In the statuesque Art Deco-style Turner Towers co-op along what’s arguably the most picturesque stretch of the grand Olmsted and Vaux-designed boulevard in Prospect Heights, this sprawling four-bedroom residence at 135 Eastern Parkway has been a family home for 43 years. The current owner moved to–and fell in love with–the neighborhood in the early ‘70s, when it was on the cusp of far darker times. How she came to acquire the spacious 14th-floor apartment, with unobstructed views over the treetops, the park and to the Verrazano Bridge and beyond, for $7,600 (nope, that’s not a typo) is a classic New York story.
When Geraldine Stalonas moved into Turner Towers with her husband and their two young children in the 1970s, the rental building, built in 1926–with the distinction of being the borough’s first residential high-rise–had fallen somewhat into disrepair, as had many of the city’s buildings at the time. The landlord wasn’t maintaining it well, and there were tenant strikes. The building went into receivership. Then a group of savvy lawyers and a city judge, all of whom were tenants at the time, joined forces to create a tenant-sponsored co-op. If you lived in the building, you had the option to buy (which Stalonas did, of course) or remain a rental tenant. In 1980-81 the building officially went co-op.
“The rest is history,” says Stalonas, who was part of a growing group of young families in the area. “Pioneers, they used to call us. We had a babysitting co-op that went from Grand Army Plaza all the way up Eastern Parkway; we just helped each other.” At the time, 135 was considered the creme de la creme of the parkway’s grand pre-war residences. The late comedienne Joan Rivers grew up in the building, in apartment 107.
Of the subsequent decades of change, Stalonas says, “Back then in the early ’70s it was kind of a scary time…my car used to get broken into all the time. My yoga studio for the past 12 years is on St. Marks and Washington Avenue; you couldn’t walk there then.
And today? “The good things are still the good things. You can walk out the door and see the museum, the botanic gardens—my daughter got married there—but now we can walk around the corner to restaurants, walk to our exercise, walk to yoga.”
Offering views that stretch all the way to the ocean, this four-bedroom apartment in one of Brooklyn’s most elegant full-service buildings is filled with classic pre-war details, luxurious finishes and abundant natural light. Enter through the foyer to high ceilings, herringbone parquet hardwood floors and baseboard molding throughout.
The grand living room boasts two oversized southwest-facing windows with dizzying views that include the iconic museum, the park and the Verrazano Bridge.
The spacious yet warm open kitchen/dining room is framed by beamed ceilings. Highlights in the renovated chef’s kitchen include French limestone tile floors, custom cabinetry and a stainless steel counter with a glass backsplash and a custom island with a granite breakfast counter.
One of three large bedrooms, the master has two exposures and stunning views. The fourth bedroom is currently being used as a laundry room with a half bath. There are–count ’em!–eight large closets as well.
Turner Towers is a full-service building with amenities that include a 24-hour doorman and concierge service, a live-in super, a gym, a bike room, basement storage, a childrens’ playroom and a beautifully-restored grand marble lobby. The neighborhood, as mentioned, is one of Brooklyn’s most coveted, with the gardens and museum and Prospect Park as well as outstanding restaurants, cafes and nightlife literally steps away, and the 2/3 subway outside the front door, getting you to Manhattan in 15 minutes.
Stalonas, who is moving to be near her daughter and grandchildren, says she’s aware that “gentrification has its ills, too. I’m sure a lot of people were driven out of their places on Washington Avenue where they’re building all these infills…But this building has been here a long time and it will be here a lot longer.”
She’s looking out at the unobstructed view of the Verrazano Bridge. “My sister lives on the Upper West Side, and she could see the Hudson River. Then the Trump towers came up. But nobody will ever build through the Botanic Gardens and the Brooklyn Museum. I have a southern view so I get a tremendous amount of light, that’s what I’ve always cherished. The neighborhood speaks for itself, and it’s finally being more appreciated. I feel very, very lucky to have lived here all these years.”
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Images courtesy of Compass.
Neighborhoods : Prospect Heights