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As part of the Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks exhibit, the Museum of the City of New York is hosting several panel discussions that will run through the summer. The first panel talk, Preserving the Fabric of Our Neighborhoods, takes place this evening and examines the relationship between historic preservation and affordable housing. The panelists include Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Ingrid Gould Ellen, the director of the urban planning program at NYU Wagner.

Is Preservation Elitist? will examine the question of not just how to preserve buildings but how to preserve a “culturally distinctive” place. Tia Powell Harris, the arts director for the Weeksville Heritage Center; Nikolai Fedak, founder of New York YIMBY; Claudette Brady of the Bedford Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation, and others will examine the question of how to preserve more than just buildings in the city’s rapidly changing neighborhoods. (more…)

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The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce last week announced the winners of its 2015 Building Brooklyn Awards. The annual event honors recently completed construction projects that improve Brooklyn in 13 categories.

“The borough of Brooklyn is truly an innovation hub, where builders and designers can put their craft to use and enhance the city that surrounds them,” said Chamber President and CEO Carlo Scissura in a prepared statement. “These projects represent the creative influence and inventive culture that inhabit our borough.”

The judging committee includes architects, city planners, economic development experts, business leaders — including Brownstoner’s publisher, Kael Goodman — and government officials. It meets every spring to select the winners.

A celebration and ceremony will take place July 21 at the Kings Theatre. Guests of honor will be CEO of Industry City Andrew Kimball and NYC Department of City Planning Executive Director Purnima Kapur.

The winners are:

Green-Wood Cemetery won in the Arts and Culture category for its Green-Wood Cemetery Chapel Extension.

Brookland Captial won in the Adaptive Reuse catogory for its renovation and restoration of 156 Broadway. The long-neglected and crumbling former cabinet factory was made over into eight loft-like condos. The exterior of the building was restored on the upper floors, and a new retail space created on the ground floor. You can read more about it here. (more…)

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Fifty years ago last month the city passed the Landmarks Law — and if it hadn’t we’d be living in a very different place today.

That’s the premise behind “Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks,” an exhibition currently running at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibit, which opened last month, looks at the growth of the preservation movement, the roots of the pioneering law, its evolution and its impact on the city.

There’s plenty there relating to Brooklyn, including a section on the role of Brooklyn Heights in creating the law. (more…)

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Brownstoner columnist Suzanne Spellen, who writes under the name Montrose Morris, has been chosen by the Historic Districts Council as one of the recipients of its Annual Grassroots Preservation Awards. The nonprofit group advocates for historic preservation, and helps local community organizations in their work to preserve and improve their neighborhoods.

“We’re thrilled to be honoring Suzanne,” Historic Districts Council Executive Director Simeon Bankoff told us. “Through her columns, she’s introduced readers to the interesting histories of the buildings they pass every day and, hopefully, made people go out of their way to see these buildings for themselves. More than that, through her research, her writing, her tours and her work with the Crown Heights North Association and more, she’s become a steady, solid force for preservation in Brooklyn.” (more…)

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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.

In Brooklyn, King’s Theatre in Flatbush (pictured above) will be receiving the award, as will the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights, the Conrad B. Duberstein U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, Grace Church in Brooklyn Heights, and 1000 Dean Street and Berg’n. Congratulations to all of those involved in each of these projects.

The awards will take place on April 30 at 6:30 pm at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph at 856 Pacific Street. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased here.

Click through for photos of each of these remarkable buildings.

Photo above by Matt Lambros
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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.

Coignet Building Coverage [Brownstoner]

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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?

580 Carlton Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Cara Greenberg

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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?

Nassau Brewery Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP
Rendering via Crow Hill Development

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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.

Photo by Matt Lambros

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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

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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…)