Brownstoner takes on Brooklyn history in Nabe Names, a series of briefs on the origins and surprising stories of neighborhood nomenclature.

Wallabout Brooklyn Name

Wallabout Market in 1940. Photo via the Library of Congress

This little-known historic enclave dates back to the 17th century, evidenced by the area’s pre–Civil War wood-frame row houses and not one but two historic district designations.  (more…)

47 Hall Street

Westbrook Partners and Invesco Real Estate are among the bidders for a 550,000-square-foot warehouse at 47 Hall Street in Wallabout, The Real Deal reported. Management could be planning an overhaul of the building, which is known for its artist studios and Open Studios events.

Currently housing mainly small, commercial tenants paying comparatively affordable rates of $6 to $8 per square foot, ownership is no longer renewing leases, according to The Real Deal. At the much larger but otherwise similar Industry City, investors have been bringing in larger tenants at higher rates.


Wallabout Senior Walking Tour

There will be a senior-friendly walking tour of the historic Wallabout neighborhood on Tuesday. The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership has been hosting free walking tours of the area North of Myrtle Avenue the last Saturday of every month this summer, but this will be the first specifically senior friendly one.

The 3/4 mile, 60-minute walk along Myrtle Avenue will delve into 400 years worth of architectural history in the area.



Dar gitane  — “home” in Arabic plus “gypsy” in French — is both the name of Alina Preciado’s online home goods business and interior design practice, and also shorthand for her life story.

Born in California, Preciado took off for Europe at the earliest opportunity, studying architecture and design in Spain and woodworking in Denmark, where she learned “the culture of simplicity,” as she puts it. “There, even simple things are well thought-out, beautiful and functional.”

And she traveled the continents, collecting artisans’ contacts as she went. (She eventually got a Masters in Industrial Design from Brooklyn’s own Pratt Institute.)

About 15 years ago, Preciado rented a 2,000-square-foot loft near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, on the seventh floor of a poured concrete building originally used as a textile mill and then by the military during WWII. She put considerable energy into making the raw space habitable.

“Whatever is here, I’ve put in over the years,” she says, including plumbing, wiring, a bathroom with a claw-foot tub, and the unfitted, farmhouse-style kitchen. (more…)


The industrial warehouse at 29 Ryerson across from the Navy Yard in Wallabout has changed hands yet again, nearly doubling in price. Madison Realty Capital paid $45,000,000 for the storage facility, according to The Real Deal. The previous owner, 11-45 Ryerson LLC, now revealed to be headed up by real estate investor Chaim Miller, bought it in 2013 for $26,400,000.

It sounds like plans to redevelop the property into offices focused on tech tenants with retail below have not changed. “We are planning on renovating and bringing it to the level that a tech tenant would demand,” a Madison exec told The Real Deal. At one time, former owners planned to turn it into a hotel with a rooftop bar. Madison is also developing two large mixed-use apartment buildings nearby at 490 and 504 Myrtle Avenue, as the story noted.

Madison Buys Brooklyn Warehouse for $45 Million From Chaim Miller [TRD]
29 Ryerson Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP

306-314 Park avenue clinton hill 32015

New building applications were filed last week for five three-story townhouses on Park Avenue, next to the BQE in Wallabout. The houses at 306-314 Park Avenue will have three units each and range in size from 1,525 square feet to 1,750 square feet. It’s not the most optimal location for housing, but with three units each (and small ones at that), they’re probably intended as rental investment properties.

The applicant of record is BTE Design Services, and Moses Guttman is the developer. It looks like Guttman bought up the series of vacant properties at Park Avenue and Ryerson Street for a combined $210,000 over the last two years, according to public records. GMAP

Image via Google Maps

21-27 North Oxford Street, Google Maps 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former bakery, now empty?
Address: 21-27 North Oxford Street
Cross Streets: Flushing and Park Avenues
Neighborhood: Fort Greene (Wallabout)
Year Built: Early 20th century
Architectural Style: Brick 19th century style factory
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: South Oxford Street turns into North Oxford when it crosses Myrtle Avenue. Before the bakery was constructed, there were four brick houses on these lots. The map for 1886 shows them clearly, and the Brooklyn Eagle records advertisements for servants, as well as stories of the people who lived in 21, 23, 25, and 27 North Oxford Street.

21 North Oxford was home to an apparent suicide in 1895. Maurice Morson ingested arsenic and died. He apparently was a miserably angry man who fought often with his wife. The day before he killed himself, he had taken a stick to her when she tried to stop him from beating their twelve year old son. She told the coroner that the evening of his death, he had poured some coffee, and offered to share it with her. She thought that strange, since he wasn’t prone to acts of kindness or sharing.

He poured some of the coffee into the saucer, and then offered her the cup. After they finished their coffee, she said he was violently ill and threw up. But he refused to allow her to get a doctor, and a few hours later he was dead. The police found arsenic pills on his person, and the coroner found arsenic in his stomach. It was called a suicide, even though his wife admitted that she had once threatened to poison him. Hmmm. (more…)


We could swear we’ve seen one of these renderings before, but we must be hallucinating, because a search has turned up nothing. New York YIMBY has published what appears to be the first renderings of the townhouses that are going up at 17-35 Clermont Avenue and 14-38 Vanderbilt Avenue in Wallabout. As we’ve reported before, they are part of the three-part affordable housing development Navy Green, but the 23 townhouses will be market rate.

Each three-story, single family house will have 2,295 square feet of space, according to new building permits. There will also be a 32,000 square foot common space for all the Navy Green buildings, with gardens, lawn and a children’s playground. Curtis + Ginsburg Architects and FXFowle are the designers. The developers are Dunn Development Corp., L+M Development Partners Inc., and the Pratt Area Community Council.

The schedule calls for move-ins to start in July and finish up in September 2016, but as YIMBY points out, those dates will probably move back.

What do you think of the look?

Revealed: Navy Green Townhouses in Fort Greene [NYY]
Navy Green Coverage [Brownstoner]
Renderings from Dunn Development via NYY (more…)


Hats off to Times reporter Matt Chaban for his piece yesterday about the sad story of 69 Vanderbilt. The owner, 85-year-old retired lawyer Louis Somma, grew up in the house and lived there among piles of refuse and with a cracked foundation until the city ordered him out in 2009. He has refused offers for as much as $800,000 to buy the house. He is holding out for $3,000,000, he told the Times, but now that the city has demo’d the lot, he believes it may be worth $5,000,000. (In 2013, the renovated twin house next door sold for $1,000,000, and Landmarks rules prevent a building taller than four stories.)

Meanwhile, he owes $120,000 in back taxes, and the city has sold the lien, so if he does not pay, the bank will foreclose, leaving him with nothing.

“It was such a nice house, so full of memories, until Louie filled it up with his junk,” said his youngest sister Marie Brown. “He defies everybody. I still don’t know what he thought was going to happen here.”

An Eyesore, Also a Piece of History, Is Demolished in Brooklyn [NY Times]
69 Vanderbilt Coverage [Brownstoner]
City tax photo below via NY Times


69 vanderbilt avenue wallabout 122014

The city has finished demolishing the mid-19th century wood frame at 69 Vanderbilt Avenue in the Wallabout Historic District, DNAinfo reported. A construction fence went up around the home in August, after the DOB responded to a complaint in June that the house was shaking and leaning. The HPD filed demolition permits to knock down the house in December. The house was still standing when we passed by January 4, although demo may have started earlier.

Preservationists had spent years fighting to save the house, which was built in the Greek Revival style with Italianate details. Wood turner Richard Pease built the home — as well as the much better-maintained twin house next door at 71 Vanderbilt — no later than the summer of 1850, according to the historic district’s designation report, although it could be older.

The LPC decided the building had deteriorated too much, and sued the property owner to demolish it, said DNAinfo. Once the court ruled in favor of the LPC, the city moved forward with demolition. Now the vacant lot is in the process of being sold, according to DNAinfo.

164-Year-Old Landmarked Home Reduced to Rubble in Clinton Hill [DNAinfo]
Closing Bell: City to Demolish Landmarked Greek Revival Wood Frame in Wallabout [Brownstoner]
Photo by Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project LDC

235-253 Park Ave, SSPellen

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally Empire Pipe Bending & Supply Company
Address: 235-253 Park Avenue
Cross Streets: Corners of Waverly and Clinton avenues
Neighborhood: Wallabout
Year Built: 1906
Architectural Style: Late 19th century brick factory
Architect: Frank A. Quinby
Other Buildings by Architect: 110 William Street, Manhattan, kitchen and dining room building for the Seaview Hospital Farm on Staten Island, firehouse in Woodhaven, Queens, Brighton Beach Racetrack Clubhouse (demolished) and athletic facilities at Andover Prep School, Mass.
Landmarked: No, but part of a National Register Wallabout Industrial HD, and a greater Wallabout Historic District. Also part of a proposed NYC Wallabout HD.

The story: One of the largest growing industries in this country is self-storage. This building, which spreads across this block of Park Avenue, from Clinton to Waverly, is now brightly festooned in red, white, and blue to attract attention to its services. It’s not the only self-storage place in Wallabout. It appears that many of the former factories and warehouses of this industrial area are now storage companies. The buildings that once employed a significant percentage of Brooklynites and made Brooklyn a manufacturing powerhouse now hold corrugated metal cubicles full of broken Ikea furniture, oversized plastic dollhouses and boxes of records made by now-defunct rock and soul groups. Hey, I’m not knocking it; the buildings are still standing, and I had a storage unit in an old factory building in Brooklyn myself. Complete with aforementioned boxes of LPs. (more…)