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Clinton Hill church repairs pitched alongside new Morris Adjmi tower at landmarks

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The commissioners sent the plan back to the drawing board, but an approval is not far off

Morrris Adjmi Architects via LPC Materials Review

The Landmarks Preservation Commission saw a proposal on Tuesday for a 312-foot residential building along Atlantic Avenue between Vanderbilt and Clinton avenues. The project isn’t within a landmark district but came before the commission because it would necessitate fixes to the block’s landmarked Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew, whose zoning lot the developers want to join with that of the proposed tower, reports Brooklyn Eagle.

“We have our share of building woes,” Rev. Julie Hoplamazian of the Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew told the LPC, noting that without the air rights deal and help from the developers that the church would be fiscally unable to keep up with much-needed fixes. The Northern-Italian Romanesque-style church was built in the late 1800s and became an individual landmark in 1981, an honorary distinction but also one that has placed considerable financial burdens on the aging property.

The plan presented to the LPC on Tuesday is twofold: It would lead to the creation of a 29-story residential building at 550 Clinton Avenue (part of a site currently occupied by Clinton Hill beer garden Hot Bird, which would be razed for the tower) and to the repair and maintenance of the Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew.

The commissioners didn’t harp much on the new tower, designed by Morris Adjmi. Instead, they focused on the quality of materials preservation architects Li/Saltzman chose to repair the facade of the church. The restoration plan calls for composite patch repair of the church’s crumbling brownstone facade, but Commissioner Michael Devonshire noted that such a fix is only known to last 25 years. When it ages, it runs the risk of falling off the church and injuring a pedestrian. The commissioners were concerned that the plan didn’t call for the replacement of the entire brownstone facade.

The Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew.
LPC Materials Review

The new residential development would have a precast concrete facade, and a residential tower that sits above a retail podium. The tower had its detractors, with a representative of the Historic District Council saying the design “echoes that of the Brutalist FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and appears severe in its context.”

The commissioners ultimately sent the plan back for tweaks to the renovation. The Adjmi-designed tower won’t move forward until the renovation plan is approved.