New, large, luxury condos at 340 Court go up fast across from Caputo's, our 107-year-old bakery.
Photos by Joshua Kristal
Future in Draft. Likely to Change a Bit.
The structure slated to go up in 20 months.
Alan and Cynthia Lantz. Rattled on Union St.
Neighbor Bob displeased with construction
Three stories of 7 complete.
340 Court Street has a rocky history. The big construction lot between Sackett and Union Streets, for the last three years a gaping hole in the ground with a blue fence around it, is now the site of rapid construction. Steel beams rise up daily. In two years, this site will forever change the face of Court Street with a seven-story luxury condominium building, featuring large apartments, retail on the bottom floor, and, according to preliminary drawings, glassy penthouses up top. By all indications, it’s going to be a nice looking building that will only continue to raise property values in the area.
Kenneth Horn, the president of Alchemy Properties, is heading up the project. South Brooklyn Post talked with Horn to discuss the details.
Horn said the building will feature 32 condominiums with 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms, and 67 parking spaces for sale underneath. Next to the building on Sackett, there will be seven townhouses, and another four on Union. The Sackett Street two-family townhouses will be 4,300 square feet each; while the Union Street houses will run from 4,000 to 4,800 square feet.
Among the townhomes there will be three 5- bedroom, 5-bath homes, and two 4-bedroom, 4-bath, single-family homes. The large spaces will continue to draw families to the area. The property is zoned for Cobble Hill’s PS 29 Elementary School, which this year had to get extra funding to create a sixth kindergarten class after a bulge of children moved to the zone over the summer.
“The school is a big draw for the area,” Horn said.
Horn said his company, Alchemy, is keeping the “envelope” design of the building that was put forth by the Clarett Group, the former developer of the site. Alchemy is changing the color of the facade of the building, though the color hasn’t been determined. Horn said he didn’t want to put out images or drawings until the look of the new building is finalized.
“The original color was like a black. We commissioned an architect to sample brownstone colors, believe it or not there are many. A façade company is coming up with a color palate for us,” Horn said. The focus now is on the framework of the building, he said.
“With any luck we’ll have the buildings done in 18 to 20 months. Hopefully we’ll do it correctly and on time,” he said.
Caputo’s Bakery sits right across the street from the construction site. The bakery dates to 1904 (107 years old!), though it used to sit on Hicks, and had to move when the BQE was built. It then sat across the street from its current location. When the International Longshoreman’s Association bought the property for its clinic, the bakery moved across the street, to its present location.
The Caputo family still owns the building next to the construction site, at the corner of Court and Sackett, now the site of Apple Bank and residential apartments. The family held onto the property when the former developers, the Clarett Group, tried to buy it.
I talked to John Caputo, owner of the bakery, about the new construction. His son, James, is the fifth generation in his family to run Caputo’s.
“It’s OK with me,” Caputo says of the new condos, though he said he thought luxury properties “might not fly.”
Caputo says when he grew up in Carroll Gardens, there were bakeries everywhere, five to a block. Now, only Caputo’s and Mazzolo (on Henry) bread bakers have survived.
“We changed with the times. That’s how we survived,” Caputo said. “Our business is 90 percent new people. It’s a nice feeling of accomplishment.”
I asked if he was worried about the new building shading the street. He shrugged, and smiled.
“It’s progress, there’s nothing you can do about it,” Caputo says.
Back in 2007, neighbors around the construction site woke with a start. Construction started around 7 a.m. one morning with heavy drilling. Neighbors say they weren’t forewarned. Union workers protesting the construction stood out on Court, as the working crew wasn’t union. Union members claimed asbestos was released into the air because proper abatement wasn’t done.
Neighbors were rattled.
“My spirit was broken when they slammed into our building and did fairly extensive damage,” said Alan Lantz, who lives on Union Street with his wife, Cynthia. The Lantz’s are in their 70s and moved to Carroll Gardens to retire.
“We woke up one morning and the house was shaking. Pictures came from the wall, ceramics were broken. A back hoe slammed into our building.” Lantz says despite a nasty court battle, he did not receive compensation from Clarett.
The Clarett Group, a developer of luxury high-rises, had bought the property at 340 Court for a reported $24 million. Plans for construction were circulated around 2006, and rumors flew that Clarett would build up to 21 stories.
Community activists rallied and protested and formed the Sackett Union neighborhood group. Katia Kelly, a Carroll Gardens activist and author of Pardon Me For Asking blog, at one point stood in front of the construction site with a red balloon to show residents how tall the building would be.
“It’s out of character with the neighborhood,” Kelly said at a recent Carroll Gardens association meeting.
After the protest, Clarett agreed to limit the height to seven stories.
Horn, of Alchemy, said he would keep with the basic envelope of the building as approved by the city Department of Buildings.
As for Alan Lantz, he is still living with the damage done by Clarett, the former developer.
“We had a beautiful garden. But they tore down a brick wall, and now it’s pretty dreadful. We don’t go out there.”
“We’re elderly. We had looked forward to living out our years without tumult. But I guess that won’t happen.”