Today’s news:

City moves to landmark Civil War-era block in Fort Greene

The Brooklyn Paper

A gorgeous strip of Civil War-era homes in Fort Greene would be protected until World War III and beyond under a city plan for a new historic district on Vanderbilt Avenue.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission this week unveiled the Wallabout Historic District, which would encompass 55 buildings on a single block between Myrtle and Park avenues. The plan would also effectively stop what residents on the block have been complaining about: chic condos popping up amid the highest concentration of early 1800s Greek Revival buildings in the borough.

One such tower, a glamorous seven story black and gray steel condo at 122 Vanderbilt Ave., is not only the tallest building on the block, it’s a modern eyesore.

“[The landmarking] is great for the block — it means we won’t have any more of that,” said 35-year resident Bill Washington, pointing to the condo in question just down the street. “This block has come a long way in the last 30 years, and we want to keep it that way.”

The block certainly has some history. It’s filled with homes from early 19th-century Brooklyn, and brownstone additions from borough legend Charles Pratt (yes, the Pratt who gave his name — and money — to found Pratt Institute a few blocks away). Then, there’s the beauty — Greek and Gothic Revival townhouses (with porch-swings!) line the quiet streets pocked with trees and pedestrians stopping to admire the view.

Of course, few people pause to take a gander at the three-year-old tower at 122 Vanderbilt — which is so out of scale that it likely provided the impetus for Landmarks to move ahead with historic district designation.

Indeed, under city law after an area is declared a historic district, all new buildings must help to “create a coherent streetscape [and] a distinct sense of place.” Under that rule, such a modern building could not have been built, which makes the current landmarking effort a bit bittersweet.

“They should have landmarked us before that building came in,” said 59-year neighborhood resident Joe Vollaro.

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Joe Z from Greenpoint says:
It's about time. The only thing these developers, like Belvedere Group, are accomplishing, is finishing where Robert Moses left off.......destroying our city's architectual past by constructing these monstrosities. These dystopian structures have no place in an area such as Fort Greene.
Aug. 3, 2010, 8:10 pm

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