The Real Deal New York

Developers plan townhouse row in Cobble Hill

On Congress Street, historic residences will abut new ones

July 25, 2012 10:00AM
By Zachary Kussin

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From left: Gerard Longo and photos of the site at 118 Congress Street (credit: Google and PropertyShark)

A pair of developers is planning to renovate four historic townhouses, built before the Civil War, and to build from the ground up five more — all on a single Cobble Hill block, The Real Deal has learned. The project, which has yet to win approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, is a joint venture between 184 Kent developer JMH Development and Madison Estates. Morris Adjmi is the project’s architect.

The townhouses will be situated at 118–123 Congress Street. Currently, there are two properties at the site: one comprised of the four townhouses, which were previously adjoined but will be separated into single-family residences, and the other a building constructed in the late 1970s, said Madison Estates’ president and owner, Gerard Longo, who also developed the Fairchild, at 55 Vestry Street, the Pearline at 414 Washington Street at Laight Street and, with Adjmi, 408 Greenwich Street — all in the Tribeca North Historic District. Prior to the March 1 sale of the properties, both buildings there were owned by the Brooklyn Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, and the townhouses were used as a church rectory. JMH and Madison together purchased the Cobble Hill properties for $6.6 million, public records show.

The developers will be renovating townhouses with an eye toward accuracy. They have vowed not to use materials that weren’t used at the time of construction, more than 150 years ago. The other building will be razed to accommodate five new single-family townhouses with features similar to their older neighbors in the Cobble Hill Historic District. Longo said it’s hard to put a monetary estimate on all the work, but the townhouses’ designs, appliances and amenities will all be top-of-the-line. He expects that sales of the properties will bring in $27 to $30 million.

“Our aim is … creating a new blockscape that embraces the past and looks to the future,” Adjmi told The Real Deal in an email. JMH did not respond to a request for comment.

Longo estimates that these four-story townhouses will sell for between $2.5 and $3 million each. Almost all of them will have at least four bedrooms and three full bathrooms at minimum. Square footage will span roughly 3,000 to 3,500, and each residence will have private outdoor space in the form of backyards and terraces. Some units will have unobstructed views of the city skyline, he said.

The firms hope to break ground in the fall and estimate a rough 12-month completion.

Streeteasy.com data shows townhouses in Cobble Hill have sold from anywhere between $899,000 and $6.5 million over the past six years.

“It may cause some inconvenience,” Longo said of the construction and restoration. “We’ll be respectful to the neighbors.”

The plan passed through the landmarks committee of Brooklyn Community Board 6 in late June, as Brownstoner first reported. A community board spokesperson confirmed that the committee had seen the plan, supported it 10–1 and recommended approval with seven conditions, including window realignment and changes to the stoop designing more appropriate material to build stoops than metal.

“These are important details that, if the applicant takes our committee’s conditions to heart, will help them blend their buildings into the Cobble Hill Historic District in a more harmonious design,” Craig Hammerman, district manager of Community Board 6, said.

Now the decision rests with the Landmarks Preservation Commission. As opposed to the community board, which is an advisory body, LPC has the power to issue permits for work.

Preliminary discussions have begun with the LPC, Longo said, and an LPC spokesperson confirmed. The tentative date for the first public hearing is Aug. 14, when the commission could vote to approve, modify, deny, take no action or ask for revisions.

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