New Life for 186 Remsen? Bye-bye 192 Montague?

In a post this past September I speculated about the future of 186 Remsen Street (photo, by C. Scales), which I have long liked as an example of Victorian Romanesque architecture. In the post I noted that the building had been acquired by Up Ventures LLC, who had filed plans for a fourteen story hotel on the site. Being east of Clinton Street, the site is outside the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, with its fifty foot height limit on new construction, but it is in the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District, which means that the Landmarks Preservation Commission would have to approve any changes to it.

Thanks to Brooklyn Community Board 2 we now know that Up Ventures has made

[a]pplication … to restore the façade, replicate the original two-story mansard roof destroyed by fire, recreate missing iron balconies and fences, install ADA-compliant ramp, reconstruct the rear portion of the building, construct a six-story rooftop addition set back 50 feet, and excavate the rear yard.

This application will be considered at an LPC public hearing to be held on Tuesday, January 15 at One Centre Street, 9th floor, in Manhattan. Hearings are to start at 9:30 AM, and 186 Remsen is the second item on the agenda.

Meanwhile, New York YIMBY reports that demolition permits have been filed for 192 Montague Street, AKA 200 Montague (see linked story for photo), a four story office and retail building on the south side of Montague between Clinton and Court streets. According to the YIMBY story, “It is unclear what plans are in store for the 10,000 square-foot lot as no permits have been filed. According to filings, Matthew Abreu of The Cayre Group is listed as the owner.” Update: According to Lore Croghan in the Eagle, demolition of 192/200 Montague will require Landmarks approval, as it is in the Skyscraper Historic District.

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  • Jorale-man

    Great news about the Remsen Street building. I noticed walking by last night that there were some lights on in one of the floors, so someone’s been inside recently.

    Speaking of vacant real estate, anyone know what’s happening with the abandoned townhouse on Columbia Heights? I see there’s a shed around it now – has it been condemned by the city?

  • karen

    Nothing that exciting about 194 Columbia Heights. Some facade work that they were legally required to do (the cornices were crumbling)… They look to be doing some stuff inside as well, we’ve seen workmen in there quite a bit recently.

  • CassieVonMontague

    Great news about 186 Remsen.

    About 192 Montague, what’s the point of the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District if developers can still tear down mid-century buildings? The building is by Philip Birnbaum, a prolific NYC architect, and one of his better ones. From the looks of it, he mostly does tall, bland apartment buildings on the upper east and upper west sides. The Landmarks’ Designation Report says it originally had two stories when build in 1960 and the upper floors were added by the same architect in 1968. If they want more building, I recommend keeping the granite-framed curtain wall and adding something above it.

  • Claude Scales

    I’ve updated the story to indicate, as reported by the Eagle, that demolition of the building will require Landmarks approval. Accordingly, I’ve added a second question mark to the headline.

  • Cranberry Beret

    Yes, they’ll propose something on top of 200 Montague. These breathless YIMBY stories about “demolition permits have been filed” are misleading when shared without context. No, they’re not tearing down the whole building. Yes, they’re going to demolish some hidden part that’s required to build the tower on top. Yes, any demolition (even unseen) requires a demolition permit. Yes, the addition on top will require Landmarks approval. This is the same sequence that happened for 186 Remsen. Calm down folks!

  • Reggie

    What is your source of information? On the Buildings Department website, the box is checked off for “Full Demolition.”

  • Andrew Porter

    The Remsen Street building originally had an intricate top. You can see it peeping out at the right in this old postcard highlighting the then much shorter building at the corner of Remsen and Court:

  • Andrew Porter

    Here’s what was torn down in the early 1960s to build what’s now at 192-200 Montague Street. Photo courtesy the Municipal Archives:

  • Cranberry Beret

    My source is reality :)

    The owner can make any filing they want, including one that says “full demolition,” but that’s just a negotiating tactic with the Landmarks commission so the owner can later make a “concession” by proposing something less drastic that’s approve-able.

    There is 0% chance under the Landmarks law that a building designated by the Landmarks commission as a contributing structure in a landmark district will be allowed to be fully demolished. That possibility makes great headlines but is an intentional distraction from the real horse-trading that will happen around what actually is allowed to be built on top.

  • Reggie

    I’ll take that bet. From the designation report:

    Designed (resurfaced)
    Door(s): Replaced primary door
    Windows: Replaced
    Storefront: Altered

  • Cranberry Beret

    Your tiny excerpt is way out of context. I think what you’re saying is that the building has been altered so maybe LPC will decide it’s not worthy of protection. But you omit all of the prior description (including “significant architectural features”) for this building contained in the designation report. More importantly, you ignore the report’s district-wide narrative that describes this building as an important 20th century addition to the history of the landmark district.

    The district is small and the included buildings were cherry-picked, and it was only designated 8 years ago. LPC doesn’t reverse itself under most conditions, and certainly not these.

    I stand by my statement that there’s 0% chance LPC will allow a full demolition. Maybe the developer feels it’s a worth a chance taking for negotiating reasons like I suggested, if nothing else.

  • Reggie

    I am glad that you have agreed to this friendly, non-monetary wager.

  • Cranberry Beret

    I’m happy to buy you a drink at the BH watering hole of your choice should I lose!

  • Andrew Porter