Work has started at the back-to-back Fort Greene sites that will give way to two new residential buildings neighbors once feared would ruin the neighborhood. Along with the site update comes new renderings for the projects, which have been thoroughly and thoughtfully redesigned since last renderings for the sites rolled out in 2014.
A bit of backstory: The properties at 164 South Oxford Street and 171 South Portland Avenue, between Hanson Place and Atlantic Avenue, were purchased by artist Marc Lambrechts in 2000 for $900,000. Lambrechts then listed the non-landmarked properties in 2013. The assemblage included an Italianate brownstone, old-school carriage house, and three yards, as well as 23,000 square feet of air rights that positioned the site more as a teardown than as buildings worthy of saving.
At the time, preservationists worried that a developer would come along and raze the buildings—spot-on intuition there—and "[p]ut a glass box or a stucco building" on the site that would "take away that great Ft. Greene character." And lo, in 2014 East River Partners paid $7.5 million for the sites with a plan to erect two apartment building.
The developers unveiled two modern-looking brick apartment buildings for the sites in 2014 that one Curbed commenter deemed "out of context and character" for the neighborhood. Fast forward to 2016, and East River Partners has rolled out renderings for two completely redesigned buildings by Barry Rice Architects for the site that appear to take cues from the surrounding neighborhood.
In total, the two buildings will have 16 condos, most of which will be two- or three-bedrooms. The buildings will also have garden duplexes and three four-bedroom apartments. Work is ongoing at the site, and is expected to wrap up in early 2017.
So, are the new buildings better than what may have come to the sites back in 2014?