231 Front St. BenMoore, SB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Benjamin Moore & Co. factory, now offices
Address: 231-233 Front Street
Cross Streets: Bridge and Gold streets
Neighborhood: Vinegar Hill
Year Built: 1908
Architectural Style: Early 20th century commercial
Architect: William B. Tubby
Other buildings by architect: Charles M. Pratt mansion, Pratt Institute Library, and other Pratt commissions in Clinton Hill. Also fire houses, libraries, row houses and freestanding houses throughout Brooklyn
Landmarked: Yes, part of Vinegar Hill Historic District (1997)

The story: Benjamin Moore is one of America’s most well-known commercial products. Anyone who has ever chosen a paint color for their walls knows about Benjamin Moore paint, whether one uses their products or not. But very few people realize that the Benjamin Moore Company started right here in Brooklyn. Even fewer realize that Benjamin Moore himself did not go it alone. He had a brother, and the original name of their paint company was Moore Brothers, and it was headquartered on Atlantic Avenue.

In 1883, Benjamin and his older brother Robert M. Moore opened up their paint and varnish business at 55 Atlantic Avenue, in the middle of an industrial complex that once stood between Hicks, State and Columbia Streets, the same block that now holds the iconic Montero’s Bar. The brothers were from County Monahan, Ireland, and came to the United States in the 1870s. They had pooled their money and with $2000, rented a floor of a five story factory building nestled in the middle of the block, behind the tenement buildings that faced Atlantic. (more…)

47 bridge street dumbo rendering

Greystone’s condo project at 47 Bridge Street in Vinegar Hill will launch sales this week with a private wine cellar and tasting room and 700-square-foot one-bedrooms asking $895,000. The Daily News reported last week that the seven-story, 25-unit development, dubbed Waterbridge 47, will have three duplexes and two penthouses with wraparound terraces.

Prices will go as high as $2,400,000 for a 1,200-square-foot three-bedroom. Besides the private wine cellar made of salvaged brick, the building will feature a fitness center, inner courtyard, bike storage and parking. Tribeca-based AB Architetekten is designing the condos. Click through to see some renderings of the tasting room and a few new interior ones.

Pretty fancy kitchen. What do you think of the design and prices?

Update: PR reps for the developer tell us that sales officially launched today, but listings haven’t gone up yet.

Renderings by AB Architekten via StreetEasy and New York Daily News

(more…)

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Filmmaker and actor Brian Crano and David Craig initially planned to buy a brownstone (or an apartment in one) when they moved from L.A. to Brooklyn. But after losing out on several places, they did a complete about-face and created a unique space in a totally generic new-construction building in Vinegar Hill, The New York Times reported.

They combined two one-bedroom apartments plus common hallway space on the top floor of a “developer’s special,” as the Times put it, then embarked on a gut renovation that included a new kitchen from Henrybuilt. They spent a total of $1,228,000 buying the space (including the hallway) and another $500,000 or so on the renovation. (more…)

51 Hudson Ave, SB. PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Frame house
Address: 51 Hudson Avenue
Cross Streets: Plymouth and Evans streets
Neighborhood: Vinegar Hill
Year Built: 1840-1847
Architectural Style: Greek Revival/Italianate
Architect: Built by Lawrence Powers, who probably designed it, as well
Landmarked: Yes, part of Vinegar Hill HD (1997)

The story: There are very few places in Brooklyn that retain a time capsule look of what the young city of Brooklyn looked like in the 1840s. Vinegar Hill is one of them, along with parts of northern Brooklyn Heights and a smattering of Wallabout. These neighborhoods all have the shared connection of the waterfront and the Navy Yard. If you could mentally erase the changes made in Dumbo and for the bridges and highways, they were all once connected on the street grid as well. Never a completely residential neighborhood, most of Vinegar Hill’s buildings had storefronts or workshops on the ground floors, with living above. This one was no different. (more…)

245 Front St. SB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row house
Address: 245 Front Street
Cross Streets: Bridge and Gold Streets
Neighborhood: Vinegar Hill
Year Built: 1852-55
Architectural Style: Greek Revival
Architect: Unknown.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Vinegar Hill HD (1997)

The story: Like stumbling upon Brigadoon, Vinegar Hill is hidden from most people’s view, tucked away between Dumbo and the Navy Yard, cut off from Downtown Brooklyn by the ramps of the BQE and the approaches to the Manhattan Bridge. The residential buildings of Vinegar Hill were built at the same time as parts of Brooklyn Heights, share architectural styles and features. But the distance of a mile, and the development of the Navy Yard made all the difference in the histories of these neighborhoods.

Shipbuilder John Jackson purchased a large parcel of land after the Revolutionary War, and opened a shipyard on Wallabout Bay. He built his shipyard at the base of Hudson Street, and then built homes nearby for his workers. In 1801, he sold 40 acres of his waterfront land to the United States government for the Navy Yard. He then built more houses, and called the area “Vinegar Hill” in honor of the last major battle between the Irish and English, in 1798.

Meanwhile, the Sands family, brothers Comfort and Joshua, were buying up land like crazy. At one point they owned most of Dumbo, all of the land to the west of Jackson’s holdings. They were very wealthy land speculators and merchants. Comfort Sands was one of the founders of the Bank of New York, and Joshua was one of the members of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Brooklyn. They parceled their land off into lots very early, in 1787, but did not build in the Vinegar Hill area until the 1830s.

By the late 1830s, early 1840s, the descendants of John Jackson had sold off all his remaining Hudson Street plots. The Greek Revival homes built here date from the late 1840s, early 1850s, and represent the boom years for Vinegar Hill as a neighborhood of shops, businesses and homes. Most of the residents were Irish, giving the neighborhood the nickname of “Irishtown,” although many others also lived here as well. Most of the people here, no matter what their ethnicity, worked at the Navy Yard, the waterfront, or for industries that supplied both. (more…)

Naval Hospital, BNY, Kingston Lounge, 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Hospital at the Brooklyn Navy Yard
Address: Hospital Road
Cross Streets: Squib Place and Oman Road
Neighborhood: Navy Yard/Vinegar Hill
Year Built: Begun 1830, completed 1838
Architectural Style: Greek Revival
Architect: Martin E. Thompson
Landmarked: Yes, an individual landmark (1965)

The story: In the early years of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, they leaped from the gates, as soon as the landmarks laws were passed, landmarking many of the city’s architectural treasures before they were destroyed in the city’s usual rush to replace and rebuild. The Hospital building at the Brooklyn Navy Yard was one of the first individual landmarks to be designated, cited by the Commission in the first year of the LPC’s existence. And what a choice, this is one of the city’s oldest and best military buildings.

The docks and piers, plus forty acres of land that initially made up the Navy Yard were purchased by the government in 1801, and the site became an active Navy shipyard in 1806 The Yard was active during the War of 1812, and began building and repairing ships early in its history. The USS Ohio was the first ship built by the Yard. In 1820, slave trading was declared piracy, and Navy Yard vessels patrolled the coast of West Africa, working to blockade slave ships. They continued to do this until 1861. By 1830, when the hospital was begun, the Navy Yard, under the command of Commodore Matthew C. Perry, was becoming an important educational and training facility, the precursor of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. (more…)

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The Department of Transportation and the Department of Design and Construction’s artificially aged Belgian block and mockups of it in place are now on view at Pier 6. Comments and opinion on the controversial stones can be sent to plazas@dot.nyc.gov, according to DNAinfo. The DOT plans to replace cobble stone streets in Dumbo and Vinegar Hill with the faux aged stones to make them more accessible to people with disabilities and the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, the 14 mile bike lane that will snake from Bay Ridge to Greenpoint. The plan has provoked an outcry from residents who say the cobbles will destroy an important historic element of the neighborhoods. The replacements will “restore the street’s historical elegance while removing stumbling blocks for the thousands of people walking and biking in the neighborhood daily,” said DOT Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in a statement.

Photo by Yannell Rodriguez

vinegar-hill-bike-cobblestones-040113
Over the weekend, The New York Times delved more deeply into the controversy over replacing the historic Belgian blocks in Vinegar Hill. The Department of Transportation wants to dig up and replace the old stones with new ones and reorient them to comply with the American With Disabilities Act and put a bike lane through the neighborhood connecting all of Brooklyn and Queens. To appease critics, the DOT has proposed artificially pre-weathering the stones to look old, “like a pair of stonewashed jeans,” as the story put it. Neighborhood residents and historic preservations are appalled. Do you think the DOT should proceed with its plan or should an exception be made for Vinegar Hill, arguably a unique, not to mention tiny, enclave?
To Replace Old Cobblestones, Old-Looking Cobblestones [NY Times]
Photo by the known universe


This Wednesday, the Department of Transportation is hosting its third public input session for the streetscape reconstruction of Dumbo and Vinegar Hill. Recently Vinegar Hill residents set up two petitions against changing the historic Belgian blocks of the neighborhood, so that’s sure to come up. The DOT will present strategies for cobble reconstruction based on previous public input. They are taking more public comments at this meeting as well. Also on the agenda: the design of the Pearl Street Triangle Plaza, where the Dumbo BID has had plans in place for years to transform into a permanent public space. Back in 2011 the Dumbo BID secured $20 million dollars for these big street improvements. The meeting on Wednesday is at the NYU-Poly Incubator, 20 Jay Street, Suite 312, from 6 pm to 8 pm.
Photo of the last DOT session by the Dumbo BID


Two petitions just emerged out of Vinegar Hill about proposed streetscape changes to the neighborhood, which leave, as Curbed put it, “residents of the tiny ten-block enclave less than thrilled.” The first petition asks the city to preserve the original belgian block streets in Vinegar Hill and opposes the “use of machine-made or machine-altered cobblestones of any kind.” The original blocks are scheduled to be removed for infrastructure changes along Water Street, as well as a bike lane down Water. The second petition specifically asks that the bike lane planned within the Brooklyn Greenway skip Vinegar Hill altogether, considering that the DOT plans to make the path by reconfiguring the Belgian blocks by rotating them lengthwise. The Brooklyn Greenway would stretch three blocks through Vinegar Hill on Water and Plymouth Streets. The DOT already undertook a similar project down in Dumbo, which mostly restored the old Belgian blocks and added new blocks to create a bike lane along Water. In our humble opinion the restoration job did a good job of eliminating potholes and uneven paving as well as accommodating bikers. Do you think the proposed streetscape changes threaten the historic feel of the neighborhood?
Vinegar Hill Residents Really Don’t Want Bike Lanes [Curbed]
The City of New York: Preserve Original Belgian Block Streets in Vinegar Hill [Change.org]
The City of New York: Bypass Vinegar Hill When Implementing the Brooklyn Greenway [Change.org]
Photo by jackie weisberg


A soon-to-be tenant of 185 York Street, the Vinegar Hill condo building that sold out quickly, reports that the building has yet to receive its Certificate of Occupancy. She went into contract over the summer but has not been able to close because of the lack of a C of O. According to her, “way back in August/September I was told there was an issue with the standpipe which resulted in a failed inspection. It was corrected, but getting re-inspected has been an issue… we hope to have the C of O by the end of “this” month – [the broker] has said that every month since September. Curious to know if other buyers have similar issues or more info.” A broker here tells us that they are going through the last of the inspections and anticipate closings to begin in February or March. The sixteen available units, priced from $375,000 to $845,000, all went into contract at or above asking. Any other buyers out there who are going through the same thing as our tipster?
Vinegar Hill Condos at 185 York Sell out Fast [Brownstoner]