St. Francis College Leaving Brooklyn Heights for Downtown

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports that St. Francis College, a four year liberal arts institution that has made its home in Brooklyn Heights since 1963, will be moving to new, smaller quarters in a high rise building being built above the Macy’s store on Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Although St. Francis plans to expand its student population from its present 2,700 or so to 3,500 by 2026, the Eagle story quotes a representative of the school as saying that while the present building at 180 Remsen Street (photo by C. Scales for BHB) wasn’t “designed specifically to be a campus” the new space is, and therefore will use its square footage more efficiently.

The Eagle quotes “officials” as saying the new “space will include a 6,600-square-foot library, a 300 seat auditorium, a cafeteria, two art gallery spaces, and plenty of outdoor space, with a terrace and rooftop.” It’s interesting that there’s no mention of athletic facilities. St. Francis fields intercollegiate teams in a number of sports, including basketball, soccer, volleyball, water polo, diving, and swimming. While the soccer team has done its practice on the fields at Brooklyn Bridge Park, other sports have used the ample indoor facilities at the Generoso Pope Athletic Complex, which is part of the same 180 Remsen building which will presumably be sold to a developer to be demolished, no doubt for high rise (the building is outside the Brooklyn Heights Historic District) luxury apartments. Update: SFC Athletic Director Irma Garcia provides this information:

Because our new Wheeler building campus does not have a gymnasium or pool on site, we are making special plans for indoor teams that rely on those facilities, including aquatics, basketball and volleyball.

SFC will partner with nearby educational institutions, to use their indoor facilities in the short term after our move. SFC is developing a permanent solution for its indoor sports and other athletics facilities longer term. More information will be announced soon.

What will we Heights residents be losing because of this? An auditorium with ample space for neighborhood meetings and for cultural events, a lobby with inviting and interesting art exhibits, and a swimming pool available for community use during limited hours. Oh, yes, and for many of us, a place to vote.

Share this Story:

, , , , ,

  • CassieVonMontague

    St Francis demolished the 1857 Brooklyn Gas Light Company Headquarters to build their Academic Center in 2005. They got a full 16 years of use out of it before they pack up and leave.

    Anyone have any good photos of what the AIA Guide describes as “A miraculously saved[!] Tuscan-columned classical temple”?

  • Jeremy
  • Jorale-man

    Not to mention the grand old buildings that the college tore down to build its ugly 1960s campus in the first place. Now we may get another high-rise, hulking over the border of the Heights and casting its shadows and reflections.

  • Jorale-man

    A second shot of the brownstones that were demolished to build St. Francis. The tall one above still stands but the brownstone on the right is gone.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    I wonder where we’ll vote after they raze the building?

  • CassieVonMontague

    For the 2013 mayoral primary and election, I voted at Congregation Mount Sinai on Cadman Plaza.

  • MaggieO

    wow. that’s going to be a big change for the neighborhood. I almost wonder whether Packer would potentially take over some of the athletic facilities since i know they use the pool during the summer…

  • Mike Suko

    Good story. Probably has something to do with the financial health of the Catholic Church in the US/NYC, too, but it’d be good if someone with more expertise could confirm that.

    Don’t forget that their pool has actually been something of a COMMUNITY amenity, albeit with limited hours for non-college use.

    Maybe, they’ll co-operate with LIU that has – I think – decent athletic facilities. I’ll bet that the LIU campus (and university, of course) is gone in its entirety by 2050.

    I also fear for SFC’s future – some floors in a mixed use building are about half-way between “traditional college” (not dead yet) and zoom-school. Students from abroad have kept SFC afloat in recent years – gonna be a tough sell to swap even a non-prime block in the Heights for space sandwiched between a department store and apartments.

  • Andrew Porter

    Whenever I download these, I always do a little image correction, and get results like this:

  • Andrew Porter

    This is within the Landmarked area, so, in a word, No.

    Don’t forget the building just to the east, which is being redeveloped into a hotel. Many changes to the plans after being submitted to Landmarks.

    I wonder about the businesses on the north side of the block, many of which relied on students. During the shutdown, several of the food-related stores closed.

  • Andrew Porter

    Or… (note that larger images than the one you downloaded are also on the Municipal Archives site)

  • CassieVonMontague

    180 Remsen is landmarked but the rest of St Francis isn’t.

    Yellow is landmark district. Magenta is individual landmarks.

  • Claude Scales

    As I read it, the former church, now apartments, at the northeast corner of Clinton and Remsen is landmarked, as is the older SFC building (shown in magenta) between 180 Remsen and the modern Academic Center. 180 Remsen is the gray, non-landmarked space between them and the part facing Joralemon.

  • Jorale-man

    The north side has seen better days, with the NY Sports Club closed and the Poke Bowl place vacated. Hopefully this won’t hurt Perelandra or Curry Heights too much.

  • CassieVonMontague

    You’re right. I meant 176 Remsen is landmarked.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    That might be a North Heights location. Many of us have voted at St Francis on Remsen for the past several cycles.

  • CassieVonMontague

    I always voted at St Francis except for that one election. North Heights votes at PS 8.

  • Cranberry Beret

    Yes I agree, it seems worrisome that they didn’t have a plan ready for athletics facilities on the announcement date. They’re a top water polo program so borrowing a pool is an odd outcome unless money issues are driving the show here.

  • Andrew Porter

    I phoned Perelandra and told them the news. The college really isn’t in their demographic.

    Have you ever noticed the very high percentage of their customers who read the ingredients list before adding them to their shopping carts?

  • CassieVonMontague

    Brooklynites shopping in a natural foods store are concerned about ingredients? That’s absurd!

    But seriously folks, you should also check the expiration date when shopping at Perelandra. I’ve been burned one too many times.

  • LP

    Since Lincoln Restler and Elizabeth Adams seem to canvass around the Saturday farmer’s market, could be a good opportunity to get their thoughts on the potential demolition of the current building for more high rises.

  • Jorale-man


    It’s been a while since I’ve shopped at Perelandra but that sounds about right. The health food store stereotypes seem to be alive and well there (though I’m still glad it exists).

  • Andrew Porter

    Lots of foods there at fairly high prices are available at Key Food, etc., at lower prices.

    The only thing I buy there regularly is fat-free, lactose-free organic milk.

  • Moni

    Me too. Damn! Pretty soon we’ll be like a tiny gnome village in a clearing of a skyscraper forest. Brigadoonish.