Affordable Housing on Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights Breaks Ground

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A 100 percent affordable building development that seemed to be stalled recently broke ground, only to be hit with a stop work order. The project, at 816 Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights, is a rebuild of a rent-regulated mixed-use building that burned down in 2010.

A new building has been in the works here since at least 2012, but construction didn’t start until late spring. In early June, the DOB issued a stop work order for the site because digging for the foundation was undermining the building next door, records show.

The digging was “contrary to plan” and the “sides of the excavation [were] not protected,” according to the DOB. The owner, developer Larry Hirschfield of ELH Management, was ordered to backfill “as needed” and install monitoring equipment at the site.

Now the start of a hole for the foundation is evident at the site, close to the adjacent building. The wall of the adjacent foundation has been reinforced with wood supports inside the hole, we saw when we stopped by a few days ago.

The new build will be five stories, with shops on the ground floor. It will look quite similar to the red brick building that was here before, as a previously published rendering shows. The architect of record is Dattner, an award-winning firm well known for its designs for affordable buildings and schools.

The firm has a slew of other big projects under way in Brooklyn, including the nearly completed Gateway Elton Phase III, an affordable development in East New York, and a 53-story rental tower at 333 Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Most notably, Dattner designed delightful and surprising garage and office facility for the sanitation department at 161 Varick Avenue in Bushwick, which won a New York City Art Commission Award for Design Excellence.

Some more details on the plans: All the previous tenants displaced by the fire are guaranteed apartments, and the rest will be offered to renters through a lottery. The apartments will be spacious: four three-bedroom apartments and four four-bedroom apartments. Rents will run roughly $1,500 and $1,700 a month.

Owner Larry Hirschfield is president of affordable housing developer ELH Management. The firm is known for all sorts of affordable projects, big and small, including rehabilitation of historic and landmarked properties. It converted the award-winning Imperial apartments and is working on one of Crown Heights’ most notable (and in need of repair) landmarks, an 1880s house designed by the Parfitt Brothers at 96 Brooklyn Avenue.

ELH management bought the Prospect Heights property in 2008 for a song: $140,000, according to public records.

816 Washington Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Rendering by Dattner

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Above, the previous building on the property in 2010. Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

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