One of Brooklyn’s most crazily ambitious private residential projects has finally sold — unfinished and for $4 million less than ask. The tale of 277 1st Street in Park Slope has been unfolding for years as owners Ivona and Joseph Hertz attempted construction of a massive new home.
The couple, who were in the biz — they owned real-estate management firm Ocean Empire Management and construction company Anovi Builders — purchased a vacant lot in 2000 and began to build their dream home. Among the over-the-top amenities they planned: A two-story rock climbing wall, a hydraulic care lift for indoor parking, an oversized passenger elevator, an indoor lap pool, nine balconies, and a geothermal heating and cooling system.
After a decade of construction, in 2013, the owners proclaimed to the New York Post the house was nearly done. As we said then, it was the worst case of the shoemaker’s children we had ever seen.
“We wanted this house done when our kids were small,” Ivona Hertz told the Post in 2013. Now that their children are in college, “it’s too big for us now.”
Gothamist said at the time the building looked like “a treehouse that Howard Hughes built over 15 sleepless nights.”
The project continued to move at a snail’s pace even by Brooklyn standards. In the summer of 2015, with their vision still not complete, the owners finally waved a flag of surrender and put the house on the market, asking $11.5 million.
Claiming the house includes features seen for the first time ever in Brooklyn, the listing modestly dubbed it “The First House.” The listing describes a host of eye-popping features the owners intended to include but don’t yet exist, calling it “mostly completed” with “its final design choices to be selected by the new owner.”
Four kitchens “are planned, the listing said, “one being an enormous main chef’s gourmet kitchen.” Another feature was “plantings through out, bringing greenery to every level.” There’s also a water filtration system but “no finishes or fixtures” with which to get that water.
Even considering the 60-foot-wide property comprises three lots, $11.5 million was an ambitious price for an unfinished construction site. After a year on the market, the unfinished five-story house sold in November 2016 for $7.5 million — making it one of the highest-priced sales in Brooklyn in 2016.
However, the sale doesn’t mean the new owners are packing their bags and settling in anytime soon. A Brownstoner visit showed the house still covered with scaffolding and the sidewalk shed still in place.
The new owners may decide that more than 14,000 square feet of space is just too much. In August of 2016 an application to change the certificate of occupancy from one family to six families was submitted but the Building Department disapproved it in December.
In the meantime, Department of Buildings records show that the new owners, an LLC, have been busy filing applications for boiler, plumbing and other mechanical work. Workers were visible on the site recently so the new owners do seem to be moving ahead with wrapping up the construction saga.
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