Sections

Saved! Austin Nichols Warehouse will be preserved

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

A historic, Cass Gilbert-designed building on the Williamsburg waterfront will be preserved in perpetuity — no thanks to the city.

The lengthy battle over the fate of the Austin Nichols Warehouse on Kent Avenue has come to an end, as the new owners of the 95-year-old building have agreed to limit alterations to the size and shape of the famed structure as it undergoes a long-planned residential conversion.

“The intent is to restrict additional development and ensure that the historic warehouse is protected,” said Heather Massler of the Trust for Architectural Easements, which worked with the building’s owners on the voluntary preservation deal.

The decision to save the Austin Nichols Warehouse, which is at the corner of North Fourth Street, is at odds with the City Council’s controversial decision in 2005 to give a previous owner permission to erect glassy towers atop the building — despite opposition from both the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Mayor Bloomberg.

Councilman David Yassky (D–Williamsbu­rg) backed the Council effort to back the landmark agency.

But a change in ownership — and possibly the cooling economy — led the developers to seek a preservation easement for their planned conversion, a change in direction that could protect the building and provide its owners with generous tax cuts, Massler said.

Calls to the property owner, JMH Development, were not returned.

The scaled-back plans for the Egyptian Revival building at 184 Kent Ave. call for a one-story addition and an interior courtyard, but gone are proposals for towering rooftop add-ons and the removal of the warehouse’s historic windows.

That’s great news for neighborhood preservationists, who worried that the Council’s 2005 decision to reject the Landmarks agency’s recommendation and “de-landmark” the Austin Nichols Warehouse would lead to more dramatic alterations.

“This is great — we were always looking for ways to protect the building,” said community activist Evan Thies, who was the anti-preservation Yassky’s aide when the Council failed to protect the building originally. “If they are going to be able to develop it without the towers, that is ideal. I guess this is one of the few benefits of a poor real-estate market.”

UPDATED ON FRIDAY, JAN. 2 AT 11:59 AM: This story was updated to reflect added context to Evan Thies’s comment towards the end.11:59 AM: This story was updated to reflect added context to Evan Thies’s comment towards the end.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

daniel from park slope says:
Why is Evan Thies quoted here? In 2005, he was David Yassky's Chief of Staff and actively stopped the landmark designation.
Jan. 1, 2009, 12:32 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!