On the heels of a on Clinton Street at Kane Street regarding the , members of the Landmarks and Land Use Committee appeared to be on heightened alert at the onset of the most recent meeting—condemning a proposed garden-level excavation as being "moat-like" and not in character with the surrounding historic district.
Two presentations and applications for Certificates of Appropriateness were submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Thursday, May 31, that related to the Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens neighborhoods, respectively.
The first, at 439-441 Henry Street between Kane and Degraw Streets, sought approval for excavation of a front yard, installation of new steps, lower window openings at the front facade, alterations to ironwork and replacement siding and new window locations for the penthouse
Brian Hagood of CWB Architects presented on behalf of the owners of the residence.
"Both buildings are multi-family and there are tenant units on ground floor," explained Hawood in his description of desired alterations intended to match an abutting structure. "We want to lengthen the first-floor windows to match the building next door."
But Hawood raised the ire of committee members when he described the architecture firm's further wish to include a four-foot excavation around the garden-level windows to make room for AC units beneath. Faux-Juliet balconies would be constructed around the units to prevent people from noticing them, Hawood said.
“Your elevation shows it being twice as deep as the location next door and it will look moatish,” said member Steve Miller.
Another member, Jerry Armer, echoed the sentiment.
“There is no precedent for AC on the front of a building in the historic district," he said.
Roy Sloane, President of the Cobble Hill Association also chimed in.
“I have to object to this," Sloane said. "The traditional pattern is we drop down two steps and then another two steps to the basement. This is a huge difference.”
In the end, a recommendation was made to LPC with conditional approval. The committee had no objection to work being done on the windows, the front façade of the penthouse and the lowering of a railing.
But they would not condone the addition of AC units, stating that "the depth of the excavation at the garden level is extreme and should not exceed the dimensions of the neighboring building; it does not match and does not contribute to the historic district.”
Following that serious exchange, first-time homeowner Lauren Victoir appeared to be fairly nervous while presenting her application.
Victoir, who had moved into her residence at 326A President Street between Smith and Hoyt Streets in the Carroll Gardens Historic District that very day, was seeking approval for the legalization of ironwork that existed before her ownership.
"We received a notice of violation for ironwork that was done some time in the past 20 years," she said, adding that her family has no plans to alter anything about the existing façade.
But unlike the Henry Street application, this matter inspired very little questioning on the part of the committee members. They quickly moved to approve her application.
"Is it OK if I leave?" Victoir asked afterward. "I have three young children and it's bedtime."
Free to go, she scooped up her poster boards and bike helmet, and happily fled back home.