The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will soon review proposals from Morris Adjmi Architects and Hope Street Capital to construct a seven-story residential building behind a historic church at 959 Sterling Place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Known today as the Hebron Seventh Day Adventist School, the structure was originally completed in 1889 and designated a New York City landmark in 2011.
The historic designation of the building and its location within the Crown Heights Historic District requires the project team to acquire a Certificate of Appropriateness from the LPC.
The new residential building will top out at 80 feet above ground and will redevelop the church’s existing parking lot. To make room for the proposed courtyard, the project team will need to demolish an existing addition at the rear of the building that was completed around 1913. Referred to as the East Wing, the addition mimics the original design of the building and serves as an extended chapel.
As part of the expansion, the proposed scope of work also includes pervasive restoration of the building’s historic façade. These repairs include replacement of the roof with asphalt shingles, repainted masonry elements throughout the building envelope, installation of new gutter and drainage systems, and repair and replacement of damaged masonry components.
The façade of the apartment building will be constructed of orange brick with light gray mortar and metal-framed operable windows outside each apartment. Residences will range from one-bedroom, one-bathroom units up to three-bedroom, two-bathroom units.
The cellar will contain parking for 142 vehicles, a gymnasium, bike storage, laundry facilities, and mechanical spaces. Additional amenities include a 2,200-square-foot courtyard and an outdoor roof deck. The residential component will comprise 182 units ranging from one-bedroom, one-bathroom units up to three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments.
Earlier this month, Hope Street Capital confirmed that 30 percent of the available apartments would be priced below market rate as part of the city’s Affordable Housing New York Program, also known as the 421a tax exemption. Despite these inclusions, local residents and community groups argue that the proposed development will spur displacement of existing residents in the Crown Heights area. The groups also argue that the residential expansion will block views of the historic structure at the rear of the property.
In response, the Seventh Day Adventists contend that the development will empower the church with the ability to fund future restoration projects that will increase the longevity of the historic building.
“The opposition is surprising to me,” wrote Dr. Daniel Honore, president of the Northeastern Conference of the Seventh Day Adventists in a statement first published in Brownstoner. “Until very recently, our Hebron Seventh Day Adventist Bilingual School did not receive any attention at all from the folks who now seem concerned about the state of our church and school, a landmark that was originally the Methodist Home for the Aging. To add insult to injury, they are also now claiming their campaign to block our project is in order to ‘protect’ the buildings we are trying to save, which have been deteriorating in front of them for years. We find this duplicitous and deceptive.”
Morris Adjmi Architects is working with Jablonski Building Conservation to help identify and preserve historic elements of the building. Caples Jefferson Architects and Silman structural engineers are also listed as members of the design team.
A public hearing for the development is scheduled for Tuesday, October 20.