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After years of drama and controversy, the rent-regulated apartments at 406 Albee Square downtown stand empty, ready for the bulldozers. They were acquired by the city as part of a bigger package for $40,000,000 and will be turned into a park, as per the downtown rezoning plan established over a decade ago, in 2004.

The tenements, which have seen more than 100 years of humanity pass through its doors, occupy a clearing in the middle of high-rise development downtown. Directly across the street is the City Point mega-project, where towers as high as 60 stories will eventually be built. Behind it, on the next block over, the 35-story Ava DoBro is under construction at 100 Willoughby Street.

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The tall tower JEMB Realty is developing at 420 Albee Square in Downtown Brooklyn will be a mere 35 stories instead of 65, according to the latest permit filings, first spied by New York YIMBY. Meanwhile, we see the developer just closed on an adjacent site with a historically significant building on it and is planning a demolition.

An old three-story 19th century wood frame building at 233 Duffield Street is one of three historic stops on the Underground Railroad on the block the Landmarks Preservation Commission tried to save from demolition back in 2007, as we reported at the time.

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That was quick. Demolition of 231 Duffield Street, one of the houses in Downtown Brooklyn thought to have a connection to the Underground Railroad, began at the beginning of last week and by Friday morning, when we snapped this photo, it was a done deal.
Demolition of 231 Duffield Street Begins [Brownstoner] GMAP P*Shark
Live from the 231 Duffield Street Dismantling [Curbed] DOB
Demolition Begins of Historic Duffield Street Building [Duffield Street Blog]
Demolition continues of 231 Duffield [Duffield Street Blog]

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After a demolition permit was issued on February 25, V3, the same company that’s putting up the Karl Fischer-designed Hotel Indigo at 237 Duffield Street, began dismantling 231 Duffield Street, one of several houses on the Downtown Brooklyn block that has been linked to the Underground Railroad. As the Duffield Street blog notes this morning, while 227 Duffield has gotten most of the attention and is planned to be a museum for the abolitionist movement, there’s good reason to think that 231 Duffield has historical significance to the abolitionist movement. According to the EDC report on the subject, houses owners at the time–the Hawes and the Hilles–were involved with abolitionist groups, although there is no documented evidence of their involvement with the railroad itself. The basement photo, at right, shows a passageway underneath Number 231 that many think was used to transport escaped slaves.
Demolition Begins of Historic Duffield Street Building [Duffield Street Blog]
Demolition continues of 231 Duffield [Duffield Street Blog] GMAP P*Shark DOB

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Just last year, the city planned to raze some Duffield Street houses that may have been part of the underground railroad. Now, a piece of that street is co-named “Abolitionist Place,” and “a multi-faceted proposal to memorialize the history of abolitionism, the anti-slavery movement, and the Underground Railroad in Brooklyn,” called “In Pursuit of Freedom” is on the horizon. The $2 million effort is courtesy of a coalition of heavies in the Brooklyn cultural scene, including New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and the Commemoration Advisory Panel, who selected the proposal from the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Weeksville Heritage Center and the Irondale Ensemble Project. The project will include a theatrical performance, an interactive exhibit and a self-guided walking tour. Good thing the houses are still here!
Tour, Play, Exhibit Mark Brooklyn Underground Railroad [NY Observer]