Clinton Hill Wreck Sells for $2.9 Million, Will Become Luxury Apartments

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One of Clinton Hill’s most notable eyesores — a landmarked but completely messed up prominent corner property at 109 Gates Avenue — has sold and will be fixed up soon. The unnamed buyer paid $2,900,000 at auction, beating out Sterling Town Equities’ bid of $2,100,000, we hear from a Brownstoner reader who lives in the area.

The buyer reportedly plans “luxury rental” apartments over the ground-floor retail space.

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The building has been languishing since at least 2000, when it was damaged by a fire. Then it got caught up in the last boom and bust cycle.

In 2005, a group of investors bought it for $1,100,000 and renovated in fits and starts. The next year, it traded for $2,000,000 to another LLC. In 2007, after a Home Depot-style renovation on the top three floors, the owner put it on the market for $2,800,000.

We said at the time:

We’d been hoping that the reno was taking so long because of a painstaking restoration effort. Not so. The result is a cheap-looking Home Depot special on the upper three floors (in addition to the two unfinished bottom floors that are for rent, presumably for commercial purposes), a decision the owner must be regretting as the house sits on the market for the ridiculous asking price of $2,800,000.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t sell, and then the real estate market crashed. In 2008, the Landmarks Preservation Commission slapped it with several violations. A lis pendens for $900,000 was filed in 2010 and again in 2013 — indicating mortgage lender Country Bank was suing the owner for nonpayment — culminating in the foreclosure auction this month.

And now, surprisingly — or perhaps not — it has just sold for slightly more than its 2007 ask. (The sale price works out to be $725 a square foot.) This boom is moving a lot of long-languishing properties.

Since the building is landmarked, the owners will have to restore it rather than, say, demolish it or add a modern facade. The new owners will have their work cut out for them.

They will need to bring the exterior, particularly the bottom two floors, back to a historically appropriate appearance and get Landmarks approval for the work. The house is one of a row of Italianate brownstones dating from the 1860s.

In 2003, the commission approved a restoration based on DOB filings dating from a 1908 renovation of the building, but the work was never done. Here’s hoping the third time will be the charm.

The retail space may have long ago been a Chinese restaurant, going by the 1980s tax photo. Our tipster was curious about the future retail tenant — “dying to know what it is” — although most likely the new owner doesn’t have one yet.

“Not much retail in there other than Locanda, so, interesting,” said our tipster, referring to the popular Italian restaurant nearby. “But it’s about time someone did something with that giant corner obstacle. It’ll be quite a job, though.”

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[Photos: Cate Corcoran]

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