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Historic Brooklyn Bathhouse Moves Closer to Gym-ified Future

Despite once being the subject of a heated preservation battle, the Brooklyn Lyceum, also known as Public Bath No. 7, at 227 Fourth Avenue in Park Slope will receive a face lift, of sorts, before developer Greystone & Co. turns it into a gym. At a public hearing on Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission enthusiastically approved the application to add an at-grade entrance to the building, install signage, add mechanical equipment and railings to the roof, and lower a parapet—with the only modification involving matching the building's ground-floor windows with those on the upper floors.

This Brooklyn landmark was constructed between 1906 and 1910, first serving as a bathhouse—its most widely recognized purpose, perhaps due to the iconic men's and women's entrances—before becoming a gymnasium in the mid-1900s. Most recently, the building, formally landmarked in 1984, has been used as an arts and events space under Eric Richmond until last year, when Richmond lost the building to Greystone in a foreclosure auction. Richmond has since been active in opposing any changes to the building, even testifying at Tuesday's hearing, alleging that the community board was never told that the proposal involved taking things down or putting "holes" into the building. "There's no need to cut an entrance into President Street," he said, referring to the at-grade, accessible egress included in the application.

Contrary to Richmond's statements, Community Board 6 recommended approving the proposal, requesting modifications such as reducing the size of a proposed neon sign and revising the design of the new entrance to match that of the front facade. The applicant responded that the architects, Daniel Goldner Architects, had already made the changes, and they were included in the presentation. Kelly Carroll from the Historic Districts Council also recommended approving the application, calling it a "sensitive restoration."

Commissioner Michael Devonshire, who lives in Park Slope, commended the applicants for the restoration effort, adding that he has been enamored with the building since moving to the neighborhood in the early 1980s. He said the project stands in stark contrast to others on Fourth Avenue, which he termed not the "canyon of mediocrity" but "the land of Godzilla apartment buildings," referring to the area's recent boom in residential development. The only concern he raised, echoed by several other commissioners, was that the single-light windows on the ground floor of the building don't match the others, which are multi-light. The applicants had intended to update the windows but keep the windows as single-light on the ground floor. The commission proceeded to pass the application with that single modification.

Greystone originally planned to turn the building into condos, but the developer is now just building a 12-story, 68-unit rental apartment building next door to the Brooklyn Lyceum.
—Wesley Yiin
· First Look at the Brooklyn Lyceum's New Rental Neighbor [Curbed]
· All Brooklyn Lyceum coverage [Curbed]