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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

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When workers started digging a big hole in the backyard of the recently sold house at 391 Union Street in Carroll Gardens, it set off alarm bells with some neighbors. Two calls were made to 311, and one neighbor emailed us expressing fears about whether the apparent swimming pool project was on the up-and-up and what the structural implications for adjacent buildings might be. We checked with the architect who is overseeing the renovation of the house at No. 391, and it turns out that everything is being done by the book.

The pool will be 10 feet by 20 feet, a total of 200 square feet, with a maximum depth of four feet. A pool of this size does not require a permit. Nonetheless, the firm has made it clear in its filings to the DOB that one is planned. (Indeed, we saw it in the Schedule A attached to the Alt-1 permit.)

The hole in the backyard is bigger than the final size of the pool to allow for framing and plumbing. “The pool is set back from the property lines by more than four feet and is more than 10 feet from any foundation,” architect Daniel Alter told us.

While work has started on the pool, the rest of the renovation will wait for the appropriate permit approvals. “As a general matter, I can tell you that the owners are committed to not proceeding with any work that requires a permit until the permits can be pulled,” he said. (more…)

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Crown Heights’ oldest home, a mid-19th century wood frame at 1375 Dean Street known as the Susan B. Elkins House, has a new owner, who plans to fix it up and convert it to condos. Community Board 8′s Land Use Committee last night approved Amber Mazor of Perfect Renovation‘s plan to build five two- and three-bedroom condo units inside the house. He plans to fully restore the exterior of the landmarked building to its 1939 tax photo condition, including the balcony, windows and doors, and replace much of the crumbling wood structure with non-combustible material.

The project’s architect, Richard Goodstein of Crown Heights-based NC2 Architecture, explained that the house will get a three-story addition on the back that isn’t visible from the street. The addition will have a glass rear wall and a stucco finish on the sides that matches the existing walls and masonry. Each unit will have a large terrace in the back and open plan kitchen, living and dining rooms. A rear quadrant of the roof will also be removed for a roof terrace.

The home, which is almost a cube, has a hidden half story and a pyramid-shaped roof that is not visible from the street. (The house measures 40 feet wide by 35 feet deep by 33 feet high, according to public records.) “We wanted to design the extension to be purely geometric but in deference to the original building,” said Goodstein. “Undoubtedly, it’s a departure in style. But as architects and designers, we felt that this was more correct.”

The LPC will consider the proposal in a month or two.

Mazor also owns 1372 Dean across the street, which he’s converting to four condos. Work will begin soon on the project, which recently got its alteration permits and received Landmarks’ stamp of approval earlier this year. Mazor bought the property for $1,320,000 in 2013. 

A contract (not a deed) for the sale of the Elkins house to Mazor for was recorded in April. No price is recorded.

The Elkins house has been deteriorating since the early 1980s, and it has been vandalized. The previous owner, Real Properties, paid $194,000 for it in 2011 and promised to restore the exterior and convert it to apartments. That never happened. Instead, the firm gutted what was left of the interior and was sanctioned by Community Board 8 for “demo by neglect” when gaping holes appeared in the roof. Then the firm put it on the market for $1,100,000.

It’s “essentially a ruin right now,” said Goodstein.

Oldest House in Crown Heights North Now More Ruined and Expensive Than Ever [Brownstoner]
1375 Dean Street Coverage [Brownstoner]

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A stucco’d and stripped but historic Heights home at 48 Hicks Street will be getting a new and more historically appropriate facade. The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a proposal to replace the building’s mid-20th century facade with wood siding and an old-fashioned storefront, the Brooklyn Heights Blog reported.

The Federal wood frame house was built in 1829. Sometime later in the century a storefront was added to the bottom floor. The renovation proposes Federal style upper floors with wood siding, shutters and window surrounds. The windows on the second and third floors will be enlarged.

The residential entrance to the left of the storefront will also be redone in an early 19th century style with paneling, a four-panel door, and a lantern-style light over the door. The existing metal and glass storefront will be replaced with a late 19th century style wood and glass storefront. The Brooklyn Heights Association and the Historic Districts Council spoke in favor of the renovation, which is being undertaken because the existing stucco is leaking.

Click through to see photos of the presentation by architect Richard Somerby.

Landmarks Commission Approves New Façade for 48 Hicks Street [BHB]
Photo above by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark; photos below by Evan Bindelglass for BHB

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The topmost layers of scaffolding at 365 Jay Street have come down, revealing a bit of the restored tower of the old Brooklyn Fire Headquarters. The building has been shrouded in scaffolding for more than a year now, as the Pratt Area Community Council repairs the roof, windows, terra cotta archway and foyer. The 1892 Romanesque Revival building had been neglected and also suffered severe roof damage and flooding two years ago.

The building was designed by prolific Brooklyn architect Frank Freeman and designated an individual landmark in 1966. In 1987, the city agreed to turn it into affordable housing for low-income people displaced by construction of the nearby MetroTech complex.

MDG Design and Construction and Nomad Architecture are leading the restoration, which is scheduled to wrap by spring 2015.

Thanks to a reader for the photos and tip. Click through to see another shot of the tower.

Building of the Day: 365 Jay Street [Brownstoner]
Scaffolding up at Jay Street Firehouse [Brownstoner]

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The striking and prominent house at 1020 Bushwick Avenue sold last year and is now being renovated. We noticed a few weeks ago that it is empty inside, and when we stopped by this past weekend, it looked like work had started.

We’re guessing the new owner intends to live there and is restoring the interior, based on what we can discern from looking at public records. The house was previously occupied by a member of the family who owned it for many years, and his extensive vinyl record collection was visible through the parlor floor windows at night.

The house sped to contract in less than one month and sold for $1,210,000 one year ago, $321,000 above the asking price of $889,000. Interior photos can still be viewed at the Douglas Elliman website.

The Queen Anne style house was built in 1888 and designed by architect Frank Keith Irving. It is part of a Linden Street row with unusual and exotic ornamentation. There is a face on the dormer facing Linden Street and terra cotta dragons under the cornice. It was a Building of the Day in 2011. More details can be seen on Montrose Morris’ Flickr page.

There may be more interior detail left than the photos show. The listing says the house has “multiple wood burning fireplaces, crown molding, a tin ceiling and ceiling medallions.”

1020 Bushwick Avenue Listing [Douglas Elliman]
Building of the Day: 1020 Bushwick Avenue [Brownstoner] (more…)

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During the winter, when we can’t open the windows, we work on “clean” projects, such as sewing new curtains. We save up messy and toxic tasks such as plastering and stripping for spring and summer. We’ve accomplished quite a bit this year, although not as much as we hoped. Our agenda was to finish all the woodwork and the plastering. What we actually accomplished was rehabilitating the built-ins on the garden floor. (more…)

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Brooklyn Bridge Park is revamping its old water main testing building at 99 Plymouth Street into a community center and park facility, and park officials held a ceremony yesterday to kick off the building’s renovation. The $3,600,000 conversion will bring a community room, a classroom for environmental education programs, two public bathrooms, a locker room, a kitchen, maintenance space for the park and basement storage. The classroom will also feature a 600-gallon aquarium where children can interact with marine life.

When renovation finishes next summer, the new structure will have a 28-foot-wide glass entrance facing Plymouth Street, and the back entrance will be a floor-to-ceiling glass wall facing the park, the Manhattan Bridge and the waterfront. The exterior brick walls will be painted gray, and the highly visible interiors will be contrasting bright blue and white. Stalco Construction and Architecture Research Office are leading the renovation of the 11,300-square-foot site.

We got a look inside the building, which is completely gutted. The brick facade has been repointed, and the building already has new windows. Click through to see more photos and renderings.

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The summer has been incredibly busy. The house is about 90 percent complete. Due to budget constraints the garden will have to wait until next year. But the good news is that the kitchen is finished! Last we left off, I had picked out a marble countertop. I’ve been living with the marble for almost a month now and so far so good. Two dinner parties with lots of red wine and accidental lemon spills and the marble is still going strong.

The marble countertop was installed by the fabricator and the entire process took about an hour. At the end of the installation the team applied a professional grade sealant on the marble. Sealant is key to keeping marble mostly stain free. It has also helped that I picked a slab of marble with lots of imperfections. My slab was already flawed, what’s a few stains here and there? Plus it was much cheaper!

The cabinets are Ikea, which I’m less than thrilled with at the moment. I already need to replace one of the drawers due to poor alignment. The dishwasher and refrigerator are both Fisher Paykel and are floor models purchased on eBay at about 60 percent off retail. The stove is NXR and was purchased at Costco. The wood floating shelves were custom made.

Editor’s note: We’re impressed with how the kitchen turned out, especially considering this is a budget renovation financed with a 203K loan. Click through for lots more photos. (more…)

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We were astounded to pass by and see the falling-down house at 1260 Bushwick Avenue has been fixed up. If anyone’s wandered these parts, they’ve surely noticed the row house next to an empty lot with its front facade peeling off, porch roof crumbling and, most remarkable and eye-catching of all, huge side wall sheathed in pieces of thin plywood — and some of those coming loose as well. It’s been like this at least since 2007, based on PropertyShark photos and our own visits to the area. Sometimes it looked as though people were living in it, too, although we were never sure. Or perhaps they were squatters.

There had been signs, over the months, that some kind of construction might be imminent, but we didn’t really believe it. In any case, now here it is, with a completely new stucco facade, looking as if it were never abandoned or a likely candidate for a tear-down.

After years of stagnation, there is a frenzy of construction in Bushwick. It’s impossible to walk down the street in Bushwick without seeing new buildings rising and old ones being renovated — generally by investors, not owner occupants. We’ll be showing you more projects over the next week or two.

In the meantime, click through to see more photos of 1260 Bushwick as well as other houses being spruced up — or horribly altered, depending on your point of view. The stucco-over-wood-frame treatment is very popular these days. We saw two more up the avenue. (more…)

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Filmmaker and actor Brian Crano and David Craig initially planned to buy a brownstone (or an apartment in one) when they moved from L.A. to Brooklyn. But after losing out on several places, they did a complete about-face and created a unique space in a totally generic new-construction building in Vinegar Hill, The New York Times reported.

They combined two one-bedroom apartments plus common hallway space on the top floor of a “developer’s special,” as the Times put it, then embarked on a gut renovation that included a new kitchen from Henrybuilt. They spent a total of $1,228,000 buying the space (including the hallway) and another $500,000 or so on the renovation. (more…)