Brownstone At Hicks & Joralemon Undergoes Ooh-La-La Conversion

A four-story Brooklyn Heights townhouse at 265 Hicks Street (on the corner of Joralemon) is undergoing a renovation that will convert the eight-family property into two units. Brownstoner reports that the DOB permit calls for “exterior demolition and restoration of the existing brownstone,” which will include construction of a new front stoop, rear balcony, new roof and—ooh la la—a penthouse addition and new elevator.

The home was on the market in 2008—without interior photos—which would lead one to believe that the interior calls for a gut reno. Brownstoner : It was last asking $2.5 million, and sold in December 2011 (delivered vacant) for $2.2 million.

(Photo: Brownstoner)

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  • Cadmangal

    I lived in the 3rd floor front apt. in the mid ’70’s. My bedroom was long and a bit narrow but I loved that bay window.

  • stuart

    Brooklyn Heights really went downhill after 1930 or so. The beautiful houses were abandoned and turned into fleabag boarding houses, kind of like what happened to Jimmy Stewart’s House in “It’s a Wonderful Life” during the dream sequence. The Heights became a Bohemian enclave (ie: a White slum). Houses were cut up into tiny apartments with one toilet shared by several units and kitchens stuffed into closets.
    Over the years these degraded buildings were renovated into modern cheap little apartments with private toilets. More recently they have been turning back into private homes for the well-to-do. Kind of full circle. One by one.
    Every year another eyesore is restored, It’s kind of interesting to watch. This restoration will be spectacular I’m sure. The neighborhood has turned around completely since the slum clearance programs of the 1960’s threatened the entire area, which was classified as a blighted district by the federal government. Cadman Plaza and the towers were built as part of that urban renewal program.
    Most people don’t realize the depths to which the Heights sank. Pretty soon all evidence will be erased, which is good but its also regrettable.

  • Jorale-man

    Interesting points, Stuart.

    I wonder if they ‘ll be returning this to resemble its original Greek Revival facade. It was degraded so badly it’s going to take a lot of surgery. Apparently they’re using a top-quality contractor though, so we shall see.

  • Chuck Taylor

    stuart — i kind of have the same feeling about downtown BK… it’s marvelous to see it return to glory as new stores enter just steps away from the heights week after week — but i also kind of had a fondness for its seedy side, when i worked for the US census in 2010 and got to know fulton mall as well as my hand…

    now most of the original local stores are shuttering one by one… such is the price of progress. we’re certainly not unique… this is the way of the world, huh?

  • Karl Junkersfeld


    Your comment is right on. My apartment was originally 2 apartments and my floor shared one bathroom during the 30’s. Personally, I have no reservations about the gentrification taking place in the Heights and our neighboring communities. Talking about neighborhood transformation, did you catch the sales figures for Water Street in DUMBO?

    Brooklyn is so hot right now. It just gets better and better every day. My street, Middagh, is a construction zone with the police station of Poplar added to the mix of 20 Henry and the Eagle building. Nabeguy’s house,on Middagh, is also getting a complete transformation. Must admit that saddens me to see a total gut job on his historic house.

    Last but not least, we have a basketball team that belongs to Brooklyn. Got my season tickets and can’t wait to cheer on the Nets.

    Lets Go Nets.

  • julian

    The cheerleaders of Brooklyn Heights restoration to “glory” are merely cheering for the ultra-rich and their hangers-on, and, yes cheerleaders, most of whom are potential victims or too old to care. I’ve lived through the slump and I’ve lived through the latter-day upgrade, and the “slump” was a time of great diversity, albeit a bit too gritty for everybody’s taste. Yes, the Franklin Arms was very little better than a brothel, but it housed a wonderful piano bar. The aristocrats and the meritocrats lived side by side with single, gay black and Latin men who were working class but wanted to live in a civilized neighborhood so roomed at the old Hotel Margaret (torched ca. 1977). Those of us who “worked in and cared about [Brooklyn Heights]’ (Jane Jacobs) were happy to live here, away from Scarsdale and Greenwich. Now the aforementioned bastions for prefabricated grandeur have returned to the city to remake it in their own crass image, on the backs of us, who maintained the best of civilization lo these many years! So cheer away as all the hidden beauty of landmarked brownstones are obliterated by the puffed-up, greedy philistines who have taken over, but you’re cheering at your own peril!

  • Gerry

    @ Stuart — and will the pendulam swing back again someday a return to the 1960s – 1970s Brooklyn Heights?

    They say what goes up comes down, what goes around comes around, never say never, etc.

  • Gerry

    This is NOT a great corner not prime Brooklyn Heights by any means.

  • bornhere

    Maybe I am afflicted with misplaced nostalgia (and I was just a wee slip of a thing in the 1950s and not given to deep, critical thinking as a child), but I truly don’t recall a time when the Heights had sunk to some sort of blighted depths.
    The razing of the buildings on the east side of Henry, the west side of Fulton, and the north side of Clark at Fulton was, I think, unfortunate, and although there were some blocks that were, perhaps, a bit dicey (and the “Big Playground” at the foot of Columbia Heights was usually off-limits), there was a wonderful mix here that no longer exists.
    Comments on the BHB often invoke Wild Fyre, the brief transitions to SROs, and other short-lived anomalies as proof that the Heights was a slum and has, at long last, experienced a resurrection; but I look around and regret the loss of so much of the old — buildings, shops, people — elements that added to a wonderful and natural constancy.
    And I know I am in the minority, but I somehow miss the “old, rusting, and rotting piers,” if only because they invoked the centuries-long maritime history of this still-historic area.

  • Gerry

    @ Bornhere – I think the new park is over rated not the great place I was told it would be in the 1980s when it was being planned.

  • Andrew Porter

    This renovation has been going on for many months, visible for everyone to see. The restoration plans are detailed in the Landmarks notice on the front of the construction site. Yes, Jorale-mon, the brick on the front was stripped off and the brownstone is being restored. A stoop is being reconstructed. And no, although the property was sold with permission for a curb cut—to allow parking in the garden space at the corner of the property—it will not be done, so the garden is retained.

    On the other hand, this has been going on for many months now—the building has been sheathed with a scaffold and plywood has obscured the first floor—so this article is merely a response to something posted elsewhere. I would hope that the BHB be proactive on material, rather than reactive.

  • julian

    Does a minority opinion, or one based on critical analysis, constitute “reactive” opinion. If by “proactive” opinion, you mean the uncritical acceptance of and even praise for, the status quo, then perhaps you don’t, in fact, want people to express their opinion. Let’s be honest, you really mean to serve the interests of the realtors, n’est-ce pas?

  • Jorale-man

    I think Andrew Porter was merely suggesting that BHB should be ahead of the story when it comes to changes in the neighborhood. He wasn’t suggesting they engage in a class dispute of some sort. Not that there aren’t debates to be had about the costs and benefits of gentrification but that wasn’t the point of his comment as I read it.

  • Mr. Crusty

    @julien “. . .on the backs of us, who maintained the best of civilization lo these many years”

    Oh and we will forever be in your gratitude for maintaining civilization for the rest of us barbarians.

    What an incredibly obnoxious angry little man you seem to be. What happened? Your rent got raised?

  • hicks st guy

    @Julian, forgive me for only living here since 2003, but the current Hotel Margaret building doesn’t looked “torched” to me. perhaps there was another one?

  • bornhere

    hicks st guy — There was a devastating fire, which burned for hours on a freezing winter night/day, that destroyed the Margaret in 1980 in the midst of its conversion to a co-op. The conflagration made for amazing photos (firefighters and structures covered in ice), but the original was stunning and so grand.

  • Andrew Porter

    I was living in BH at the time of the Margaret fire, and have numerous photos from that night and the subsequent destruction of the ruins. The Margaret was not “torched”. It was two weeks away from being occupied. I believe the findings afterward were that construction equipment caused the fire.

    The Franklin Arms was an SRO until renovated, as were the Miles Standish, the Pierrepont, the St. George, the…

  • davoyager

    That building provided affordable rent stabilized middle class housing for several decades while paying a hefty real estate tax bill to the city. This new owner is converting it to a 2 family which will rent for an astronomical sum while paying a mere fraction of the taxes. The 1% strike again. In addition he is destroying his neighbors 19th century south facing top floor window with the penthouse they got thru Landmarks with lies and misrepresentation. All you preservationists beware. They justify the additional story by claiming the top floors were added to the surrounding buildings sometime after they were built in the 19th century, (something I know to be categorically not true with regard to this block) thus making the penthouse “consistent with the evolution of the row.” That line is straight from the Landmarks permit. But how a 21th century penthouse with elevator is consistent with a supposed 19th century addition is beyond me. Somebody either got paid off or was otherwise intimidated. So now Landmarks promotes evolution of our historic housing stock not preservation. Be prepared for penthouses to start springing up like weeds in a garden now that Landmarks has greenlighted bogus evolution at the behest of the super rich.

  • Andrew Porter

    Davoyager, I think they should take out the electricity and go back to lighting with gas, or, better still, oil lamps.

    “Pay offs”, “lies”, “misrepresentation”, “intimidation”. I wonder whether you’re the one whose view is going to be blocked? Certainly reads like it. Oh, and thanks for using a pseudonym. You can say anything while you hide behind it.

  • davoyager

    Ah me. the same old crowd of real estate hacks.
    Andrew Porter, it’s interesting how you know about the curb cut permit. That’s something only insiders would know.
    I have no trouble with class warfare as the middle class has been under relentless assault in this country for over 30 years by the Romney Rich’s and Mitt Phoney’s of the world and this project while it has some redeeming value, could have been done in less of a heavy handed fashion which has become so emblematic of the ruling class and their henchmen in today’s America while harkening back to the days of the Robber Barons of the late 19th century when these houses were built. I guess this is the work of preservationists after all.

  • Letsgocolin

    This is happening to countless neighborhoods throughout the city in varying degrees. The complexity of a neighborhood is constantly changing, never static. It’s a reality you need to accept and embrace even though it means losing the place you live. … That came across more literal then intended, but true nonetheless.