Brooklyn Heights Association Executive Director Judy Stanton sent us a dispatch this morning about construction plans for 30 Henry Street. The site has been sold by its owners, the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper, to DUMBO based developers the Fortis Group. The Eagle’s own report on the sale claims that Fortis plans to build a 65 foot, 6 story condo there, a potential challenge to current landmark restrictions. (N.B. Their initial application.)
Not so, says Ms. Stanton who has seen the Fortis plans. Her take after the jump.
The BHA was shown a presentation for a new building by Fortis at 30 Henry Street. We were given copies of the plans but I do not have permission to release them to the media. They do not show a 65 foot building. The site falls entirely within the LH-1 boundary (aka 50 ft height limited district). A taller building would not be permitted without a variance which would require an application to the Board of Standards and Appeals in addition to the necessary approvals required by the Landmarks Commission.
The latter is certainly not what was shown to the BHA nor to the Community Board. I would suggest that that Linda Collins needs to double check her understanding of whatever plans she has found on file with the DOB which may have included the floor below grade (cellar). The BHA was shown and we are still expecting a 50 ft building plus the mechanical equipment set back behind a stair bulkhead which would not be visible from the street. (Mechanicals are not counted in the 50 foot limit.)
Speaking about the design, the BHA always favors contemporary design for new construction in the Historic District. While not every owner/architect has felt comfortable about following our recommendation, the Landmarks Commission DOES support contemporary design in historic districts. It should be emphasized that Brooklyn Heights is a veritable treasure trove of 19th century architectural styles, and this historic district can absorb more variety. Note:This topic is currently the subject of an exhibit at the Brooklyn Historical Society Context\Contrast: New Architecture in Historic Districts 1967 to Present. which we encourage everyone to see.
With regard to 30 Henry Street, it is a gateway site in the Heights, and one that cries out for a distinctive and much more contemporary design than was shown to the BHA last week. Fortis has hired excellent architects in BKSK, and the BHA has respectfully asked them to ‘return to the drafting board’ to create a building that celebrates our time.