Schermerhorn rising

The Brooklyn Paper
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Schermerhorn Street — long home to parking lots, litter, a food stamp distribution center, job placement offices and a Hare Krishna temple — is finally joining the rest of the Downtown Brooklyn residential boom.

An eye-popping number of new projects are in the works, from Flatbush Avenue to Court Street, with as many as 500 units expected to come on line this summer alone.

And in contrast to the rest of the Downtown Brooklyn boom, this one actually promises some affordable housing to boot.

State Renaissance Court, which takes up most of the block between Bond and Hoyt, is a 158-unit, city-subsidized development of low- and middle-income and market-rate rentals. Residents are expected to move in by August.

Just down the street, between Hoyt and Smith, the city is subsidizing an 11-story, 217-unit building for low-income residents called the “Schermerhorn House.” Half of the units will be reserved for the formerly home­less.

That said, most of the new housing in the pipeline is luxury.

A 25-story residential tower is rising on Livingston Street, between Hoyt and Smith streets, a lot that stretches all the way to Schermerhorn. One block away, at 230 Livingston St., between Bond and Hoyt, a developer will break ground on another more-than-20-story residential tower with ground-floor retail.

And a stand of new townhouses — by the same developer who built the modernist homes on neighboring State Street — will rise around the future Schermerhorn House.

All the activity has even attracted a hotel: At the corner of Nevins Street, hotelier Sam Chang — who built the Holiday Inn Express on Union Street and the Comfort Inn nearby on Baltic Street — is building a still-unnamed 80,000-square-foot hotel.

Add to that the number of old buildings now for sale — 333, which houses the New York State Division of Parole building, and 300, which is home to the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service building, for example — and the street should be unrecognizable in just a few years.

“If we close our eyes and open them up three years from now, you’d think you’re somewhere else,” said Frank Terzulli, of Winick Realty Group, which is leasing out the ground-floor retail spaces in State Renaissance Court. “It’s actually happening.”

It’s a striking turnaround for a street that has languished since the 1920s, when much of the area was demolished to make way for the A/C subway lines. The recent transformation has been in the works since the late 1990s, according to Michael Burke, the executive director of Policy and Strategic Planning for the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

Starting in 1999, local civic groups like the Boerum Hill Association, elected officials and then-Borough President Golden started trying to revive the area, getting the state to privatize many of the government-owned lots.

Developers did pounce on the rare pieces of Downtown real estate, but only now their investments are finally taking tangible shape.

Burke estimated that in the next few years, another 1,500 residents will move onto and around Schermerhorn.

Community leaders seem to agree that the changes are for the better.

“Those sites were fallow for so many years,” said Rob Perris, the district manager for Community Board 2. “It’s very satisfying to see them being developed consistent with the vision that the community created back when Howard Golden was borough president.”

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