Three new Brooklyn historic districts considered

Image: Courtesy LPC

Broad support voiced for extending Park Slope district, creating new district in Wallabout neighborhood, and protecting row of buildings in Crown Heights. On October 26, 2010, Landmarks considered designating three new Brooklyn historic districts. Landmarks held separate hearings on the proposed Park Slope Historic District Extension, the Wallabout Historic District, and the Park Place Historic District.

The proposed Park Slope extension would encompass 582 buildings located southwest of the original Park Slope Historic District. The district would be generally bounded by 7th and 15th Streets and Seventh and Eighth Avenues. It would also include some properties along Bartel-Pritchard Square and Prospect Park West. The proposed extension features a mix of rowhouses and apartment buildings, many dating to the 1880s, and other notable structures including two 19th century firehouses and the 1879 Ansonia Clock Factory. 7 CityLand 125 (Sept. 15, 2010).

At the hearing, numerous elected officials and their representatives supported designation, including Borough President Marty Markowitz, and Council Members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin. Residents testifying in support noted the area’s architectural quality and the importance of protecting the area from out-of-context development. The Historic District Council’s Nadezhda Williams expressed hope that Landmarks would protect an even larger area, but she called the extension “a strong first step” toward protecting Park Slope’s historic architecture.

The owner of a three-family building on 7th Street across the street from New York Methodist Hospital was the lone dissenting voice. Matthew Urbanski argued that landmarking was “an exclusionary action” that would prevent the middle class from purchasing property in the neighborhood.

The proposed Wallabout Historic District comprises approximately 55 buildings along Vanderbilt Avenue between Park and Myrtle Avenues near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The area’s name derives from the Walloons of southern Belgium, who first settled the area. The proposed district is characterized by single-family wood-frame houses dating to the early- and mid-1800s. The lowland area’s proximity to the East River was considered undesirable, and Wallabout was settled by working class people who built simpler houses than the stone and brick buildings that characterize the more prosperous inland neighborhoods.

Council Member Letitia James, whose district includes Wallabout, supported designation. James noted that the area featured New York’s largest concentration of pre-Civil War buildings. She said the area had suffered from the demolition of historic structures and out-of-scale development. Assembly Member Joseph Lentol called the district “a beautiful area rich in history and architecture.”Commissioner Christopher Moore, who resides in the area, stepped out of his official role and spoke in support on behalf of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Moore suggested adding “Navy Yard” to the district’s name, noting the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s historic importance to the City and nation from the War of 1812 to the Vietnam War. Daniel Kimiabakhsh, the owner of a recently constructed seven-story building at 122 Vanderbilt Avenue which Landmarks staff characterized as “no-style,” asked Landmarks to carve out his property from the district.

The proposed Park Place Historic District comprises thirteen rowhouses on Park Place between Bedford and Franklin Avenues in the Crow Hill section of Crown Heights. The Romanesque Revival rowhouses feature Queen Annestyle detailing and were built between the 1870s and 1890s. The two-story homes feature three different facade designs, as well as triangular-, flat-, and arch-gabled roofs. Landmarks speculated that Walter Coots, architect of the buildings in the Alice and Agate Courts Historic District, also designed the buildings along Park Place.

Council Member Letitia James supported designation and encouraged Landmarks to consider expanding the district to include the surrounding historically significant buildings in Crow Hill. Members of the Crow Hill Community Association also spoke in support, as did the Landmark Conservancy’s Andrea Goldwyn who praised the “unusually intact and cohesive streetscape.”

Landmarks did not schedule a vote for the proposed districts.

LPC: Park Slope Historic District Extension, Brooklyn (LP-2443); Wallabout Historic District, Brooklyn (LP-2445); Park Place Historic District, Brooklyn (LP-2446) (Oct. 26, 2010).


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