Cobble Hill

Dearly Departed? No, just moving

Court Street Funeral Home's owner selling building, staying in Cobble Hill

January 8, 2014 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The Court Street Funeral Home plans to leave the building where it has operated since 1946 – but will relocate within Cobble Hill, owner Dominic Cusimano told the Brooklyn Eagle Tuesday.

Cusimano is selling 230 Court St., the property that houses the funeral home, a rep for the buyer revealed at a city Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing earlier in the day.

The deal hasn’t closed yet.

The purchaser hopes to take possession of the property by the end of this month to start building a doctors’ office, Georgia Ladas, project manager at Just Architecture, told the commissioners.

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Brooklyn landlord Stuart Venner, the buyer, has a medical group lined up as a tenant for the 1850s-vintage rowhouse, Ladas said after the hearing.

But make no mistake about it: The funeral home will live on.

“We’re not closing,” Cusimano, who did not attend the hearing, told the Eagle afterwards. “We’re not leaving the neighborhood.”

He’s not at liberty to reveal where he plans to move the funeral home.

“I have a confidentiality agreement about where we’re going. I can’t violate it,” said Cusimano, whose family has operated a funeral parlor in the neighborhood since 1929.

Last year, Cusimano filed plans with the city Buildings Department to convert the first-floor funeral chapel into a medical office, the Brooklyn Eagle previously reported. At the time, he didn’t respond to  Eagle queries about the project.

Preservation agency commissioners voted to approve Just Architecture’s plan to rip out the white-painted facade of the funeral parlor’s first floor and build an old-fashioned glass storefront. It will be framed in black-painted wood and wrap around the corner of the building.

They also okayed the construction of a barrier-free access ramp on the Baltic Street side of the building.

The property is located in the Cobble Hill Historic District, and requires LPC approval for major changes to its exterior.

The new storefront will let in light and make the place look, well, less funereal, Ladas said after the hearing.

“It’s more inviting,” she said. “It kind of looks like a mausoleum now. We’re opening up the tomb, as it were.”

She shrugged off the notion that potential patients will be nonplussed by having their doctors’ appointments inside a former funeral chapel: “I don’t think people are superstitious,” she said.

The storefront will resemble one in an old photo taken before the funeral chapel was built, which Ladas displayed during her presentation to commissioners. They deemed the design plan historically appropriate and in keeping with the look of neighborhood shops.

“It will be a new version of what was old,” Ladas said.

One point of difference: The new storefront will not have awnings as it did in the old photo she displayed.

For Venner, a landlord whose holdings include 114-116 Henry St. in Brooklyn Heights, it seems a busy year is shaping up.

An LLC of his is clearing tenants from a cluster of shops on Flatbush Avenue and Park Place in Prospect Heights – where an urgent care office is going to occupy part of the space, the Daily News recently reported. As is the case at 230 Court St., Just Architecture is the architect of record for planned work at the Flatbush Avenue property, Buildings Department filings indicate.

Venner did not return a call for comment.


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