A group of six artists in Crown Heights wants to renovate a dilapidated warehouse into a 13-unit live-work space. Lead by artist Nicola Lopez, the group saved the building at 964 Dean Street from foreclosure in 2011, and they have been using it as their studio space. The warehouse is currently zoned for manufacturing, and last night, the group went before Community Board 8 to seek support for a variance to convert the building to residential. The artists' lawyer described the development as "grassroots," and Lopez, who has had her studio across the street for 13 years, said she sees this as "an effort to put down viable longterm roots in a neighborhood [she's] already invested in." They don't want to change the exterior of the four-story building, but some community board members still opposed the plan.
A few years ago, CB8 tried to get a rezoning for the area that would keep light manufacturing and prevent developers from converting warehouses into residential, which is exactly what this group is doing. The two board members in opposition felt that by allowing this variance, which CB8 decided to support, they were setting a precedent for more high-end conversion. Other members wanted to see this project, and all others, have some affordable housing. But 964 Dean Street will only have 13 units, and six of them are already spoken for by the owners. As such, there's no viable funding program for making any of the remaining units affordable, although the board did ask them to continue to review the possibility.
So what kind of units will the group create? The current building, which they believe was a confectionery (the neighbor was a chocolate factory), sits on a 9,360-square-foot lot and has a total floor area ratio of more than 26,000-square-feet. The plans call for a mix of mostly one- and two-bedroom units with storage in the cellar and a recreational rooftop. The smallest apartment is a 731-square-foot studio while the largest unit is a 5,435-square-foot one-bedroom duplex. A 2,800-square-foot four-bedroom will occupy the fourth floor. All told, the building will have two studios, five one-bedrooms (three of which are duplexes), six two-bedrooms, one-three bedroom, and one four-bedroom. The exterior would not be altered, but they would install new windows, replace the roof, and clean up the facade.
The group couldn't say whether or not the units would be rental or condo. Realtor Jonathan Berman of Ariel Property Advisors was in attendance, and he said that rentals in the area currently go for about $37/40 per square foot, while condos sell at $650/square foot (but that's projected to go up to $700). 964 Dean Street is just down the block from Brownstoner's plans to create a small artisan/foodie incubator in a former Studebaker building at 1000 Dean Street, and this will no doubt affect prices in the area.
· 964 Dean Street coverage [Curbed]
· 1000 Dean Street coverage [Curbed]