A developer has painstakingly restored the Greek Revival-Italianate villa, the neighborhood's last remaining link to its rural past.
A rendering of the proposed restoration. Rendering via LPC
The Landmarks Preservation Commission Tuesday rejected a proposal to save Crown Heights’ oldest home, the badly deteriorated and individually landmarked Elkins House at 1375 Dean Street. The proposal would have turned the freestanding wood frame home — the only one dating from when the area was rural — into an attached row house with side extensions made of glass, destroying its unique character, The Brooklyn Eagle reported.
The owner of the house, Amber Mazor of Perfect Renovation, who has renovated other historic properties in the area, is caught between a rock and a hard place. For the project to be economically feasible, he must convert the house into at least four units, he told the LPC.
Crown Heights’ oldest home, a mid-19th century wood frame at 1375 Dean Street known as the Susan B. Elkins House, has a new owner, who plans to fix it up and convert it to condos. Community Board 8’s Land Use Committee last night approved Amber Mazor of Perfect Renovation‘s plan to build five two- and three-bedroom condo units inside the house. He plans to fully restore the exterior of the landmarked building to its 1939 tax photo condition, including the balcony, windows and doors, and replace much of the crumbling wood structure with non-combustible material.
The project’s architect, Richard Goodstein of Crown Heights-based NC2 Architecture, explained that the house will get a three-story addition on the back that isn’t visible from the street. The addition will have a glass rear wall and a stucco finish on the sides that matches the existing walls and masonry. Each unit will have a large terrace in the back and open plan kitchen, living and dining rooms. A rear quadrant of the roof will also be removed for a roof terrace.
The home, which is almost a cube, has a hidden half story and a pyramid-shaped roof that is not visible from the street. (The house measures 40 feet wide by 35 feet deep by 33 feet high, according to public records.) “We wanted to design the extension to be purely geometric but in deference to the original building,” said Goodstein. “Undoubtedly, it’s a departure in style. But as architects and designers, we felt that this was more correct.”
The LPC will consider the proposal in a month or two.
Mazor also owns 1372 Dean across the street, which he’s converting to four condos. Work will begin soon on the project, which recently got its alteration permits and received Landmarks’ stamp of approval earlier this year. Mazor bought the property for $1,320,000 in 2013.
A contract (not a deed) for the sale of the Elkins house to Mazor for was recorded in April. No price is recorded.
The Elkins house has been deteriorating since the early 1980s, and it has been vandalized. The previous owner, Real Properties, paid $194,000 for it in 2011 and promised to restore the exterior and convert it to apartments. That never happened. Instead, the firm gutted what was left of the interior and was sanctioned by Community Board 8 for “demo by neglect” when gaping holes appeared in the roof. Then the firm put it on the market for $1,100,000.
It’s “essentially a ruin right now,” said Goodstein.
Oldest House in Crown Heights North Now More Ruined and Expensive Than Ever [Brownstoner]
1375 Dean Street Coverage [Brownstoner]
The oldest house in Crown Heights North, the freestanding wood frame Susan B. Elkins house at 1375 Dean Street, built in the mid-19th century when the area was still mostly open farmland, is back on the market. This time the ask is $1,100,000, and the building looks to be in worse condition than when it last changed hands in 2011 for $194,000, according to PropertyShark.
At the time, buyer Real Properties Group said it planned to restore the exterior to its 1939 tax photo condition and turn the interior into apartments. In recent months, the Crown Heights North Association reported the owner for “demo by neglect” because neighbors saw gaping holes in the roof.
Unfortunately, the building was left open and looted over the years. Now the current owner appears to have gutted what little remained of the interior. The listing says “Delivered vacant and with an interior that has been completely cleared, you can project your fantasy home and build out to suit your individual tastes and desires.”
As one might expect, there are no interior photos, but click through to the Corcoran listing see a floor plan.
“Yes, it’s finally on the market, the house that we’ve fought so long to protect,” said a member of Crown Heights North Association in an email. “Now it’s our turn to help find a buyer who will restore it to its glory.”
It’s landmarked, so presumably any exterior restoration will not be cheap, quick and dirty. Any deep pockets out there?