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Downtown Brooklyn, Landmark Preservation

Landmarks Unamused By Interior Alterations At Former Gage & Tollner Space

January 25, 2013

The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to deny an application to legalize changes made to the interior of the former Gage and Tollner Restaurant at 372 Fulton Street. The landmarked interior, which has housed a discount jewelry store since 2010 (formerly Arby’s and TGI Friday’s) has already faced mounting fines because it masked the interior decor without permission.

Curbed reports that the applicant insists its display and lighting system doesn’t penetrate the walls—but Landmarks sees it differently, saying that a majority of the historic detail is gone. Several gas lamp fixtures remain, while an arch was placed in storage.

According to an LPC spokesman, the building owner’s architect described these changes as “interior desecration” and actually apologized on behalf of the tenants. Commission Vice Chair Pablo E. Vengoechea noted that “hiding something behind something is not a preservation strategy. You need to expose what’s there.” The tenant must now submit a new plan and file a permit application for the interior. (Top Photo: Chuck Taylor/2010)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Landmark Preservation

WSJ: The Long & Storied History Of Gage & Tollner At 374 Fulton Street

October 23, 2012

The storied locale that housed Gage & Tollner restaurant from 1892 through the beginning of the millennium is both an endearing and bittersweet tale of Downtown Brooklyn’s history. New York City landmarked the eatery’s exterior in 1974 and a year later, its interior. It was the first landmarked dining room and the city’s third interior landmark of any kind. The first two were the New York Public Library and Grant’s Tomb.

In a lengthy piece in the Wall Street Journal, writer Barry Newman discusses the 120-year-old heritage of 374 Fulton Street, from the seafood restaurant owner’s purchase of the building in 1919 to its eventual demise. WSJ offers: In 1976, Fulton Street became a pedestrian mall, with no automobile traffic. The streets were scary, and the old crowd began eating elsewhere.” In 1985 then-owner Ed Dewey decided to sell the famous destination. In 1995, it filed for bankruptcy, before closing around 2004.

Since, it has held T.G.I. Friday’s, which lasted until 2007. Arby’s came next, in January 2010. It endured for just eight months. And in the summer of 2011, a discount costume jewelry store opened in the spot. WJS says, “The Landmarks commission says the landlord asked for a permit to make alterations after they were made. It denied the application for lack of detail and, this month, issued a violation. The commission, still lacking a satisfactory response, has issued another violation that can lead to a fine of $5,000 a day.”

Meanwhile, many of the original lighting fixtures from Gage & Tollner were stolen. Some mirrors and arches are said to survive behind bright pink panels. And what of the famous eatery that is no longer? Its last owners, Peter Aschkenasy and Joe Chirico still own the name. The latter says he’d like to reopen the restaurant “in a place where you can get to the front door.” And its Landmarked decor? In New York, he says, a crew can “replicate that in no time.” (Photo: Chuck Taylor/July 2010)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Brooklyn Heights, Landmark Preservation

Take A Look At Me Now: 62 Montague Street Reveals New Facade After Two-Year Restoration

August 28, 2012

The 10-story Queen Anne beauty at 62 Montague Street, near the entrance to the Promenade, is at last revealing its two-year massive facade restoration. In September 2010, the coop building began a meticulous project to repair and restore every iota of its brick, mortar and terra cotta exterior; this week, the scaffolding is coming down, level by level.

The Harbor View Apartments, later named The Arlington, were completed in 1887. The building was designed by Montrose W. Morris, with architectural firm Parfitt Brothers overseeing the project—as well as the Montague, Grosvenor and Berkeley apartment buildings on Montague Street.

The Arlington originally contained 20 family apartments and 10 “bachelor”—or studio—units. For its first 20 years, it was the tallest residence in the Heights. And now, it’s the building I call home. For more history, see the BHB post “A Love Letter To Brooklyn Heights” from March.

(Photos: current/Chuck Taylor; painting/John Lloyd; 1920 vintage/New York Library Archives)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Landmark Preservation

No More Landmarks Legislation, Insists Realtor Lobbying Coalition

June 7, 2012

A group formed by the powerful Real Estate Board of New York that includes a half-dozen development and labor organizations, is sharpening its knives to rally against future Landmarks legislation in New York City neighborhoods. The new alliance—the Responsible Landmarks Coalition—is gunning to bring a cease fire to what it calls “the increasing prevalence of historic districts, a lack of transparency in the landmarking process and insufficient public input.”

The New York Observer reports that the Coalition insists the growing number of landmark buildings and historic districts are hampering the city’s economy and stymieing development. Their fury was fueled, in particular, by the February approval of the Downtown Brooklyn Skyscraper District, which the realtor groups tried with great might to squash. Their argument then and now: Creating a far-reaching historic district elevates “unspectacular buildings beyond their worth.”

In addition, the Observer says the groups were inflamed by approval of a Landmarked district on West End Avenue on the Upper West Side.

The Responsible Landmarks Coalition has drafted a “Proactive Policy Agenda” that is part policy, part manifesto, and launched a website here, as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts to peddle their message to the public. The Facebook page boasts a total of eight “Likes.”

“We’re concerned that if you apply the concept of landmarks preservation too much, you resrtrict housing and impinge on other aspects of city life,” said Richard Anderson, president of the New York City Building Congress, a trade group for architects, engineers and contractors.

Peg Breen, president of the Landmarks Conservancy, counters that studies find that preservation increases or maintains property values. In addition, she questions the motives of the groups, given that only 4% of NYC is protected by Landmarks laws: “That leaves plenty of room for everybody else.”

In addition to the Building Congress and the Real Estate Board, the coalition includes the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce; three residential landlord groups—the Rent Stabilization Association, the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums and the Community Housing Improvement Program—the Building Workers Union 32BJ and two groups representing construction unions, the Building Trades Employers Association and the Building and Construction Trades Council.

See The New York Observer article here.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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