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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…)

29-Ryerson-Street-Brooklyn-0913

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…)

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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…)

69-vanderbilt-avenue-1-012015

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

  (more…)

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…)

69 vanderbilt avenue wallabout 122014

We’re sad to report that the city plans to demolish the crumbling mid-19th century wood frame at 69 Vanderbilt Avenue in the Wallabout Historic District. The HPD filed an emergency demolition permit last week.

A complaint from June said the house was shaking and leaning, and the DOB report said “front porch is unstable…neighboring houses may be in danger.”

Back in August after the construction fence went up we speculated the city had no plans to tear it down. Unfortunately, we were wrong.

“The New York Landmarks Conservancy has had No. 69 on its endangered list for years,” said the New York Times’ Christopher Grey in 2010. “There are only two ways it could get off the list, and right now it’s more likely to go feet first.”

Thanks to Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership for the tip and the photo.

69 Vanderbilt Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project LDC

60-64 Washington Ave, SSpellen 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Van Glahn factory and warehouse buildings
Address: 60-64 Washington Avenue
Cross Streets: Park and Flushing Avenues
Neighborhood: Wallabout
Year Built: 1892
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: John G. Glover
Other Buildings by Architect: other Van Glahn factory/warehouse buildings on this block, also Van Glahn homes at 229-231 Washington Ave. Row houses, tenements and factories in several Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Landmarked: No, but listed on Rookwood Chocolate Factory Historic District (1984). Also on proposed State and National Registers of Historic Places, Wallabout Industrial District. Also proposed LPC Wallabout Industrial District.

The story: Wallabout is one of my favorite Brooklyn neighborhoods. I never get tired of walking around there, for a number of reasons. I really like industrial buildings of a certain era, first of all, and I find the mix of industry and residence in a neighborhood fascinating from view of how the society developed and how it shaped the neighborhood, and the greater city’s history. The Brooklyn of today is literally built on the past, and buildings are the most tangible legacy of that past.

It’s remarkable how some of the products that flourished in Wallabout during the late 19th and early 20th century still are with us today; Drake’s Cakes and Tootsie Rolls, for instance. Wallabout was best known for its grocery and foodstuff businesses. The Wallabout Market, a huge wholesale meat and produce market, similar to Hunt’s Point Market, was located here, on grounds now part of the Navy Yard property. The market attracted all kinds of similar businesses, and by the end of the 19th century, was home to bakeries, candy factories, and many wholesale grocers and producers. (more…)

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Plans for the building to replace the Pratt Station Post Office and other storefronts at 504 Myrtle Avenue, below, have changed. An application for a permit filed today shows the building will be six stories, not an eight-story building, as previously reported. It will have 92 apartments as well as 35,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor. All the buildings are still standing, we observed this morning.

Meanwhile, the related development next door at 490 Myrtle Avenue, pictured above, has made immense progress since we last visited in May. The exterior looks just about complete and some of the scaffolding has come down so the building is visible. It’s supposed to wrap summer 2015.

The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership was the first to report on all these developments on its blog. Click through for more photos of both sites.

Scaffolding Comes Down at 490 Myrtle Avenue [Myrtle Avenue]  GMAP

(more…)

38-42 Washington Avenue, SSPellen 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Mixed use retail and residential buildings
Address: 38-44 Washington Avenue, aka 200 Flushing Avenue
Cross Streets: Flushing and Park Avenues
Neighborhood: Wallabout
Year Built: 1907
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival with Romanesque and classical details
Architect: Benjamin Finkensieper
Other Buildings by Architect: Knox Hat Factory building in Crown Heights, and many other factories, warehouses, churches and tenement buildings throughout Brooklyn.
Landmarked: No, but part of a proposed LPC Wallabout Industrial Historic District, and a National Register nomination for the same.

The story: At the turn of the 20th century, the factories and warehouses of Wallabout and the activities within the Brooklyn Navy Yard were at an all-time high. Only the World War II years would surpass it. This group of buildings was built for Henry Waldeck, a very successful builder and developer who did a lot of work in both industrial and residential areas. A large fire on this, and surrounding blocks in 1907 damaged or destroyed the wood framed buildings that were on this site, giving Waldeck, who had owned many of them already, the perfect excuse to rebuild, and build better. (more…)