Clinton Hill

Landmarks Preservation Commission approves new-house design for Clinton Hill lot

February 7, 2017 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The city Landmarks Preservation Commission has approved with minor modifications the design for a new house (it's the one with a two-story arched window) to be built at 311 Vanderbilt Ave. Rendering by Ramona Albert Architecture P.C. via the Landmarks Preservation Commission

The owner of an empty lot in the Clinton Hill Historic District wants to build a house covered in pale-hued simulated travertine with an arched window soaring two stories above brushed-metal garage doors.

The lot at 311 Vanderbilt Ave. where the house is planned sits next to a row of sober-looking Neo-Grec brownstones built in 1877. There are old-fashioned carriage houses on the other end of the block.

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On Tuesday, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved the house design by architect Ramona Albert. The vote was not unanimous.

In a public hearing held prior to the vote at the LPC’s Lower Manhattan headquarters, preservationists and neighborhood residents voiced objections to the design of the four-story, single-family house, which will have garage space inside its first floor.

Members of the Walsh family, who live next door to 311 Vanderbilt Ave., expressed fears that vibrations from construction could damage their 1870s brownstone.   

“Please. I beg of you. Preserve our neighborhood,” Kathleen Walsh said in her testimony.


The lot sits behind a Clinton Avenue rowhouse

The lot at 311 Vanderbilt Ave. has been a parking spot since the late 1940s, according to presentation materials prepared by Ramona Albert Architecture P.C.

The lot sits behind a landmarked Northern Renaissance Revival-style rowhouse built in 1885, whose address is 312 Clinton Ave.

Adrian Devenyi purchased the Clinton Avenue house plus the land at 311 Vanderbilt Ave. as a single property for $2.65 million in 2013, city Finance Department records indicate.

Devenyi recently transferred ownership of the property to an LLC of which he’s a member, Finance Department records show.

The LPC’s vote of approval stipulated that the choice of facade material — meaning the faux travertine, which is actually precast panels made of concrete — be “restudied” with the help of the agency’s staff.  

Prior to the vote, Commissioner Michael Goldblum said the house design has a “vibe” that calls famed Modernist architect Philip Johnson’s work to mind.

Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron spoke of its “tremendous sculptural quality.” Commissioner Frederick Bland called it “a beautiful, lyrical building.”

Commissioners Jeanne Lutfy and John Gustafsson gave the plans for 311 Vanderbilt Ave. a thumbs-down.  

Gustafsson said the building design is beautiful but “it references Lincoln Center. I don’t think Lincoln Center belongs on this block.”    

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