A developer wants to raze the squat offices of the Brooklyn Eagle for a new apartment building — but a Brooklyn Heights leader thinks his design is too boring for the neighborhood.
Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, says that Akiva Kobre’s L-shaped structure isn’t bold enough for the busy corner of Henry and Middagh streets, a gateway to the Heights for drivers exiting the Brooklyn Bridge.
“Given the location, this was a chance to really do something special and creative,” said Stanton, executive director of the powerful neighborhood group. “We were hoping it would have more of a ‘Wow’ factor.”
Kobre’s five-story apartment building would replace the ragged one-story office of the struggling Eagle, which says it will move to a new location in January. The building was recently sold to Fortis Group after going on the market in March for $3 million.
The plans call for a five-story structure with a penthouse, interior courtyard, water fountain and decorative balconies.
The site is indeed an opportunity to bring life to the corner. It’s next to a row of four-story brick buildings with storefronts including Henry’s End restaurant and Cranberry’s cafe, and across from a former candy factory that’s slowly turning into condos; a two-story Cadman Plaza housing development; and a nondescript 27-story residential tower.
Stephen Byrns, partner at BKSK Architects, countered critics by saying that the building was “respectful” and that “the owners want to be full-fledged members of the neighborhood.”
“It’s ‘Wow’ in a more subtle way,” Byrns said. “You can say we’re knitting together the fabric that exists in Brooklyn Heights.”
The new building — which has one unit on each floor — will be made of rich red brick and have a stone base. Each floor will boast large corner windows for the living and dining rooms, while the remaining windows will be comparable to the narrower residences on Henry Street.
Kobre is now remaining mum on the project — refusing to release renderings until the design is final, despite presenting them publicly to the community board last week.
“We want to consider what the critics are saying and satisfy their concerns,” Kobre said. “I don’t want to show anything until we have a sense of what we’re going to do.”
In the meantime, Stanton’s group is pushing for a different façade.
The Heights association certainly has had success in the past; in 2002, Stanton got developer Louis Greco to make his six-story condo at 322 Hicks St. more fashionable. And Stanton also supported Greco’s plan to build a townhouse on Cranberry Street made of brownstone quarried from its original source — though that chic design was slammed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission as a “McMansion” in disguise.
Reach Kate Briquelet at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.