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Community Board 8 is holding an economic development forum to encourage business and jobs in Crown Heights and Weeksville. The forum is free and open to the public.

“The goal is to educate the community about strategies to invest and diversify investment options in CB8, look at what has been done and look ahead to what could be done,” said Atim Annette Oton, chair of board’s Economic Development Committee. “The board is looking to explore ideas to create businesses and jobs not just in retail and food but manufacturing in our M1 zone as well as attract other business types.”

There will be panels on real estate opportunities in the neighborhood, expanding the cultural assets of the area, and local businesses. Local business owners, including from Docklands and Franklin Park, and financial consultants will talk about the challenges and rewards of owning a business as well as offer advice. Representatives of Weeksville Heritage Center, Friends of Brower Park, Five Miles, Haiti Cultural Exchange, and others will talk about cultural development. There will also be speakers from the New York Business Development Corporation, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and Atlantic Avenue Industrial Center/Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center. The latter’s manufacturing space at 1102 Atlantic Avenue, pictured above, is scheduled to open next year. (more…)

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Last week an LLC called Buffalo Avenue Realty Associates picked up St. Mary’s Hospital at 170 Buffalo Avenue in the Weeksville neighborhood of Crown Heights for $19,500,000. The large private Catholic institution closed in 2005.

Surprisingly, it will not be converted into rentals or condos. The new owner has already leased the building to Prospect Park Nursing Home of 1455 Coney Island Avenue for $1,500,000 for 15 years, according to a tipster. It is around the corner from the Weeksville Heritage Center.

Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

The new museum building at the Weeksville Heritage Center is finished, and the official ribbon cutting took place yesterday morning, although the building won’t open to the public until spring 2014. The celebration included an African libation ceremony and speeches from local officials.

WHC board chairman Timothy Simons and outgoing Borough President Marty Markowitz recalled when WHC was just a dream in the mind of founder Joan Maynard, who saved four of the early free black community’s 19th-century houses from urban renewal plans and housing project developments. With its new building, located at 1698 Bergen Street, WHC wants to provide an oasis for visitors and the community as well as resources for scholars looking to research Weeksville. The new center cost $34,000,000 to build and hosts a 700-square-foot art gallery, performance space that can seat 200, classrooms, administrative offices, archival storage space and a studio for recording oral histories.

Designed by Caples Jefferson Architects, it’s one of only two LEED-certified buildings in central Brooklyn and incorporates sustainable elements like drywells that filter on-site storm water and geothermal wells for heating and cooling. Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architects designed the surrounding 1.5 acres, which will include a microfarm and heritage-based garden with plants that were grown in 19th century Brooklyn. Outside one of the structure’s large windows sits an oval-shaped sculpture made of discarded tires, “Sugar in My Bowl II,” created by Chakaia Booker.

Unfortunately, none of the speakers said anything about the inspiration for the building design, but the wood cladding echoes the center’s 19th-century wood frame Hunterfly Road houses, and the tiles lining the presentation space appear to have a carved foliate design. The building was deliberately placed far away from the Hunterfly Road houses to emphasize their once-rural siting, and subtle references to African design weave through the building, according to Architect magazine, such as the pattern of the exterior stone and the overhead latticework in the transparent walkways.

The modern looking building sits across the street from the dilapidated St. Mary’s Hospital. Click through to the jump for lots more pictures. What do you think of it?

Weeksville Museum Gets Major New Building [Brownstoner] GMAP

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Caples Jefferson Architects has designed a gorgeous new building for Weeksville Heritage Center, the 1.5-acre museum complex in Crown Heights about the 19th century free African American community of Weeksville, now part of Crown Heights. The very modern stone, glass and wood building stands in stark contrast to the three original 19th-century Weeksville structures, known as the Hunterfly Road Houses.

It is 23,000 square feet and will hold exhibition and event space. Architect and designboom have articles on the center, which we saw when Curbed wrote about them both. There are also photos of the space in progress on the Weeksville Heritage Center site. As far as we can tell, the new building is not yet open. (The museum’s own site says “Coming Soon.”)

The last big event at the Weeksville museum was the yearly Harvest Festival in October. In January, the museum will have an exhibit about the abolitionist movement in New York, part of a Brooklyn program called In Pursuit of Freedom.

Click through to all four sites to see tons more pictures of the new building and grounds. What do you think of the design?

Cultural Additions: Modern Museum Opens in Brooklyn’s Historic Weeksville [Curbed]
Weeksville Heritage Center [Architect]
Caples Jefferson Architects Weeksville Heritage Center [designboom]
Weeksville Heritage Center [Tumblr]
Photo by Nic Lehoux for Caples Jefferson Architects Via Designboom

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Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Bethel AME Church, formerly PS 83, at site of former Colored School # 2.
Address: 1634 Dean Street, corner of Schenectady Avenue
Neighborhood: Weeksville section of Crown Heights North
Year Built: 1921, according to ACRIS, have doubts about that.
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: This building is actually more important for what it represents, and for what was on this site previously to the building of this school. It is the site of the Colored School Number 2, one of Brooklyn’s four segregated schools for black students. The most well-known of these schools is the landmarked Colored School number 3 (PS 69) on Union Avenue in Williamsburg. Colored School #2 was built in the successful African-American community of Weeksville, which once surrounded it. Today, the Weeksville Heritage Center is only a couple of blocks away, on Bergen St. (more…)

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Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row House
Address: 1574 Bergen Street, between Utica and Troy Avenues
Neighborhood: Weeksville section of Crown Heights
Year Built: Unknown
Architectural Style: Italianate
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story:
These attractive clapboard, or in this case, shingled, houses appear here and there throughout Brownstone Brooklyn. I always enjoy seeing them, as they represent rare survivors, and are more often than not, the first houses in neighborhoods to be covered over with aluminum or vinyl siding, asbestos siding or some kind of stone faced stucco. They often lose their cornices, hooded window cases, and porches. Rarely will you find an intact row of them, usually, like here, there will be one, perhaps two in the row that are whole, or almost so. This particular house is in the Weeksville section of Crown Heights, far to the east of the wealthy and upper middle class area near Nostrand Avenue. These were always working class homes. This one is remarkably original, with fish scale shingles, and mostly intact brackets and dentils on the window frames. The porch is also intact, featuring standard catalog issue, turned wood gingerbread, in great shape. These are classic vernacular Brooklyn houses, often pooh-poohed for their ordinary-ness, but a vital part of the pantheon of Brooklyn architecture.

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