Affordable Housing Should Always Look This Good: Crown Heights Jewel Nearly Restored

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One of Crown Heights’ most important houses is about to begin its new life as affordable housing.

The John and Elizabeth Truslow House at 96 Brooklyn Avenue was originally built for a brilliantly wealthy family who made a fortune in stove manufacturing. But after it moldered in obscurity, affordable housing developers NIA JV and ELH Management swooped in to brighten its future.

Restoration on the home — which began in 2013 — is visibly nearing completion on the outside. When Brownstoner visited on Sunday, the exterior was notably spruced up and, we presume, all the holes and leaks fixed. When it’s done, its seven renovated apartments will be occupied by families making $36,680 to $120,240 a year.

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The unique square oriels — once peeling and leaking — have been repaired and received a fresh coat of paint. New, Landmarks-approved windows have gone in on the top floors.

NIA JV LLC and partner ELH Management LLC are no strangers to historic restoration and conversion for affordable housing. ELH Management’s president is Larry Hirschfield, known for rehabilitating landmarked properties into affordable units. In 2007, Hirschfield notably converted The Imperial — a grand building at Pacific and Bedford — into 34 units with rents then staring at $430 a month.

ELH Management is also building the 100 percent affordable (and architecturally sensitive) apartments at 816 Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights, as we noted last week.

96 Brooklyn Ave, Truslow Hs, CHN, 3

The peeling and damaged oriels in 2013. Photo by Suzanne Spellen

Demo of 96 Brooklyn Avenue’s interior started in 2013. A tipster at the time told us he’d seen “wheelbarrows of debris being carted out” of the house. The site was also cleared of a tiny jungle of overgrown trees and shrubs. Even though the interior has reportedly been gutted, the footprint of the seven apartments has changed only slightly, according to the alteration permit.

The Queen Anne style home was built for John and Elizabeth Truslow in the 1880s, back when Crown Heights was suburbia. The home was designed by one of Brooklyn’s leading 19th century firms, the Parfitt Brothers. Interestingly, architectural historians believe that the house’s shape may have been based on a building (since demolished) that the Parfitts designed for the Brooklyn Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, where Truslow was a board member.

In 2013, our columnist Montrose Morris wrote “Crown Heights North community is looking forward for this house to stop traffic on this corner. Like the Imperial, it is one of our architectural jewels.”

96 Brooklyn Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photos by Cate Corcoran except where noted

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96 Brooklyn Ave, Truslow Hs, CHN, 2

Above, the house in 2013, before restoration. Photo by Suzanne Spellen

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