Turns out that George Chappell flip at 271 Jefferson Avenue we wrote about Friday wasn’t an anomaly. This area of Bed Stuy is, architecturally speaking, one of the finest in the borough, with buildings by noted architects Montrose Morris, Amzi Hill, Chappell and others. Developers are snapping up elaborate (or formerly so) houses in the proposed Bedford Historic District for middling prices and turning them around for more than a million dollars, doubling their money — sometimes in only a month, leading us to wonder if they did any work. Take 221 Jefferson Avenue, for example (pictured above). We passed up covering this house earlier because the listing has no interior photos. But then we saw a post about it over at BK to the Fullest. Turns out a rehab company bought it last month for $500,000 and now it’s back on the market for $1.2 million. Don’t be so sure they won’t get their price. Brownstoner HOTD 106 Hancock Street was also flipped and is already in contract after only a month, as BK to the Fullest pointed out. (It was asking $1.1 million.) All this leaves us with several questions: Did these houses not qualify for mortgages, thus keeping the (all-cash) price low? Or do sellers not know what their houses are worth, perhaps because the market is moving so quickly? If so, how long can this go on before sellers raise prices and cut out the flippers? Does anyone have any insight?
Bed-Stuy Flip (Again): 221 Jefferson Avenue [BK to the Fullest]
George Chappell House Survives Flip, Sells for $1.2M [Brownstoner]
House of the Day: 106 Hancock Street [Brownstoner]
Photo by Christopher Bride, PropertyShark
There’s more bad news from Cobble Hill’s Christ Church, which was damaged in a lightning storm and consequently killed one neighborhood resident. Now it looks like the four steeples rising above the bell tower will have to be torn down, The New York Times reported. Yesterday, one steeple already came down (they are about 70 feet high!) and the others are expected to be removed in the next few days. The lightning also caused roof damage, threatening the interiors as well. A church official said it is not yet clear whether insurance will cover a full restoration. The Gothic Revival church was designed by Richard Upjohn, creator of Trinity Church in Manhattan. According to the Times, the church was “damaged by a fire in 1939 and all but six windows of the nave were destroyed, including a Tiffany window depicting the Adoration of the Magi. The church, though, was rebuilt and designated a city landmark in 1969.”
Lightning Shatters Tower at a 19th-Century Church [NY Times]
Lightning Kills Man, Damages Church in Cobble Hill [Brownstoner]
Lightning Hit Brooklyn Last Night, Caused One Fatality [Brownstoner]
After denying one round of renovation plans in June, the Landmarks Preservation Commission gave its blessing to a proposal by Al Laboz’s United American Land to transform the first two stories of the Brooklyn Municipal Building into retail space yesterday, Curbed reported. Mostly, the LPC asked the designers to tone down the commercial signage. “The coolest places in New York have no signs at all,” one commission member was quoted as saying.
Brooklyn Municipal Building Makeover Approved by Landmarks [Curbed]
LPC Hears Proposal for Municipal Building Alterations [Brownstoner]
Municipal Building Heading to Landmarks Soon [Brownstoner] GMAP
City Picks Al Laboz to Develop Municipal Building [Brownstoner]
Photo of rendering from Curbed
Friday was a proud day for residents of Crown Heights North who fought so hard in recent years for their area to be landmarked. The cause for celebration was the installation of the historic district “brown” street signs. Since the city no longer provides them, the Crown Heights North Association raised the funds over the last four years and, with the support of City Council Members Al Vann and Tish James, persuaded DOT to put them up. Congrats!
After some controversy, it looks like the Brooklyn Heights Cinema building at 70 Henry Street will make way for a new five-story rental build. Last night the architects Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel presented plans to the CB2 Landuse Committee for a five-story, 17-unit build with a movie theater on the first floor and in a section of the basement. The theater will still run under the ownership of the Brooklyn Heights Cinema with a lobby on the first floor and the theater in the basement. There will also be commercial space along Henry Street. Architect Randolph Gerner immediately addressed preservationists’ concerns that the building was “an integral part of the Brooklyn Heights Landmark District and should not be demolished.” He said the lot originally housed a five-story tenement with a one-story attached building for the proprietor of the site. A commissioned historical report of 70 Henry deemed that the one-story building (now the theater) underwent enough change that it “no longer retains its historical significance.” And so the replacement is decidedly modern; as Gerner said, “We’re borrowing from historic materials in a modern fashion.” The proposal involves a brick facade and massive steel windows that feel reminiscent of the look at the 20 Henry Street addition, sans balconies. The committee approved the design and seemed pleased that the movie theater would be retained. It wasn’t brought up, but it looks like there will only be a single screen. The lease for the Brooklyn Heights Cinema is up in June. If you’ll excuse a very blurry photo of the rendering from last night, click through to the jump. The architect told us he’d rather wait to release an official image after the vote from the LPC.
Preservationists: Heights Cinema Shouldn’t be Demolished [Brownstoner]
Brooklyn Heights Cinema Owner on 70 Henry Development [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photo via PropertyShark (more…)
Park Slope’s Historic District became bigger and badder this afternoon after its expansion was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The extension of the district, which has been in the making for decades, includes 580 buildings, stretching from approximately 7th Street to 14th Street, 7th Avenue to 8th Avenue, and along 15th Street from 8th Avenue to Prospect Park West. It is now the third largest historic district in New York, behind the Greenwich Village and Upper West Side HDs. Councilmember Brad Lander, members of the Park Slope Civic Council and other neighborhood residents celebrated outside Manhattan’s muni building a couple hours ago.
Vote to Expand Park Slope HD Happening Tuesday [Brownstoner]
Pictured, from left to right: Peter Bray, Park Slope Civic Council Trustee; LPC Chair Robert Tierney; Councilmember Brad Lander and David Alquist, Park Slope Civic Council Trustee
Next month the Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote on the proposed expansion of the Park Slope Historic District, according to the Brooklyn Paper. The proposed extension, shown in green on the map above, will be bounded by Flatbush Avenue and Prospect Park West to the north and east; 14th Street to the south; 5th Avenue down to President Street and then 7th Avenue from President to 14th on the west. According to the article, residents within the catchment have been receiving letters informing them of the proposal (or, as the story puts it: “The letters have become the most discussed correspondence in the neighborhood — displacing even Yale acceptance letters”). There is also talk of extending the district even further, to the yellow and red sections shown on the map, at some point in the future. If that happens, just about the entire neighborhood will be landmarked, with the exception of the blocks between 4th and 5th avenues.
South Slopers Learn if Their Homes Deserve to be Preserved [BK Paper]
This morning the Brooklyn Paper has a story about how preservationists and politicians are supporting the proposal to expand the northern section of the Park Slope Historic District, in the area bounded by Flatbush Avenue, Fifth Avenue, and President Street. Although the proposal to extend landmark protection to around 800 buildings in this part of the neighborhood has been kicking around for awhile, the story quotes people who say its more urgent now given the imminent opening of Barclays Center: “‘For people who live nearby, this is a pretty important thing,’ said Park Slope historian Francis Morrone, noting that stadiums rarely rise so close to buildings with so much history and unique style. ‘Without protection, there’s every reason to think [future development] would be inconsistent with the historic character.’” Peter Bray, the chair of the Park Slope Civic Council’s historic district committee, also says that the district would help protect the neighborhood’s character if the arena opening leads to more development nearby. Councilmen Steve Levin and Brad Lander also support the expansion. The LPC is surveying the neighborhood at present and finalizing boundaries for the proposal. Meanwhile, the proposal to expand the historic district in a large swath of the South Slope is supposed to be voted on by the LPC in the spring, according to the story.
Bigger Slope Historic District Could Curb Development Near Arena [BK Paper]
Map via the Park Slope Civic Council
Yesterday the the City Council’s landmarks subcommittee voted to approve the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District, which means the 21-building district is almost certain to be approved by the full Council. Councilman Brad Lander, who heads the subcommittee, and Councilman Stephen Levin, who represents the district, issued a joint statementmsaying “we believe that this new historic district will strengthen the character of Downtown Brooklyn, allowing for new development and growth, like the new retail space planned for the Municipal Building, while preserving the graceful, historic, early-generation skyscrapers that make it Brooklyn’s civic center.” The district was controversial with landlords in the area, and the Real Estate Board of New York lobbied against its creation. City Room quotes from a mailing REBNY sent out that said, in part: “In these economic times, when every dollar counts, landmarking threatens to send Court Street back to the ‘bad old days’ of empty storefronts and dirty streets.” The full Council will vote on the district next week.
Council Panel Upholds a Historic Skyscraper District in Brooklyn [City Room]
Brooklyn Skyscraper District Moves Forward [WSJ]
Landmarks Grow in Brooklyn [NY Post]
Building owners in Downtown Brooklyn’s proposed Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District have opposed the landmark designation on the grounds that it’s going to cost them more money to maintain their buildings, and now the Journal reports that the Real Estate Board of New York has released “an analysis” tallying how much landlords’ expenses are projected to rise. According to REBNY, “property owners will collectively have to pay an additional $4.7 million over about the next five years to comply with landmark regulations.” The REBNY figures come as the City Council prepares to hold a hearing on the designation, which the LPC approved a couple months ago, next week. If the Council doesn’t approve the district, or if it votes to change its borders, it would be the first time a designation wasn’t completely green-lighted in more than 30 years. Preservationists profiled in the article say opposition to the designation is overblown since landlords already have to put extra money into keeping older buildings in decent shape. Meanwhile, LPC spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon notes that designation can stabilize or increase property values, and owners can sometimes apply for tax credits for historic properties.
District Plan Sparks Fight [WSJ]
Battle Still Raging Over Downtown Historic District [Brownstoner]
Skyscraper District Passes in a Unanimous Vote by LPC! [Brownstoner]
In a profile about Landmarks Chair Robert Tierney, Crain’s examines how the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District is still controversial among some property owners. The fight over its designation, the story notes, is symptomatic of larger criticisms about how the LPC has been over-zealous in designating landmarks. The City Council has yet to approve the 21-building Skyscraper District, which the LPC voted in favor of in September, and the Council’s OK isn’t considered a sure thing like it usually is for historic districts. The designation is opposed by the Real Estate Board of New York, the board of the co-op 75 Livingston Street and landlord SL Green, which owns the office building 16 Court Street. Commercial landlords say they’re already dealing with high vacancy rates and that the designation will hurt them further by increasing maintenance costs, while the president of 75 Livingston’s board says its owners “don’t want to shoulder the burden of all the costs that come with the designation.” The article notes that if the Council doesn’t approve the district, or if it votes to change its borders, it would be the first time a designation wasn’t completely green-lighted in more than 30 years.
Preservation Man: Landmarks Chair Robert Tierney [Crain's]
Skyscraper District Passes in a Unanimous Vote by LPC! [Brownstoner]
On Wednesday the City Council voted to approve the Wallabout Historic District, which is comprised of 55 wood and masonry buildings on one block of Vanderbilt Avenue between Myrtle and Park avenues. The homes were constructed during the mid-to-late 19th century and are a mixture of Greek Revival, Gothic Revival and Italianate styles. The LPC voted to approve the district back in July, a move that followed the designation of Wallabout state historic district this March. Patch notes that the homes that make up the Wallabout Historic District “represent one of the largest remaining concentrations of wood-frame houses in the entire city.”
City Council Approves Wallabout Historic District [Patch]
LPC Approves Wallabout Historic District [Brownstoner]
The Brooklyn Paper reports that Williamsburg resident Paul Rubenfarb is leading a nascent effort to expand the bounds of the Greenpoint Historic District. The district, shown in the map above, was designated in 1991 and includes 363 buildings; Rubenfarb wants it enlarged to include another 200 buildings on Manhattan Avenue and Franklin Street from DuPont Street to Norman Avenue. “In the last few years, I have seen dozens of buildings in Greenpoint where developers have ripped up the corners,” says Rubenfarb. A Community Board 1 member says the idea will require an extensive back-and-forth with homeowners in order to become a reality. The article notes that some of the neighborhood’s most prominent buildings, like the Pencil Factory, aren’t included in the present historic district.
Williamsburger Wants to Make History in Greenpoint [BK Paper]
A Brooklyn Heights resident wrote in to let us know that the Landmarks Preservation Commission is having a public hearing tomorrow afternoon for the proposed new building at 27 Cranberry Street and that he’s opposed to the project because of its size: “I’m a neighbor (I live on the Hicks Street side of the block) and believe that the proposed building is far too massive for the Commission to determine that its size is ‘appropriate’ for this block, which happens to have the single largest concentration of Federal-era wood-frame houses in all of New York City. These houses, almost 200 years old, are characterized by their modest size, and allowing this development — a single-family house that in fact is as large or larger than many of the multi-family apartment buildings on the block — at this location will significantly detract from the character that makes this part of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District special. I’ve attached a few architectural renderings that show the oversize mass of this development. In particular, its intrusion into the core of the block (historic preservationists call it the ‘green donut’ formed by the depths of the other buildings) is very noticeable.” Here’s the rendering of the “donut”:
NY1 reported yesterday that the State Board for Historic Preservation designated a Wallabout historic district. The Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project’s Michael Blaise-Backer noted that the designation provides tax incentives for preservation. The LPC is separately considering a Wallabout Historic District.
Brooklyn’s Wallabout Becomes A Historic District [NY1]
Carroll Gardens Patch had a story yesterday about the push to make the very small Carroll Gardens Historic District, shown above, larger. The story says that while the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association is most interested in having the district run contiguous to the current one, the LPC has initially studied ladmarking “the Place blocks, an area bounded by 1st Place and Court, Henry and Huntington streets.” The neighborhood association is developing a proposal to present to the LPC and intends to meet with the commission in the coming months. Thoughts on where the boundaries of an expanded historic district in Carroll Gardens should lie?
Plan To Extend Carroll Gardens Historic District Picks Up Steam [CG Patch]
We knew the proposed landmarking of the Skyscraper District in Downtown Brooklyn was controversial, and it looks like that played out in today’s public hearing on the proposal. Of all who testified at LPC, nine opposed the district altogether, eight supported, and four urged the exclusion of 75 Livingston. There is no date set yet for the vote.
The Post had an article yesterday with details about the push to extend the Park Slope Historic District so that it includes 4,000 more buildings. Right now, the Park Slope Civic Council is proposing an extension that would happen in three phases: “the first 1,350 buildings [are] bordered by Flatbush, Prospect Park West, Seventh Avenue, 15th Street, and parts of Union Street and Fifth Avenue. The second phase includes 2,000 buildings east of Fifth Avenue, and the third, east of Fourth Avenue between Flatbush and 15th Street.” A trustee of the civic council estimates that it will take 3 years to get landmark status for the first section and that there would be 5 year gaps between the landmarking of the other two portions. The Slope’s Historic District currently includes 1,975 buildings. Update: Blog Save the Slope takes issue with some parts of The Post article.
City Aims to Expand Slope District [NY Post]
Photo from Save the Slope.
Tomorrow, the Landmarks Preservation Commission holds a public hearing on the Proposed Prospect Heights Historic District in Brooklyn, an amoeba-shaped area between, roughly, Flatbush, Washington, Sterling and Pacific. It would grant historic status to some 750 buildings on 21 blocks, which usually offers them protection from demolition or alteration in a way “unfitting with their historic character.” The hearing takes place at LPC’s offices, One Centre Street in Manhattan, at 1:30pm. But if you wanna weigh in and can’t get the time off, you can email them in.
October 28, 2008 Public Meeting [Landmark Preservation Commission]
As Historic District Gets Hearing, Some Politic Omissions [AY Report]
Landmarks to Consider Prospect Heights Historic District [Brownstoner]
ProHi Historic District Could Include Almost 800 Homes [Brownstoner]
Growing Momentum for P’spect Heights Landmarking [Brownstoner]