What happens when you own a wooden, historic home in a landmarked area and new construction is scheduled in the empty lot next door to you? The New York Times finds out from Brooklyn Heights resident Elisabeth Cunnick, owner of 25 Cranberry Street. As reported here, construction of a new “McBrownstone” is about to begin in the empty lot at 27 Cranberry Street.
NYT: To lessen the impact of watching a 9,000-square-foot building go up out the windows of her more modest home, Ms. Cunnick moved for a year to a studio in Manhattan. But the project was delayed and she has now moved back to Brooklyn just as construction is to begin.
Since her lot is wider than her house, she is having a new survey made of the boundaries and has hired Mr. Banner to help negotiate an agreement with her neighbor. She also removed a chandelier, packed away most of her books to protect them from dust, and took artwork off the walls to avoid damage from vibrations from pile-drilling next door.
Even more important than minimizing the stress of living side by side with construction, she said, is preserving her historic home.
“When you live in a house this old,” she explained, “it’s like living in a big piece of 19th-century furniture. I would like to do everything I can to protect it. I don’t know exactly what that is, but I’m trying to figure it out as I go.”
Developer Louis Greco owns the property and former BHA president Tom van den Bout is the architect on the project. The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the design after some modifications were made but some area preservationists still may feel that the plan is out of scale with the rest of the block.
While the proces to get the design approved may have been bumpy, the Times report suggests that the new neighbors and their builders are prepared to be gentle hippies:
NYT: The lot next door to Ms. Cunnick is owned by SDS 155 Lincoln L.L.C. Louis Greco, the company’s manager, said, “It’s always very difficult to build next to an existing residence, but the laws are specific, and just being a good neighbor is paramount.”
Clay Lancaster wrote in Old Brooklyn Heights that number 25 was first listed in the 1829 city directory and was the home of “Mrs. Bruce”. It was also home in the late 19th century to James Heckler who sold surgical instruments at 47 Henry Street according to the Brooklyn Eagle archives. Lancaster added, writing in the early 1960s, that the home had been renovated in 1955.