For all of you who’ve stared down a four-story brownstone and wondered “What family needs all that space?”, the answer appears to be not many. According to the folks over at Douglas Elliman, more and more owners of Brooklyn brownstones are carving their homes into multiple condos for resale. The piecemeal move they say not only manages to bring in more bucks than an individual sale, but also welcomes more housing without compromising the integrity of a neighborhood—i.e. they help keep tall, glass towers at bay.
There’s a reason Forgotten New York toyed with the label “Brownstone Paradise” for Fort Greene’s South Portland Avenue and Time Out New York named it one of the “50 Best Blocks in NYC”: living here is like owning a little slice of heaven.
When you think of a classic brownstone, 21 South Portland Avenue is exactly what comes to mind – along with all of its similar-looking neighbors on both sides of the street. On closer inspection, the varying ornamentation becomes apparent, and each building exudes its own distinct personality, contributing to the street’s reputation as one of Brooklyn’s most coveted and gorgeous.
Last week we learned that Opening Ceremony cofounder Carol Lim picked up a $3.43 million Prospect Heights townhouse, and it looks like her partner Humberto Leon got a bit of apartment envy, because he too just purchased a brownstone in nearby Park Slope.
The two fashion magnates met 19 years ago at the University of California, Berkeley and have been joined at the hip ever since, turning their brand into an international destination for streetwise style. So it’s no wonder that their homes share a few similarities; both are four stories, have picturesque backyard spaces, and retain a good amount of historic details. According to city records, Leon nabbed his new digs at 758 Union Street for the asking price of $2.85 million.
From making the list of most popular baby names, to having whole stores devoted to its wares, Brooklyn has become quite the brand these days. But for a classic feel of living in the borough that bucks trends, we can always look to The Brooklyn Home Company for their tasteful, functional, and timeless spaces — like this stunning 5th Street Park Slope townhouse.
The firm undertook the entire interior/exterior renovation, as well as the nine-foot extension that was added to the garden and parlor floors, those which the building owners occupy. They transformed the space with a mix of historic and modern details, custom built-ins, and impressive millwork. During the demolition, the original beams were discovered behind the drop ceiling, a feature that was left exposed and now anchors the entire living space.
When Evelyn and Everett Ortner bought their Park Slope brownstone at 272 Berkeley Place in 1963 for $32,000 they probably never imaged it would sell 50 years later for over $3 million. But it was their own historically sensitive and forward-looking vision that helped revitalize the area and make it a much-sought-after Brooklyn neighborhood.
The Ortners moved to Park Slope when brownstones were unfashionable and the rich turned their noses down at the area. They convinced their friends to also buy brownstones in the neighborhood. Evelyn was an interior designer specializing in period interiors, and the couple meticulously restored their home down to every last historic detail. After a 25th anniversary trip to France, where they were inspired by local preservationists working to conserve a crumbling castle in Normandy, Mr. and Mrs. Ortner dedicated themselves to historic preservation efforts in Park Slope until their deaths in 2006 and 2012.
A beautiful, Italianate brownstone at 37 Remsen Street in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District sold for $7 million through a listing held by Brown Harris Stevens. It was originally listed for $6.2 million when it went on the market in January. The buyer is Jeremiah T. Healey, former Jersey City Mayor from 2004-2013, and his wife Megan McKee Healey, a tax law professor at NYU.
Built in 1899, the 25-foot-wide, 7,000-square-foot home retains a wealth of historic details including fanlight windows, cast iron vent covers, etched pocket doors, and wood-paneled chair rails. The decorative elements such as ceiling medallions, painted borders, and fancy ceiling moldings were likely to the taste of the previous owner, but they certainly add a bit of whimsy to the classical home.