A classic Victorian pile that stands on a rare historic corner of Williamsburg may soon lose its historic character to development. A developer plans to enlarge the former Church of the Annunciation School at 70 Havemeyer St. and remove its distinctive gabled roof and bell tower to convert it into apartments.
“Very disappointed that the architects for the William Vale Hotel have proposed this clumsy rooftop addition to this 19th-century schoolhouse,” said a tipster who sent Brownstoner, one of our sister publictions, a rendering. “This is an architectural crime and will be a loss for the neighborhood.”
The school is part of a complex of three buildings on the corner that are related in design.
A rendering shows major alterations to the picturesque 1892 red brick and brownstone Romanesque Revival building. The enlargement will remove detail and alter windows on the existing building, remove the roof and bell tower, and add a modern structure on top that appears to be made of textured black stucco.
The dark addition and missing roof, along with black birds in the rendering, give the building a slightly foreboding air reminiscent of a controversial design at 410 Tompkins Ave. in Bed-Stuy. (The plan was eventually jettisoned for something more conventional.)
Churches in need of funds have struck deals with developers all over Brooklyn, sometimes losing spires and roofs to apartment development, such as St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and School and Holy Tabernacle Church of Deliverance, both in Bushwick.
The alteration will add 48 units and three stories to the building, bumping it up from four to seven, according to a March building permit application. (No permits have been issued yet.) The development will borrow floor area from a nearby development.
The “proposed project is on a compensated lot that is purchasing 6,400 square feet of floor area generated by affordable housing constructed off site,” according to the permit, which does not specify the address of the affordable housing.
Double U Real Estate is the developer. They leased the building for 99 years from the owner, Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation, in May for $6 million, public records show.
The firm is also behind a new residential building at 56 North 9th St.
David Salamon of Salamon Engineering Group is the applicant of record. They have worked on the Williamsburg Hotel at 96 Wythe Street in Williamsburg and a colorful “boutique” hotel located at 1107 Dekalb Avenue in Bed Stuy, as well as multiple projects in Manhattan.
The former school was last occupied by the Williamsburg Northside School Infant and Toddler Center. It was designed by architect P.J. Berlenbach and is part of a collection of three buildings that all at one point were owned by the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation.
P.J. Berlenbach also designed the former convent next door at 64 Havemeyer, which was built in 1889 and converted to co-ops a century later in in 1989. The church across the street at 65 Havemeyer was built in 1870 and designed by F.J. Berlenbach Jr. (the father of P.J. Berlenbach), according to the AIA Guide.
The cluster of three Victorian red-brick buildings mark the end point of the yearly Giglio lift parades along Havemeyer Street, part of the 103-year-old Giglio festival, which runs July 10-21 this year.
The church reopened in March after a year-long renovation.
“Surprised the church is allowing these alterations when it just finished an expensive renovation of its own building,” the tipster added.
This story first appeared on brownstoner.com, one of our sister publications.