Brooklyn Heights

Demolition of landmarked Montague Street building wins local support

February 21, 2019 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle

CB2 committee says yes to residential-tower design for Brooklyn Heights site

A landmarked bank building at 200 Montague St. in Brooklyn Heights is one step closer to being torn down and replaced with a 20-story apartment tower, following a recommendation from the local community board Wednesday night.

Community Board 2’s land use committee approved Midtown Equities’ plan to demolish the Modern-style building, a part of the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District established in 2011. The property is one of 21 buildings within the landmarked area, though the building had been altered several times prior to the creation of the Historic District.

The board’s executive committee will make a final decision on the issue on Monday.

Its recommendation will be sent to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission ahead of its March 5 hearing about the proposed work. Because the building is located in a historic district, Midtown Equities cannot tear it down or alter its exterior without the preservation agency’s permission.

The proposed all market-rate tower would see 121 rental apartments and ground-floor shops, architect Richard Metsky of Beyer Blinder Belle said at the committee meeting. That includes 26 studios, 57 one-bedroom apartments, 26 two-bedroom units and 12 three-bedroom apartments.

The first three floors of the proposed Montague Street apartment tower will be clad in limestone. On the other floors, the facade material will be glass fiber reinforced concrete that resembles pale-hued stone.

In his presentation at the meeting, Metsky said he drew inspiration for his tower design from the “monochromatic” color schemes of neighboring historic buildings and their “verticality” and “exuberance.”

Here’s a first look at the proposed 200 Montague St. apartment tower, which is the second building from left. Rendering courtesy of Beyer Blinder Belle

Not all members of the committee supported the plan, saying the neighborhood needs more commercial space instead of another residential development.

Jeremy Lechtzin, a Brooklyn Heights Association rep, said the architect should have at least considered adaptively reusing the existing building or designing a new building with some “memory” of the old one.

A building with historical significance

The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report about the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District says that Lafayette Safe Deposit Company constructed 200 Montague St. in 1959 and 1960. Originally, it was two stories tall.

Philip Birnbaum was the architect.

Over the years, 200 Montague St. was altered several times. Its modern glass and metal curtain wall were added in 2006.

Midtown Equities bought the property, which is also known as 192 Montague St. and 192-200 Montague St., for $25 million in 2007, Finance Department records indicate.

At least one organization wants to save the bank building from the wrecking ball.

In response to a story the Brooklyn Eagle published in January about 200 Montague St., DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State posted an alert on its website saying the group “will be advocating for retention of this contributing Modern resource.”

The preservationist group’s name stands for DOcumentation and COnservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the MOdern MOvement.

The Landmark Preservation Commission will discuss 200 Montague St. during its March 5 meeting at 1 Centre St. The meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. View the agenda.

Follow Brooklyn Eagle reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

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