was still a busy street, nonetheless — then, as now, juggling both commercial and residential traffic. In 1880, the city wanted to pave 4th, which had recently been made wider, with Belgian block stone. The Brooklyn Eagle opined that it was a waste of time, as it was pretty much common knowledge that an elevated railroad was going to run along it soon, and besides, according to the paper, “at present its chief frequenters are funeral processions on their way to or from Green-Wood Cemetery.” (more…)

12/23/13 11:30am

A six-story hotel will rise at 833 39th Street in Sunset Park, according to a new building application filed last Friday. The 65-foot building between 8th and 9th avenues will have 88 units spread across 30,021 square feet. Four of the hotel rooms will be duplex suites. Flushing-based Michael Kang Architect will design the hotel. Amenities will include 20 parking spaces, an exercise room, laundry room, bicycle parking, a business center, restaurant and a “kitchen and accessory store,” according to the plan exam application.

The property had been a granite supply business with a storefront and large parking lot. Public records show it sold to an LLC for $3,700,000 in August. Another six-story hotel — with an unusual space-age look – is under construction down the street at 457 39th Street between 4th and 5th avenues. GMAP

Image via Google Maps

11/26/13 10:00am

A tipster sent us these photos and informed us that work had recently begun on a six-story hotel at 457 39th Street between 4th and 5th avenues in Sunset Park. The space-age-style building will have 70 units spread across 19,928 square feet of commercial space, an exercise room, breakfast area and eight outdoor parking spaces, according to new building permits issued earlier this month.

Michael Kang Architect is designing the building. An LLC bought the property for $565,000 last year and demolished a two-story brick house and a one-story garage.

We’ve included a photo of the building site after the jump. What do you think of the design of the hotel and the parking lot?

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11/20/13 4:00pm

Learn about the history and architecture of Sunset Park during a walking tour of the neighborhood’s most interesting historic buildings this Saturday. The Sunset Parks Landmarks Committee is leading the tour, which will begin at the landmarked courthouse at 43rd Street and 4th Avenue and conclude in Brooklyn’s Chinatown at 60th Street and 8th Avenue. Guides will explore the nabe’s history, architecture, development, ethnic diversity, and the potential to become a landmarked historic district. The tour will take place Saturday at 10 am. A donation of $10 is suggested. You can register for a spot here.

Photo by Sunset Park Landmarks Committee

11/20/13 2:00pm

The newly revamped Industry City complex in Sunset Park will host a pop-up marketplace showcasing New York City-based independent fashion designers beginning this weekend. The marketplace, called Fashion on the Factory Floor, will feature over 50 designers selling handmade clothing for men, women and children, as well as handbags, jewelry, and other accessories. There will also be several local food vendors present for hungry shoppers. The market will be open from 10 am to 6 pm on two weekends from November 23 until December 1. Industry City’s 16-building, 6,000,000-square-foot complex is located at 241 37th Street in Sunset Park.

After the jump, we’ve included a second photo of what the Fashion on the Factory Floor space looks like.

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11/18/13 9:00am

sunset-park-recycling-center-111813

Set to open soon at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park, the Sims Municipal Recycling Facility makes a case for the social and economic benefits of good design, wrote architectural critic Michael Kimmelman in The New York Times. Designed by the increasingly high profile Selldorf Architects, rather than some engineers as is often the case with municipal works, it will be open to the public for tours, provide jobs in the area, and save New York City some money on waste disposal.

As for the design, “the facility is understated, well proportioned and well planned — elegant, actually, and not just for a garbage site,” he said. “It is an ensemble of modernist boxes squeezing art, and even a little drama, from a relatively meager design budget.”

A gigantic solar roof — Sims says it’s the largest in New York City — will help power the complex. Click through to the New York Times for more photos or to Selldorf’s site for more renderings. What do you think of the design?

A Grace Note for a Gritty Business [NY Times]
Image by Selldorf Architects

11/04/13 3:00pm

3902 3rd Ave, 8th Ward Bank, KL, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Eighth Ward Bank, now mixed-use commercial and residential
Address: 3902 3rd Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner 39th Street
Neighborhood: Sunset Park
Year Built: 1893
Architectural Style: Romanesque/Renaissance Revival
Architect: William H. Beers
Other works by architect: Liebmann Building, Downtown Fulton Street, 87 Remsen Street and other row houses in Park Slope, factory buildings in Williamsburg and Sunset Park
Landmarked: No

The story: The behemoth superstructure of the BQE has taken the charm out of 3rd Avenue, which was always an important commercial street in the Gowanus and Sunset Park areas. At the turn of the 20th century, the street had the same kinds of fine buildings that were seen on the other commercial blocks, like 4th and 5th avenues. But as the shadow of the highway, and the noise of industry overpowered charm, the street lost a lot of its architectural interest. But here and there, a trace of what was still remains, although now covered with, well…stuff. This building fared a bit better than most, and it’s still here, and has a great story to tell.

The three-story building was built for John C. Kelley’s Eighth Ward Bank. Kelley was an Irish immigrant who turned himself into one of those great American success stories. He was born in Galway in 1839, and came here with his parents as a child. He came to New York City as a teenager, eager to make his fortune. He ended up in the water meter manufacturing business, and being of a mechanical mind, he invented his own version of the water meter.

This was around 1869. The Civil War was over, and Brooklyn was growing by leaps and bounds. The city fathers had figured out a new way to put money in city coffers, and that was to charge for water usage for businesses. Every commercial building had to have a water meter installed. It just so happened that Kelley’s meter was superior to most, and in 1870, he became president of his National Water Meter Company. He made a fortune. (more…)