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Proposed Halsey Street Apt. Design Clashes With Historic Zone, Locals Say

By Camille Bautista | March 17, 2017 3:10pm | Updated on March 19, 2017 1:55pm
 A rendering of a development planned at 524-540 Halsey St., which would bring nearly 40 apartments to the block in place of former garage buildings.
A rendering of a development planned at 524-540 Halsey St., which would bring nearly 40 apartments to the block in place of former garage buildings.
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Brookland Capital/ROART

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Plans for a new residential development that would replace former garage buildings on Halsey Street were rejected by a local community board, after residents complained that the designs don't fit in with the historic district.

Brookland Capital is looking to demolish a one-story garage and convert a three-story building at 524-540 Halsey St. near Stuyvesant Avenue to make way for a five-story project with nearly 40 apartments, according to plans presented to Brooklyn Community Board 3 this month.

The two properties sit in the Bedford-Stuyvesant/Expanded Stuyvesant Heights Historic District. The existing three-story, altered Queen Anne-style building was constructed around 1904, and the one-story garage was built in the 20th century.

The lots were formerly used as stables and carriage sheds and later became garages, according to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Bedford-Stuyvesant’s CB3 voted to not support the project during a recent meeting, saying the plan’s “architectural details are not in line with this historic district.”

Representatives for the proposed development and architectural firm ROART displayed their designs and fielded questions and concerns from locals.

The buildings would have new street tree plantings, new entrances and construction made to resemble features found on Halsey Street, such as the cornice height of the buildings and bay windows, according to legal representative Rick Azar. 

Tenants would have private rear yards and recreation space, plans detail.

One resident expressed concerns over the new building slated to replace the one-story garage, saying that he and others felt the proposed structure would not blend with the rest of the block.

“Frankly looking at it again, it just does not seem to do anything to beautify our block or to really tie in the aesthetics of the block,” Cary Johnson, member of a local block association told representatives, adding that residents have been in communication with developers and are looking forward to working together.

Azar told attendees that certain elements of the area were taken into consideration for the design, and that the buildings would be “modern.”

“They are bridge buildings. They’re connecting two historic sets of buildings: the car garage and the rest of the streetscape along Halsey Street," he said.

Rebecca Wolf, who lives next to the garage set to be demolished, voiced similar concerns.

“I don’t think anybody cares if it looks modern, that’s not the point of living in this neighborhood,” she said at the meeting.

“It looks like all the modern structures you see going up around here,” she later told DNAinfo New York.

Residents are also concerned about the influx of tenants as a result of the dozens of units planned for the project.

“You’re really messing with the character and ambience and quiet nature of this neighborhood,” she said, adding that parking would be another issue.

Locals on the block have been in talks with the developer, but are still looking forward to plans that would cater more to the neighborhood's style.

“They’re not being obstructive, they’re trying to be good neighbors but at the end of the day they’re going to walk away and we’re going to be left with what they’ve built,” Wolf said. 

Others at the CB3 meeting took issue with affordability of the planned apartments.

Five units at the front of the building are slated to be designated as townhouses, while the rest range from one to three bedrooms.

The developer has not decided whether they will be condos or rentals, according to a representative for the architectural firm.

No public funding will be used for the project, allowing the developer to determine pricing for the units, a community board member pointed out.

A representative for Brookland Capital did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The plans must go before the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and a hearing is scheduled for March 28.