Williamsburg’s historic Church of the Annunciation School may be altered for apartments

The building in 2015.
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A classic Victorian pile that stands on a rare historic corner of Williamsburg may soon lose its historic character to development. A developer plans to enlarge the former Church of the Annunciation School at 70 Havemeyer St. and remove its distinctive gabled roof and bell tower to convert it into apartments.

“Very disappointed that the architects for the William Vale Hotel have proposed this clumsy rooftop addition to this 19th-century schoolhouse,” said a tipster who sent Brownstoner, one of our sister publictions, a rendering. “This is an architectural crime and will be a loss for the neighborho­od.”

The school is part of a complex of three buildings on the corner that are related in design.

A rendering shows major alterations to the picturesque 1892 red brick and brownstone Romanesque Revival building. The enlargement will remove detail and alter windows on the existing building, remove the roof and bell tower, and add a modern structure on top that appears to be made of textured black stucco.

The dark addition and missing roof, along with black birds in the rendering, give the building a slightly foreboding air reminiscent of a controversial design at 410 Tompkins Ave. in Bed-Stuy. (The plan was eventually jettisoned for something more conventional.)

Churches in need of funds have struck deals with developers all over Brooklyn, sometimes losing spires and roofs to apartment development, such as St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and School and Holy Tabernacle Church of Deliverance, both in Bushwick.

The alteration will add 48 units and three stories to the building, bumping it up from four to seven, according to a March building permit application. (No permits have been issued yet.) The development will borrow floor area from a nearby development.

The “proposed project is on a compensated lot that is purchasing 6,400 square feet of floor area generated by affordable housing constructed off site,” according to the permit, which does not specify the address of the affordable housing.

Double U Real Estate is the developer. They leased the building for 99 years from the owner, Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation, in May for $6 million, public records show.

The firm is also behind a new residential building at 56 North 9th St.

David Salamon of Salamon Engineering Group is the applicant of record. They have worked on the Williamsburg Hotel at 96 Wythe Street in Williamsburg and a colorful “boutique” hotel located at 1107 Dekalb Avenue in Bed Stuy, as well as multiple projects in Manhattan.

The rendering is by Albo Liberis, according to the tipster, a firm that designed the retro-futuristic William Vale Hotel at 55 Wythe Ave. in Williamsburg.

The former school was last occupied by the Williamsburg Northside School Infant and Toddler Center. It was designed by architect P.J. Berlenbach and is part of a collection of three buildings that all at one point were owned by the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation.

P.J. Berlenbach also designed the former convent next door at 64 Havemeyer, which was built in 1889 and converted to co-ops a century later in in 1989. The church across the street at 65 Havemeyer was built in 1870 and designed by F.J. Berlenbach Jr. (the father of P.J. Berlenbach), according to the AIA Guide.

The cluster of three Victorian red-brick buildings mark the end point of the yearly Giglio lift parades along Havemeyer Street, part of the 103-year-old Giglio festival, which runs July 10-21 this year.

The church reopened in March after a year-long renovation.

“Surprised the church is allowing these alterations when it just finished an expensive renovation of its own building,” the tipster added.

This story first appeared on, one of our sister publications.

Updated 11:13 am, July 3, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Tyler from pps says:
That's just dumb... Add the addition, etc. But why would they chop off the gables? Looking at the rendering, there is absolutely no reason they couldn't integrate the gables into the extra story at the top. They hire this expensive architecture firm, and this is the best Albo Liberis could do? I'm not making a "preservationist" argument here. Just saying it's ugly and highly trained architects should be able to do better (and still end up with the same usable space)
July 3, 2019, 12:23 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Also, the rendering suggests they are going to spend *extra* money to remove the stonework at the bottom of the building? They could also just knock the building down and put up a new, boring, building.
July 3, 2019, 12:25 pm
Ted from Northside says:
that car pulling in is going the wrong way.
July 4, 2019, 1:53 pm
Tyler from pps says:
And the other one is parked in the crosswalk.
July 5, 2019, 11:15 am
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
Tyler is right. Doing what is depicted to the building is worse than tearing it down.
July 8, 2019, 12:10 pm
Local from Williamsburg says:
wow... just tear it down, better than taking a crap on the bones of the old building... I hope a lot of money wasn't paid for this. im gonna say little to zero thought was put into this. (i hope that's the case... i'd hate for this to be the good idea)
July 9, 2019, 9:08 am

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