Crown Heights

Landmarking push planned for Crown Heights South

Eye On Real Estate: Do you know the way to Consumers Park Brewery?

June 15, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Neighborhood preservationists want the section of Crown Heights South where the former Consumers Park Brewery complex is located to be considered for city historic district designation. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan

Such a splendid smell.

It hit us when we were down the block from an intriguing old Crown Heights South factory complex.

We were too far away to read the sign with the business’s name on it. But the rich scent wafting on the breeze suggested that spices in vast quantities are sold at 960 Franklin Ave.

And voilà. When we got closer to the massive front door and wide cobblestone driveway, a sign confirmed what The Nose Knows. “Morris J. Golombeck, Inc. Importers of Spices” is what it said.  

In business since 1931, with a product lineup from anise seed to turmeric, it occupies a property with a fascinating history. Once upon a time, Consumers Park Brewery flourished on the site.

Before we continue this tale, we should explain why we were strolling around the savory-scented spice purveyor’s neighborhood.

The Historic Districts Council gave Crown Heights South a “Six to Celebrate” award this year — indicating that the neighborhood is preservation-worthy. We wrote about East New York, the other 2016 “Six to Celebrate” neighborhood that’s in Brooklyn, but hadn’t yet given Crown Heights South a close look.

The Crown Heights South Association wants to get some landmarking going. It plans to focus first on the western corner of the neighborhood as a candidate for historic district designation by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, Brownstoner.com has reported. The area’s boundaries are Washington Avenue, Empire Boulevard, Nostrand Avenue and Eastern Parkway.

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This area has an extraordinary greenspace as a neighbor. Brooklyn Botanic Garden is located on the other side of Washington Avenue.

 

Beer here, in a bygone era

And now a word of explanation about Consumers Park Brewery, which opened in 1900.

It’s “generally credited to be the first all-electric brewery in the United States,” Suzanne Spellen wrote in a Brownstoner.com story.

The brewery had a beer garden and concert facilities — and owned a hotel that was just across the street.

Today, what’s left of the complex has old-fashioned industrial grandeur. There’s a smokestack. And on the Montgomery Street edge of the property, a Gothic Revival-style brick building has eye-catching gables and dormers.

The long-time owner of the complex is HPG Associates Inc., city Finance Department records indicate.

Parking for Dodgers fans

The section of the neighborhood that the Crown Heights South Association would like to see turned into a historic district includes grand, column-fronted St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf at 260 Eastern Parkway. And Medgar Evers College is located there, in buildings including 1650 Bedford Ave.

The site of now-razed Ebbets Field is in this part of Crown Heights South. The Brooklyn Dodgers’ baseball stadium, which was at 55 Sullivan Place, was torn down after the team left for California in the late 1950s. Ebbets Field Apartments, a huge rent-stabilized complex that was formerly in the Mitchell-Lama program, has stood on the site since the early 1960s.

When the Dodgers’ stadium was constructed a century ago, parking garages were built nearby for fans who drove to games in automobiles (a trendy new thing at that time). One garage was at 73-97 Empire Blvd.

We noticed small trees growing through metal screens covering the boarded-up windows of this one-story property. But Gothic ornamentation on the building gives it a dignified look.

There’s 30,000-plus square feet of vacant ground-floor retail space for rent through Ripco Real Estate. Ripco agent Andrew Clemens said “No comment” via email when we inquired about the asking rents and wanted to know whether there were negotiations with any prospective tenants.

Last year, the entity that’s leasing the property filed plans with the city Buildings Department to construct a second story and do horizontal enlargement, too.

Chaskiel Strulovitch was the authorized signatory for that entity, 73 Empire Development LLC, which executed a 49-year lease that began in February 2014, Finance Department records indicate.

 

Bedford Union Armory

Attention, Squadron C!

The city Economic Development Corp. (EDC) is long-term leasing your historic armory at 1579 Bedford Ave. to developers who plan to build a metal-clad addition.

The EDC made news this past December by announcing BFC Partners and Slate Property Group as joint-venture partners for a makeover of Crown Heights South’s vacant, century-old Bedford Union Armory. They plan to create more than 300 housing units, half of them affordable, plus a community event space, office space and a recreational facility. The recreational facility could include basketball courts, a swimming pool and an indoor turf field.

Finance Department documents provide details about the Art Nouveau-style armory, which has frontage on Union and President streets.

The Bedford Union Armory had belonged to the City of New York and was “devoted to the use of the organized militia” under the control of the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs, according to a release document signed in August 2013.

With this release document, the state military entity relinquished the use of the armory and returned it to the city.

According to supporting material filed with the release, the cost of acquiring the site in 1903 and 1905 and constructing Squadron C’s armory was $552,971.67.    

Loews Kameo Theatre

The marquee is missing from 1920s-vintage 530 Eastern Parkway, and the name on the building says “The Philadelphian Sabbath Cathedral.” Otherwise, it looks like a movie house, which is what it originally was.

It was built as the Cameo Theatre but became the Loews Kameo Theatre in 1925, according to a posting on the website Cinema Treasures.

Finance Department records identify the building’s long-time owner as Philadelphia-the Church of Universal Brotherhood (Seventh Day Adventist).

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