A lot near the Brooklyn Bridge has sat vacant since the ‘20s. Now that’s about to change.
A building is finally, finally going to be constructed on a site near Brooklyn Bridge Park that has been a vacant lot since the 1920s.
On Tuesday, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved a design by NV/design.architecture for a red-brick retail building at 20 Old Fulton St. with windows with big arches inspired by those on historic properties in the neighborhood. The building will have space for two tenants.
The property is in the Fulton Ferry Historic District, just up the street from the tourist-magnet park and right across from the Eagle Warehouse, which stands on the site where the Brooklyn Eagle was published in the 19th century.
The new building will be just one story tall because of a height restriction that will allow residents of a neighboring property, 7 Everit St., to maintain their views of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Construction could have started five years ago at 20 Old Fulton St. The previous owner, an LLC with Richard Mauro as authorized signatory, obtained the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s approval for a glass building designed by architecture firm Snohetta in November 2014.
‘Weekend hot-dog chef’
But Mauro — a restaurateur Time Out New York called a “weekend hot-dog chef” because he sold gourmet wieners from a cart he parked on the site — left the lot vacant.
He sold 20 Old Fulton St. in 2018 for $3.5 million to an LLC with Shlomi Avdoo as a member, city Finance Department records indicate. Avdoo is a principal and co-founder of real estate firm Level One Holdings.
The new property owner hired a new architect to create a new design for 20 Old Fulton St., which meant the property needed a new review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Before Tuesday’s vote, several commissioners complimented the design by NV/design.architecture Principal Tom van den Bout, who’s a former president of the Brooklyn Heights Association. LPC Chairperson Sarah Carroll called the architect’s use of big arches “very creative.”
Welcome to the neighborhood
A coffee shop will occupy one retail space in the new building, van den Bout said at the hearing before the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s vote. A tenant has not been found for 20 Old Fulton St.’s second retail space, he said.
After the hearing, a rep for the property owner told the Eagle the coffee shop that’s moving to 20 Old Fulton St. is an overseas-based chain called Arabica, and this will be its first location in the United States.
Renderings for 20 Old Fulton St. show the name “Arabica” on signage inside one of the building’s windows.
Because the developer is already doing site excavation at 20 Old Fulton St., construction could proceed quickly. So Arabica might be able to open its shop there at the end of the summer, the property owner’s rep told the Eagle.
The Eagle reached out to Arabica via email but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
The 20 Old Fulton St. development is the second project the Landmarks Preservation Commission has approved in the Fulton Ferry Historic District in the past week. On Feb. 4, commissioners gave a thumbs up to a design for an outdoor restaurant pavilion Miles and Alex Pincus plan to construct on Fulton Ferry Landing Pier beside the Brooklyn Bridge.
If you liked this story, read about the house in nearby Brooklyn Heights where Cher’s character lived in “Moonstruck.”
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