17 April 2008

Whither Cobble Hill Towers?


The other day I was wondering to myself, if I had $60 million sitting around doing nothing, what would I do with it?

Today I got one possible answer. I could buy the Cobble Hill Towers, the historic, landmarked residential complex formerly known as the Home Apartments which stand on Hicks Street overlooking the BQE. The whole circa-1876, 188-apartment shebang in on the market. (Scroll down to the last listing.)

Sorry if I'm late in addressing this—Massey Knakel tells me the Towers have been for sale since the fall—but it's the first I've learned of it. This is a lovely structure, for those who don't know it, one of the finest bits of building in all of Brooklyn. They were built as tenements by Alfred Treadway White, who believed that even poor people deserved a decent place to live. Tenants reach their apartments by way of open-air stair towers leading to outside recessed balconies. Each unit has a separate entrance. When the setting sun hits the red brickface, it's a beautiful site, one that almost makes you forget the horrible gash that is the sunken highway.

Of the 188 apartments, 186 are rent stabilized, and two are free market. Rents are 50% of market rents. The complex allows a great many middle-class folk to remain in ritzy Cobble Hill. What would happen if it were sold to a new party, I don't know. But $60 million?! I can't imagine anyone would bite at that price without some condo dream or rent-stabilized smashing scheme in his dirty little mind.

3 comments:

NewYorkDave said...

"They were built as tenements by Alfred Treadway White, who believed that even poor people deserved a decent place to live."

Sadly, that notion seems almost quaint when viewed through the distorting lens of Doomberg's New York... doesn't it?

justin said...

It's hard to speculate about Bloomberg's views on housing for poor people, since I'm not sure he's been informed that they exist...

Tom La Farge said...

A month ago activists helped to prevent a large parking garage from being built in the garden area of another Alfred Tredway White development, the Riverside Apartments on Columbia Place in Willowtown, half of which was torn down in the forties for the BQE. Maybe some sort of action could be mounted here.

A collection of essays on White's building work for working-class immigrant families is coming out under the aegis of the Brooklyn Historical Society in 2009 from Proteotypes Press, part of Proteus Gowanus Gallery and Reading Room.