Park Slope Condo Lures Eco-Conscious Buyers with 'Harvest to Plank' Floors

By Leslie Albrecht on February 28, 2013 4:51pm 

PARK SLOPE — One Park Slope condo building is taking the farm-to-table movement to a new level — the floor.

Just as some restaurant chefs personally visit farms to select ingredients, the developer of the new Park Union condo building on Union Street personally visited the forests of Vermont to hand pick the wood for the building's floors.

Perry Finkelman, CEO of American Development Group, is hoping the so-called "harvest to plank" flooring will woo buyers in eco-conscious Park Slope, a neighborhood devoted to recycling and greenmarkets.

"We've gotten phenomenal reviews from customers," Finkelman said. "It's a very natural product. It comes from forests that are harvested using safe forestry practices."

Buyers love the look of the flooring, but few realize the lengths Finkelman went to to get it, he said.

For ADG's previous buildings, Finkelman has generally used big suppliers who provided wood flooring from Brazil. But when he was at a trade show in Boston while building the Park Union, he stumbled on Vermont Plank Flooring, a smaller mill based in Brattleboro, Vt.

Finkelman liked the company's product, which is oak, but has a rich walnut look. The planks are "toasted" in kilns that dry out the wood, which makes it extremely durable, he said. The wood was also more affordable because Finkelman dealt directly with the mill — which he described as a "mom and pop operation" — instead of a distributor.

Another selling point was that Vermont Plank Flooring harvests its wood using "responsible forestry" practices, under the guidance of the Forest Stewardship Council. The flooring is also non-toxic, because it's stained with Monocoat, a vegetable-based finish, Finkelman said.

Finkelman, a city kid who grew up in a Bronx apartment building, was so fascinated by the process that he personally trekked to Vermont to see the forests that would eventually become his flooring.

"I was able to find a local supplier with a local harvest, keeping Americans employed, with a superior product," Finkelman said. "I don't think any developer has ever gone to that length to get their flooring."

The carefully selected flooring seems to be resonating with buyers. The 15-unit Park Union, on Union Street between Eighth Avenue and Grand Army Plaza, is about 65 percent sold out, Finkelman said.

Aside from the eco-friendly floors, the building has another perk that should go over well in Park Slope — a private preschool is opening on the ground floor.

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