Warm weather means house tour season is starting soon! Not every neighborhood association has published its 2013 tour dates yet, which run through October, but here are some of the upcoming ones that have been set:
Park Slope Civic Council
Prospect Lefferts Gardens
Lefferts Manor Association
Flatbush Development Corp.
Correction: As of yet, there is no Fort Greene house tour scheduled for this year.
Photo by the Park Slope Civic Council
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?
Here’s a juicy building proposal for the Clinton Hill Historic District, at 228 Washington Avenue: According to Community Board Two, an applicant will present to the land use committee a proposal to “demolish the circa-1950 garage and construct a new one-story contemporary style residential building connecting to the existing rear yard addition.” The building at 228 Washington Avenue is a corner brownstone that was on the market back in 2008. (According to public records, the building sold in 2010 for $750,000.) The building’s two-car garage, pictured above, faces Willoughby Avenue. The notice makes this seem more like a proposal for a separate residential building than an extension to the existing brownstone. Could be a cute house! If you’d like to see the architects present the rendering, they are scheduled to attend the land use committee meeting on Wednesday, April 17, at 5 Metrotech Center, Room LC400. GMAP
The Sunset Park Landmarks Committee will hold a walking tour of the neighborhood next Saturday, April 13. Urban historian and former Sunset Park resident Joe Svehlak will lead the tour, which will start at the landmarked courthouse on 43rd Street and 4th Avenue. The walk will focus on history, architecture, ethnic diversity, development, and the area’s potential to become a New York City landmark district (it is already listed on the National Registry of Historic Places). The group is seeking New York City landmark status in part to stop historically inappropriate alterations, of which it has several examples pictured on its website. The two-and-a-half hour tour will end in the area’s Chinatown. To reserve a spot, go here.
Photo of 40th Street by Sunset Park Landmarks Committee
A stunning Magnus Dahlander home with beaucoup original details at 242 Decatur Street is now in contract for $1.75 million all cash, we hear. The sellers were asking $1,800,000.
Photos by Evans & Nye
With inventory low and demand high, prices for Brooklyn townhouses are jumping, with more and more listings selling for over $3 million, reported The Real Deal. Such prices are frequently seen in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, and Park Slope. In the latter area, for example, there are currently 10 townhouses listed for more than $3 million, up from only one in the fourth quarter of 2011. The average sales price for townhouses there increased substantially, by 40 percent, in the fourth quarter, to $1.7 million, up from $1.2 million from the same period in 2011. Meanwhile, over in Manhattan, the average sales price for townhouses surged only 6 percent. Prices in Cobble Hill were up 108 percent year over year in the fourth quarter. Brooklyn Heights bucked the trend, actually decreasing 22 percent in the same period, but still holding value with an average sales price of $3.6 million. Readers would do well to bear in mind, of course, that the sample size of closed townhouse sales for any given Brooklyn neighborhood is small. Incidentally, the article also mentions, 113 Prospect Park West is in contract for $4.75 million. To what do you attribute the uptick in prices for Brooklyn row houses, and do you think prices will hold?
Brooklyn Brownstones Bringing Bigger Bucks [TRD]
Wallabout is waking from its long slumber with several major developments planned, new retail in the works, and a newly hot residential real estate market, The Wall Street Journal reported. “And it isn’t just the loft buildings that are selling,” said the story. “Historic 19th-century wood frame houses, the backbone of Wallabout’s working-class housing stock, are getting scooped up. Doug Bowen, executive vice president at CORE, who has lived in the neighborhood for 14 years, estimated 18 townhouses changed hands in Wallabout last year.” The Journal credits the changes to new industry at the Navy Yard and spillover gentrification from nearby Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. Luckily some 40 residential buildings were landmarked as the Wallabout Historic District, so the character of the area will be preserved despite growth. Some of the new developments to come: the huge under-construction affordable development the Navy Green; the recently purchased (for $26.25 million) warehouse on Ryerson Street; Brooklyn Roasting Company moving into the old J.J’s Cocktail Lounge, as previously reported, which received a glassy renovation in 2011. The article also notes two Washington Avenue buildings are getting converted to residential use with street-level retail: There are two lofts available at 66 Washington with a coffee purveyor and importer in contract to take the ground floor retail space, and 64 Washington will house a wine store on the bottom floor and renovate the building into five apartments. Meanwhile, 73 Washington, a four-story unconverted building, upped its asking price from $1.5 million to $2.2 million.
Wallabout Refloats Next to the Navy Yard [WSJ]
To many New Yorkers, Bloomberg is known as the developer-friendly guy who upzoned much of New York City, paving the way for Atlantic Yards, skyscrapers in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Long Island City, and tons more developments. But to the Wall Street Journal, he’s the Mayor of Preservation: Under his appointee, Chairman of Landmarks Preservation Commission Robert Tierney, the City has landmarked 41 areas, more than any of his predecessors. (And to be fair, as Bloomberg upzoned, he also downzoned, limiting building to preserve the character of some residential areas.) Some of those landmarkings were not based on historic merit but driven strictly by a desire to control development, claimed Michael Slattery, Research Associate of the Real Estate Board of New York. Take, for example, the controversy over extending the Bed Stuy historic districts. “This is a very old-fashioned sort of neighborhood where everybody says hello, where people sit on the stoop,” said Claudette Brady of the Bedford Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation. “A lot of it was about new buildings — three-story things that were set back two feet or three feet from the street. Just god-ugly things.” Is the Mayor unfair to developers? Or could it be that the LPC is finally getting around to its backlog of requests going back many years? What do you think?
Mayor of Preservation [WSJ]
Image by Stuyvesant East Preservation League
Yesterday’s Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing for the proposed Bedford Historic District was well attended, and supporters outnumbered those opposed. ”Thirty-six people spoke. Only eight opposed. The hearing room was packed!” said one attendee. Evelyn Collier, the Landmarks Chairperson for Community Board Three, said of the proposed district: ”Its streetscapes representing the design of 45 architects have remained virtually unchanged over the past 150 years. The designation… will ensure that these structures will remain for the use and pleasure of future generations.” Claudette Brady, one of the founders of the Bedford Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation, read a statement from the Crown Heights North Association: “Like Crown Heights North, Bedford Stuyvesant has been a victim to bank redlining, racism, loss of city services, and lots of bad press. Like us, they keep going, and in the process preserving a neighborhood that is now beginning to experience the joys and dangers of being noticed… (more…)
A preacher whose church is located in the part of Bed Stuy next up for landmarking is speaking out against the plan, The New York Daily News reported — he even compared it to a hurricane. “It feels like Sandy — it’s just gonna hit us and there’s no way to prepare against it,” said the Reverend Johnny Ray Youngblood of Mount Pisgah Baptist Church. His argument: Homeowners on tight budgets — especially seniors and the unemployed — can’t afford higher exterior repair costs that landmarking brings. “When you’ve worked all your life to own a home, landmarking becomes an undeserved burden, especially in a bad economic climate like this,” he continued. “No matter how you look at it, it spells dollars and cents.” However, there is strong support in the neighborhood among homeowners for the landmarking, who have showed up in droves at past meetings. “We’ve gone door-to-door — and hundreds of homeowners have told us they support landmarking,” the New York Daily News quoted Claudette Brady of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation as saying. (more…)
The blog New York Shitty noticed what appears to be unpermitted construction and a stop work order at 74 Kent Street, one of the iconic, landmarked Eberhard Faber Pencil Company factory buildings in Greenpoint. The brick, German Renaissance Revival-style factory was built around 1904 or 1908 and sports the Eberhard star logo, according to the LPC designation report. The stop work order was issued Dec. 19 for metal studs installed on the roof without a permit. Just the day before, the building owners had requested a variance from Community Board One to turn the factory into residential apartments with a penthouse. A later update to the blog post noted the metal studs might have been put in place to give Landmarks an idea of the visibility of the proposed penthouse.
Now at 74 Kent Street: A Stop Work Order [NYS] GMAP
Photo by Landmarks Preservation Commission
The fate of the Brooklyn Heights Cinema and the 1895 building it inhabits at 70 Henry Street is still up in the air following a Nov. 27 meeting of the Landmarks Commission. The subject was discussed but not enough commissioners were present to vote, said DNAinfo. The owner of the building has proposed adding five stories with 17 rental apartments, designed by Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel. Landmarks is debating whether the building ought to be left alone or whether the original design has already been too compromised to matter. The owner of the cinema has said he will reopen elsewhere in the area if necessary.
Landmarks Commission Debates Brooklyn Cinema Demolition [DNAinfo]
New Building, and Cinema, for 70 Henry Street [Brownstoner]
Photo by bartek/yetseen
The Hotel Bossert sale from the Jehovah’s Witnesses to real estate moguls David Bistricer and Joseph Chetrit closed Friday, The Real Deal reported. The amount of the sale was $81 million, not $91 million as previously rumored. The duo plan to the turn the historic property back into a hotel, an independent that will continue to use the Bossert name, with a rooftop bar and restaurant and 302 rooms that will rent for $300 a night. The property is already being renovated. Plans call for a summer opening. Click through for a photo of the lobby in bygone days. (more…)
A tipster sent in this photo with the note, “The famous pink house of Park Slope, recently sold, is about to be no longer pink.” The home did indeed sell last month for $2,075,000. There were previous reports that the new owners would paint over the pink with a brown paint, but from the looks of this photograph they are instead stripping the paint back to the original brownstone.
The Price for Pink in Park Slope? $2,075,000 [Brownstoner]
International Passive House Days is coming up the second weekend in November, and four Brooklyn properties will be participating. Open for tours will be two landmarked houses as well as new construction. See the full list of properties and where to sign up here. Right, an interior shot of stained glass windows in a landmarked house retrofitted to Passive House standards by Prospect Architecture and Development. For more information about Passive House design in general and around the world, check out the International Passive House Association.
Photo by Prospect Architecture and Development
Just the front facade is all that is left of the wood-frame house at 580 Carlton Avenue between Prospect Place and St Marks. It looks like a movie set now. In 2011, the severely damaged property, one of the oldest in Prospect Heights and dating from before 1855, sold for $480,000, and in December permits were approved for alteration, specifically: ”rear yard addition of two stories, rehabilitation of existing three story structure, no change in use, egress or occupancy.” Going by the photo here, it looks like they’re doing more than that. But now there is a “notice to revoke” on that same permit, dated July 9. After the house sold, by the way, it was briefly listed for sale for $2 million, with the owner promising to renovate to the buyer’s specifications. (The website for the property is still up.) The house is in the Prospect Heights landmark district. Click here to see the eerie interior photos taken by Cara Greenberg of Casacara when she checked out the 2011 open house. It was in such precarious condition that attendees had to sign a release form before they were allowed inside. We hope the renovators plan to reuse some of the interior details such as the beautiful fireplaces and moldings, but it seems unlikely. Thanks to Cara for sending us the photo above.
House of the Day: 580 Carlton Avenue [Brownstoner]
Renovations Planned for 580 Carlton Avenue [Brownstoner]
Customize 580 Carlton Avenue for $2 Million [Brownstoner]
Work Begins on Prospect Heights’ Hard-Knock 580 Carlton [Brownstoner]
A reader sent in this photo of the repair work ongoing at Christ Church in Cobble Hill, where lightning struck on July 26, damaging the tower and killing local resident state Assistant Attorney General Richard Schwartz. Traffic at the corner of Kane and Clinton remains completely blocked with the intersection closed to all, our tipster said. No one is allowed on the south side of the sidewalk. Two large cranes remain on the scene.
Christ Church Steeples to Come Down [Brownstoner] GMAP
Lightning Kills Man, Damages Church in Cobble Hill [Brownstoner]
Lightning Hit Brooklyn Last Night, Caused One Fatality [Brownstoner]
The Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project and the Historic Wallabout Association will release the Wallabout Homeowner’s Preservation Manual at a community reception and informational meeting at Building 92 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard from 7 pm to 9 pm tonight. The 90-page manual, focusing on wood-frame and masonry homes found in the Wallabout Historic District, will cover basic maintenance, large-scale restorations, tax credits and financing programs in a landmarked district, improving a building’s energy efficiency, and more. Representatives from the State Historic Preservation Office and the New York Landmarks Conservancy will be at the meeting to answer questions about living in a historic district. For anyone living in Wallabout, the manual is free. For those who live outside the district, the manual can be purchased with a $10 donation. If you are interested in the manual or in attending tonight’s meeting, get in touch with MARP at email@example.com or 718-230-1689.
The condos at historic Cobble Hill Towers are more than 30 percent sold, said David Kramer, principal of the Hudson Companies Inc., which is renovating parts of the property and handling the condo conversion. “We’ve been doing quite well with sales in the last three months. Partially because success begets success and partly because market is strong,” he said. Wells Fargo offers financing with 20 percent down; some current residents are unhappy FHA financing is not available, according to a Brownstoner reader. Hudson expects to reach the 50 percent sales mark and then get FHA financing sometime over the next 18 months, said Kramer. Current tenants of the rent-stabilized and rent-controlled complex, which is located at Warren, Hicks, & Baltic streets, have the option of continuing to rent, taking a buyout or buying their apartments.
There is also a rent-to-buy option. The conversion had hoped to get a waiver and FHA financing before reaching 50 percent and is still pursuing that option, added Kramer. Because the units are small, most are priced at less than $400,000. The landmarked nine-building complex was designed by William Field & Son and built in 1879 by wealthy industrialist Alfred Tredway White as model housing for workers. The apartments are linked by external hallways and stairs, and originally featured common bathing facilities in the basement.
Cobble Hill Towers: 30 Percent Buying or Being Bought Out [Brownstoner]
Cobble Hill Towers Condo Plan Drops [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photo by Hudson Companies Inc.
A century ago, Columbia Heights was the most fashionable street in Brooklyn, according to the Glens Falls Morning Star in 1896. The street overlooks the Brooklyn Promenade in Brooklyn Heights and is still fashionable today, found The New York Times’ Christopher Gray, being home to many fine, historic homes with water views that trade for around $10 million. The column pointed out many alterations that have occurred on the street over the years, including a 1938 Regency makeover of the exterior at 204 Columbia Heights and “two inebriated stories of strange protuberances” on top of 220 Columbia Heights, added between 1876 and 1884.
Still in Fashion, a Century Later [NY Times]
Photo by lumierefl