Plan reduced after commissioners and neighbors aggressively opposed proposed rooftop addition. On December 20, 2011, Landmarks approved Thomas Dolby and Andrew Frist’s proposal to build a one-story penthouse on top of a three-story limestone-clad townhouse at 627 3rd Street in Brooklyn’s Park Slope Historic District.
The project’s architect, Eric Rowland, presented the initial design at a hearing in November 2011. Dolby and Frist’s proposal included a 600 sq.ft. limestone-clad rooftop addition and modifications to the building’s rear facade. The addition would have been set back 20 feet and ranged in height from between nine and fourteen feet. Portions of the addition’s copper roof would have been visible from several vantages, including the corner of 3rd Street and Prospect Park West. The proposal also included replacing the rear-facade’s brick with glass, and building a rear deck.
Brooklyn Community Board 6 and local residents opposed the proposal, citing concerns about the addition’s visibility. Robert Levine, representing CB 6, claimed the modifications to the rear facade and the penthouse did not mesh with the surrounding area. Eddie Greenfield, a resident of 601 3rd Street, said that Landmarks should not allow affluent residents to inappropriately expand buildings that they believe are too small for their needs.
Other residents expressed concerns about Dolby and Frist’s planned interior renovations. Patti Hagan, testified that she was shocked that the owners planned to gut the building and “toss its irreplaceable hand-wrought interior into a dumpster.” Yolanda Gerritsen, who resides across from 627 3rd Street, said she could not understand why someone would buy a house within a historic district only to decide it was not large enough.
The commissioners agreed that the addition was too visible, and asked the applicants to return with scaled-down proposal. Commissioner Fred Bland said it was troublesome to hear that a wholesale gutting of the building may occur, but noted that the landmarks law did not authorize Landmarks to regulate the building’s interior. In regards to the exterior changes, Bland recommended flattening the addition’s hipped roof. Commissioner Michael Devonshire said that he could only approve an addition that was not visible from the street.
Commissioner Michael Goldblum considered the addition’s impact on the block’s interior, and wondered if a rooftop addition, visible or not, was simply inappropriate for the “relatively pristine” block. Landmark’s General Counsel, Mark Silberman, pointed out that the landmarks law would permit many of the buildings in the area to have non-visible rooftop additions approved at staff level.
Dolby and Frist returned to Landmarks in December with plans for a less-visible addition. The addition’s height was reduced from fourteen feet to eight feet seven inches, and it would be clad in brick to match the building’s existing sidewall. The addition would no longer be visible from 3rd Street, but a small portion of the addition’s front and a flue stack would be visible along Prospect Park West. The top edge of the addition would be visible from off-path vantages in the park near the 3rd Street Playground. The commissioners unanimously approved the revised proposal. Commissioner Libby Ryan, who lives near the project, noted that she could only see a small part of the addition’s mock-up while standing in the middle of the Prospect Park West bike lane. Commissioner Devonshire found the addition to be virtually invisible, noting that someone would see it only if they went “hiking in the park to look for rooftop accretions.”
LPC: 627 3rd Street, Brooklyn (11-7642) (Dec. 20, 2011) (Architect: Rowland Design).