Brooklyn Boro

City completes $31.6M revamp of historic Flushing Ave. building

Circa-1904 structure houses staff who maintain DEP water tunnel

April 20, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The New York City Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Design and Construction (DDC) on Monday announced the completion of a $31.6 million project to refurbish and upgrade a historic building on Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn.

The three-story “DEP Shaft Maintenance Building,” which dates to 1904, covers an entire city block. It exhibits a NeoClassical/NeoEgyptian style of architecture with an exterior façade featuring walls made of masonry, stone, and brick. It was designed by Warren & Wetmore, the firm that also designed Grand Central Terminal, and originally included a blacksmith and horse stables.  

The historic Flushing Avenue DEP maintenance building, back when it was the Brooklyn Department of Street Cleaning’s Stable and Chateau. At the time, it had a blacksmith’s workshop, wheelwright works and 250 horse stalls.

The building currently houses office space, a machine shop, a garage, locker rooms, and storage space for DEP’s water tunnel and shaft maintenance staff. Funding for the project was provided by DEP, while DDC managed the construction.

“Operating and maintaining the city’s vast water infrastructure requires DEP to be present in nearly every community across the five boroughs and we strive to integrate our facilities into the neighborhood, including this historic building in South Williamsburg,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza.

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“Our city’s ailing infrastructure is in serious need of improvement, and prioritizing infrastructure projects while demonstrating integrity and respect for the historic character of buildings serves as a model for what we are capable of,” said Councilmember Stephen Levin, who represents the area. “This work helps maintain the community, serves the needs of our DEP water tunnel and shaft maintenance staff, and protects the drinking water across the five boroughs for over 8 million New Yorkers.”

“With the completion of upgrades to the DEP’s water tunnel and maintenance building in South Williamsburg, the city has once again demonstrated how the physical infrastructure that makes New York work can also be beautiful, historic, and meaningful to the community,” said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, who also represents the area.

The historic building is roughly 105,000 square feet in size and occupies the block that is bordered by Flushing Avenue, Kent Avenue, Little Nassau Street, and Taaffe Place. Although the building is not designated as a New York City landmark, its appearance and design elements are of landmark quality, and it was refurbished and upgraded in order to preserve the historic character of the building.

The restoration included masonry façade repair; a new roof; skylight replacement; structural rehabilitation, including a new steel framework and concrete for the garage floors and ramps; and repairs to the parapets and lintels of all windows.

A new HVAC system to heat and ventilate the garage was installed; the water service line and gas lines were replaced; and a new main power distribution panel was installed with new electrical lines. New fire alarm systems can be operated both manually and electronically.

Additional work included a new women’s locker room and bathroom; the installation of handicapped-accessible ramps and lifts; new steel staircases, and a new lighting system.

Originally, the facility was commissioned by the Street Cleaning Department, an early version of today’s Department of Sanitation. It had a blacksmith’s workshop, wheelwright works, and 250 horse stalls. In 1934, the Department of Water Supply, Gas & Electricity purchased the building, then known as the “Brooklyn Department of Street Cleaning’s Stable and Chateau,” from the Department of Sanitation. The Department of Water Supply, Gas & Electricity was consolidating its facilities, which were spread across the borough, at the time, and chose the building as its new headquarters.

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