187 7th avenue park slope rendering

Plans and renderings have been revealed for the conversion of the dilapidated 19th-century apartment building on a prominent Park Slope corner across from P.S. 321. The Times reported that developer Sugar Hill Capital Partners will spend $6,000,000 revamping the five-story building at 187 7th Avenue into four condos and hopes to finish construction in the fall.

Two of the three-bedroom, two-bath condos at “2ND7th” hit the market last week for $3,198,000 and $3,500,000 respectively. Both of the pricey pads are just over 2,000 square feet, and the more expensive one is a penthouse with a private roof deck. The building will also have a common roof deck with cabanas and a communal kitchen for grilling, according to the listings.

While we’re happy the building is being revamped, we think it’s unfortunate the pressed-metal turret and its older-style windows will be lost. (Click through to see an old photo of the building.) It looks like they plan to match the old brick and keep the cornice.

What do you think of the rendering?

Restoring a Park Slope Wreck [NYT]
187 7th Avenue Listings [Corcoran]
187 7th Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Rendering by New Amsterdam Design Associates via NY Times

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The Brooklyn Army Terminal has announced plans to renovate another building in its massive, formerly abandoned complex in Sunset Park, the Times reported. The NYC Economic Development Corporation, which runs the terminal, is going to rehabilitate 500,000 square feet on seven floors in Building A, which stretches between 58th and 63rd streets along the waterfront.

Revamping the building, which has been abandoned since the ’60s, is expected to cost $100,000,000. The EDC plans to remove asbestos and install new freight and passenger elevators, electric service, life-safety systems, plumbing, heating and windows.

The terminal is also in the middle of renovating its former administration building, a 55,000 square-foot structure located just north of Building A along 58th Street. The military officially closed the terminal in 1966, transferring 3,200 civilian and military jobs to Bayonne, N.J., according to the Times.

Next Phase of Renovation to Begin at a Vast Military Remnant in Brooklyn [NYT]
Brooklyn Army Terminal Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Nicholas Lemery Nantel

lewis steel exterior williamsburg 12015

Developer Jacob Toll gave us a tour of the nearly complete rentals at the Lewis Steel Building, which stretches a full block on North 4th Street between Wythe and Berry in Williamsburg. Construction at the former steel mill at 76 North 4th Street is 95 percent done, he said, and he expects the 83 luxury rentals, ranging from studios to three bedrooms, to hit the market in May. Asking rents for the Hustvedt Cutler-designed apartments will start around $3,000 for one-bedrooms, $3,500 for studios and $4,500 for two-bedrooms, according to Toll.

You can glimpse the building’s industrial past in the lobby and amenity areas, which still sport original brick, and the parking garage, which was one of the factory’s loading bays. Wood joists salvaged from the floor line the hallway ceilings every few feet, and several apartments feature original brick. The elevator shafts were converted to three one-bedrooms, and the elevator doors and brick were preserved in those units. Many apartments also have private terraces or roof access, and some of the ones on the top two floors have gas fireplaces. The largest (and priciest) unit is a 1,300-square-foot three-bedroom, two-bath duplex with a gas fireplace and roof access.

There will also be some nice retail: Blue Bottle Coffee, Steven Alan Home and bookseller McNally Jackson have all signed leases for ground floor retail in the building, as we reported earlier this month.

Click through to see the apartments!

Lewis Steel Building [MNS]
Lewis Steel Coverage [Brownstoner]
Steelworks Loft Coverage [Brownstoner]

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The Landmarks Preservation Commission has approved the proposed renovation plans for the historically significant 1839 Greek Revival house at 70 Willow Street in Brooklyn Heights, we hear from readers who attended the hearing this morning. Two caveats: The LPC asked the owners, Grand Theft auto creator Dan Houser and his wife Krystyna, to retain the existing ironwork and the front door, shown in the recently revised and approved front and side elevations, above. The rear porch, however, is history.

70 Willow Street Coverage [Brownstoner]
Rendering by Bories & Shearron

70-willow-sanborn-1887

At the last minute, as the Landmarks Preservation Commission prepares to hear more testimony about the proposed alterations at historic Heights’ home 70 Willow this morning, more information has come to light about the history of the highly contested porch on the rear of the building, which the current owners would like to remove.

Last night we received documents and an email exchange between preservationists about the porch. The most important of these is the 1887 Sanborn map, above, which appears to show the porch is much earlier — or much later, depending on your view — than previously thought. (On these old fire insurance maps, pink indicates brick and yellow shows wood — in this case, the porch.) An earlier map, the 1855 Perris map, does not show a porch, according to the historic consultant for the renovation, Patrick W. Ciccone.

Ciccone had previously thought the porch dated from about 1900 — and it was replaced entirely in the early 2010s, he told us last week. (Click through to see the porch in 1958 – with Truman Capote leaning against it.)

This new information doesn’t affect the proposed renovation, Ciccone told us. The design “is based on the historic signficance of the 1839 Greek Revival design as the basis of restoration. It didn’t have the porch according to the 1855 map — and we argued that alteration, including those in the 19th century, lacked signficance on their own.”

The Historic Districts Council, a coalition of community groups from designated historic districts, feels otherwise. The group received documents about the porch from an anonymous source and forwarded the information to Landmarks yesterday with a strongly worded email arguing the porch should remain.

“A glaring omission in the applicant’s original presentation was the absence of the rear ‘tea porch’ in the 19th century. For this reason, the applicant purported that the current porch has no historic value, and therefore lending a green light for demolition. The attached packet provides documentation of an extant rear porch in 1887 via a Sanborn map (the earliest map the applicant provided of an extant porch was 1922) and also photographs of the porch throughout the years, showing a consistent and historic configuration that remains today. One final consideration is that this house’s porch is visible from the street, as there is a wide driveway. In short, the demolition of the porch would be a crucial loss.”

Owners Plan to Restore Historic Heights Home 70 Willow Inside and Out [Brownstoner]
Landmarks Sends 70 Willow Reno Plans Back to Drawing Board [Brownstoner]
Landmarks to Consider Alterations to Truman Capote’s Old Brooklyn Heights House [Brownstoner]
Image above via Historic Districts Council; image below via New York Magazine

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The massive, neighborhood-transforming conversion of the 150-year-old landmarked coffee warehouse Empire Stores in Dumbo should be ready in about six months, according to a story in Crain’s. After signing high-profile tenant West Elm in 2013, the leasing team at Jones Lang LaSalle is now looking to fill 250,000 square feet of offices and retail. Prices range from $65 to $85 per square foot, and firms who move to the borough are eligible for city subsidies of as much as a $15 per square foot discount.

To drum up buzz, Jones Lang LaSalle has been sending out “handsome coffee-table books detailing the project along with bottles of Brooklyn-distilled whiskey,” said the story.

Separately, Jones Lang LaSalle released a slew of new renderings today and also has a website where they can be seen in their entirety, along with historic photos of Empire Stores. Above is a revised and current rendering showing the outside of the building, which was released in 2013. Click through for the new renderings of the rooftop, interior and courtyard spaces.

Dumbo-born and based tech company Etsy was rumored to be looking at the space, but last year announced it will anchor another high profile Dumbo conversion, the Watchtower printing plant properties, as we reported at the time. In 2013, Brooklyn Bridge Park said construction would wrap in third quarter of 2015.

Drumbeating Begins for Empire Stores [Crain's]
Empire Stores [Official]
Empire Stores Coverage [Brownstoner]
Rendering above via Brooklyn Bridge Park, renderings below via Jones Lang LaSalle

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The Landmarks Preservation Commission has rejected plans to alter one of Brooklyn’s most important historic homes, 70 Willow Street in Brooklyn Heights, where Truman Capote once lived. The house’s new owners, Grand Theft auto creator Dan Houser and his wife Krystyna, who purchased the Greek Revival mansion for a record breaking $12,500,000 in 2012, proposed an extensive remaking, billed as a “restoration,” Curbed reported.

The plans would have replaced much of the existing fabric of the 1839 house, including the iconic double-decker porch in back, where Capote wrote and entertained. (And which he wrote about, in his essay “A House on the Heights.”) Click through to Curbed to see the dramatic difference between the existing porch, which is curved, like the house’s famous round interior staircase and skylight, and the proposed deck, which would be modern and rectangular.

Other plans included changing the color of the house from yellow to red, which the owners said was its original shade, replacing the front entryway, adding shutters, replacing the rear verandah with a two-story deck, replacing the existing driveway gate with a solid one, changing the windows, adding onto the house and extending the base of it, and adding a shed and a pool in the backyard. The commissioners were not pleased, said Curbed:

Commissioner Michael Devonshire, who is an experienced preservation architect, called it “replicating” rather than “restoring,” going on to say that the situation presented an “amazing conundrum.” Still, he called the proposal “perfectly period appropriate.”

The couple also plans an extensive interior renovation, a gut, according to plans filed with the DOB — which they are free to carry out, since the LPC regulates only exteriors. What do you think of their proposal and the LPC response?

Capote House Alterations Do Not Sit Well with Landmarks [Curbed]
Landmarks to Consider Alterations to Truman Capote’s Old Brooklyn Heights House [Brownstoner]
Photo above by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

Update: We just received an email from Patrick W. Ciccone, the historic preservation consultant and real estate development adviser who is the co-author of the most recent edition of Charles Lockwood’s classic brownstoner bible, “Bricks and Brownstone,” which we believe contains interior photos of the house in question. Please click through for his comments and our response.

Second update, 4:46 pm: We have just learned, from his comment below, that Mr. Ciccone is the historic consultant on this renovation project. We have asked him for more information about the house and the restoration plans, and will update when we hear back.

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What would one of Brooklyn’s leading architects do with a Warren Place Mews townhouse, those iconic but small Gothic workingmen’s cottages built by Alfred Tredway White in 1879? Three stories high but narrow and only two rooms deep, the houses challenge any designer to find space for an adequate number of bathrooms without sacrificing bedrooms or parlors. We’ve also never seen one with any original finishes or even a mantel.

Everyone wants one but no one can figure out what to do with them.

Architect Elizabeth Roberts is known for her modern-meets-traditional renovations of Brooklyn brownstones. In this case, documented in a New York Times story, she restored some of the historic charm with an old-fashioned wood staircase with turned spindles and two salvage marble mantels.

She squeezed in two bedrooms and two bathrooms, although we’re not quite sure how since the article doesn’t include a floor plan.

Most remarkable — and something for other homeowners to consider — is the trick of turning a powder room, big enough for only sink and toilet, into a shower with full-room waterproofing and shower apparatus on the wall and overhead.

She also maximized storage with built-in bookcases big enough to hold the owners’ record collection and record player.

We’re guessing room for a full size bathroom on the top floor was carved out of the second bedroom and the top of the stair.

The renovation cost $550,000. Click through to the New York Times story for photos. What do you think of the design? Would you adapt any of these ideas in your own space?

Spies Like Us [NY Times]
Photo by Corcoran

navy yard sunset

The federal government has given the Navy Yard a $1,687,000 grant to repair damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy, according to the Brooklyn Eagle. The Navy Yard Corporation will use the money to fix up docks and berths destroyed by the storm. Senators Kristen Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer announced the award, which came from FEMA, on Tuesday.

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce $1.687 Million Grant for Brooklyn Navy Yard [Eagle]
Navy Yard Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by mcmillianfurlow

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The condo building at 50 Bridge Street, built in 1894 to house a soap manufacturing company, is wrapping up a $3,500,000, two-and-a-half-year exterior restoration project. The update to the 58-unit luxury building, which went condo in 2004, involved waterproofing and stripping paint off the original brick facade.

“We are thrilled by these significant renovations that have resulted in the restoration of much of our building’s original character,” said the condo’s board in a press release. “The building is a beautiful example of 19th century industrial architecture and we have worked closely with Landmarks throughout this project.” Cowley Engineering and Flag Waterproofing and Restoration did the work.

We presume this fixes all the construction problems that were the subject of a 2007 lawsuit against developer Joshua Guttman. The condo owners received an undisclosed settlement in 2012 from Guttman over construction defects such as a “defective roof and other waterproofing issues,” a press release noted at the time. Click through to see a photo of the building in 2012, before the restoration.

50 Bridge Street Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photo above by 50 Bridge Street; photo below by Sunita Mungol for PropertyShark (more…)

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We were dismayed to see yet another Victorian metal turret in a non-landmarked area being inappropriately altered. This one is on a quite prominent corner building at 1474 Bushwick Avenue between the Jackie Robinson and Cooper Avenue. We have passed by this building many times and it always appeared to be in good condition.

When we strolled by last week, the bright blue painted metal covering on the turret was being dismantled as part of a bigger renovation that is adding a story. A manager on site told us they really wanted to save the turret but “it was in pieces.” The turret will be covered in a brick veneer to match the rest of the alteration.

The three story building only has three units now. When the alteration is finished, the building will have four stories and eight units , according to an Alt-1 permit.

The building changed hands for $799,000 in 2013. HPD says it has five “class A” units, not three. For the last 20 years, it was owned by the Episcopal church and has a certificate of occupancy for 10 Franciscan friars of the Society of St. Francis in the Episcopalian church.

Click through to see a drawing of the altered building and a photo of the building taken in 2012.

Photo below by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark
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The Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center is transforming a former auto parts warehouse at 1102 Atlantic Avenue in Crown Heights into space for light manufacturing. Yesterday, we spotted workers installing solar panels on the roof of the two-story brick industrial building between Franklin and Classon Avenues.

The renovation will cost an estimated $14,500,000 and provide space for 14 small and mid-size manufacturing businesses, according to GMDC. When work finishes, the building will have a new elevator, new windows, repointed brick, upgraded electrical, gas and plumbing, and a new roof with a 50-kilowatt solar array.

The organization bought the warehouse two years ago for $4,000,000, as we reported at the time. The nonprofit developer is leasing space in the building and expects tenants to start moving in around January or February, according to a spokesperson.

GMDC Buys Crown Heights Warehouse for Expansion [Brownstoner] GMAP