What’s happening with the empty Bed-Stuy lot where the Dangler Mansion once stood?

jacob dangler mansion in bed-stuy
The Dangler Mansion before its 2022 demolition and a stretch of rowhouses along Willloughby Avenue.
Photo by Susan de Vries

More than a year after the shocking demolition of the historic Jacob Dangler mansion at 441 Willoughby Avenue by a local developer with plans for a new apartment building, the site remains empty and still under the ownership of the struggling nonprofit that said it made a deal to sell the beloved French Gothic Revival building to avoid foreclosure.

While court filings show the nonprofit has not yet filed a petition with the state attorney general to sell the property, documents recorded only last week by the city show a $1.525 million mortgage was reassigned last year. The mortgage, provided by Advill Capital LLC to the United Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Star, which still owns the site, was transferred in August of last year to a corporation named E&SD Management that has a Florida address linked with the developer, Tomer Erlich.

wreckage of dangler mansion
The site weeks after demolition.Photo by Susan de Vries

Erlich is already listed as the property’s owner in NYC Department of Buildings permits issued for the site, and the Wall Street Journal reported that he entered a contract to buy the property for $4.3 million in 2021. However, the building has not legally changed hands, according to city records.

The attorney general’s required sign-off might be a stumbling block for the nonprofit and developer, with the United Grand Chapter having to present, along with the petition outlining the reason for the sale, its constitution and bylaws, a resolution from its trustees, and the contract of sale, amongst other documents.

The sale was hugely controversial for locals who testified to the importance of the building in rallies on the street, in conversations with the developer, and at Landmarks Preservation Commission meetings. Willoughby Avenue residents have sent emails to the office of the state attorney general, who lives nearby in Clinton Hill and represented an adjacent district as a City Council member, urging her not to approve the sale.

people rally at jacob dangler mansion
Brooklynites rallied outside the former Dangler mansion in October 2022. File photo by Anna Bradley-Smith

The opposition comes after Erlich’s unexpected demolition of the building that neighbors described as an anchor in the community. News of Erlich’s intent to raze the iconic mansion first hit the neighborhood in late-2021, when he filed demolition permits for the circa-1890s building. It was met with fierce resistance from the community, which almost succeeded in getting the property landmarked at the umpteenth minute.

However, bungled communication between DOB and the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission led to Erlich being able to demolish the building in a small window of time. A stop work order was later issued for workers not having the appropriate permits for mechanical demolition.

Justice for 441 Willoughby, a group that was formed to advocate for the property and other historic sites in the neighborhood, has subsequently organized rallies protesting the sale to Erlich. It is also currently petitioning LPC for a new historic district in the area.

While no new building permits have been filed for the now-vacant lot, Erlich did tell the community in mid-2022 that he planned a 44-unit, seven-story apartment building, which could be developed as of right in the R6A zoned area.

Brownstoner reached out to Erlich, who said he had no comment.

This story first appeared on Brooklyn Paper’s sister site Brownstoner