Vinegar Hill

Home Sweet Home: Concord Street cutie is shutterbugs’ favorite

Eye On Real Estate

December 10, 2014 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This is 167 Concord St., which draws photographers in search of picturesque Brooklyn properties. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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The most photogenic house in Downtown Brooklyn, 167 Concord St., is a favorite with shutterbugs in search of picturesque properties. But they have to find the place first.

It’s located in a mini-neighborhood whose name you may not know unless you live there or spend a lot of time looking at maps: Bridge Plaza.

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Frank Didik owns the charming white frame house with a red door and red shutters, dormer windows and a picket fence. He has amped up its eye appeal by parking a tiny, pointy-nosed red car, which he designed, out front.

He made the hybrid electric-and-gasoline-powered vehicle by modifying a 1970s-vintage electric CitiCar. But more about that in a minute. First, here’s the story of how he came to own this single-family home.

“I had a desire to buy a house in New York City before I hit 30,” the designer of electric cars and alternative-transportation vehicles, architectural photographer and author told Eye on Real Estate.

He  made it under the wire by purchasing 167 Concord in December 1985, when he was 29.

He paid $30,000 for the house through an entity called DDK Corp., City Finance Department records indicate. The seller was Irma DeStefano, executrix of the late Stephen Mezzapesa’s will, the records show.

Back then, it was rough out there in a lot of Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Bridge Plaza. Nevertheless, “it was safer than the East Village, and much safer than Williamsburg,” Didik recalled.

According to the New York City Department of City Planning, the boundaries of eight-block Bridge Plaza are Jay, Nassau, Prince and Tillary streets. It’s nestled among various Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn-Queens Expressway access ramps.

In addition to 167 Concord, there are clusters of 19th-Century and early 20th-Century homes in the neighborhood that are also dandy eye candy. A particularly picturesque residential row is nearby at 184 to 194 Concord St.

Though Bridge Plaza is a distinct neighborhood from Vinegar Hill, the two are oh-so-close. Walk down Gold Street in Vinegar Hill, continue a couple blocks through the Farragut Houses, and when you get to Nassau Street, you’ve arrived in Bridge Plaza.

Didik initially got acquainted with Bridge Plaza in 1981, when he read in the Village Voice about a fire at a Bridge Street building. He assembled a group of friends who made an offer to purchase the property as a fixer-upper.

But before the deal closed, the city demolished what was left of the building, and the deal was off.

After that, Didik put out the word in the neighborhood that if any homeowner was interested in selling, he was interested in buying. That’s why DeStefano contacted him, years later.

The age of Didik’s winsome house is the subject of debate, with commenters on a posting about the property speculating that it could be from the late 18th Century, or around 1840. Didik didn’t enlighten us on this subject.

By the way, the house has an additional nifty feature that can’t be seen from the street: A large back yard.

During Didik’s early years in residence, 167 Concord was burglarized. Then things started getting “significantly better” in the neighborhood around 1993 or 1994 — and he beefed up the house’s security features, he said.

All the while, though, he parked his sweet little car outside and no one stole it.

“People get in it and don’t know what to do with it,” he said. Also, at some point, he removed the batteries from the red rover, which he named the Didik Long Ranger.

Lots of residential development is going on in Bridge Plaza — see related story. What does the owner of This Old House think about the new buildings that are being constructed in his neighborhood?

“I like them,” Didik said. “Progress moves on.”


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