Landmarks sends Cobble Hill project back for tweaking

September 18, 2012 By Linda Collins Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) last week sent a proposed Cobble Hill development project back to its design team for some tweaking.

The proposed project, at 110-128 Congress St., is comprised of two parts — restoring the front and rear facades and constructing rooftop additions on four existing circa 1850s rowhouses; and demolishing an adjoining circa 1980s two-story modern building in order to construct five new townhouses.

The four 1850s rowhouses, which were all connected by the 1880s when in use by St. Peters Hospital, would be returned to single-family use, said a spokesperson for the design team.

“This is an excellent project,” said LPC Chair Robert Tierney. “But with some modifications — taking the suggestions of the commission — it could be a little better.”

He urged the design team to work with the department’s staff and bring it back “so we can visit this again.”

There was only one speaker during the public testimony period, Nadezhda Williams of the Historic Districts Council, who said the HDC had concerns that elements of the design are more appropriate to historically industrial districts.

“For example, the steel stoops with side stairs (a material and a configuration that have little or no precedent in this district) proposed for both the mid-19th century rowhouses and the new construction, remind us of modified loading platforms. Metal entrance doors on the new houses also lend an industrial touch,” Williams said, reading from a prepared statement.

“The window openings feel over scaled for residential buildings in this district, particularly the single large opening on the second floor of the two left hand houses. We ask that the design be rethought to incorporate more of the residential character of the neighborhood.”

Commissioners appeared to agree regarding the use of metal for the new side-facing stoops, noting that wood  might be more appropriate. Side-facing stoops are necessary because of the very narrow sidewalks.

Among their other concerns were the following:

• Needing to pay more attention to the slope of the site and create “a stepping down” of the new rowhouses as well as a stepping down of the rooftop additions on the old ones.

• Possibly creating rooftop additions that are not so visible from the street.

• Enlarging the doors on the three new townhouses at the far end so they do not look so “diminutive” and possibly creating decorative headers for them.

One commissioner said he was very pleased with the design and with what’s being proposed for the five new townhouses.

“They [the design team] found a way to differentiate the five rowhouses from the older ones and from each other,” he said.

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