Wallabout

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There will be a senior-friendly walking tour of the historic Wallabout neighborhood on Tuesday. The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership has been hosting free walking tours of the area North of Myrtle Avenue the last Saturday of every month this summer, but this will be the first specifically senior friendly one.

The 3/4 mile, 60-minute walk along Myrtle Avenue will delve into 400 years worth of architectural history in the area.

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Dar gitane  — “home” in Arabic plus “gypsy” in French — is both the name of Alina Preciado’s online home goods business and interior design practice, and also shorthand for her life story.

Born in California, Preciado took off for Europe at the earliest opportunity, studying architecture and design in Spain and woodworking in Denmark, where she learned “the culture of simplicity,” as she puts it. “There, even simple things are well thought-out, beautiful and functional.”

And she traveled the continents, collecting artisans’ contacts as she went. (She eventually got a Masters in Industrial Design from Brooklyn’s own Pratt Institute.)

About 15 years ago, Preciado rented a 2,000-square-foot loft near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, on the seventh floor of a poured concrete building originally used as a textile mill and then by the military during WWII. She put considerable energy into making the raw space habitable.

“Whatever is here, I’ve put in over the years,” she says, including plumbing, wiring, a bathroom with a claw-foot tub, and the unfitted, farmhouse-style kitchen.

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The industrial warehouse at 29 Ryerson across from the Navy Yard in Wallabout has changed hands yet again, nearly doubling in price. Madison Realty Capital paid $45,000,000 for the storage facility, according to The Real Deal. The previous owner, 11-45 Ryerson LLC, now revealed to be headed up by real estate investor Chaim Miller, bought it in 2013 for $26,400,000.

It sounds like plans to redevelop the property into offices focused on tech tenants with retail below have not changed. “We are planning on renovating and bringing it to the level that a tech tenant would demand,” a Madison exec told The Real Deal. At one time, former owners planned to turn it into a hotel with a rooftop bar. Madison is also developing two large mixed-use apartment buildings nearby at 490 and 504 Myrtle Avenue, as the story noted.

Madison Buys Brooklyn Warehouse for $45 Million From Chaim Miller [TRD]
29 Ryerson Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP

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New building applications were filed last week for five three-story townhouses on Park Avenue, next to the BQE in Wallabout. The houses at 306-314 Park Avenue will have three units each and range in size from 1,525 square feet to 1,750 square feet. It’s not the most optimal location for housing, but with three units each (and small ones at that), they’re probably intended as rental investment properties.

The applicant of record is BTE Design Services, and Moses Guttman is the developer. It looks like Guttman bought up the series of vacant properties at Park Avenue and Ryerson Street for a combined $210,000 over the last two years, according to public records. GMAP

Image via Google Maps

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Van Glahn factory and warehouse buildings
Address: 60-64 Washington Avenue
Cross Streets: Park and Flushing Avenues
Neighborhood: Wallabout
Year Built: 1892
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: John G. Glover
Other Buildings by Architect: other Van Glahn factory/warehouse buildings on this block, also Van Glahn homes at 229-231 Washington Ave. Row houses, tenements and factories in several Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Landmarked: No, but listed on Rookwood Chocolate Factory Historic District (1984). Also on proposed State and National Registers of Historic Places, Wallabout Industrial District. Also proposed LPC Wallabout Industrial District.

The story: Wallabout is one of my favorite Brooklyn neighborhoods. I never get tired of walking around there, for a number of reasons. I really like industrial buildings of a certain era, first of all, and I find the mix of industry and residence in a neighborhood fascinating from view of how the society developed and how it shaped the neighborhood, and the greater city’s history. The Brooklyn of today is literally built on the past, and buildings are the most tangible legacy of that past.

It’s remarkable how some of the products that flourished in Wallabout during the late 19th and early 20th century still are with us today; Drake’s Cakes and Tootsie Rolls, for instance. Wallabout was best known for its grocery and foodstuff businesses. The Wallabout Market, a huge wholesale meat and produce market, similar to Hunt’s Point Market, was located here, on grounds now part of the Navy Yard property. The market attracted all kinds of similar businesses, and by the end of the 19th century, was home to bakeries, candy factories, and many wholesale grocers and producers.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Mixed use retail and residential buildings
Address: 38-44 Washington Avenue, aka 200 Flushing Avenue
Cross Streets: Flushing and Park Avenues
Neighborhood: Wallabout
Year Built: 1907
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival with Romanesque and classical details
Architect: Benjamin Finkensieper
Other Buildings by Architect: Knox Hat Factory building in Crown Heights, and many other factories, warehouses, churches and tenement buildings throughout Brooklyn.
Landmarked: No, but part of a proposed LPC Wallabout Industrial Historic District, and a National Register nomination for the same.

The story: At the turn of the 20th century, the factories and warehouses of Wallabout and the activities within the Brooklyn Navy Yard were at an all-time high. Only the World War II years would surpass it. This group of buildings was built for Henry Waldeck, a very successful builder and developer who did a lot of work in both industrial and residential areas. A large fire on this, and surrounding blocks in 1907 damaged or destroyed the wood framed buildings that were on this site, giving Waldeck, who had owned many of them already, the perfect excuse to rebuild, and build better.

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Ted & Honey Cafe at the Navy Yard’s BLDG 92 is closing this Friday, according to an email from Navy Yard reps. When we stopped by, the worker behind the counter told us business hadn’t been good. We don’t know what will replace the cafe, which is a branch of the original Ted & Honey Cafe and market on Clinton Street in Cobble Hill. But T&H will still run their catering operation, Parker Red, at a commercial kitchen in the Navy Yard. Food options are supposed to return to BLDG 92 in the spring. GMAP

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name:
Former B. A. Jurgens Grocery Warehouse
Address: 2-12 Ryerson Street, aka 246-254 Flushing Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Flushing Avenue
Neighborhood: Wallabout
Year Built: 1890
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Theobald Engelhardt
Other Buildings by Architect: Ulmer Brewery and Office, and many other factories and warehouses in Bushwick, Williamsburg and other parts of Brooklyn. Also hundreds of row houses, as well as mansions, tenement buildings, hospitals and churches in Bushwick, Eastern Bed Stuy and parts of Williamsburg
Landmarked: No, but part of a proposed Wallabout Industrial Historic District. Also part of Wallabout Industrial District on the National Register of Historic Places

The story:
William B.A. Jurgens, (more correctly spelled Jϋrgens) was yet another of those enterprising German immigrants who made his fortune in America. He established his grocery business in Brooklyn in 1867, and never looked back. Thirty-five years later, he was the largest wholesale grocery business in Brooklyn. When the company was looking to expand at the turn of the 20th century, they went to the foremost architect in Brooklyn’s German-American community; Theobald Engelhardt, and hired him to design a large new warehouse.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Van Glahn stables
Address: 13-15 Waverly Avenue
Cross Streets: Flushing and Park avenues
Neighborhood: Wallabout
Year Built: 1907
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Walter B. Wills
Other Buildings by Architect: Row houses, theaters and industrial buildings throughout Brooklyn
Landmarked: No, but part of the Rockwood Chocolate Factory Historical District, designated in 1984 by the National Register of Historic Places. It is part of a proposed Wallabout Industrial HD and part of a larger National Register Wallabout Industrial District

The story: The Van Glahn brothers, John and Henry, established one of the largest wholesale grocery businesses in Brooklyn in the late 19th century. They were both born in Germany, and came over to Brooklyn in that wave of German immigration that started in the 1850s. Like many of their countrymen, they became involved in some aspect of the food business. Many of Brooklyn’s retail grocers were of German extraction, and who better to supply them than fellow German wholesalers?

The wholesale grocery business needed a lot of space and employees. Wholesale product such as coffee, sugar, flour and other commodities were shipped into the large warehouse and then subdivided into smaller packaging for sale to retail grocers and restaurants. Many wholesale grocers also had specialty products made exclusively for them. These too, needed to be stored, sometimes re-packaged, and shipped out.

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Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Mergenthaler Linotype Company, Defense Plant Corporation Building
Address: 35 Ryerson Street, at Park Avenue, block wide on Park, between Grand and Ryerson
Neighborhood: Wallabout, between Clinton Hill and Navy Yard
Year Built: 1942
Architectural Style: Factory modern
Architects: Lockwood Greene Engineers, Inc.
Other buildings by architects: Daily News Factory on Atlantic Avenue (Newswalk Building), several buildings in the Navy Yard, parts of Rockefeller Center
Landmarked: No, but Wallabout has been submitted to LPC for several separate districts designation, and also in the process of being submitted to the National Register

The story: This building is the last built in this amazing industrial complex near the Navy Yard. Prior to computerized printing, linotype machines were used to set type on most newspapers and magazines, as well as many books, and Mergenthaler was the largest manufacturer of these machines, all made right here in Brooklyn. The Mergenthaler complex remains one of the largest and most intact reinforced concrete industrial sites in New York City. The complete story of the company and the rest of the site will be the topic of another post. THIS building was the last one built, constructed by the US Government, and leased to Mergenthaler as a factory for machines built for the war effort of World War II.