A crumbling wood-clad 19th century row house on Smith Street with all its trim intact is probably going to be altered beyond recognition soon, according to neighborhood blog Pardon Me For Asking. Permits have been pulled for a two-story addition, and blogger Katia Kelly speculates the cornice will probably be removed and the facade altered.
Of course, it would be great if the addition were set back and not visible from the street, and the front facade were restored. The property is located at 159 Smith Street between Wycoff and Bergen Streets in Boerum Hill.
Home renovation matchmaking and blog site Sweeten has mapped every residential renovation project filed with the New York City Department of Buildings over the past 10 years. They pulled some data for us that shows Brooklynites filed 6,776 home renovations in the first six months of the year, and $77,710 was the average cost of those alterations. The biggest job during that time cost $7,000,000, based on self reported costs at filing. If you click on one of the mapped dots, it will tell you the name of the owner and the architect (if there was one). Sweet.
Soaring prices in Brooklyn for move-in-ready brownstones are attracting high-end flippers who renovate problem properties from the ground up with structural reinforcements, change C of Os from SROs, add central air, and restore or re-create historic details. It might be more accurate, in fact, to call them developers rather than flippers, since construction can last as long as a year.
In neighborhoods such as Carroll Gardens, Park Slope and Cobble Hill, where a 19th century brownstone with state-of-the-art mechanicals, kitchens and baths combined with historic detail in the formal rooms and bedrooms command prices of about $1,000 per square foot, a high-end renovation will sell faster and for a better price than a standard flip job, said developers working in these areas.
Take, for example, 377 6th Avenue in Park Slope, a HOTD here last year. The Anglo-Italianate brick row house with a bay window was listed, went into contract, and closed within two and a half months, according to StreetEasy. The ask was $2,975,000 and it sold for $2,847,500, according to PropertyShark.
Developers Nick Faselis and William Ruggiero reinforced the structure, repointed all the brick inside, changed the C of O from a two-family to a single family, and added herringbone floors, gothic marble mantels, built-ins, a marble bath, and other top-of-the-line finishes usually seen only in custom renovations.
The final sale price worked out to $972 a square foot, even though the house is less than 17 feet wide. (more…)
We frequently fantasize about how we could renovate one of the relatively affordable, family-sized units in the Clinton Hill Co-ops to make the most of its World War II-era design. So it was with great interest that we came across this renovation of one of these apartments on Sweeten. (In fact, Sweeten has done several projects in these buildings, they told us.)
The homeowners had already been living in the apartment for 11 years. The biggest changes they made were opening up the space by eliminating non-structural walls and replacing the beat-up parquet with white oak flooring. They also redid the kitchen and bath. Click through to the jump for a few more photos and to the story for before-and-after shots.
Brooklyn Heights Blog contributor Karl Junkersfeld has filmed the complete reconstruction of a 19th-century Greek Revival clapboard house at 55 Middagh Street in Brooklyn Heights. Owner and architect R.A. Somerby gutted the interior of the decrepit house and re-created the exterior based on its 1920s tax photo, which is included around the 4:55 mark in the video.
Most of the home’s historic detail had been stripped over the years, and Somerby decided to build a stoop based on the building’s original design. He also added several more windows and installed round ones on the front of the house in an homage to the Greek Revival style. However, the interior of the new home is modern, with large front windows on the parlor floor and a relatively open-plan kitchen and living room.
A severely termite damaged three-family row house at 463 Carroll Street in Gowanus is getting a major revamp after selling at a big discount last year. Opera Studio is redesigning the house, which is getting new front and rear facades, a complete interior gut and a reconfiguration to a one-family home. The three-story house between Nevins and 3rd Avenue was a HOTD in January of last year, when it was asking $849,000.
It had originally hit the market for $1,100,000 in October 2011, went into contract, and was relisted at $999,000 when the sale didn’t go through. The ask was lowered to $849,000 after a couple months on the market, and the house finally sold in September 2012 for $600,000. We called it an “interesting fixer-upper” back then. However, the seller specified “cash transactions only,” and a DOB violation from 2011 said the exterior walls had severe termite damage and large cracks. The new design looks nice and modern, brightening up the house. Corcoran is already marketing it for $2,649,000.
A startup called Bolster is offering something we’ve never heard of before, starting today: remodeling insurance. We get a lot of pitches to cover real estate related startups, which we mostly ignore, but we thought this one would definitely interest Brownstoner readers.
The cost is between 3 to 5 percent of the project’s value. The insurance is available in New York City only starting today.
Homeowners and contractors can apply online, and Bolster vets the contractors for their financial strength, technical competence, and management abilities (based on their project history). Eventually, the company will create a vetted and underwritten network of contractors. The company is also working with architects and has partnered with the AIA. Eventually, Bolster plans to roll out the insurance across the U.S. (more…)
Scaffolding is up and restoration set to start any day now at the landmarked fire station at 365 Jay Street. Severe roof damage flooded the building recently, and the 18 affordable residential units in the building will also be getting upgrades. The work will restore the building exterior to its original 1890 appearance, and is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2015.
Design Brooklyn is an occasional column featuring Brooklyn interiors, both residential and commercial. The column is written by Anne Hellman, with photographs by Michel Arnaud. They blog at Design Brooklyn and have a book of the same name coming out next month.
Approaching the Williamsburgh Savings Bank on Broadway in Williamsburg — the bank’s first building, constructed between 1870 and 1875 — one has the sense of catching a glimpse of Europe in the middle of urban Brooklyn. Especially now that the landmark’s new owner, Juan A. Figueroa, and his cousin Carlos Perez San Martin have spent the last three years restoring the magnificent façade and interior to create a five-star event space called Weylin B. Seymour’s (note the acronym). The gold leaf on the 110-foot-high cast-iron dome, which can be seen from blocks away, shimmers in the sunlight, the cupola and weather vane sparked with new life.
The restoration of the four-story façade is one thing, and the interior another. The bank, located at 175 Broadway, was one of the earliest designs by New York City architect George B. Post, whose famous later works include the New York Stock Exchange. In the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, Post introduced America to the beauty of Beaux-Arts architecture, and specifically the French-inspired Classical Revival Style. (The Neo-Grec-influenced building, inspired by the Renaissance and Rome equally, prefigures many of the hallmarks of the later Beaux Arts style as practiced in America.) Figueroa and Perez San Martin, who has acted as project manager, amassed a team of more than twenty consultants led by the period expert, architect David Scott Parker, to refurbish and reinstate every detail of the façade—from the 20 oval windows encircling the dome to the original ironwork and grand, bronze-coated doors—as well as the magical interior.
Inside, an awe-inspiring experience awaits, mainly because for so long this building was coated, layers deep, in dirt, drywall, and overall neglect. To come upon it now, in the same glory it possessed when first erected, takes one’s breath away. They don’t make buildings like this anymore. (more…)
The Brooklyn Public Library’s Central branch unveiled its newly refurbished front doors today, their beautiful gold-leaf designs restored with the help of a $250,000 award from the Partners in Preservation Program. Partners in Preservation held a citywide competition where 40 different historical sites vied for $3 million in funding, and the public voted online. The BPL received 9 percent of the vote.
Designed by Morton Githens and Francis Keally, the library opened its doors in 1941 with Art Deco detailing by sculptors Thomas Hudson Jones and C. Paul Jennewein. It has a 50-foot entry portico set into a concave facade, flanked by gold-leaf figures showing the evolution of art and science. And above the triple doors, a bronze screen features 15 well-known characters from American literature. Architect Toshiko Mori and architectural metal specialists Jaroff Design led the restoration, which involved ”the replacement of the aged bronze patina revolving and paired doors, scissor gates and door saddles, as well as restoring the granite paving at the entrance,” according to a press release.
Above, the ribbon cutting today. From left to right, that’s Roberta Lane, senior field officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Cheryl Rosario, Director of Philanthropy for American Express, Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library, and Senator Eric Adams. Click through to the jump for a better look at the detail on the doors.
When we passed by 107 North 5th Street recently we were amazed to see the building had undergone a brick and stucco facelift that obscures its wood frame origins but corrected its previously very noticeable severe sag in its rear third. We’re sad the owners chose to cover over the wood frame exterior rather than restoring it but happy they seem to have fixed a big structural problem. The lower portion of the building, presumably a store in a previous incarnation, has gained big windows. A sign in front advertised the retail space is now for rent. Click through to the jump for three “before” photos. What do you think of the re-do? (more…)