Red Hook

Love Among the Ruins: Red Hook’s 537 Columbia St.

Eye On Real Estate

August 20, 2014 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Peach keen: Nifty window coverings at 537 Columbia St. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan

A little bit of decay — or in some cases, a lot — can be absolutely eye-catching.

Brooklyn’s got its fair share of buildings whose decrepitude is part of their charm.

The historic buildings at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s hospital annex, weather-beaten and astonishingly beautiful, are stellar examples.

Love Among the Ruins? For the real estate-obsessed, yes indeed. ( A digression: Which do you think of first when you read that title, the Robert Browning poem or the Katharine Hepburn-Laurence Olivier movie?)

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Once these properties capture our attention, of course we want to know all about them.

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One of the city’s top contractors is sitting on a real estate gold mine.

We just care because the place looks pretty, in a decayed kind of way.


The warehouse at 537 Columbia St. has windows boarded up with coral-colored planks and a dark reddish-brick façade dusted with traces of ghost-white paint.

This Red Hook industrial eye candy belongs to T. Moriarty & Son, a contracting firm whose headquarters are nearby.

When seen from Bay Street, the ivy covering the wall that borders 537 Columbia’s block adds to its  abandoned but scenic look.

The lot has seven buildings, city Buildings Department records indicate, with addresses on Creamer and Hicks streets as well as Columbia and Bay streets. A Moriarty entity called Grinnel Street Realty Corp. bought the property in 1984 from H. Kohnstamm & Co., according to city Finance Department records.

The contracting firm uses the warehouse’s ground floor for storage, company president James Moriarty Jr. told Eye on Real Estate. The upstairs floors are unoccupied.

It looks like the kind of building that could be fixed up and rented out to entrepreneurs and artists. But “we don’t have any plans right now” to renovate it, Moriarty said.

Property values are expected to rise in this part of Red Hook because of the construction of a 1,000-seat kindergarten-through-12th-grade private school, Basis Independent Brooklyn, at 556 Columbia St. It’s cater-corner to 537 Columbia St.’s block.

So does Moriarty’s firm get unsolicited purchase offers for the eye-pleasing warehouse?

“At times, we do,” he said.

 


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