Vacant Architectural Curiosities on Duffield Street Change Hands With Forest City Ratner Merger

Downtown Brooklyn’s curious little row of survivors on Duffield Street has a new owner, at least in name.

The 19th century houses at 180 to 188 Duffield Street, now all one tax lot, were originally located on Johnson Street and were moved in 1990 as part of the development of MetroTech. They’ve been owned by Forest City Ratner since and have sat largely vacant.

188 duffield street

A tax lien sale certificate for the property was filed on the houses in August of 2017. That lien was discharged in November and a real property transfer tax was recorded for the property this month.

The city requires a real estate property transfer tax be paid on sales, grants surrenders or property transfers of more than $25,000. Such a transfer occurred for the Duffield Street houses. In this case, Forest City Realty Trust transferred the property to Antlia Holdings LLC. A fall 2018 press release announced that Forest City Ratner had entered into a merger agreement with Antlia and expected the merger to be completed by the end of 2018. Antlia was formed by Brookfield Asset Management Inc., which now manages the former Forest City Ratner property portfolio.

188 duffield street

So, theoretically the ownership situation of the houses hasn’t changed much but it does raise the question of whether any other change will come to the houses. Decades later they are still vacant in the midst of a bustling Downtown Brooklyn. They are also showing a bit of wear, with loose or missing wood from the front stoops and flaking clapboard on some of the rear facades.

brooklyn history downtown

No. 100-118 Johnson Street between Lawrence and Bridge streets in 1934. The houses from 100 to 110 were moved to Duffield Street. Photo by P.L. Sperr via New York Public Library

The four houses are a stretch of relatively rare survivors from what was once a vibrant Downtown residential community. The houses originally would have stood where Tandon School of Engineering’s Bern Dibner Library of Science and Technology and 5 MetroTech Center are today. Constructed between the 1830s and 1847, the buildings were part of a middle-class community and were lived in by lawyers, teachers, builders and merchants.

188 duffield street

Massive redevelopment in Downtown Brooklyn beginning in the 1970s with Fulton Mall and continuing with MetroTech in the 1980s spelled the end for many of the low-scale residences in the area. Just down from this stretch is another little survivor at 227 Duffield Street.

There were early plans for houses at 182 to 188 Duffield Street to be used for offices for nonprofits and community organizations but those plans seemingly did not materialize or did not last long. The houses were, however, designated individual landmarks in 2001. For now, the little landmarks continue to sit empty amidst the towers of MetroTech.

188 duffield street

[Photos by Susan De Vries]

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