The New York Landmarks Conservancy has announced the winners of its 25th annual Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards. And Brooklyn is well represented. Five buildings in the borough that have recently gone through meticulous restorations have been chosen to receive the organization’s highest honors for outstanding preservation.
Big news: The original cement facade of the Coignet Building, not been seen in decades, is now visible at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street. The uppermost story of netting that has shrouded the landmark at 360 3rd Avenue in Gowanus for about a year as it undergoes restoration came down sometime in the last few days. We snapped these photos yesterday as we were passing through the area.
The red brick veneer applied sometime in the mid-20th century has been removed, per the restoration plans. It looks to us as though the restorers are planning to add a top coat of cement to finish and seal the exterior. Perhaps this explains why some of the netting has been removed.
The historic restoration of this landmark is certainly not finished, as more photos below reveal. The front stoop has greatly deteriorated in the last year, since the scaffolding went up — perhaps a result of this unusually snowy winter.
Whole Foods, which is handling the restoration as part of a deal to build its adjacent store, is also stabilizing the interior. Click through to see behind the fence.
Brooklyn preservationists and Brownstoner readers were among the activists who turned out to protest the Mayor’s plan to wipe out existing height caps in Brooklyn’s historic row-house neighborhoods. (more…)
The restored facade of the long-suffering wood frame house at 580 Carlton Avenue, one of the oldest in the Prospect Heights, can now be seen above the construction fence. “580 Carlton has a new facade! And dare I say, it looks pretty nice!” said Cara Greenberg of CasaCARA, who sent us this photo.
Longtime readers may recall the ups and downs at this landmarked property, whose renovation caused the partial collapse of the landmarked twin house next door. By the end of 2012, No. 580 had been reduced to merely a facade, like a movie set. At some point, architect Rachel Frankel, known her ability to create historically correct looking new buildings, got on board, and is now handling the Landmarks-approved restoration of both properties.
Way back when 580 Carlton was for sale in 2011, Cara toured the open house, and had to sign a waiver before entering. It had beautiful mantels and original windows and doors. You can see all the details on her blog here. Let’s hope the owners were able to salvage something to use in the rebuild.
How do you like the way the facade is looking so far?
Fabian Friedland, the owner of Crow Hill Development and the Nassau Brewing Company at 945 Bergen Street in Crown Heights, just let us know the site has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and so his company will be using federal and state historic incentives to restore and adapt the historic property.
The new rendering, above, shows how it will look when it is transformed into a 50,000 square foot mixed-use complex. There will be apartments on the upper floors, retail on the ground, and he is considering a restaurant in the brewery’s historic 1860s underground lager aging vaults. Crow Hill will also restore the building’s now-missing Nassau Brewing Company signage, as you can see in the rendering. (Click through to see how the building looks today.)
“The historic nature of the old brewery buildings first attracted me to the site,” Friedland said in a prepared statement. “After a long wait, I’m truly thrilled to bring these buildings back to life. The Franklin Avenue corridor of Crown Heights is a vibrant place to be right now. And it’s exciting to have our project reinforce the existing architecture and character of the neighborhood.”
Brooklyn-based Formactiv is the architect. New York City-based Crow Hill Development specializes in the adaptive reuse of historic buildings, and develops property in the Northeast.
Here’s a little historic background on the brewery from Crow Hill:
The Nassau Brewing Company operated at the site from the 1860s until 1916, when it was forced out of business due to competition from larger New York breweries including Schaeffer and Rheingold. The brewery was originally known as the Bedford Brewery until 1884, when its name was changed to the Budweiser Brewing of Company of Brooklyn. In 1898, Anheuser-Busch sued the brewery for trademark infringement, forcing it to change its name to the Nassau Brewing Company, an identity the restored complex will adopt and retain. The brewery produced lager beers under the colorful names Rialto, Frankenbrau, Private Stock, and Extra Bohemian. The surviving buildings represent the most significant structures that were once part of a sprawling complex covering the entire block. Below are massive underground brick vaults originally constructed for the aging of lager beer at near freezing temperatures. The tallest portion of the building contained a gravity cooling system using natural ice harvested from the Arctic, and was topped, according to the Brooklyn Eagle, by a “small lake” of beer.
We’re excited about this project and think the rendering looks great. What do you think?
Flatbush’s Kings Theatre is set to re-open for the first time in 40 years with a free debut performance on January 27 by local dancers and musicians, including the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the Brooklyn Ballet. The beautifully restored venue at 1027 Flatbush Avenue has also announced its lineup of 2015 concerts, which kicks off with Diana Ross and includes Crosby, Stills & Nash, Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, Sarah McLachlan and Gladys Knight. Diana Ross will headline the grand opening concert on February 3, and there will be a free open house tour of the theater on February 7, according to KensingtonBK.
Tickets for the free show on January 27 will be available on the Kings Theatre website starting January 20. Check out the full schedule here. We’re looking forward to seeing the interiors, which just underwent a $94,000,000 renovation led by developer ACE Theatrical Group and Martinez & Johnson Architecture.
Built in 1929, Kings was one of the five Loew’s “wonder theaters” constructed throughout New York and New Jersey. It shuttered in 1977 and remained abandoned until 2012, when the city selected ACE to revive it.
Call us naive, but we always thought brownstones in Bed Stuy, at least the habitable ones, were pretty much immune from development. (We’re not quite sure why we thought that — perhaps because, in the past at least, the numbers wouldn’t pencil out for a developer?) But now, with construction booming all over the place, we see that is totally false.
Take, for example, this two-story Neo-Grec with a bay window at 580 MacDonough Street, close to Ralph Avenue. If you click through to see the rendering on the construction fence, you will see that the owners are planning to add one more story and completely redo the facade so it looks like a modern “Fedders”-type building. There will be a balcony, and the facade will jut out in a triangle above the bay window (that is not a wrinkle in the rendering).
It’s unfortunate for the block and, we think, a wasted opportunity. The developer could have kept the original facade and maximized FAR with a setback. And not only that, if he had, the house would be more valuable and he would reap a bigger profit, we bet.
The house is in the proposed Stuyvesant East Historic District. Until about a year ago, this area was nothing but row upon row of mostly well-preserved historic homes, almost all dating from the 19th century — including quite a few early wood-frame ones. Now that intact streetscape is quickly being lost. GMAP
Patrick W. Ciccone is a historic preservation consultant and real estate development adviser. He is perhaps best known as the co-author of a forthcoming edition of the late Charles Lockwood’s classic brownstone bible, “Bricks and Brownstone.” He is the historic consultant on the renovation of 70 Willow Street, one of Brooklyn’s most important historic homes.
After speaking with him this week over email, we realized our previous stories about the renovation did not give a complete picture of the plans. The house’s new owners, Grand Theft auto creator Dan Houser and his wife Krystyna, who purchased the 1839 Greek Revival mansion for a record breaking $12,500,000 in 2012, are planning an extensive historic restoration of the property inside and out. Ciccone is working with the owners and the architects, Richard Bories and James Shearron of Bories & Shearron, on the project.
As we have discussed in detail elsewhere, such as Building of the Day posts, Dutch colonial descendant and Revolutionary War era reverend Adrian Van Sideren built the house, one of the oldest in the Heights. (The photo above shows the house as it appeared in 1922.) Subsequent notable owners included Tony Award-winning Broadway stage designer Oliver Smith.
Four large color plates in the revised edition of “Bricks and Brownstone” show the house’s famous sweeping oval staircase and the front and rear parlors of the house, with their full-height windows, a black marble mantel and extraordinary Greek Revival wood work, columns with anthemion motifs and doors. Extensive pictures from the house’s previous restoration can be seen on the website of architects Baxt Ingui.
We spoke to Ciccone in more detail about the house and what they have in store. (Note: Some of our questions below were constructed after the fact, for ease of reading.)
Brownstoner: The proposal calls for replacing the famous rear double-decker porch, where Truman Capote, who briefly rented in the house, wrote and entertained, and which he wrote about in his essay, “A House on the Heights.”
Patrick W. Ciccone: The current porch is one-story and wood. It may be visually similar to the one Capote wrote about but it was entirely replaced in kind in the early 2010s. No historic fabric remains. The new porch is double height and iron.
BS: Can you tell us more about the style of the original porch and when it was built?
PC: The first version of the porch dates from circa 1900 — the house had no wooden porch from 1839 to 1900. (Unlike many other house in Brooklyn Heights, which had rear tea porches.) It’s a simple, sort of picturesque wooden porch. It later had a two-story portion added and later demolished sometime in the mid-20th century. The current wooden porch is an in-kind replacement of the original severely deteriorated one, circa 2011 or so, I believe. So if one is taking the George Washington Slept Here/Truman Capote Drank Martinis here approach, it is not the same porch.
BS: Other plans include changing the color of the house from yellow to red, which the owners said was its original shade, according to Curbed.(more…)
The first-ever Evelyn and Everett Ortner Preservation Awards will be given out Thursday at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, according to an email we received from one of the winners. The awards “recognize projects that are compatible with the historic architecture of Park Slope and interventions by individuals or groups to protect the neighborhood’s historic character,” said the Park Slope Civic Council, which chooses the winners. And they are:
*The award for Exterior Rehabilitation will go to 107 Prospect Park West, a single family mansion built in 1899 that was abandoned in the ’80s. After buying the house in 2011, Horrigan Development gutted and restored the decayed building, which had holes extending from the roof to the cellar and extensive water damage. The developer converted it to condos and rehabbed it into “a stately neo-Italian dwelling…that enhances the appearance of Prospect Park West,” according to the council.
*The Lincoln Place Block Association wins the award for Neighborhood Intervention. “As a result of their joint efforts, the residents were able to prevent alterations to a brownstone on their landmarked block that would have been detrimental to the appearance of their streetscape and backyards,” said the council in an email to us.
*And the Second Empire Victorian-style Henry Bristow School building at 417 6th Avenue, P.S. 39, pictured above, will receive the Exterior Restoration award. Brice Architecture revamped its severely damaged outside by replacing the cornice, fabricating and installing new decorative copper work, reconstructing the slate mansard roof and repointing the brick and stone masonry. Built in 1877, it’s one of the oldest continuously operating school buildings in the country.
*The award for Best New Construction will go to the energy-efficient two-family townhouse at 319 4th Street. Aspen Equities built the house in only eight months and incorporated green building materials, including a solar water heater, EnergyStar appliances and low VOC paints and adhesives throughout.
The Ortners, of course, were the noted preservationists who did so much to save Park Slope and helped launch the brownstoner movement across the country.
This Saturday the Sunset Parks Landmarks Committee is hosting a party to raise money for its preservation work and for the tenant advocacy organization Neighbors Helping Neighbors. The $20 admission ticket will help both these worthy causes and it includes two drinks, light food, live music, a dance performance and prizes made in Industry City. The proceeds will be split equally between the groups.
In an email, Lynn Massimo, the committee’s project manager, said that both preservation and affordable housing are important to the future of the neighborhood. “Together we, the community groups and our electeds, must keep Sunset Park viable for a diverse population. That doesn’t have just one answer. It has multiple answers. Affordable housing, safe streets, cultural diversity, economic diversity, local jobs, and yes, preservation of historic rowhouses,” she said.
The event will be held at Irish Haven at 5721 4th Avenue at 58th Street this Saturday, October 18, from 7 to 10 pm. Tickets are only available at the door.
A group of neighbors on one of Sunset Park’s best-preserved blocks are hunting for a preservation-minded buyer to restore a three-story brownstone row house at 514 47th Street, which is for sale for $1,180,000. The brownstone exterior with terra cotta detail and original ironwork, above, appears to be in good condition, but the inside appears to have been stripped of all detail save the staircase. (Lots of interior shots after the jump, below.)
The house is on the corner of 5th Avenue, a busy commercial strip, so residents fear the worst. Neighbors would like to find “new owners who plan on restoring it versus investors who want to rip it apart to make a taller building and/or add unsightly retail on the ground level,” block resident Jeff Sundheim told us. “Since it’s the house closest to the 5th Avenue retail district it’s quite likely that could happen. The same thing happened on my old block nearby and it was tragic,” he said. (more…)
We were surprised and delighted to hear Australian investment firm Dixon plans to restore the unusually lavish but far-gone limestone at 259 Decatur Street in Bed Stuy, an estate sale and a flip that was boarded up and open to the elements for decades. The landmarked 1895 Renaissance Revival house was designed by architects Axel Hedman and Magnus Dahlander.
“We will be preserving and restoring this house back to the grand beautiful one-family that it once was,” Managing Director and CEO of Dixon Leasing Alan Dixon told us. “We have yet to appoint an external architect but our preliminary plans will create a four-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom single family residence over some 4,423 square feet. None of the original beautiful fabric of the house will be lost and it will be restored to its former glory.”
We have to give them props for taking on a project that does not look easy. When we toured the house, every level appeared to have some kind of water damage, and the floor of the dining room on the garden level bounced when someone walked by in the hallway. There is much spectacular detail to preserve, including an elaborate entry, a church-like middle parlor, a built-in icebox and quirky shelves in the butler’s passthrough, and a stained glass window in an upper-floor bathroom.
After an LLC bought it for $875,000 from an estate in February, it was on the market asking $1,699,000 all cash or at least 40 percent down. Dixon closed in May for $1,650,000.
We also noticed Dixon has started work at 605 Decatur, a small single-family house that was also in very poor condition but with a lot of detail when Dixon bought it last year. When we passed by last week, there was a construction fence up around the property and a Dumpster outside.
For those of you keeping score at home, Dixon now owns a total of 73 properties in Brooklyn, including 29 in Bed Stuy, 11 in Crown Heights, 10 in Bushwick and eight in Park Slope. More will be coming on the rental market soon.
Click through to the jump to see the preliminary restoration plans and photos of the interior from our visit.