Brooklyn Heights

Ahoy Matey: Second-floor residential conversion for 76 Montague St., the building with the anchor out front

Eye On Real Estate

March 5, 2014 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The landlord of 76 Montague St. is turning what was a floor of a home-furnishings store into a home.

The building’s co-owner, Jim Daniels, recently got Buildings Department approval to convert the second-floor of the Brooklyn Heights building that Design Within Reach just vacated to residential use.

The job calls for interior demolition and new partitions, plumbing fixtures and fittings, finishes, heating and air conditioning – and has an estimated cost of $252,740, the filing indicates.

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It will be a two-bedroom, two-bathroom rental apartment, CBRE broker Ben Daniels, who is Jim’s son, revealed to Eye on Real Estate.

“The space is really remarkable,” Ben said.  It has 15-foot ceilings and a skylight – and because there’s a set-back on the rear of the rosy-red brick building, there is room for an 800-square-foot patio.

Optimistically, the apartment could be available by the end of the summer, he said.

Why the switchover from retail space? It’s a matter of “highest and best use,” Ben said – which translated into plainer English means it will make more money.

The other co-owner of 76 Montague is Harvey Elgart, who owns Cobble Hill Cinemas.

Meanwhile, Ben is marketing the 2,300-square-foot ground floor of the two-story building to retailers at an annual asking rent of $125 per square foot. Basement space is included in the deal.

Space in the 1850s-vintage building will be more appealing to prospective tenants once the scaffolding that’s obscuring the building is removed – which will happen by the end of the month, Ben expects.

The bulky sidewalk shed is there because of facade restoration at the apartment building next door.

(The Buildings Department approved a plan to put up a sidewalk shed there in summer 2012.)

While new tenants are on the way, upstairs and downstairs, a historic ship’s anchor that graces the sidewalk outside 76 Montague will remain in place.

“It’s a nice touch,” Ben said.

The anchor belongs to Wolf Spille, who owned 76 Montague St. between 1979 and 1999.

Spille, who holds a German ship master’s license, operated a shipping brokerage there. He called his business Sirius Brokers Inc. and named the building Sirius House.

Spille, who now lives in Charlotte, N.C., bought the anchor – which like the building is from the 1850s – at a shipyard in Staten Island.

“The anchor was meant as a memento of the ship owners who lived in Brooklyn Heights,” he told Eye on Real Estate.

Spille also left behind something purely practical, but also welcome – electric coiling under the sidewalk to clear snow instead of an unhappy human with a shovel.

As for Design Within Reach, the furniture retailer posted a sign on the front door of 76 Montague saying it will open a new Brooklyn location – but who knows where? Nobody’s willing to tell us.

A real estate exec at the Stamford, Conn.-based company didn’t respond to messages. Neither did the broker from Newmark Grubb Knight Frank who is responsible for finding store sites for DWR.      


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