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Crumbling Brooklyn Heights townhouse will be returned to its former glory

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The eyesore at 100 Clark Street will get a total redo—but maintain its historic character

It only took what seems like forever (in reality, about a decade) for the crumbling building at 100 Clark Street to find its savior. Its owners, Newcastle Realty Services, snapped the building up for a song in 2010, and earlier this month, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved plans to overhaul the ailing structure. Now, the New York Times has the scoop on what, exactly, that overhaul will entail—they say it’s "not so much a face-lift as a whirl in a time machine."

First, a little backstory on the crumbling townhouse: The Greek Revival structure was built sometime in the 1850s, and is part of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. But it’s been falling apart for quite some time now. In 2008, the Department of Buildings took two floors off of the five-story structure, but the owner at the time stepped in to stop the demolition. Newcastle stepped in with its $1.25 million offer in 2010, and first got approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission for structural changes in 2011. Those never ended up happening, and it went back to the LPC for approval earlier this month—and now, according to Newcastle president Margaret Streicker Porres, the building will get "a 21st-century re-creation … melding three centuries, through use of a historic skin and a modern exterior."

Essentially, a new building that looks just like the old one will be built around the existing structure’s bones. Newcastle is working with architect Tom van den Bout of NV/Design Architecture to create the new/old structure, which will require a good bit of work. The Times explains:

They have counted bricks to calculate proportions and studied the set of the stoop, which went missing long ago, to match the original. The new building will be anchored in steel and wrapped around the current structure. This reconstruction differs from others, Mr. van den Bout said, because of the absence of many physical reference points. The mansard roof is gone, the top floors are absent and the windows have lost their detailed edging. There is almost nothing left to go by.

So the old building will be (sort of) preserved and its historic character maintained, which makes the LPC happy; and it’ll no longer be a blight on the neighborhood, which should make Brooklyn Heights residents happy (Judy Stanton, formerly of the Brooklyn Heights Association, actually gave the Times an approving quote). So everyone wins, right?

Especially the developer; according to the Times, Newcastle "plans to carve out several apartments in the building, including a triplex. By using the existing footprint, rather than knocking down the building, she is able to build a larger structure than is allowed by zoning rules." Ah. Well then.