Someone recently bought the 111-year-old, rundown mess of a mansion that is 111 Clarkson Avenue for $2.7 million, and the natural conclusion was that s/he would knock it down to build more profitable units. As it turns out, the buyer is Seth Brown, a developer who's sorta innovative, crowd-sourcing his eco-tastic condo project Sterling Green and carrying out a historically sensitive restoration/conversion at 392 Dean Street. Brownstoner spotted Brooklyn Ink's dive into the house's bizarre history, architecture, and ownership, explaining how the grandeur of a home built by an immigrant success story, German brewer Herman Raub, fell into disrepair amid a neighborhood that was getting poorer. Is there any hope the site will be salvaged?
A back garden with two stables were paved in the 60s so that parking spots could be rented out for extra cash. For awhile in the 80s, the house's only two residents were a mutt and a "very ferocious" Doberman Pinscher, even though then-owner Carl Holder envisioned a Great Gatsby-like abode for entertaining. Its most recent owner, Raphael Berger, ran his law office out of the house, even as pigeons occupied the entirety of the third floor, and the place smells like wet wood from hurricane- and storm-related water damage. Quirky elements abound: "In recent years, to the mild disapproval of some locals, Berger let a chicken vendor set up shop in the back of the parking lot," who then built a cabin back there to sleep in and subsequently got kicked out.
So Brown, savvy developer that he is, faces a dilemma: "The question becomes, can the house be restored and rented out or sold for more than what it would cost to restore it?" The back lot is going to get turned into a five- or six-story building with "high-end" apartments, complete with "solar power, gardening plots, and 'tons of bike storage.'" As for the house itself, brokers, neighbors, and architecture experts assume it's not worth Brown's while to save it. Whatever he does decide to do, he promises it'll be contextual: "I hate it when people build stuff that's inappropriate for the neighborhood." Just a guess, but he probably won't opt for a replacement in the same style of "berserk eclecticism."
· Death knell for Flatbush's haunted house? [Brooklyn Ink]
· And the Buyer of 111 Clarkson Is? ['Stoner]
· Bye, 'Berserk Eclectic' Clarkson Avenue House; Hi, 50 Rentals [Curbed]