New Residential Building for Eagle Building Site Gets Mixed Reviews

The Brooklyn Eagle headquarters at 30 Henry St., Brooklyn Heights. Photo by Henrik Krogius.

By Linda Collins

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The new building proposed for 30 Henry St. in Brooklyn Heights was approved by the Community Board (CB) 2 Land Use Committee at its meeting on Nov. 16.

It will likely be given full approval at the full board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 14, according to Rob Perris, CB 2 district manager.

Perris said the committee vote was 9-3 in favor of recommending approval of the application to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, required because the property is within the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. That application calls for the removal of the existing one- and two-story building (currently home to the Brooklyn Eagle headquarters) and the construction of a new five-story residential building.

Although the Department of Buildings application calls for a six-story, 65-foot-tall building, what was presented before both the Land Use Committee and the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA), was a five-story, five-unit building with a below-level parking garage.

“Yes, we were shown a five-story building, and each story is 10 feet high,” said Judy Stanton, executive director of the BHA.

“The roof stands at 50 feet above the sidewalk,” she added, noting that “the above-ground height, minus any mechanical equipment such as a bulkhead, is measured for a determination of the height of a building. Cellars and basements are not counted.”

Stanton, who is also a member of the CB 2 Land Use Committee, told the Eagle the BHA was given copies of the plans but she does not have permission to release them to the media.

Neither the developer, Fortis Group, nor the architect, Stephen Burns of BKSK Architects LLP, responded to the Eagle’s request for a rendering, although a spokesperson from Fortis told the Eagle last week that the project is still in the design phase.

Speaking about the design, Stanton said, “The BHA always favors contemporary design for new construction in the Historic District. While not every owner or architect has felt comfortable about following our recommendation, the Landmarks Preservation Commission does support contemporary design in historic districts.

“It should be emphasized that Brooklyn Heights is a veritable treasure trove of 19th century architectural styles, and this historic district can absorb more architectural variety.” (In her email, Stanton notes, as an aside, that this topic is currently the subject of an exhibit at the Brooklyn Historical Society titled “Context\Contrast: New Architecture in Historic Districts 1967 to Present.”)

Stanton also called the Henry Street location, “a gateway site in the Heights, one that cries out for a distinctive and much more contemporary design than that which was shown to the BHA last week.

“Fortis has hired excellent architects in BKSK, and the BHA has respectfully asked them to return to the drafting board to create a building that celebrates our time,” Stanton added.

According to Perris, BKSK architect Stephen Burns made the presentation to the Land Use Committee. Citing the committee minutes, he said there will be accessible underground parking with the parking entrance slightly sloping down.

The layout of the building will consist of floors two to four with one layout — some units containing 10-inch balconies for flower boxes and casement windows — and a separate layout for the top floor penthouse.

Burns also told committee members that the entranceway into the building will be through a covered passageway that leads directly to a courtyard. The courtyard will have a waterfall that is visible from the entrance, according to the Land Use Committee minutes.

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Filed under Brooklyn Heights, Real Estate

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