After languishing on the market for years, the historic Tracy Mansion at 105 8th Avenue sold in 2015 for $9.5 million. Now, its new owner wants to dramatically expand the building and convert it into eight residential units.
After some initial hesitation, Landmarks gave the green light this week for a host of changes that’ll give a new life to this old limestone beauty.
What’s this mansion all about?
Built in 1912 by the Tracy family — who made a bundle in the tugboat business — this gorgeous home was designed by Frank J. Helmle of the white-shoe firm Helmle & Huberty, designers of the Hotel Bossert and the Prospect Park boathouse.
By the early 1940s, all the Tracys had moved out or died, and the home was used as a meeting house for the Knights of Columbus, according to Big Old Houses. In 1969, it became an educational institution — the Park Slope Montessori School — housing classes for more than four decades.
In 2012, the home went on the market with a $25 million price tag — the most expensive price for a Brooklyn home at the time. But it didn’t sell until 2015, and then for a mere $9.5 million — still one of the biggest home sales in the borough that year.
Based on relatively recent listing photos, some of the luxe interior detail still looks to be in good condition. The home has a Tudor-style dining room, an Arts and Crafts library, and an 18th-century-style sitting room.
What are the changes planned for the Tracy Mansion?
Architect Scott Henson — whose firm restored Manhattan’s Puck Building — plans on adding another floor to the top of the building and expanding both sides of the rear to fill out as much of the lot as possible. The top addition wouldn’t be seen from the street, and all the extra space in the back would go to making more room for the eight apartments planned inside.
When the addition was first proposed in January, it was rejected — Landmarks didn’t care for the boxiness of the rear expansion nor a prominent chimney extension, according to NY YIMBY.
The revised designs have a little more flair. The rear is less boxy, with a more pleasing window design. The new plan also salvages an extra stained glass window (two original windows will be entombed in the expansion, and two will be moved).
The home’s front exterior will be restored and the school flagpole will be removed.
How’s it going to turn out?
We’re extremely interested to see how those apartments will look when the full renovation is all said and done. Typically, adaptive reuse projects and conversions leave not a shred of original material inside.
But in this case, the drawings and chimney plans already indicate intentions to keep some of the existing floor plan and fireplaces and get them working — all good signs. The large size of the apartments also imply they will be extremely luxurious.
Given that so much of the mansion’s charm is in its historical detail — and architect Scott Henson’s firm is known for historic preservation — we are hopeful some of the mansion’s more notable interior features will be restored.
The owner, developer Ray Zagami of ZR Empire, is no stranger to these sorts of projects either, having developed Park Slope’s Ansonia Clock Factory into loft-like apartments back in the 1980s.
The mansion’s unique details combined with luxurious modern upgrades could make for some very hoity-toity units indeed. We can only imagine how much they will go for.