A Progress Report on the Historic Commercial Building at 405 Gates Avenue

405 Gates Avenue, Bed Stuy,  MARIANNE RUSSO ARCHITECTS

I noticed construction going on at 405 Gates Avenue, a prominent three-story building on the corner of Nostrand Avenue. Turns out the building has a very interesting history — according to Brownstoner, it was built around 1888 as a public meeting house known as Arlington Hall. It was commonly used by fraternal organizations and societies as the area became home to an upper and middle class. According to writer Montrose Morris, “From what scraps of information I’ve gleaned, the building originally had meeting rooms, offices, a dining room and a bowling alley.” It was boarded up in the 70s and fell into disrepair.

405 Gates Avenue, bed stuy

405 Gates Avenue in 2006. Photo via PropertyShark.

Current construction will restore this building for commercial purposes. The architect, Marianne Russo, reported that the project faced delays with the Department of Buildings. But everything is back in order with the Department of Buildings, she said, although she couldn’t give a construction timeline. While the building suffered from some serious neglect, the team is trying to maintain the facade as much as possible. It’ll be great to see it open to the public again!

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Isaac and Stern Architects Have Two Big Projects Planned for Bed Stuy

627 Dekalb Avenue, bed Stuy, Isaac and Stern

So I stumbled across this construction site on the corner of Dekalb and Nostrand. The Department of Buildings approved a new building application this month for seven stories, 28 units and 25,215 total square feet. Construction should last through the spring of next year. The architect, Isaac and Stern, have fancy renderings up at their website:

627 Dekalb Avenue

627 Dekalb Avenue, renderings by Isaac and Stern Architects

Looking through the architect’s website, I also found a rendering for a massive project they are designing right on the border of Bed Stuy and Clinton Hill. This one is at 168-184 Franklin Avenue, on the corner of Willoughby:

184 Franklin Avenue

180 Franklin Avenue, rendering by Isaac and Stern Architects


The DOB issued a new building permit for this last month. It will be a five-story building with 118 units, 104,000 square feet, and a garage at the first floor. I like this design more than the one proposed for 627 Dekalb Avenue, which is a little more bland. Do you have a preference?

Here’s What Happened at the CB3 Landmarks Committee Meeting Last Night

Last night I sat in on Community Board Three‘s Landmarks Committee meeting. If you walk through Bed Stuy and think, “Hey, this is a gorgeous neighborhood, I wonder how it still looks this nice/historic,” well, the answer is these guys. They have been working hard to landmark the area for years, and are still working to expand the landmarked districts. (Little known fact I learned at the meeting last night: only 4 percent of New York City is landmarked.) There are still four districts that the board is fighting to landmark, with one district — the Bedford Historic District — already under consideration by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Brookland in Bed Stuy, mapped.

Brookland in Bed Stuy, mapped.

Last night, a developer and architect behind Brookland Capital came to speak with the committee. Brookland specializes in small to midsize developments and currently has 149 units over 10 projects in the works in the neighborhood. They don’t typically work within landmark districts in Bed Stuy and their projects sometimes end up, well, ugly. (A few Brookland developments put on the hot seat were 447 Decatur and 664 Jefferson, both under construction.) The committee asked for more contextual design — “No glass and steel buildings, please” one board member asked. Brookland was quite receptive and said they’d be willing to accommodate the community in their process. They invited anyone to stop by their office on Malcom X to talk, and I’d love it if people started showing just to keep these guys accountable to better new design.

100 Ralph Avenue, a Habitat project that has fully sold.

100 Ralph Avenue, a Habitat project that has fully sold.

Two ladies from Habitat for Humanity spoke, reporting that Habitat is currently selling 105 apartment units over 24 buildings in the neighborhood. Habitat plans to have an even larger presence in the area, with larger developments. The organization provides affordable housing, which is always welcome news to the majority of New Yorkers including myself.

There was lots of discussion on pushing more landmark designations through for the neighborhood. If you’re not familiar with the LPC process, this is hard work that requires a lot of support from not just the community board but also the community in general, as well as local pols and oftentimes the media. There was talk on rallying support from various politicians, and the best ways to approach landmarks. If you’re interested in following this process, you should check out the Save Bedford Stuyvesant website.

There’s also a neighborhood event in the works to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Landmarks Law. (The law came to be in 1965 after the grave, tragic mistake of demolishing Penn Station.) Nothing is set in stone yet, but it seems like there will be neighborhood tours led by Morgan Munsey and maybe a meet and greet. Stay tuned for details…

A Bed Stuy Walking Tour Scheduled for Saturday, April 11th

Suzanne Spellen and Morgan Munsey host a Bed Stuy walking tour.

Suzanne Spellen and Morgan Munsey hosting a walking tour.

The Municipal Arts Society just released its walking tour schedule for the spring. If you’ve never done one through Bed Stuy, we have some great neighborhood historians who host regular tours. Suzanne Spellen (also known as Montrose Morris over at Brownstoner) and Morgan Munsey will be sharing lots of architecture and history through the Eastern District of Bed Stuy. Here are details from MAS:

The 19th century Eastern District of Brooklyn encompassed parts of modern day Bedford Stuyvesant, East Williamsburg and Bushwick. The Bedford Stuyvesant end of the community started out as farmland, then became a suburban enclave of large houses, all built for wealthy German-Americans who called this entire area home. Later 19th century development brought row houses and apartment buildings and some very important and impressive churches and civic institutions, including the original home of St. John’s University. Join tour guides Suzanne Spellen, writer and architectural historian, aka columnist “Montrose Morris” on Brownstoner.com, and Morgan Munsey, architect, historian, and expert on the architecture of Bedford Stuyvesant for a look at this development, the great architecture, and the history of the neighborhood then and now. For too many years, this part of Brooklyn has been neglected and forgotten, but no more. Join us for a re-discovery of this part of the Eastern District. Cost: $20 / $15 Members

The tour takes place on Saturday, April 11th at 2pm. Check out full details here.

Photo via Brownstoner