The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Landmarks Commission Rejects Design for Condos Atop Brooklyn Heights Cinema

By Janet Upadhye | October 23, 2013 4:48pm
 The building that houses the Brooklyn Heights Cinema was built in 1895.
The building that houses the Brooklyn Heights Cinema was built in 1895.
View Full Caption

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — It's back to the drawing board for architect Randy Gerner, whose latest design for 70 Henry St. was rejected by Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday afternoon.

It was Gerner's second time in front of the commission to present renderings for a five-story condo for the corner of Orange and Henry streets where the Brooklyn Heights Cinema currently resides.

The new plan included the total demolition and reconstruction of the cinema building — landmarked and originally built in 1895 — but allowed for the beloved movie house to occupy the new condo building's ground floor.

Many commissioners did not agree with tearing down the historic structure only to rebuild it.

"To take it apart and reassemble it doesn’t do it for me. I think it's not the right way to go about this," said commissioner Fred Bland, who has lived in Brooklyn Heights for more than 40 years. "I think the building façade is easily enough preserved and reinterpreted in a contemporary way."

Gerner's original 70 Henry St. design was rejected by the commission in November 2012 when commissioner Michael Goldblum said the design was “too reminiscent of the industrial Art Deco architecture, an inappropriate style for the district.”

Other commissioners thought the first design incorporated too much glass.

Gerner, the man behind the Brooklyner skyscraper, attempted to remedy the look by using salvaged brick from the original building, rebuilding the cornice and piers exactly as they appeared originally, and introducing the building's original columns — extended up five stories — to cut down on the amount of glass used in the façade.

Still, Esther Williams of the Historic Districts Council felt the design did not match the neighborhood, saying, "It reads more like a new TriBeCa or SoHo loft."

Kenn Lowy, owner of the Brooklyn Heights Cinema, testified in favor of the design and also presented a letter of support from Community Board 2, of which he is a member.

But the Landmarks Preservation Commission would not approve the design.

"We just haven’t quite found the formula yet," said Chairman Robert B. Tierney. "The best thing now is to work with staff here and revisit it for action — not today but as soon as that’s possible."