81 Hanson Place (L); 21 State Street (R)
Townhouses are having a moment. Manhattan’s most lavish single-family homes are top-ticket trophies for the superwealthy. And families who’ve outgrown their apartments, investors banking on rising rents, and a celebrity or two, are snapping up brownstones on leafy Brooklyn blocks. But a handful of more adventurous buyers — seeking space and privacy and possessed of some architectural vision — chose the less-traveled road of creating modern-design homes on the decidedly un-trendy historic blocks of brownstone Brooklyn many decades ago. On the market now is the rare pair below.
The first, more of a compound than merely a house, has a creative pedigree and architectural icon status (and a $13 million price tag). This combination of a 1892 school building and the townhouse next door sits among the impressively ornate 19th-century mansions of Fort Greene and boasts an un-missable modern extension and peerless minimalist interior, not to mention sheer size. The second is a more modest home–for a relatively more modest $3.5 million–but is also a unique modern dwelling with a laid-back and livable interior on a coveted tree-lined block of historic Brooklyn Heights.
THE HIGH: Artist David Salle — whose knack for seeking out neighborhoods before they become sought-after and pricey brought him here from a Tribeca loft in the late 1990s — first put the newsworthy 10,000+ square-foot corner live/work property at 81 Hanson Place on the market for $10 million in 2012, but reportedly re-thought a move to Red Hook in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and stayed put. The listing surfaced again this month, though, reaching even higher for the aforementioned $13 million, making it Fort Greene’s most expensive listing.
The stunning compound was featured in Dwell magazine’s 2013 CityModern home tour. One of its more notable aspects is its zinc-covered roof that curves downward to become the facade of a three-story extension.
Once inside, the house is a study in brilliant design. When the painter/printmaker purchased the two neighboring derelict buildings, he sought the help of architects Christian Hubert and David Fratianne. Over two years’ time they transformed the buildings into a one-of-a-kind combination of work studio and home, which includes a 104-foot central gallery, a private two-car garage, three landscaped terraces, and a zen garden.
In the front of the house is a sunny office with polished cork flooring and walls lined with dark green felt. The entire third floor is dedicated to the master suite, which boasts one of the terraces on one side and the zen garden on the other. The master bath, complete with Japanese soaking tub and shower, opens to the terrace.
THE LOW: On a tree-lined block of the sort that brings so many admirers to Brooklyn Heights, the home at 21 State Street–the site of the Lorain Steel Company in the 1900s–attracts a bit of mild curiosity among pristine renovations of historic brick and brownstone. This tiny, neighborly enclave known as Willowtown is also where you’ll find the modernist home of architects Joseph and Mary Merz around the corner on Willow Place.
Built in 1970, 21 State Street’s fire-engine-red details and oversized glass casements have withstood the test of time; it’s a somewhat under-the-radar find, as homes in the neighborhood sell for nearly twice the $3.5 million ask. It’s perfect for someone seeking a unique turn-key alternative to a developer’s newly-minted creation, a fixer-upper or a restored historic manse.
This diminutive light-filled single-family townhouse offers two bedrooms and two baths. Though narrow, its space is put to good use from top to bottom.
The bright, windowed custom kitchen has a SubZero refrigerator, Wolf stove, white ash cabinetry and a wine cooler, and opens to a spacious dining area.
On the garden level you’ll find the garage and a home office with sliding glass doors that look out onto the backyard, where a landscaped Japanese garden boasts a blue Atlas cedar tree and stone pavers. There’s also a finished basement with a den (or guest bedroom), a full bathroom and a laundry room.
The home’s location on the East River and the Promenade means its roof deck affords Statue of Liberty views. There’s also a private garage. It’s located across from Adam Yauch Park with its dog run as well as the Promenade and waterfront and steps from Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 and the many shops, restaurants and markets of Brooklyn Heights as well as just about every subway line in the city.
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All images courtesy of Douglas Elliman