Brooklyn Boro

Odd Brooklyn spots we love

Eye On Real Estate

October 21, 2015 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
You'd never guess from looking at this photo that 2 Alice Court stands on the corner of busy Atlantic Avenue. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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Hungry Eyes.

(Can you hear that old Eric Carmen song from “Dirty Dancing” in your head? Consider yourself ear-wormed.)

Our visual appetite for interesting buildings is immense.

Probably this is true for just about everybody in Brooklyn in this era of handsome spending on renovation, restoration and good gardening in nearly every neighborhood.

There’s so much to see and savor in the built environment in B’KLYN.

There are so many odd spots we love in this big, bold borough. Here are a half-dozen we’ve never shown you.

Alice Court and Agate Court, Bedford-Stuyvesant

There’s hidden treasure on Atlantic Avenue — the part of Atlantic Avenue dividing Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights that’s a massive highway with train tracks overhead and auto body shops on street level.

Where Kingston Avenue intersects with this otherwise grim thoroughfare, turn your head towards the east and you will catch glimpses of turrets, some with pointy roofs like witches’ hats.

You are not hallucinating.

There are two tiny cul-de-sacs, each a half-block long, with architecturally distinctive Queen Anne-style rowhouses. The homes were built in 1888 and 1889 in a speculative development by Swiss immigrant industrialist Florian Grosjean.

He had a daughter named Alice and made his fortune from enamel-coated iron utensils called Agate Ware. So he named the two streets where he built the stunning houses Alice Court and Agate Court.

There are 36 rowhouses in all, designed by Brooklyn architect Walter M. Coots.

By the way, those who are obsessed with Green-Wood Cemetery should take note: Grosjean is buried there.

In 2009, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the two splendid half-streets as a historic district.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission report designating the Alice and Agate Courts Historic District calls the mini-neighborhood “a quiet residential oasis in the midst of the heavily commercial  Atlantic Avenue.”

Community Worship Center of the Church of the Nazarene, Bed-Stuy

When you’re way down the block, you simply see a turret.

It makes you want to keep walking to see what else is there.

It turns out to be a stunning Victorian Gothic church built in 1872 with later alterations and additions.

It’s big and powerful and genteel at the same time. There are still late-in-the-season roses blooming in the garden.

Originally this august building was the home of the Bedford Reformed Church. The address historians use for that church is 1160 Bedford Ave.

Later, the building was turned into a Masonic Hall, according to Suzanne Spellen, a history expert who writes for under the pen name Montrose Morris.

Today, it houses the Community Worship Center of the Church of the Nazarene, which uses 117 Madison St. as its address, according to an electronic sign out front.


Lincoln Savings Bank, Williamsburg

Wedge-shaped buildings are such eye candy.

One of our favorites is 525-545 Broadway in Williamsburg — a sweet low-rise red brick building that originally housed Lincoln Savings Bank.

The entrance on the pointy end of the building where Boerum Street runs into Broadway is a sight to behold, with its elaborately carved stone doorsill and decorative bronze front door.

On its Broadway and Boerum Street façades, there are rows of windows covered with awnings that say “Broad & Boerum.”

That’s the name of a jewelry store that occupied the building in more recent years.

The historic property is visually arresting and able to hold its own against the heavy shadows that are cast by the elevated J and M train tracks.

Get a good look now while you can. The former savings bank is not a city landmark — so its new owner, Blesso Properties, is going to add six floors on top of the four-story building.

A tip of the hat to The Real Deal for being first to report the story about the planned residential conversion — and dramatic alteration — of the charming building.

There will be 36 apartments in the development.

By the way, a marketing flyer from Massey Knakal Realty Services that we found online indicates the asking price was $35 million.

This past August, Blesso Properties paid $32,850,000 for the property through an LLC, city Finance Department records show.


1635 85th St., Bensonhurst

This rowhouse proudly stands alone.

It’s so pretty to look at. The rosy-orange brick façade and stone window frames are in impeccable shape. The address over the front door is spelled out in a stained-glass window.

On the side of the house, where the eye expects to see a similar attached brick house, there is a manicured lawn.

The house at 1635 85th St. belongs to husband and wife Carlo and Susan Musso, Finance Department records indicate.

The house behind the 1575 86th St. construction site, Bensonhurst

There’s nothing but a little plywood between you and that bulldozer.

A sweet little pink house peeks out over the construction fence surrounding a vast, empty site at 1575 86th St. where big machines are rumbling. The house looks alone and a bit melancholy.

The view through the windows in the fence is dramatic. There’s an endless expanse of raw dirt and rubble in front of the house, with a bulldozer clawing away very, very nearby and a not-very-tall fence separating them.

The site’s owner, General Motors affiliate Argonaut Holdings LLC, is constructing a new automotive sales and repair building, city Buildings Department and Finance Department records indicate.

Until recently, 86th Street Chevrolet had a car dealership on this site. But this past May, its lease was terminated, Finance Department records show. The building has been demolished.

As far as we can tell from Buildings Department records, the little pink building is the rear house at 1572 85th St. It belongs to spouses Stephanie and Vito Dorme, Finance Department records indicate.

231 73rd St., Bay Ridge

Even in a neighborhood full of terrific old houses, this one’s a standout.

It’s a Victorian farmhouse covered with salmon-colored shingles. It has an ample porch and eye-catching decorative trim outlining the roof. It was built in 1870.

We aren’t the only one who’s in love with the house at 231 73rd St.

It just drew buyers who paid $1.06 million for it this past March, Finance Department records indicate.

They are husband and wife Vincent and Christina Adamo, the records show.

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