Modern Passive House Apartments to Replace Fanciful Victorian and Stable in Crown Heights

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A picturesque Queen Anne-slash-Romanesque Revival townhouse with a stable on St. Marks Avenue in Crown Heights may soon be demolished to make way for a modern apartment building. Like so many other architectural treasures that have been lost in Brooklyn recently, No. 669 is located just outside the historic district on an oversize lot with plenty of excess FAR.

South elevation. Rendering by Cycle Architecture + Planning

An SRO that recent renovations and a certificate of non-harassment could not save, the property sold in April for $3.25 million to Massimo Cocco, president of Masmark LLC, according to public records. It was a House of the Day when it was on the market in 2017. It had previously sold in 2015 for $1.5 million from the family that had owned it since the 1960s to an LLC whose partners included Jonah Sandman, the Brooklyn townhouse maven behind the BK to the Fullest blog and Homecanvaser NY.

669 st marks avenue

Brooklyn architect firm Cycle Architecture + Planning is designing a five-story Passive House building with nine apartments, according to their website and an application for a new-building permit filed in December. A rendering shows a modern masonry building with balconies in front of floor-to-ceiling windows and an arch-topped bay that references the Romanesque Revival arches of the eclectic circa 1891 townhouse.

669 st marks avenue

An application for a demolition permit was filed with the Department of Buildings on January 3. The permits have not yet been issued.

669 st marks place

The house has a colorful history, according to Brownstone Detectives. Built by prolific builder Stephen Morehouse Randall for his family — Randall built a school and many other buildings in Greenpoint — it was also owned at various points by “such 19th century figures as Edward C. Delavan, the ‘Apostle of Temperance,’ John D. Cutter, the Brooklyn silk merchant, and a millionaire Brooklyn Parks Commissioner, Jacob G. Dettmer,” the blog relates.

669 st marks avenue

The driveway between 669 and 673 St. Marks Avenue

The asymmetrical three-story house has a fanciful gabled roof and dormer window, a front porch with five Ionic columns, and a brick and brownstone facade with Romanesque Revival arches and foliate details in pressed metal.

669 st marks avenue

673 St. Marks Avenue

Brownstoner columnist Suzanne Spellen has written extensively about the block and general area, including a similar house designed by architect E.G.W. Dietrick next door at 673 St. Marks Avenue. “At the turn of the 20th century, St. Marks Avenue was THE premiere street in the St. Marks District of Bedford. Mansions, both attached and stand alone, stretched from Rogers Avenue to Kingston Avenue. This particular block is quite architecturally significant, evidenced by homes designed by some of Brooklyn’s finest architects of the period,” she said in two pieces about homes at 670 and 672 St. Marks across the street and their architect, Peter J. Lauritzen.

669 st marks avenue

675 St. Marks Avenue

Similar grand homes on large lots have recently been demolished in Clinton Hill, including one on Washington Avenue and another on Clinton Avenue near Hot Bird.

669 st marks avenue

675 St. Marks Avenue

669 st marks avenue

The St. Mark at 665 St. Marks Avenue

6689 st marks avenue

673 St. Marks Avenue

[Photos by Susan De Vries]

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