Real estate futures: Historic Heights bank to be topped with condos

Real estate futures: Historic Heights bank to be topped with condos
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

You can bank on these Montague Street condos becoming hot commodities.

The owners of an ornate, landmarked bank building that’s currently home to a Chase branch plan to convert the upper floors of the six-story Brooklyn Heights structure into luxury condos.

The Stahl Organization, which owns the neo-Italian Renaissance-style building between Remsen and Pierrepont streets, wants to add 13 residential units to the top three floors, while keeping the bank intact below.

Tenants will enter the 1916 building — designed by renowned architects Edward York and Philip Sawyer — through a new lobby in the rear that will mimic the grand looks of the bank.

“The new lobby portion of the building will be designed in a classic manner in keeping with the classical references in the main banking hall, which were based on a palazzo style,” said Barry Rice of Barry Rice Architects, the firm on the project.

The building, originally the headquarters of the Brooklyn Trust Company, was modeled after the Palazzo della Gran Guardia in the Italian city of Verona.

The interior of the grandiose banking hall — which like the facade is protected by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission — will remain as is, complete with its prominent bronze chandeliers dangling from high coffered ceilings, colossal arched windows, and mosaic marble flooring.

“The banking hall is an historic interior space that will not be touched,” said Rice.

Plans call for restoring the bank’s windows to their original finishes, repairing deteriorating metal grills, reconstructing wood-insulated windows, and freshening up the facade.

That pleases Brooklyn Heights Association president Judy Stanton.

“This condo plan comes with some restoration,” said Stanton, who is thrilled the renovation isn’t just being done under the oversight of the city’s Landmark’s Preservation Commission, but also with guidance from the non-profit New York Landmark’s Conservancy. “The building is going to be better maintained.”

Rice says that the public will barely notice the alterations on the structure, which earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Our intention is to make the fewest possible changes to the building,” said Rice, who added that the most prominent visible change will be the addition of a canopy that will go above a new glass door at the residential entrance, which will only be on the Pierrepont side of the edifice.

Construction will start in a few months — and Rice likely won’t have to look far for buyers.

“Who wouldn’t want to live here?” said Crown Heights resident Melissa Dobles. “It’s a beautiful building from the outside and this neighborhood is so quiet and peaceful.”

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.