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Mexcellent! City landmarks historic Heights Chipotle building and bank • Brooklyn Paper

Mexcellent! City landmarks historic Heights Chipotle building and bank

History in the taking: The owner of the Chipotle building next door... not so much.
Photo by Steven Schnibbe

Party at Chipotle!

Landmarks honchos on Tuesday voted unanimously to designate the iconic 86-year-old Montague Street Art Deco tower that houses the burrito chain’s Brooklyn Heights outpost, plus the 110-year-old temple-like Peoples Trust Company bank building next door.

Locals have been pushing the Landmarks Preservation Commission to bestow the protected historic status on the pair for years, and are thrilled they’re finally getting the recognition they deserve.

“We’re ecstatic,” said Peter Bray, who is the executive director of influential local civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association. “We’ve wanted to protect those buildings for a long time.”

Bray and other preservationists started fighting to protect the two properties near Clinton Street since the city left them out of the neighborhood historic district in 1965, then again when it excluded them from the Borough Hall Skyscraper District in 2011.

Peoples Trust Company building owner Jonathan Rose supports the designation for his building — a 1916 Beaux Arts bank modeled after a 17th century Italian palazzo — even though it means he can’t drastically change the property’s facade or make even minor alterations without the city’s okay, according to Bray.

But a rep for the owner of the 15-story, 1930s National Title Guaranty tower objected at a hearing in November, arguing that it wasn’t fair to impede future redevelopment — then memorably adding that the preservationists won’t even be around much longer to enjoy the building anyway.

“Half of those people who were in the room are going to be dead in 50 years,” Montague-Goldman Corporation spokesman David Malanga told this paper at the time.

But the commissioners ultimately decided the buildings are an important part of Brooklyn Heights’ architectural history.

“They are striking examples of the optimistic architecture of their times — one looking to the past to convey stability and reliability, and one looking to future growth and success,” said commission chair Meenakshi Srinivasan.

The Heights Association has no specific plans to celebrate — although Chipotle has $6.50 Margaritas, we’re just saying — but Bray says he will have a little private party every time he strolls by.

“Every time I walk by those buildings I will look at them and know they’re going to be around for a long, long time,” he said.

Neither Rose nor the Montague-Goldman Corporation returned requests for comment by press time.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Winning team: Peter Bray (right) and preservationist Otis Pearsall — who fought for the designation of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District in 1965 — celebrate the new Montague Street landmarks.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

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