Phone maligned: Preservationists blast Verizon’s Heights storefront

Phone maligned: Preservationists blast Verizon’s Heights storefront
The 146 Montague Street Verizon store, which preservationists say has overstepped its bounds at its landmarked address.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Preservations hope their message reaches Verizon loud and clear: the cellular provider’s Brooklyn Heights storefront is a disaster.

The phone company’s shop in a 19th century rowhouse on Montague Street had an illegal display box that the Landmarks Preservation Commission refused to retroactively permit in a hearing last month — but according to watchdogs at the Historic Districts Council, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

“Rather than just focus on this display box, the base of this historic building needs to be rethought as a whole,” the organization said in a statement. “The stretch banner, waterfall awning, and surface mounted solid roll down gate also need to be addressed for the sake of the building and the block.”

“We’re questioning whether any of this was legal,” said Nadezhda Williams, the group’s director of preservation and research, in particular noting the store’s “excessive signage.”

“Though we weren’t a fan of the little box, it was the least of the poor building’s problems,” she said.

Verizon couldn’t be reached for comment, but Lisi de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the Landmarks Preservation Commission, said that the owner of the building plans to remove the illegal aluminum display box as part of a larger project to improve the storefront. The application for that project isn’t complete at this time.

Landmarks hasn’t issued a violation in this case, but, de Bourbon said, it will if the owner doesn’t take down the box as part of the project.

“We will continue to work in partnership with the owner to ensure the changes complies with the law,” she said.

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at jlutz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.

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