Brooklyn Heights

Landmarks Preservation Commission tells Brooklyn Heights townhouse designers to try again

September 23, 2014 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This design for townhouses at 295-299 Hicks St. got a thumbs-down from the Landmarks Preservation Commission Tuesday
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Lou Greco wants to fill one of the only gaps in Brooklyn Heights’ landmarked streets with three townhouses.

But on Tuesday, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission sent the architects who did the design for his 295-299 Hicks St. site back to the drawing board for a do-over and consultation with agency staffers.

The commissioners’ main objection to the design for SDS Development’s three 16-foot-wide red-brick townhouses is that it looks like one big building — which doesn’t fit in with the historic brownstones and carriage houses of Hicks Street.

“You’re trying to cover up the fact that these are extremely skinny,” Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron said at a public hearing at the agency’s Lower Manhattan office. “It makes for an awkward façade on all levels.”

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Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan asked why the developers aren’t constructing two 24-foot-wide townhouses, which is more common in Brooklyn Heights. Architect Krista Demirdache told her, “This was a product they were more comfortable in delivering to the market.”

Demirdache is working with Nikolai Katz, who’s the architect of record. He attended the hearing but didn’t speak.

The design Demirdache presented was for three single-family houses, each four stories high with a bay window above the front door and a terrace on the set-back fourth floor. The lower floors of their rear façades would be covered with what looks like a continuous wall of glass and metal.

The site has been a vacant lot since before the Brooklyn Heights Historic District’s designation in 1965.

After more than 30 years of ownership, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Brooklyn sold it for $4.325 million in 2012 to an LLC affiliated with SDS, as the Brooklyn Eagle previously reported. It is currently being used as a parking lot.

Judy Stanton, the Brooklyn Heights Association’s executive director, said in testimony that her organization’s Landmarks Committee had numerous objections to the proposed design, and could not support it.

Commissioner Frederick Bland, a Brooklyn Heights resident, said it’s a “great thing” the long-vacant lot will be filled in with buildings — and three narrow townhouses could work there.

But “you have to start again with the arrangement of the façade,” he said.

Another Brooklyn Heights townhouse project of SDS Development’s also met with the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s initial disapproval a few years ago. After a redesign, the development at 27 Cranberry St. got the agency’s go-ahead.  



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