Brooklyn Heights

Wanna know the latest Brooklyn Heights house prices?

December 5, 2018 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Welcome to the Promenade, Brooklyn Heights' endangered crown jewel. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Eye on Real Estate: Brooklyn Eagle founder Isaac Van Anden's brownstone sold for $12 million

Brooklyn’s most expensive houses are here — on the Heights.

Of course you remember actors Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany’s widely reported $15.5 million Brooklyn Heights Historic District rowhouse purchase, which they made in May.

This deal is tied with photographer Jay Maisel’s 2015 acquisition of 177 Pacific St. in Cobble Hill as the highest-priced house purchase in the entire borough.

In recent months, there have been other big-ticket landmarked Brooklyn Heights house sales, too. We want to tell you about some of them.

Many took place before city Department of Transportation officials’ September announcement that their preferred plan for dealing with Brooklyn-Queens Expressway reconstruction between Sands Street and Atlantic Avenue would be to tear down the fabled Promenade and in its place construct a six-lane highway to serve as a BQE replacement for many years.

If the Transportation Department carried out this proposal, the roughly 153,000 vehicles that would travel each day over this replacement highway would unleash epic amounts of dust and noise in Brooklyn Heights. Area property values would take a hit.

Neighborhood residents and civic groups who oppose the Promenade’s proposed demolition have suggested alternatives to the Transportation Department, our Brooklyn Eagle colleague Mary Frost has reported.

In late November, the Brooklyn Heights Association presented agency bigwigs with a proposal conceptualized by Marc Wouters Studios for a temporary two-level bypass to be constructed at the edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park west of the BQE.

For now, the Promenade’s fate is shrouded in uncertainty.

As a momentary digression, stroll with us through the surrounding neighborhood and take a peek at several of its treasured historic houses.   

This end of Columbia Heights offers a jaw-dropping view of the World Trade Center and other Lower Manhattan skyscrapers. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
This end of Columbia Heights offers a jaw-dropping view of the World Trade Center and other Lower Manhattan skyscrapers. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

 

Do you know the way to Isaac Van Anden’s house?

A brownstone Isaac Van Anden built in 1871, whose address is 218 Columbia Heights, sold for $12 million last summer.

Here’s the backstory concerning the history of the house.

Van Anden founded the Brooklyn Eagle in 1841 with Henry Cruse Murphy.

Stories in the Eagle’s electronic archives describe Van Anden’s brownstone as a four-floor mansion on a 150-foot-deep lot that stretched to Furman Street. The stories were written long before the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Promenade, which sliced a big piece off the waterfront side of 218 Columbia Heights’ lot.

A mammoth puddle mirrors a cluster of rowhouses that includes recently sold 218 Columbia Heights. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
A mammoth puddle mirrors a cluster of rowhouses that includes recently sold 218 Columbia Heights. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

 

This is Brooklyn Eagle founder Isaac Van Anden, who lived at 218 Columbia Heights in the 1870s. Image from Brooklyn Daily Eagle Archives
This is Brooklyn Eagle founder Isaac Van Anden, who lived at 218 Columbia Heights in the 1870s. Image from Brooklyn Daily Eagle Archives

 

Van Anden died in 1875. After that, his sister Susan Van Anden Swift owned 218 Columbia Heights, the old Eagle stories indicate.

Swift died at 218 Columbia Heights in 1909. She was 91 years old. She bequeathed the brownstone to her cousin, Susan M. Van Anden.

In 1910, the cousin sold the house.

Columbia Heights is a serene scene — for now, at least. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Columbia Heights is a serene scene — for now, at least. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

 

Bankers and orphans

At some point after that, 218 Columbia Heights became the residence of Richard S. Ramsay, who was a  former president of East River Savings Bank. He lived there until his death in 1931.

After that, it belonged to his half-sister, Ione May Spears. When she died in 1932, she left the house and everything in it to the Orphan Asylum Society of Brooklyn.

Eagle stories published in 1935 describe an auction of the rowhouse’s contents, which included Ramsay’s desk from his job at the bank and paintings by various artists. Auction proceeds went to support an orphanage at 1435 Atlantic Ave.

Now, back to present-day Brooklyn Heights.

The sale of 218 Columbia Heights closed in August.

An LLC with Steven Eisenstadt and Jennifer Eisenstadt as members bought the brownstone from the estate of Robert S. Rubin, who had owned the property since 1989, city Finance Department records indicate.

According to a Real Deal story about the recent house sale, Steven Eisenstadt is the CEO of Cumberland Packing Corp., the Brooklyn-based maker of Sweet’N Low. Rubin was an investment banker and philanthropist.

 

Austin Tobin’s Monroe Place brownstone

In September, an LLC with David R. Welch as manager bought 13 Monroe Place for $11.5 million, Finance Department records show.

The deed gives Welch’s address at SJP Properties in Times Square. The firm develops office complexes and residential buildings. Welch has been its chief financial officer since its 1981 founding.

The Monroe Place brownstone sold for more than its asking price, which had been $10.5 million, online postings indicate. Joan Goldberg of Brown Harris Stevens had the listing.

The seller, an LLC with Alexandre Mars as manager, had purchased 13 Monroe Place for $7.75 million in 2012, Finance Department records indicate.

The brownstone at left is 13 Monroe Place, which recently changed hands. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The brownstone at left is 13 Monroe Place, which recently changed hands. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

 

According to Clay Lancaster’s book “Old Brooklyn Heights, New York’s First Suburb,” 13 Monroe Place was built in 1851.

An Eagle story published in 1952 said 13 Monroe Place was the home of Austin Tobin, who was the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Tobin, who held that job from 1942 to 1972, spearheaded the development of the original World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the 9/11 terror attack. He also was in charge of financing and developing metro New York’s four major airports.

Tobin died in 1978.

That's Port Authority honcho Austin Tobin at far left at a 1967 charity ball with Lady Bird Johnson. Industrialist Charles Engelhard is at far right. AP File Photo
That’s Port Authority honcho Austin Tobin at far left at a 1967 charity ball with Lady Bird Johnson. Industrialist Charles Engelhard is at far right. AP File Photo

 

A home in a cozy cul-de-sac

In May, an LLC with Lee Bergstein as authorized signatory bought 6 Grace Court Alley for $8.325 million, Finance Department records show.

It’s a carriage house on a cozy cul-de-sac whose entrance is on Hicks Street.

The first house with a flat roof is 6 Grace Court Alley, which was recently sold. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The first house with a flat roof is 6 Grace Court Alley, which was recently sold. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

 

In early 2017, Brown Harris Stevens had the listing for 6 Grace Court Alley and the asking price was $10 million, online postings indicate. Later that year, Compass became the listing broker and the asking price was trimmed to $8.8 million.

The sellers, Rohit Sah and Ruchika Sah, had purchased the carriage house for $2.7 million in a 2011 estate sale, Finance Department records show.

Grace Court Alley is a 19th-century mews, in other words a street lined with horse stables that have been converted to housing.

Picturesque homes on Grace Court Alley are former stables. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Picturesque homes on Grace Court Alley are former stables. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

 

A posting on the Place Matters website says the Remsen family, whose home was nearby, originally had stables on the tiny dead-end street. Later, it served as a stable alley for nearby Grace Church and then for residents of mansions on Joralemon and Remsen streets.

When cars became trendy in Brooklyn Heights, the stables became garages and housing for chauffeurs.

 

Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep filmed ‘Heartburn’ here

In October, an LLC with Stephen Skoller as assistant treasurer bought 15 Garden Place from Jane Marvel Garnett for $8.1 million, Finance Department records show.

The red-brick Greek Revival rowhouse was built in the 1840s.

Kevin J. Carberry Real Estate had the listing, online postings indicate. The asking price was $8.5 million.

The first red-brick rowhouse on the right is 15 Garden Place, which changed hands in October. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The first red-brick rowhouse on the right is 15 Garden Place, which changed hands in October. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

 

The new owner of 15 Garden Place plans to do some interior renovation, city Buildings Department filings indicate.

A 1985 New York Times story says 15 Garden Place was used in a film shoot for “Heartburn,”which starred Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.

The late Nora Ephron wrote the film’s screenplay, which she based on her similarly named, semi-autobiographical novel about her marriage to Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein.

At the time of the film shoot, 15 Garden Place belonged to Daniel and Eileen Morris.  

This 2009 photo shows actress Meryl Streep at right with writer and director Nora Ephron. Years before, Streep starred in the film “Heartburn,” whose screenplay Ephron wrote. AP File Photo/Michel Spingler
This 2009 photo shows actress Meryl Streep at right with writer and director Nora Ephron. Years before, Streep starred in the film “Heartburn,” whose screenplay Ephron wrote. AP File Photo/Michel Spingler

 

A tour group strolls along Pierrepont Place near an entrance to the Promenade. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
A tour group strolls along Pierrepont Place near an entrance to the Promenade. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

 

A beloved ad exec’s house was sold

In July, Elan Katz and Inna Katz bought 11 Cranberry St. for $7.4 million from William G. Daluga Jr. as Trustee of the Christoper N. Wall Declaration of Trust Dated March 13, 2015, Finance Department records show.

Chris Wall, who died last year, was a much-admired advertising exec at Ogilvy & Mather, an Eagle story published in August says. His most recent job had been vice chairman of Ogilvy North America.

A colleague nicknamed him “The Great Wall” because he was 6 feet 10½ inches tall, the Eagle story notes.

A plaque on the facade of the Flemish-bond brick rowhouse says it was constructed in 1840 for a ship’s chandler named Mott Bedell.

A February 1878 Eagle story about his funeral says Bedell died at 11 Cranberry St. He was 84.

He had been a ship’s captain early in life and “made a considerable fortune at this calling,” the article notes.  

After retiring from his seafaring job, Bedell became a “commission merchant” on South Street in Manhattan, the story says.

 

Millionaire manufacturer’s Henry Street house

In September, an LLC with the buyer’s attorney, Alison Hirsch, as authorized signatory, paid $6.5 million for 261 Henry St. in an estate sale, Finance Department records indicate.

The Greek Revival brick rowhouse was built in the 1840s, Lancaster’s book “Old Brooklyn Heights, New York’s First Suburb” says.

According to a posting by listing agent Karen Heyman of Sotheby’s International Realty, the asking price had been $7.25 million.

The rowhouse on the left with cream-colored shutters is 261 Henry St., which an LLC purchased in an estate sale. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The rowhouse on the left with cream-colored shutters is 261 Henry St., which an LLC purchased in an estate sale. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

 

The new owner wants to build a horizontal addition onto the two-family house and turn it into a single-family home, Buildings Department filings indicate.

Over the years, notable residents of 261 Henry St. included Charles Elwell Perkins and his wife, Grace  P. Perkins.

At the time of his death in 1923, he was the chairman of the board of a Brooklyn woolen-goods manufacturer called the J.T. Perkins Company, Eagle stories from the 1920s say. He had been a director of the Kings County Trust Company and the Irving Bank-Columbia Trust Company.

He left a net estate of $5.7 million, which was considerable wealth in the dollars of that era.

He willed much of the money to the Brooklyn Orphan Asylum Society — sounds familiar, right? — the Brooklyn Home for Children and numerous other charities.

Mrs. Charles E. Perkins, as Eagle stories usually called her, continued to live at 261 Henry St. for many years. In 1932 she was elected chairman of the Woman’s Auxiliary of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

 

The New York University School of Law Foundation bought a house

We also want to mention other Brooklyn Heights Historic District houses that sold for solid prices:

* In July, an LLC with attorney Susan J. Lorin as authorized signatory bought 151 Clinton St. for $5.5 million from Kenneth D. Mann Jr. and Gwen P. Mann, Finance Department records show.

Kenneth goes by the name Tod.

The brick rowhouse on the corner of Schermerhorn Street was built in the 1850s. It has a three-car garage — an enviable amenity in the parking-space-starved neighborhood.  

Recently sold 151 Clinton St., which is the corner house, has a three-car garage. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Recently sold 151 Clinton St., which is the corner house, has a three-car garage. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

 

* In August, Jonathan Bauer purchased 4 Hunts Lane for $5.35 million from Peter Watrous, Finance Department records indicate.

The 19th-century red-brick carriage house is located on a dead-end mews lined with stables that have been converted to residences. The entrance to Hunts Lane is on Henry Street.

The second carriage house from the right, which has a pointy roof, is 4 Hunts Lane. It was sold in August. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The second carriage house from the right, which has a pointy roof, is 4 Hunts Lane. It was sold in August. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

 

* Finance Department records show that the New York University School of Law Foundation paid $4.35 million for 28 Orange St. in July.

The foundation assists in the hiring and retention of faculty members by buying real estate to house them.

The sellers, Sharon L. Nelles and Scott S. Sager, had purchased the property for $2.5 million in 2005, Finance Department records show.

The red-brick rowhouse was built in the early 1850s, Lancaster’s book about historic Brooklyn Heights says.

It’s in a group of houses nicknamed “Brides’ Row.”  

The second house from the left in this lovely row is 28 Orange St., which the New York University School of Law Foundation purchased. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The second house from the left in this lovely row is 28 Orange St., which the New York University School of Law Foundation purchased. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan