At today’s hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission, after testimony was read by FFLA and the Historic Districts Council and others, the Commissioners decided that the architects for 9 Old Fulton Street needed to make design changes to the façade. They also asked for additional evidence that the rooftop penthouse would not be seen from the street.
Here are excerpts from FFLA’s testimony today:
We had a chance to review the proposed drawings for the building and have looked at historic reproductions that provided information concerning the former building at this site.
From these references one can establish that number 7 and number 9 Old Fulton Street were originally “sisters”, detailed with the same architectural nomenclature and materials. Unfortunately, when 7 Old Fulton Street was renovated in the late nineties, the original design elements, for instance, a very simple cornice, were not referenced. And now as the proposed design shows, the historically incorrect design vocabulary of 7 Old Fulton Street is applied in the façade design of the newly proposed building.
Similarly, the façade at street level needs to be examined as to the appropriateness of the assemblage of architectural elements. Also, material choices have not been shown in the Architect’s presentation, so we are left guessing.
Before the design of the façade is approved, we would like to request that the Landmark Preservation Commission guides the owner and architect to apply historically correct architectural elements in design, scale and materials, whether copied or in stylized form.
While we support the construction of a contextually appropriate and historically accurate building on this site, we are dismayed by the rooftop addition and stair bulkhead. These are the reasons we oppose the addition:
1) The development of this building must be kept in context, exemplifying the history of Old Fulton Street and its significance to Brooklyn’s progress. This history deserves to be strengthened rather than diluted.
2) The surviving row of Greek revival buildings must not be seen in isolation, as they are an extension of Schemerhorn row on Fulton Street in Manhattan. No rooftop addition was permitted there; why should one be permitted here?
3) The rooftop addition for 11-15 Old Fulton was granted based on an alleged hardship claimed by the developer due to the condition of the buildings (he has done nothing to restore them, by the way). As 9 Old Fulton is an empty lot and a new building is to be erected, no such hardship exists. Moreover, this community strongly opposed that addition as a bad precedent, fearing that we would have to return here, as we are today, opposing a proposed addition on an adjacent property.
4) The dense volume of any rooftop addition will encroach on the view of the Brooklyn Bridge because these properties are almost directly below it. The space surrounding the Bridge is part of its grandeur.
5) The visual impact of the strength and severity of the Brooklyn Bridge riding on top of this row of 19th century, four story structures is profound and should not be diminished by the inclusion of a modern penthouse.