Plans Call for 14-Story Building to Cantilever Over Landmarked Empire State Dairy in East New York


A nonprofit affordable housing developer is proposing major changes to the landmarked Empire State Dairy complex in East New York.

They want to construct a 14-story building that will cantilever over the landmarked Empire State Dairy at 2840 Atlantic Avenue, renderings posted on the Landmarks Preservation Commission website today reveal. The early 20th century factory building, recently landmarked, is noteworthy for its unusual architectural style and tile murals. The Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a hearing on the proposal on Tuesday, April 9.

empire dairy

Site plan of the current conditions

Potentially, there is room for 274,000 square feet of retail and residential space on the site, according to an October press release about the site, thanks to a de Blasio-led rezoning of the area to allow taller and denser development in 2016. How many apartments the proposed development will contain and whether they will be affordable has not yet been revealed.

The new building will be gray and brown masonry, the rendering shows, with greenery on some floors. It is roughly u-shaped, with stepped massing on the sides. The structural status of the landmarked building’s chimney, while present in renderings, is “currently under assessment,” according to the LPC presentation. The new building would rise in the place of two existing but not landmarked buildings and a parking lot, drawings show.

No new building permits have been filed for the site, whose other addresses include 266 Barbey Street and 181-185 Schenck Avenue. An application for a demolition permit for 266 Barbey Street was filed in November but a permit has not yet been issued.

Dattner Architects is behind the design of the proposal. The firm is well known for affordable housing work and designed the Prospect Plaza affordable complex in Ocean Hill and the development happening behind the landmarked Dean Sage House in Crown Heights.

empire dairy

The Empire State Dairy complex sold for $16.75 million in September 2018 to HP Brooklyn Dairy Housing Development Fund Company, a local nonprofit that is part of the nonprofit Housing Partnership Development Corporation, which develops affordable housing.

empire dairy

empire dairy

Completed in 1915, the group of buildings at 2840 Atlantic Avenue were designed by architects Theobald Engelhardt and Otto Strack. Part of the complex is “Abstracted Classicist with Secession detail,” according to the LPC — an unusual style for Brooklyn. Particularly noteworthy are the large tile murals depicting pastoral scenes.

In December 2017, the Empire State Dairy was declared a landmark after years of advocacy by local preservationists. East New York native and architect Zulmilena Then, founder of advocacy group Preserving East New York, said at the time, “This is such an important achievement for the East New York community after the last designation 36 years ago.”

1940 tax empire dairy

The circa 1940 tax photo for the dairy. Photo from the collection of the Municipal Archives via the NY Landmarks Preservation Commission

empire dairy

empire dairy

Barbey Street

2840 atlantic avenue

View on Barbey Street

[Renderings by Dattner Architects via NY Landmarks Preservation Commission, Photos by Susan De Vries]

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