LPC Greenlights Addition Atop Hotel Conversion of Romanesque Revival Building in Heights

Rendering by HK Architects via LPC


After a series of small tweaks, plans for an addition on top of a blighted but notable Brooklyn Heights building slated to be transformed into a boutique hotel were approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday.

Located at 186 Remsen Street, the existing building was constructed in 1886-87 in the Romanesque Revival style and is the oldest building in the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District, which was established in 2011. Called the Franklin Building, it was designed by noted 19th century architects the Parfitt Brothers, known for their inventive red-brick Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival apartment houses.

On the left, former plans. On the right, new approved plans. Renderings by HK Architecture via LPC

The approved plans for the hotel, to be called Remsen Manor, have a slightly different look from what was previously proposed. Long panels that stretched the entire six floors of the addition in the previous design have now been broken up. The new design is boxy, resembling some of the buildings designed by ODA that are becoming popular around Brooklyn.

LPC Chair Sarah Carroll said the project is “a great opportunity for restoration and a new life for this building,” according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. They also report that the commission asked that the developers work with LPC staff to modify the pale terra-cotta panels on the addition.

186 remsen

The building in September 2018. Photo by Susan De Vries

The building has been empty for decades, and its fanciful pointy-gabled mansard roof was destroyed in a 1950 fire. The renovation will re-create part of the building’s roof and restore the facade, LPC presentation materials show. The last tenant, a charity named Little Flower Children’s Charity, decamped in 1998.

The building in Victorian times. Photo via the LPC

Paul C. Gogan of HOK Architecture is the architect of record. The application describes plans for 37 hotel rooms over 14 stories, ranging from one to six rooms per floor. There will be two separate restaurants, a more “casual” establishment on the ground floor, the architect said at a previous commission meeting, and something more resembling fine dining at the beginning of the addition.

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