The new owners of the beloved yet decaying Sunset Park police precinct at 4302 4th Avenue are getting ready for demolition to make way for a new school.
The School Construction Authority in June submitted an application to demolish the entire structure. Earlier this month, they submitted an Alt-1 clarifying they’d be shoring up some of the walls to protect them during demolition. The city has yet to issue a demolition permit.
Locals who have fought for years to stabilize and restore the once glorious Romanesque Revival structure — which has touches of the Venetian and Byzantine — may be surprised to learn that it is no longer protected by New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, although it became a landmark in 1983 and still is one.
In November, the School Construction Authority bought the site from developer Yosef Streicher for $7.999 million, according to public records. School Construction Authority projects are exempt from LPC review.
In 2016, the agency said it planned to raze the structure and replace it with an elementary school, to be known as P.S. 557. However, because the site is listed on the National Register and the project uses state funds, the State Historic Preservation Office had to OK the plans. Last year, the two agencies worked out a compromise and agreed the street-facing facades of the main building would be preserved while the stable would be demolished, as we reported at the time.
The building is caving in after years of neglect and a string of owners. A structural analysis report appended to the project’s environmental impact statement, released July 7 of 2017, shows massing diagrams for construction and design options and gives some indication of what the structure might eventually look like.
One option shows an addition towering over the turret at the corner; in another option, the addition is less obvious.
Built circa 1890-1892 and originally known as the 18th precinct, the building was credited as the work of architect Emile M. Grewe when it was landmarked in 1983, but is now acknowledged as the design of George Ingram — perhaps with an assist from Grewe.
Ingram was responsible for a number of Brooklyn’s late 19th century police stations, his work typified by a fortified, castle-like character.
The building served as the 18th police precinct until 1970, was ravaged by fire in 1980 and has been decaying ever since. A recent visit revealed the site is more secure than it was one year ago, with sturdier fencing.
[Photos by Susan De Vries unless indicated otherwise]
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