Historic Properties Fund

Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone

Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone
Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone
-193 Clinton Street, circa 1930s
Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone
Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone
-193 Clinton Street, 2012 - before restoration
Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone
Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone
-193 Clinton Street, after restoration
Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone
Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone
Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone
Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone
Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone
Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone
Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone
Project Management and Financial Know-How Help Restore Cobble Hill Brownstone

August, 2015

193 Clinton Street is one of a group of four, Italianate brownstone row houses built in 1856-57 for merchant Samuel Richard St. John. The building is located just south of Atlantic Avenue on a tree-lined block in the Cobble Hill Historic District in Brooklyn. It is a five-unit cooperative that was established in 1972 in the name of Clint Housing Corp.

Prior to the ownership of the shareholders who came to the Historic Properties Fund for a small loan in 2012, the once-stately front façade of the building had lost many of its Italianate features. The brownstone architectural details and parts of the cornice were stripped, the areaway was paved in concrete, original ironwork was replaced with masonry, and the vestibule doors were replaced with a modern steel door. Unsure of what work scope would be desirable and affordable, Fund staff began to work with the shareholders on refining a larger restoration project and its costs and on framing a financing package that would be acceptable to the five apartment owners.

A Fund loan of $250,000 was authorized in December, 2012. The shareholders were repaying a first mortgage that would be retired in May of 2016. To help keep loan repayments lower, the Fund loan was structured so that the owners would be paying interest only on it until May, 2016. Thereafter, the Fund loan would amortize, i.e. there would be constant monthly payments of principal and interest.

The next months in 2013, however, were spent obtaining a written consent from the first mortgagee, NCB, for the Fund’s second mortgage lien. NCB had sold its first mortgage to an asset management firm, which bundled it into a collateralized mortgage obligation bond. This is what most conventional banks do to secure more funds for lending. Despite the fact that only $30,000 remained to be repaid on the NCB-originated loan, a written consent could only be given after complicated and costly analyses were undertaken and relatively large fees paid. The alternative of paying the balance of the loan off altogether was also not practicable, as there were required early repayment fees of two to three times the principal amount.

Fund staff worked diligently with NCB and its asset manager toward an agreement which involved little additional analytic work and only a $5,000 fee to obtain a written consent. Work then proceeded to close the Fund loan in June, 2013. The owner selected Easton Architects as the project architect, which prepared the plans and specifications and oversaw a bidding process to qualified contractors. Preserv Restoration was the general contractor selected to carry out the restoration work, the scope of which had expanded once again. To accommodate additional items, the Fund loan was increased to $375,000.

The restoration was informed by historic photographs and drawings, as well as matching buildings in the neighborhood. Most of the brownstone work was completed in 2014, including the installation of cast stone door and window surrounds that restored the building’s historic ornamentation. Details on a neighboring building were laser scanned to create the molds for 193 Clinton Street’s cast stone. In addition, new cast iron railings and newel posts were installed at the stoop, new wood and glass vestibule doors were custom made, and masonry repairs were done at the rear of the building. When the scaffolding was erected, it became apparent that squirrels had chewed away the tops of the wood cornice brackets. Some brackets were repaired, and others were replaced with new replicas. The project wrapped up in the summer of 2015. 193 Clinton Street was transformed from a nondescript, altered row house back to the grand Italianate brownstone it was always meant to be.