Stroll down Leonard Street and see a slice of Greenpoint

Eye on Real Estate

July 11, 2018 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Do you know the way to Leonard Street? Take the G train to the corner of Greenpoint and Manhattan avenues, and you're almost there. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
Share this:

Could you give a visitor directions to Leonard Street without using your smartphone?

Probably not, unless you live there.

North Brooklyn is where you go to find this fascinating residential street.

It slices through non-landmarked sections of Greenpoint and East Williamsburg. Stroll this street with us, and you’ll find varied forms of housing: Historic wood-frame houses, old-fashioned multifamily buildings, recently constructed apartment buildings, New York City Housing Authority projects and a vast Mitchell-Lama complex.

Let’s start our walk in Greenpoint.

We’re obsessed with Manhattan Avenue. Every real-estate nerd is. Every donut lover is.

Manhattan Avenue’s where you find St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus, a landmarked red-brick 1870s church. It was designed by the Prince of American-Catholic Architects, Patrick Charles Keely. It has a 240-foot spire.

Manhattan Avenue’s where you find Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop, which has attained cult status over the years.  

Whenever we’re in Greenpoint, we feel the magnetic pull of Manhattan Avenue. So we tend to ignore Leonard Street, which is one block east of Manhattan Avenue.

To get to the top of Leonard Street, which is at Greenpoint Avenue, take the G train to its Manhattan Avenue station. Or ride the NYC Ferry to Greenpoint’s India Street dock, which is a few blocks away.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course

The very first building you see as you turn the corner onto Leonard Street is 172 Greenpoint Ave. Its retail tenant, a barber shop called the Hair Doc, has a sign out on the sidewalk promising “Un-Crappy Haircuts For Men!”

The back of St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church occupies a prominent portion of this first block of Leonard Street.

In addition to old-fashioned frame houses and brick rowhouses, there’s an eye-catching row of decade-old multifamily buildings. They’re made of buttery-hued brick with chocolate-colored decorative motifs. Their addresses are 720A, 720, 722 and 724 Leonard St.

They have bright metal fences with gates topped by horses’ heads. If you’re old enough, you’ll think of Mister Ed, the talking horse from the TV series.

According to city Buildings Department records, the four-story, 50-foot buildings each have six apartments. All four buildings got their certificates of occupancy in 2007.

One of our favorite Greenpoint houses is on this block — 716 Leonard St.

The shingle-covered semi-detached house reminds us of a fairy-tale cottage. It’s set waaay back from the sidewalk and nestles against another, taller residential building.


Walt’s Whistle and a Polish church  

At the end of Leonard Street’s first block, which  is the intersection of Calyer Street, if you face midtown Manhattan you can see the landmarked Citicorp Center in the distance.

These days, people call it 601 Lexington Ave. Old-timers call it Walt’s Whistle because Walter Wriston headed the bank when the tower was built in the 1970s.

On the next block of Leonard Street, between Calyer Street and Meserole Avenue, a historic house of worship is a standout among three- and four-story siding-covered or brick houses. It’s the Polish National Catholic Church of the Resurrection at 678 Leonard St.

A group of Polish immigrants and their children acquired the property in 1922, the church’s website says. There has been a house of worship on the site since 1838.


A tattoo parlor and a home for film noir

On the corner of Leonard Street and Meserole Avenue, there’s a beautiful old house shaped like a salt box. Its addresses are 668 Leonard St. and 131 Meserole Ave. Its retail tenant, Greenpoint Tattoo Co., has a wood-framed glass storefront.

In 2006, when the building last changed hands, the sale price was $825,000, city Finance Department records show.

On the opposite corner of Leonard Street and Meserole Avenue, there’s a handsome cluster of brick rowhouses. The retail tenant in the corner house, which is 122 Meserole Ave., is the Film Noir Cinema, which moved there in 2017.

It rents out movies, which is a rarity in the 21st century. And it has a 54-seat theater that shows movies, some with live musical accompaniment.

Film Noir Cinema’s owner Will Malitek told the Greenpointers website that years ago, Smith Funeral Home was located at 122 Meserole Ave. He said the building has an ice chute in the basement that delivered ice, which was used to chill the corpses.

Film Noir Cinema is on this corner of Leonard Street and Meserole Avenue.    

An old portico and a new library

The Leonard Street block between Meserole and Norman avenues is lined with old-fashioned homes. A front door on that block has a beautiful rectangular wood portico with delicate, carved decorations on the top of it.

The address of this shingle-covered house is 633 Leonard St. By the way, it changed hands in an estate sale last year. The price was $2.175 million, Finance Department records indicate.

At 107 Meserole Ave., which is on the corner of Leonard Street, there are bulldozers on a gravel-strewn lot.

The Greenpoint Library building that stood on this site was constructed in the 1970s. It was shut down last year to make way for a new branch that will be combined with an environmental education center.

Brooklyn Public Library’s website says construction is being funded by a $5 million grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, $1.8 million from the state Education Department and more than $14 million in library and city capital funding.

Architecture firm Marble Fairbanks designed the complex. It will have lab spaces and two accessible green roofs plus reading rooms, space for library collections and a large community event space.

Apartment buildings on corner lots

A block further down Leonard Street, you cross the intersection of Nassau Avenue — and McCarren Park is close at hand. Leonard Street runs alongside the park between Engert Avenue and Bayard Street.

There’s a complicated spot on the street grid where Engert Avenue ends and Manhattan Avenue crosses over Leonard Street. Beyond this point, Leonard Street is located one block west of Manhattan Avenue.

Near the spot where Leonard Street and Manhattan Avenue crisscross, you find metal-panel-and-gray-brick-clad condo complex 76 Engert Ave. Tahoe Development completed its construction a decade ago.

In February, one of the condos sold for $1.12 million. The seller had bought this unit for $999,000 in 2014, Finance Department records indicate. Prior to that, the condo sold for $597,712 in 2011.

This handsome row of brick houses is on the corner of Nassau Avenue and Leonard Street.

Do you know the way to Withers Street?

As you continue walking, you’ll notice 415 Leonard St. on the corner of Bayard Street across from McCarren Park. Abraham Banda constructed this condo building a decade ago. It has an aqua-hued facade.

Right before Leonard Street passes beneath the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, there’s mammoth rental-apartment building 395 Leonard St., which the Rabsky Group built a few years ago. It has frontage on Frost and Richardson streets and Meeker Avenue.

On a Leonard Street corner on the other side of the highway, Rybak Development is constructing an eight-story condo building that looks like shallow boxes stacked on top of each other.

The project’s name, Element 88, refers to the property’s address, which is 88 Withers St.



Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment