Cobble Hill

Apartment building design for Atlantic Avenue gas station site needs a tuneup, Landmarks Preservation Commission decides

November 18, 2014 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Architect Stephen Byrns gives a presentation at a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing of his design for a proposed apartment building at 112 Atlantic Ave. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
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Back to the drawing board, Mister Byrns.

What’s better for a landmarked brownstone Brooklyn neighborhood — a gas station or a new apartment house with lots of glass on its façade?

Neither, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission decided Tuesday.

Meenakshi Srinivasan, the preservation agency’s chair, told BKSK Architects partner Stephen Byrns to modify his design for a proposed eight-unit residential building with storefronts at 112 Atlantic Ave. He had presented the design at a public hearing at the LPC’s Lower Manhattan headquarters.

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The development site is located on the corner of Henry Street in the Cobble Hill Historic District. The service station on the property was built around 1960, according to the LPC; currently it’s operating as a Shell.

A developer, Avery Hall Investments, is partnering with OTL Enterprises on the project. BKSK is the architect of record.

The design that the commissioners want changed has big ground-floor windows for the shops and even bigger rows of windows rising in bands up the front of the building. It also has a massive expanse of windows that wraps around the Atlantic Avenue and Henry Street corner of the building.

Individual windows in the glassy façade are framed in black metal and are horizontal in shape — in contrast to windows on Cobble Hill’s historic homes, which are vertical in shape.

Srinivasan suggested the architect reduce the amount of glass in his design; the amount of brick in it “could make a big difference,” she told him.

She also told Byrns to lower the height of a bulkhead in his design that would be 22 feet taller than the building’s 50-foot-high rooftop.

At the hearing, numerous preservationists, residents and reps from the Cobble Hill Association presented testimony detailing their objections to the design. Just one resident turned out to speak in support of the design.

In a letter read by Franklin Stone, neighborhood resident David Wenk noted that the bulkheads in the proposed design have glass windows — so “the building will shine like a beacon over the historic district at night,” he wrote.

“We think Cobble Hill deserves better,” Cobble Hill Association president Dave Abraham told commissioners during the hearing.

At a Nov. 12 general meeting, Community Board 6 voted to disapprove the building design, according to a letter submitted to the LPC.

An LLC connected with Avery Hall Investments bought the development site in April 2014 for $7.75 million, city Finance Department records indicate. The seller, an LLC with the same address as Supreme Auto Group Inc. in Flushing, Queens, had purchased the property for $2,668,347 in 2009.

In addition to winning the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the developer will need to get a go-ahead from the city Board of Standards and Appeals for its proposed project, Byrns said at the LPC hearing. Current zoning does not allow storefronts to be built at this site.

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