Bed Stuy

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Here’s another house that will put the Bed Stuy market to the test. Located at 100 Decatur (between Throop and Marcus Garvey), this four-story, two-family sits outside the Stuyvesant Heights Historic District (map here) but is on a nice block nonetheless (though some might argue it’s a little close to Fulton). Anyway, the red flag here appears to be that only the lower duplex has retained the building’s original architectural details (serious stuff), which might not be a problem for a buyer who definitely wants to maintain the current configuration. Still, we think the lack of charm upstairs might merit a small discount from the asking price of $899,000.
100 Decatur Street [Corcoran] GMAP P*Shark
Large photo by Gregg Snodgrass for Property Shark

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On this fairly modest stretch of Monroe Street, a five-story Karl Fischer-designed building is rising, wedged in between a pair of vinyl-clad two-story houses. (Pictured above is the similar house that used to sit on this lot.) It’s hard to argue with the fact that the scale of the building looks pretty ridiculous (then again, the building to the far right is the same height, so maybe we should be saying the small houses look ridiculous!); on the other hand, we’re tempted to give kudos to any developer doing anything better than a Fedders special in this neighborhood. What think ye? GMAP P*Shark DOB

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This triple-lot project on Monroe between Throop and Marcus Garvey ran into some trouble earlier this month in the form of a Stop Work Order for unsafe conditions. Six days later the developer was back in business. From what we can gather, each lot will hold a 3-story, 3-family house with one parking space (which is why the building itself is set back several feet from the facade line of the neighboring house). Doesn’t bode particularly well, does it? GMAP P*Shark

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We’ve been trying to get to this all week…The “Sketch Pad” features The Times has been running are great. In case you’ve missed them, the concept is to bring in a high-end architect to think out of the box about a space that is rather un-extraordinary on its surface. This week Andrew Friedman, who’s best known for his classical designs for Park Avenue folks, takes on a two-story building on Pulaski Street and in the process creates a prototype that he fantasizes could be used to completely redo the entire block. The solution includes taking advantage of the building’s former life as a storefront and adding a third floor. The result? “Inside, Mr. Friedman and his team created what Corbusier might have called a machine for living in Brooklyn, a slick residence for the couple he had always kept in mind, and even a child or two, depending on how the spaces would be used.”
Designing a Starter House with a Twist [NY Times]
Rendering by Marco Valencia and Nathaniel Brooks of the Studio for Civil Architecture

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The Lofts on Dekalb is a 32-unit complex spanning three buildings between Tompkins and Throop. At this point, the developer has seven units left; in addition, an initial buyer is selling her place before ever moving in. While we’re not seeing a whole lot of charm, it is a fair amount of space for the money. The resale unit (which is having an open house on Sunday from 12:30 to 2), for example, is $595,000 for 1,838 square feet. Not bad. The units available from the developer aren’t as cheap on a per square foot basis but do have outdoor space and signature Scarano mezzanines.
Lofts on Dekalb [Corcoran] GMAP
800 Dekalb, #C2 [Corcoran]

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Newsflash! What’s the secret to finding a brownstone for under a million bucks? Looking in “overlooked neighborhoods” and being willing to take on a big renovation. In addition to Mott Haven in the Bronx and Sunnyside in Queens, Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights are cited as the ripest spots in Brooklyn. No argument here. You can still get a lovely brownstone in Bedford-Stuyvesant for well under $1 million, said Halstead’s William Ross (himself a brownstone owner, albeit in ritzier Cobble Hill). The market begins around $650,000 to $700,000 for a real four-story brownstone. Comment: Plus at least another $200,000 in renovation costs.
Finding a Town House for Under a Million [NY Times]
Photo by Chad Wilcomb

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Researching Martin Luther King Jr.’s connection with Brooklyn, we discovered that on May 29, 1966, he gave a 45-minute speech at the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Bedford Stuyvesant called “Guidelines for a Constructive Church.” Here’s an excerpt from the text:

You see, the church is not a social club, although some people think it is. They get caught up in their exclusivism, and they feel that it’s a kind of social club with a thin veneer of religiosity, but the church is not a social club. The church is not an entertainment center, although some people think it is. You can tell in many churches how they act in church, which demonstrates that they think it’s an entertainment center. The church is not an entertainment center. Monkeys are to entertain, not preachers.

This quotation is pretty interesting in light of what an important role the church has played in Bedford Stuyvesant over the past four decades since he gave the speech. The history of this particular church is quite interesting as well.

Founded in 1917, the church started out at 933 Dekalb Avenue before moving to 688 Dekalb in 1929 and then, three years later, to the corner of Gates and Irving. In 1944, the congregation ponied up $29,000 to buy the Lewis Avenue Congregational Church at 562 Madison Street and another $28,000 to renovate it. We don’t know when the church itself was built. Anyone?

We were unable to find other connections between MLK and Brooklyn. Anyone know of any?
Church History [Cornerstone Baptist Church] GMAP
MLK Inventory [Stanford University]
Guidelines for a Constructive Church [Stanford University]

That’s it for today. Full posting resumes tomorrow.

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A reader writes in…Once we purchased our brownstone, we quickly realized that it didn’t have the most efficient layout. So after talking with architects and contractors and getting nowhere, we decided to use our own creative instincts. We decided to make the master bedroom the Kitchen. Instead of keeping the kitchen where it is typically found in similar brownstones, on the garden level, we wanted to be able to utilize the high ceilings on the parlor level and went for it. The room is located at the rear of the Parlor level and gets ample sunlight.