LPC Wants 144 Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights to Remain Small

Curbed reports today on the saga of 114 Clinton Street. The one story art moderne building’s owner wants to convert it (meaning knock it down while saving some of the art deco facade) into a six story condo. The Landmarks Preservation Commission ain’t havin’ it:

Curbed: Right off the bat, new LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan pointed out that the local Community Board 2 rejected the proposal. LPC commissioner Frederick Bland, who lives in the district, pointed out that the zoning law allows a building of the proposed height, but the landmarks law allows the commission to decide what is appropriate for a historic district. He said the current structure is a “building that contributes” to the character of the district and the proposal is “completely misguided.”

Commissioner Margery Perlmutter asked why it was so necessary to add height to the existing building and didn’t see any logic behind the design. She added that the salvaging of some façade elements was not “real preservation.” Michael Goldblum said there may be some precedent for the project, but was extremely hesitant in his saying that—he really wants the height reduced. Roberta Washington wanted more of the existing building preserved. Srinivasan asked the design team to seek out other tall Art Deco buildings for inspiration.

Members of the community felt the same way as the LPC. Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, said they had “significant concerns” and that the proposal would essentially remove the building and have an “irrevocable impact on a key block” in the neighborhood. She said the salvage of some existing elements was an “unsuccessful gesture.”

Heights Hero Otis Pearsall is quoted in the piece saying that the proposal has the “potential to unravel the district’s integrity.”

Curbed says the hearing resulted in no action and the design team was basically sent back to the drawing board.

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  • Muskrat

    Do you have pictures of the proposed plan and maybe some more pics of the historical elements of the existing building? The latter would be helpful to readers who aren’t as familiar with the property.

  • BrooklynBugle

    Click the link

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Muskrat, did you click on the “curbed” highlight in the article above? The curbed article has more pictures of the property including art deco designs. Ironically, if the existing building was proposed today, all would laugh since it is extremely out of character with the neighborhood and is ugly to boot.

  • Jorale-man

    That’s a good point. A truly contextual replacement would be done in the style reminiscent of an 1850s row house to better match the houses to the north of the building.

    Whatever happens to this it will be good to see someone pay attention to the property. Right now, it’s a blight on the block, with trash and dead leaves piled up all around it.

  • Andrew Porter

    Here is NYPL Digital Library photo of the original row, showing how all the buildings were the same, and end one was destroyed to be replaced by current building. Others were eliminated when the building at the corner of Joralemon was built:

  • Daddyo

    Building as-is is ugly as sin. Take it down, what’s a few more condos in the neighborhood? Ditch the art deco look and go back to traditional 19th-Century red brick.

  • HowdyBH

    This was originally a match to the other town houses in the row. It was replaced with a small grocery store that, while different in style for the neighborhood, was an attractive building. Pics of it are online. The building hasn’t been maintained well and its relatively open front was sealed up a long time ago. Shame. Could be converted to a really interesting space although I can understand the owner’s desire to build up.

  • ujh

    I agree, the existing building could not be built at this location, if it were proposed today; it was grandfathered when the Brooklyn Heights Historic District came into being. I have great respect for Mr. Pearsall, but his declaring the existing building as contributing is not reasonable. However, historicizing architecture is not needed in a landmarked district (as Mr. Pearsall has stated in the past); many stylistically acceptable solutions are available.