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PHOTOS: Historic Brooklyn Brewery Gets a Makeover, Apartments and Retail

By Rachel Holliday Smith | January 22, 2015 2:21pm | Updated on January 23, 2015 5:35pm
 A developer plans to turn a former brewery in Crown Heights into a mixed-use residential and commercial space that restores the facade of the building to what it looked like at the turn of the century.
Crown Heights Brewery Restoration
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CROWN HEIGHTS — The old Franklin Avenue beer brewery in Crown Heights is bubbling back to life.

Seven years after buying the former Nassau Brewing Company complex on Bergen Street and Franklin Avenue, developer Fabian Friedland has a plan to turn the 1800s-era buildings into apartments, retail space and  possibly  a restaurant, while restoring its historic facade.

The 50,000-square-foot project will use federal and state “incentives,” Friedland said, to restore the long-vacant buildings, which operated as a brewery from the 1860s to 1916, according to research conducted by his team, Crow Hill Development.

“The reason we bought the building in the first place was because we thought it was absolutely beautiful,” he said. “We felt we could bring it back to the way it was by putting it on the National Register, which helps us access the incentives that allowed us to start.”

The building has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places as of this month, Friedland said. An inquiry to the National Park Service, which maintains the register, was not immediately returned.

The development plan for the complex  composed of several buildings to be consolidated into one address at 945 Bergen St.  calls for 38 apartments on the upper floors, retail space on the ground level and the restoration of two 2,000-square-foot, “spectacularly beautiful” vaults in the basement previously used for lager aging, Friedland said, which he may turn into restaurant space.

On the outside, the group, working with architecture firm Formactiv, will restore the buildings’ facade to what it looked like at the turn of the century, including old “Nassau Brewing Company” signage.

News of the project was first reported by Brownstoner.

To complete the historic portion of the restoration, Crow Hill Development thoroughly researched the complex’s history using archived fire insurance maps, old photos from the Brooklyn Eagle and records from the Department of Buildings, according to Patrick Ciccone, a member of the development team who lives blocks from the site.

“The brewery closed in 1916 … the only photo we have while it was in operation is from the Brooklyn Eagle in 1907,” he said, which they will use to get the outside detailing right.

Ciccone helped prepare the team’s application to place the complex on the National Register, which took about a year, he said.

Crow Hill Development bought the brewery site and an adjoining parcel of manufacturing buildings for $7.5 million in 2008, records show. The group sold the northern portion of the property last year for $17.5 million; plans for an 119-unit building on the same lot were filed last summer by the buyer.