While Hurricane Sandy hasn’t slowed development in some parts of Brooklyn, it has delayed the groundbreaking of the Roger Marvel Architects-designed hotel and residential complex at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park called the Pierhouse. The New York Post reported that the project was originally slated to begin construction this month, but Toll Brothers, the developer, said they will hold off until the redesign of the 159-apartment and 200-room hotel complex is updated with measures meant to protect against future storm surges. Changes include elevating the building three feet, adding steps and ramps to the lobby, and placing the mechanical systems on the roof. This development is paying for a considerable portion—about $3.3 million—of the park’s $16 million annual maintenance budget. Nearby, plans for a velodrome proposed for the park were scrapped in part due to potential flooding of the site.
Even though Brooklyn has morphed into a hub of cultural activity, there has been a notable shortage of hotels to serve the spike in visitors, especially in south Brooklyn. But this will soon change. The New York Post reported that a new 200-room hotel, designed by Thomas Leeser, is in the works for the Brooklyn Downtown Cultural District, which recently saw plans for new towers by TEN Arquitectos.
The hotel, with asymmetrical splits in the facade, will replace a five-story building at 95 Rockwell Place, and include a basement performance space, a rooftop bar, a banquet hall, and a restaurant that looks onto an outdoor arts plaza. It will be in a prime location—right next to The Theater for a New Audience and close to a 32-story mixed-use complex from Two Trees and a 50,000-square-feet cultural space that will be occupied by BAM, 651 ARTS, and the Brooklyn Public Library.
Developer Second Development Services (SDS) predicts they will break ground next fall and complete construction within two years.
Five firehouses, built over a century ago, were granted landmark status yesterday. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously approved each of these five buildings for what Commission Chairman Robert B. Tierney characterized as “a clear expression of civic spirit and pride of purpose that existed at the time they were built and continue to this day in our City’s municipal architecture.” Read More
The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is expanding its programming to the streets of Fort Greene. Brownstoner reported that the multi-arts center is proposing a series of temporary murals in front of an empty lot at 31 Lafayette Avenue, across from one of its performing arts spaces, the Howard Gilman Opera House. BAM plans to launch the program with a mural by Brooklyn artist KAWS, and then invite other local talent to display their art. There will also be space made for more of David Byrne’s sculptural, letter-shaped bike racks akin to the ones he designed in front of the Peter Jay Sharp Building. Community Board 2 will vote on the art wall tomorrow.
Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood is home to many a loft, but few, if any, townhouses make up the neighborhood streetscape. Curbed reported that boutique development firm and architect Alloy Development plans on building five adjacent, 6-story houses at Pearl Street in place of a graffiti-covered garage. But these won’t emulate your typical 19th-century Brooklyn-style brownstone, they will include a single facade built of ductal concrete fins with wood on the ground level.
Atlantic Avenue is one step closer to getting its Funderpass. The Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) just announced a Request for Proposals to redesign the space below the drab BQE underpass to create a more pedestrian-friendly connection between the shops and restaurants on Atlantic Avenue and Brooklyn Bridge Park. The RFP encourages respondents to “partner with another organization such as a lighting designer, landscape firm, or graphic design firm to broaden the expertise of the team you submit to us.”
Last December, AN reported that the Atlantic Avenue BID received a $75,000 grant from the NYC Department of Small Business Services for this project. The deadline for the RFP is February 26th, 2013.
It looks like South Brooklyn will have plenty of new condos, but perhaps a dearth of services. This morning, the board of trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY) voted unanimously to close Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill. According to DNAinfo, Downstate Medical Center president Dr. John Williams told the board that the hospital “was losing money and draining the entire Downstate system.” Protests ensued at the public hearing from doctors, nurses, and hospital staff. The 200,000-square-foot campus could have a price tag of up to $500 million.
It’s been a mild winter so far in New York, and with the first onset of below-freezing temperatures, city folk are donning their heavy jackets and gloves. And while the winds whipping around the glass and steel towers of Manhattan might feel as if it’s as cold as it’s ever going to be, consider a century ago when temperatures were low enough to freeze the East River from the banks of Brooklyn to the Manhattan waterfront, still two different cities at the time, providing thrill-seeking pedestrians with an instant new crossing years before the Brooklyn Bridge was built.
The above view was engraved in 1871 and titled, “Crossing the East River on the Ice Bridge,” depicting dozens of New Yorkers walking across what would normally have been a busy maritime thoroughfare. While such a natural feat seams unlikely today, Gothamist has collected clippings to show that the phenomenon was known to occur around once a decade on the East River during the 19th century and there have been reports of similar frozen-river bridges along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers as well. For instance, in 1851, an estimated 15,000 pedestrians, horses, and sleighs crossed the frozen river.
The lights on the Loew’s Kings Theater’s marquee have been dark for over 35 years since the last showing of Islands in the Stream in 1977. In fact, the entire king-size, 3,200-seat, French-Baroque movie palace is looking quite dim these days, much of its ornate plasterwork worn, damaged, or missing from years of decay and neglect and its terra-cotta facade in need of cleaning. City officials had to string ropes of temporary construction lights through the still grandiose, if a little shabby, lobby, just to make the announcement on Wednesday that Brooklyn’s largest indoor theater is coming back to life in a big way thanks to $93.9 million in new investment from public and private sources.
Another Announcement at Brooklyn Bridge Park: Rock Climbing Wall Could Rise Under the Manhattan Bridge
It seems as if a day can’t go by without a new announcement from Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Brooklyn Paper reported Tuesday that park planners are pushing for a free bouldering wall to be built beneath the Manhattan Bridge. The proposal calls for a ten to 12-foot-tall climbing wall at Plymouth and Washington streets. This fits within a larger vision to develop the park area by Main Street by expanding lawn space, designing a new entry plaza, and relocating the dog run.
This news comes right after philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz announced he was abandoning plans to build a velodrome, a complex for cyclists, in the park. As planners delved into the project, they found that the mounting costs of construction exceeded Rechnitz’s $50 million budget and growing concerns about flooding as a result of Hurricane Sandy added another layer of complexity to the design. Rechnitz, however, is still on the hunt for the right location for his velodrome in New York.
Brooklyn has increasingly become home to a number of internet start-ups, and now the crowd-funding site, Kickstarter, is the most recent one to put roots down in the borough. Greenpointers reported today that Kickstarter has already started construction on its new 29,000-sq-ft headquarters at the former Eberhard Faber Pencil Co. Factory in Greenpoint.