A tipster sent in these photos of an unusual proposal for a backyard pool in Brooklyn Heights. The description said, “105 Willow Street-Brooklyn Heights Historic District. An Eclectic-Diverse style rowhouse built between 1861-1879. Application is to excavate the rear yard.” More specifically, the homeowner proposed excavating the yard 25 feet down, putting in a pool and whirlpool underground with a barrel vault ceiling and a skylight, and an infinity reflecting pool on the top. The underground pool would not, of course, be visible from the outside, but apparently the LPC didn’t like something about the proposal because it was not approved. Our tipster speculated they didn’t like the sound of excavating “the whole backyard.” Potentially, the homeowner could modify the plans and try again.
It’s not only the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge that’s getting attention from the DOT. The stretch of Cadman Plaza around the exit ramp that drivers take to access the BQE is being made more pedestrian-friendly as we write. A curb extension (or “neckdown”) is being added at the southeast corner of Middagh Street and Cadman Plaza West while an entirely new sidewalk is being installed between Middagh and where the exit ramp feeds out to Old Fulton Street. Right now a pedestrian has no way to safely continue down the east side of Cadman Plaza West towards the Brooklyn Bridge underpass. These changes should help address that.
Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Row houses
Address: 20-26 Willow Street
Cross Streets: Cranberry and Middagh streets
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
Year Built: 1846
Architectural Style: Greek Revival
Landmarked: Yes, part of Brooklyn Heights HD (1965)
The story: The oldest parts of Brooklyn Heights, over near Middagh Street, are a fascinating patchwork of styles and history. Frame houses stand next to Greek Revival row houses, followed by later brownstone styles, late 19th century tenements, early 20th century apartment buildings, and finally, late 20th century apartment housing. I’ve always enjoyed walking around this part of the Heights, as you never know what you are going to come upon next.
This group of Greek Revival row houses was built in 1846, a time when Brooklyn Heights was feeling its oats as the a leafy suburb for the powerful merchants and financiers whose businesses lay below by the docks, or across the river in Manhattan. The houses are brick built on top of a brownstone basement story. Unlike later Italianate houses, the stoops on these houses rise only ten or so stairs from the street level, necessitating an excavated cellar level in order to get light and windows into the ground floor. (more…)
The city has relocated one Citi Bike docking station in Brooklyn Heights after residents of nearby co-op building 60 Remsen Street complained. The station, initially on Remsen Street just east of Hicks, was moved to Hicks Street just north of Remsen, according to The New York Daily News. (That’s the new station pictured at right.) Officials did not give a specific reason for the move, although the Daily News heard from a source that the docking station “logistically didn’t fit… [The street] was too small for when the bikes were going to come in.” An informed source tells us that the docking location did not conform to DOT’s own standards for pedestrian clearance. Nearby co-op building 130 Clinton Street sued the city for a docking station placed in front of the building; there’s no word whether or not that station will be moved as well. Citi Bike officially launches May 27. DNAinfo noted this morning that Park Slope just got its first docking station, on the corner of Dean Street and 4th Avenue.
Another CitiBike Rack Bites the Dust in Brooklyn Heights [NY Daily News]
Park Slope Gets First Citi Bike Station [DNAinfo]
Photo by Reuven Blau for NY Daily News
Next week the Department of Transportation will begin installing traffic calming measures to Hicks Street as part of its Hicks Street Northbound Traffic Calming Project. The initiative includes curb extensions, bollards, planters, full-time curbside parking, and two dedicated moving lanes. In the east lane along the length of northbound Hicks Street adjacent to the BQE, the DOT will create two 10.5-foot moving lanes alongside a 7-foot parking lane/curb extension. (There’s currently a 10-foot moving lane and an 18-foot parking/moving lane there.) The new configuration narrows the street and will slow down traffic. The curb extensions allow for shorter pedestrian crossings. You can view the full DOT presentation of all the changes to come right here.
This Brooklyn Heights studio at 158 Hicks Street may catch the eye of a renter who puts a premium on location rather than actual living space. The apartment is tiny, with a lofted bedroom and a kitchenette that can only fit a mini-fridge and hot plate. At least there are windows! It costs $1,125 a month with a 15 percent brokers fee.
158 Hicks Street [Corcoran] GMAP P*Shark
The very large Gothic Art Deco co-op at 130 Clinton Street, aka 150 Joralemon Street, plans to sue Citi Bike this week over the location of a bike share station in front of the building, The New York Post reported. The station is blocking garbage collection, according to the story. “We were never notified that we were selected until after everything was in place,” resident Ken Wasserman was quoted as saying. The building has 89 apartments as well as commercial tenants.
Rough Ride for Bike-Share Sites [NY Post]
Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark
Like old brownstones but don’t have the scratch for a whole house? This one-bedroom at 40 Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights is one option. The parlor floor one-bedroom has a grandeur (14-foot ceilings) and old-world elegance (lots o’ detail) that would be hard to top. There’s even a small private deck on the rear off the bedroom. The price of $695,000 seems very reasonable. It’s the maintenance of $1,853 that’s a little tougher to swallow. There was an open house yesterday. Anyone make it by?
40 Remsen Street, #4 [Brown Harris Stevens] GMAP P*Shark
An eagle-eyed tipster spotted a tractor trailer hauling a modular unit into Brooklyn Bridge Park last week. The Brooklyn Bridge Park brass told us the New York Center for Sustainable Energy Educational Center is being relocated from Pier One to Pier Six. The center, housed in three shipping containers, is where the park holds many of its educational programs. It also serves as a charging station for park maintenance and security vehicles. The structure was designed to be entirely sustainable and operate completely off-grid — it receives no outside power sources to operate. Here’s a photo tour of the center from when it opened in 2011.
A look at Brooklyn, then and now.
Somewhere around the 1850s, this house, which had a different numbering then, was built. This was a time of great building in the Heights, when many of Remsen Street’s great brownstone mansions were built for the wealthy industrialists, merchants and financiers who were making their fortunes below on Brooklyn’s docks, or across the river in Manhattan. This was certainly some mansion; 50 feet wide and 88 feet long, a whopping 15,000 square feet of house. The photograph from 1935 shows the house as it must have looked when it was built; with Italianate brownstone window hoods and sills, a projecting oriel above the front door, attic dormers peeking out above, a large, rugged cornice, and an elegant front stairway leading to the massive front door.
Brooklyn’s city directories show that in 1858 the house belonged to Terrence McDonald, a hemp manufacturer. Since shipping made many of the fortunes in the Heights, it seems fitting that a man who manufactured rope would certainly be wealthy enough to build and own such a house. Rope was as indispensable in the 19th century as steel or plastic are today. (more…)
It’s hard to believe there was a time when no one seemed to want to live at One Brooklyn Bridge Park. The converted industrial building at the end of Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights is now très populaire, with apartments on the waterfront side selling in excess of $1,000 a square foot. Such is the case with this two-bedroom on the ninth floor. The 1,550-square-foot pad has high ceilings, big windows, killer views and attractive modern amenities. Asking price: $1,750,000.
360 Furman Street, #904 [Corcoran] GMAP P*Shark
1. BROOKLYN HEIGHTS $7,650,000
40 Willow Place GMAP P*Shark
The sale of this modern Brooklyn Heights property got its own post last week. The home was asking $7.95 million after selling for $7.35 million last summer. Deed recorded on 4/24/2013.
2. COBBLE HILL $3,100,000
132 Kane Street GMAP P*Shark
Here’s the listing for this unique property, which includes a three-story row house at 132 Kane Street, a single-story storefront at 6 Cheever Place, and a three-story house at 8 Cheever Place. The property was asking $4,500,000, then $3,995,000. Deed recorded on 4/23/2013.
5. CLINTON HILL $2,600,000
556 Washington Avenue GMAP P*Shark
For your daily dose of Brooklyn brownstones selling over ask: This one was asking $2,225,000. (This sale beat out 32 Hicks Street, a home in the Heights that sold for $2,475,000.) Deed recorded on 4/25/2013.
Big trials got big press, especially in the days before 24/7 news coverage. Newspapers lived for circus-like trials, when everyone, high and low, spent their three cents on a paper to see what was going on in the courtroom. Dirty deeds had no place to hide. No one knew that better than the good people of Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights, because in 1901, the trial de jour, which captured the front pages of local newspapers, was all about dirty rugs and a self-righteous wealthy housewife named Leila Wunderlich.
She was one of their own, a wealthy homeowner; wife to a rich and prominent doctor named Frederick Wunderlich. Leila was a perfect wife, born in Massachusetts, raised in New Orleans, and was beautiful, fashionable and educated. She ran a tight ship at home, with a staff of servants that she worked all day, every day, in order to achieve a home that was so clean and perfect that her husband could have operated on the floor. Her house was her pride and joy; her house was a reflection of herself, as perfect as was humanly possible in a dirty and uncivilized Brooklyn world. (more…)
What a wild ride it’s been for 40 Willow Street, the 45-foot-wide modernist home built in the ’60s in Brooklyn Heights. The last sale closed last summer for $7.35 million. Then Curbed noticed the house was back on the market for $7.95 million about four months ago; it entered contract about a month later. Yesterday Curbed picked up on the newest sales price: $7,650,000. As Curbed says: “Not exactly a huge flip, but a nice little profit for the sellers, who spent less than a year in the highly modern townhouse.” This is Brooklyn’s most valuable townhouse if you’re going by the highest tax assessment. Here’s a link to the most recent listing.
Brooklyn’s Most Valuable Townhouse Sells (Again) for $7.65M [Curbed]
Another Massive Sale for Brooklyn Heights [Brownstoner] GMAP
historic carriage house at 21-22 Grace Court Alley in Brooklyn Heights, built in 1994, according to the listing, is just too adorable. The inside seems nice enough, although the vibe seems a tad disconnected from Brooklyn. It looks like a split-level condo in Palm Beach, Aspen or possibly Santa Fe in there. What would you do with this $3,500,000 space if it were yours?
21-22 Grace Court Alley [Brown Harris Stevens] GMAP P*Shark
Officers Grant, McKee, Donlin and Sullivan were part of a special unit – the Sanitary Squad. The year was 1901, and the place was Remsen Street in tony Brooklyn Heights. In June of that year, these officers were doing what they had been assigned to do for close to a year: they were looking for the serial rug beater who was terrorizing Remsen Street. The cops knew where the miscreants lived, but the perps were crafty, and they could never catch them in the act. So they patrolled the roof of the Title and Guarantee Building, on Montague Street, a tall office building that overlooked the backyards of Remsen Street. Next door, in the Garfield Building, an office building on the corner of Court and Remsen, where the Temple Bar Building stands today, the office workers, architects, lawyers, secretaries and other tenants of the building could see these plainclothes officers peering over the parapet, looking for something. They were obviously some kind of police, but whatever they were looking for was eluding them. But that would soon change.
Everyone on this block of Remsen Street knew who the perpetrator was. Everyone, especially the neighbors on either side of 165 Remsen, had been the victims. This block was populated by some of the wealthiest and most important people in the city. This was Remsen Street, one of the premiere blocks of Brooklyn Heights, home to doctors, politicians, financiers, lawyers, and well-paid professionals. 165 Remsen belonged to Dr. Frederick Wunderlich, a distinguished, well-known and highly regarded medical doctor. He had lived in this house for about six years when the trouble went down, with his wife, children and a staff of several servants. (more…)
Brooklyn Heights has long been home to some of the city’s elite, and that was never more true than in the latter half of the 19th century. Some of Brooklyn’s most important and influential people lived in the Heights, those who were kings and royal families of finance, commerce and political power. The Heights was also home to wealthy professionals: doctors, lawyers, and others who worked hard to achieve great success and wealth in their professions. Put all of these people together, and you have… well, you have people who acted like everyone else who lived in less exalted stations, just with better wardrobes and perhaps a greater chance of getting their business in the paper. Take the case of Mrs. Leila Wunderlich and her neighbor, Hugh McLaughlin, and the offending rugs that landed her in court.
Dr. Frederick W. Wunderlich was a prominent physician. He and his wife and family lived at 165 Remsen Street, between Court and Clinton Streets, in Brooklyn Heights. Their house was a five story brownstone with a large extension in the back, like many of the other large, mid-19th century townhouses that line Remsen on the other side of Clinton. Today, this block is more commercial, and the Wunderlich house is gone, replaced by an office building that was the choice for a BOTD last week. (more…)
Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Office Building
Address: 165 Remsen Street
Cross Streets: Court and Clinton Streets
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
Year Built: 1924-25
Architectural Style: Neo-classical
Landmarked: Yes, part of Brooklyn Skyscraper HD (2012)
The story: On the face of it, this is a nice three story office building on a side street in the new Brooklyn Skyscraper Historic District. But this little building’s history is much more complicated than its surface appearance. Its fortunes are tied to its backyard neighbor, and while quite picturesque with its banks of upper story windows, the stories behind these doors have yet to be revealed.
Before this building and its neighbors were constructed in the early to mid-20th century, Remsen Street was completely residential, filled with four and five story brownstone row houses, equal to those up the street, further into the Heights. 165 Remsen was home for many years to Dr. Frederich W. Wunderlich, a prominent physician, and his family. (more…)
A reader sent in a photo with the info that Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co. opened last week at 77 Atlantic Avenue. The store sells outdoor gear, camping supplies and men’s clothing. It is located on the corner of Hicks in the space previously occupied by Perfect Renovation, now at 103 Atlantic. GMAP (more…)
Just what Fedders monstrosity might be going into the empty lot at 27 Cranberry Street? A reader asked us to look into plans for the site, which was the focus of a recent New York Times story about preparing for neighbors’ renovations. Thankfully, the answer seems to be an attractive, single family house of four stories, above, whose design appears to fit in very well with neighboring historic buildings. The cornice and bay window will be zinc, and the entrance surround, doors and windows will be mahogany. The plans were approved by Landmarks last year, and the architect is Martin Santini. The owner, an LLC, appears to be Brooklyn developer Louis V. Greco Jr. Do you think infill that plays well with surrounding buildings is a major benefit of landmarking?