New residence OK’d on carriage house block

414 Wavery Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Carriage-house style building approved after reducing size and visibility of fourth floor. On December 7, 2010, Landmarks approved a modified proposal to develop a new building on a vacant parking lot at 414 Waverly Avenue in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill Historic District. The owner proposed building a four-story two-family residence inspired by the 19th century carriage houses that bookend the lot. The building would be clad in brick and the fourth floor would be set back fifteen feet. At the project’s prior hearings in October and November 2010, Landmarks expressed concern about the size and visibility of the fourth floor. Brooklyn Community Board 2 supported the project.

At the October hearing, the project’s architect, Jim Hill, said the new building would “keep the rhythm” of the neighboring two- story carriage houses. Hill pointed out that while the building would be taller than its immediate neighbors, it would be similar in size to other buildings on the block and shorter than permissible under the area’s R6B zoning.

The Historic Districts Council’s Nadezhda Williams generally supported the design, but argued that the proposed height was excessive. Williams said three stories and a “very visible fourth floor” would be too much for Waverly Avenue, which she noted was created as a service road for the mansions that lined Clinton Avenue.

Commissioner Libby Ryan found the design appropriate, but the size problematic. Vice Chair Pablo Vengoechea recommended that the architect alter the building’s proportions, and Commissioner Diana Chapin said the project’s height was inappropriate for a carriage-house style building.

At the November hearing, a member of Landmarks’ staff described the architect’s efforts to reduce the visibility of the fourth floor, which included lowering the project’s height by one foot and three inches. The commissioners still found the fourth floor problematic, with Commissioner Margery Perlmutter stating that it did not appear to be integrated with the rest of the design.

At the December meeting, a Landmarks staff member described a revised design which further reduced the fourth floor’s visibility. The building’s overall height was reduced by more than five feet by slightly reducing the ceiling heights. According to Landmarks’ Sarah Carroll, the top floor was altered to give it the appearance of “a utilitarian rooftop feature.” Commissioner Libby Ryan appreciated the architect’s revisions, noting that the building would “look like it was always there.” Commissioner Fred Bland praised the proposal, stating that the struggle to design an appropriate two-family, four-story building in the carriage house vernacular had been worth it.

Landmarks unanimously approved the project.

LPC: 414 Waverly Ave., Brooklyn (10- 7610) (Dec. 7, 2010) (Architect: Urban Pioneering Architecture).

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