Design for rare new house in Brooklyn Heights rejected
The Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected a plan for new-house construction in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District.
Commission Chairperson Sarah Carroll on Tuesday instructed architect Elizabeth Pratt to come up with a different design for a proposed house with a built-in two-car garage, which property owner Tara Comonte wants to build on outdoor space at 56 Middagh St. where she parks her cars.
The parking spaces are next door to a house Comonte owns, a Federal-style clapboard building with Greek Revival-style details that was constructed in 1829.
The architect had tried to make the new four-story house look like it was a historic home by giving it a facade covered with faux clapboard and making the garage doors look similar to carriage-house doors in Brooklyn Heights.
Commissioners did not hold a vote on Pratt’s design. Instead, they discussed their objections to it during Tuesday’s hearing.
Commissioners Diana Chapin and Anne Holford-Smith both suggested if the property owner wants to construct a home with a garage, a design that’s similar to a carriage house might be workable.
The design Pratt showed the Landmarks Preservation Commission is a “muddle” and the faux clapboard is a “mistake,” LPC Commissioner Michael Goldblum said.
“At one time, there were objections to new buildings in historic districts imitating historic styles. An earlier version of the Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines took that position. One has only to look at a proposal like this to see why,” Christabel Gough of the Society for the Architecture of the City said in testimony at the hearing.
Gough called the design “fake in every respect, an impossibility historically.”
Brooklyn Heights Association representative Judy Stanton said in testimony that her organization did not support the new-house design.
Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee and Executive Committee both gave Pratt’s Middagh Street house design a thumbs-up in November.
Comonte, who owns 56 Middagh St., is Shake Shack’s president and chief financial officer.
Vacant sites for new houses are relatively rare in numerous Brooklyn historic districts, where buildings cannot be demolished without the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s permission. Development sites are especially noteworthy in the landmarked section of Brooklyn Heights, which was designated in 1965 and is New York City’s oldest historic district.
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