04/17/14 9:30am

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J.Crew plans to open a store in a warehouse on Wythe Avenue and North 4th Street in Williamsburg, above, according to sources quoted in Crain’s. So Williamsburg may end up being the brand’s first Brooklyn store after all. Last year, it said it planned to open at 151 Court Street in Cobble Hill early this year, replacing neighborhood grocer Pacific Green, but that didn’t happen.

The space at 234-236 Wythe Avenue is a 6,000-square-foot red brick warehouse. It’s close to Gant Rugger, American Apparel, the new Urban Outfitters store, and on the way to the Brooklyn Flea. For years, J.Crew was rumored to be eyeing space on Bedford near where Whole Foods is supposedly opening. Apple is still supposedly looking in the neighborhood, most recently at 242 Bedford Avenue, according to the story.

J.Crew is also planning to open a store in Park Slope, according to Racked, which quoted a story in Women’s Wear Daily today. Both stores are supposed to be open by August, said Racked. Meanwhile, a Madewell store is also “in the works” for Williamsburg.

Massey Knakal is handling leasing for the Wythe Avenue warehouse, which is asking $50,000 per month, or $100 a square foot.

J.Crew Eyes Williamsburg Outpost, Apple May Follow [Crain's]
J. Crew and Madewell to Take Over Brooklyn [Racked]
Photo by Massey Knakal

04/17/14 9:00am

Brooklyn is slated to lose a number of its wood frame houses to development this year. Often these houses are some of the oldest in the borough, although they may not look like much, at least from the outside.

Just like so many other aging wood frames in Brooklyn, this little house on Chauncey Street in Bed Stuy, above, is meeting the wrecking ball soon. Demo applications were filed last week to knock down the two-story home at 201 Chauncey, as well as a shed and row of garages on the property. We don’t know the home’s exact age, but our columnist Montrose Morris noted that it is at least as old as 1880, but probably older, in this Building of the Day post. There’s no word on what will replace the house, but we’re betting it will be an apartment building. An LLC bought the 50 by 108.5 foot lot in February for $1,400,000 — seven times its last sale price in 2004.

Now that warmer weather has set in (apart from yesterday, of course), the applications for demo permits have ticked up in the building department. A large number of the houses marked for demo are wood frames.

We wondered if that’s because they tend to be in worse condition or less expensive than their brick and stone counterparts. Preservationist Elizabeth Finkelstein of The Wooden House Project attributed the trend to rising real estate values in working-class neighborhoods, some of which happen to have a large concentration of frame houses.

“I think the wooden houses right now are especially vulnerable because of the trend in people moving to places like Bushwick and Greenwood Heights,” she said. “People can’t afford to buy in Brownstone Brooklyn anymore, so they’re moving to frame-heavy neighborhoods. Developers follow. While Park Slope and Cobble Hill have been expensive for a long time, homeowners in Bushwick have only recently been able to cash out. I think they’re taking advantage of the market, at the expense of some of these houses.”

A few examples we have covered recently are 111 Clarkson and 50-54 Clarkson Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, 664 Jefferson Avenue and 447 Decatur in Bed Stuy, and, of course, the six 19th-century wood frames at 233-301 11th Street in Gowanus, which will be replaced by a large apartment building at 470 4th Avenue.

Next up are houses from Crown Heights to Bushwick, including: 1480 Pacific Street, 1168 Greene Avenue, 45 Cedar Street, 726 Monroe Street, 341 Sackett Street, 539 Van Buren and 1255 Decatur Street. The house at 1480 Pacific, which was a Building of the Day in February, is part of the proposed Crown Heights North III Historic District expansion.

With the notable exception of Brooklyn Heights, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the first to be landmarked, Landmarks has not typically designated areas with lots of wood frame houses, although some were included in the historic districts of Greenpoint and Wallabout, which are both primarily wood-house neighborhoods. Partly this is because wood frames tend to be highly altered and covered in siding, which can make them ineligible. But there is hope, said Finkelstein.

“Greenpoint is an interesting example of a neighborhood that was landmarked while much of it was still covered in siding (I’m actually surprised the LPC did this). Many of the houses still are, but you can see the positive effect landmarking has had on some of the wooden houses on Milton and Noble streets.” Although, she added, the LPC focused on the most brick-heavy part of Greenpoint and called that the historic district. “So while the historic district does contain some wooden houses, they still brought their brick bias with them.”

Another possible explanation for the demise of wood frame houses: They are sitting on more land and have more FAR. This is certainly the case with 201 Chauncey Street.

– Cate Corcoran and Rebecca Baird-Remba

Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

04/17/14 8:30am

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Suburbs Try to Prevent Exodus as Young Adults Move to Cities and Stay [NY Times]
City Investigating Nonprofit Run by Brooklyn President’s Aide [NY Post]
Historians Restore Grave of a Pioneering Brooklyn Baseball Pitcher [WSJ]
Brooklynites Fund Schools, Libraries, Gardens in Participatory Budgeting Vote [Brooklyn Eagle]
Folks, This Is Not Sustainable [Q at Parkside]
Brief Panic in Bushwick Over “Suspicious Package” at Myrtle/Wyckoff [Gothamist]
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Cherry Blossoms Unscathed by Snow [DNAinfo]

04/16/14 4:30pm

Postcard: Beware the Sea Monster of Gerritsen Beach [Sheepshead Bites]
Bed Stuy Development Site at 265-267 Malcolm X Boulevard Is Asking $3.5 Million [BuzzBuzzHome]
Shuttered Greenpoint Catholic Schools Are Resurrected as Apartment Houses [Brooklyn Eagle]
Coignet Building Will Emerge as White Butterfly After Renovation [Brooklyn Eagle]
Brooklyn Navy Yard to Host Whiskey Tasting, Photography, Performance Art [DNAinfo]
Work on Utica Avenue Line Will Be Completed in Early May, MTA Says [DNAinfo]
Sushi and Noodles Opens on Troutman Avenue [Bushwick Daily]
Before and After: A Greenpoint Roof Deck Transformation [Apartment Therapy]
350 DeGraw Street: The Story Behind a Façade Without a Building [PMFA]
Duane Reade Store in Brooklyn Heights Appears to Be Getting Mega Makeover [BHB]

Photo by Chaya Selzer

04/16/14 4:00pm

Next weekend, the third annual Brooklyn Zine Fest returns to the Brooklyn Historical Society with panels and a wide variety of publishers, artists and writers selling their wares. Panels will discuss topics like queer and trans zine writers, zine collecting and publishing zines anonymously.

And over 150 zine enthusiasts will be selling self-published magazines on everything under the sun: art, comedy, graffiti, comics, environmentalism, food, film, local history and much more. Check out the full lineup and the panel schedule for the festival, which will take place April 26 and 27 from 11 am to 6 pm at 128 Pierrepont Street.

Photo by Seth McFarland for Brooklyn Zine Fest

04/16/14 3:00pm

245 Front St. SB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row house
Address: 245 Front Street
Cross Streets: Bridge and Gold Streets
Neighborhood: Vinegar Hill
Year Built: 1852-55
Architectural Style: Greek Revival
Architect: Unknown.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Vinegar Hill HD (1997)

The story: Like stumbling upon Brigadoon, Vinegar Hill is hidden from most people’s view, tucked away between Dumbo and the Navy Yard, cut off from Downtown Brooklyn by the ramps of the BQE and the approaches to the Manhattan Bridge. The residential buildings of Vinegar Hill were built at the same time as parts of Brooklyn Heights, share architectural styles and features. But the distance of a mile, and the development of the Navy Yard made all the difference in the histories of these neighborhoods.

Shipbuilder John Jackson purchased a large parcel of land after the Revolutionary War, and opened a shipyard on Wallabout Bay. He built his shipyard at the base of Hudson Street, and then built homes nearby for his workers. In 1801, he sold 40 acres of his waterfront land to the United States government for the Navy Yard. He then built more houses, and called the area “Vinegar Hill” in honor of the last major battle between the Irish and English, in 1798.

Meanwhile, the Sands family, brothers Comfort and Joshua, were buying up land like crazy. At one point they owned most of Dumbo, all of the land to the west of Jackson’s holdings. They were very wealthy land speculators and merchants. Comfort Sands was one of the founders of the Bank of New York, and Joshua was one of the members of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Brooklyn. They parceled their land off into lots very early, in 1787, but did not build in the Vinegar Hill area until the 1830s.

By the late 1830s, early 1840s, the descendants of John Jackson had sold off all his remaining Hudson Street plots. The Greek Revival homes built here date from the late 1840s, early 1850s, and represent the boom years for Vinegar Hill as a neighborhood of shops, businesses and homes. Most of the residents were Irish, giving the neighborhood the nickname of “Irishtown,” although many others also lived here as well. Most of the people here, no matter what their ethnicity, worked at the Navy Yard, the waterfront, or for industries that supplied both. (more…)

04/16/14 2:00pm

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A convention center is planning to open at 79 Franklin Street in Greenpoint later this year, possibly in October, according to DNAinfo. Currently under construction, the Brooklyn Expo Center will have 28,000 square feet of space for exhibitions and meetings. There will also be a cafeteria and parking.

A reader who lives nearby said it looks like the building is about a quarter done. GMAP

Rendering by Brooklyn Expo Center

04/16/14 1:30pm

Although obviously in need of work to turn it into living space, this has got to be one of the coolest properties for sale we’ve ever seen. There’s tons of curb appeal (or will be, pending a fresh paint job), beamed ceilings, arched windows and doors, diagonal floors and three skylights in this seemingly untouched Fort Greene carriage house.

It’s commercial property with no residential certificate of occupancy, and it may have been vacant for many years. There was a vacate order in 1986, and it appears to have been owned by the City for more than two decades. The title passed to a bank in 2010; we wouldn’t be surprised to find there was a sale so recent it hasn’t yet hit public records.

The price was recently reduced from $1,900,000 to $1,700,000. (That’s about $809 a square foot.) We think it would make a great restaurant — or a home. What would you do with this place if it were yours?

10 St. Felix Street [Corcoran] GMAP

04/16/14 12:58pm

This large one-bedroom co-op at The Griffin in Fort Greene just hit the market with an asking price of $749,000. It’s a nice apartment on the eighth floor with good light and views as well as solid prewar credentials. We’d guess that this would have to be some kind of price record for a one-bedroom in this building if it ends up selling at or near ask. A large one-bedroom on the tenth floor sold a year ago for $659,000.

101 Lafayette Avenue, #8A [Sotheby's International Realty] GMAP

04/16/14 12:15pm

This three-bedroom near the Navy Yard is reasonably priced and close to Fort Greene Park. The 1,250-square-foot apartment has a nicely sized living and dining space with newly refinished hardwood floors.

There’s a washer/dryer in the basement and a shared backyard, as well as parking for a “low monthly fee.”  But despite the proximity to the park, the location has a few drawbacks: It’s down the block from the BQE and at least eight blocks from any train line. What are your thoughts on it for $2,900 a month?

119 Carlton Avenue, #2 [Corcoran] GMAP

04/16/14 11:30am

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We stopped by 88 Richardson Street the other day, and lo and behold, the building is almost up to its full seven stories. This is the Karl Fischer-designed building with 188 units that is rising on the site of the former Meeker Flea Market next to the BQE in Williamsburg.

The developer is Brooklyn-based Rabsky Development, which bought the lot for $18,000,000 in 2012. At the time, it seemed like an odd location for residential development. In hindsight, the acquisition of almost any site in Williamsburg seems prescient.

Click through to the jump for a photo of the rendering posted on the construction fence. We like the massing and the play of geometric patterns with the windows and various facade materials. What’s your opinion?

Fischer-Designed Apartments Rising at Ex-Meeker Flea Site [Brownstoner] (more…)

04/16/14 10:45am

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This one-story garage at 564 St. Johns Place between Franklin and Classon in Crown Heights will be demolished soon and replaced by a Karl Fischer-designed eight-story apartment building. A demolition application was filed on Monday, but the DOB didn’t approve it because the filing lacked a plan exam. Developer Rabsky Group is behind the development, which will have 172 units spread across 136,373 square feet, as we reported in December. GMAP

Eight-Story Karl Fischer Building Planned for Western Crown Heights [Brownstoner]