In Clinton Hill, Civil War–era home set to be demolished

The Brooklyn Paper
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A Clinton Hill mansion that dates back to the Civil War — yet is not protected as a city landmark — is about to be torn down to make way for a high-rise condo tower, renewing local fears about the “Manhattani­zation” of Brooklyn.

The 15-bedroom Italianate mansion — located at 70 Lefferts Pl., between Classon Avenue and Grand Street — was bought for $2.4 million by developer Christopher Morris, who intends to turn it, as well as the 65- by 120-foot adjacent lot, into a seven-story, 25-unit market-rate condo building, the largest structure that zoning will allow.

“The proposed building is way too big for the block,” said nine-year Lefferts Place resident David Conrad. “There has been a lot of high-priced condo development recently in the area and I’m worried it could be quick and dirty.”

Displeased residents have vowed not to let Morris, a Ditmas Park resident, have his way without a fight. The Lefferts Place Civic Association has been pushing for the house to be granted landmark status.

At the same time, City Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Prospect Heights) is working to pull Morris’s demolition permits and has sent residents’ petitions to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

“I fully support getting the location landmarked as a historic site,” James told The Brooklyn Papers.

Her constituents agree.

Migdalia Marim, who has lived next door to the mansion for 30 years, said that tearing down such beautiful architecture to make room for a modern building would “change the whole character of the street and I really don’t like it.”

Barbara Arnold, who has lived across the street for 26 years, added that the new construction would ruin the communal feeling of the quiet block.

“Most of the people on the street know each other, that will all change,” she said.

Other residents complained about limited parking and noise that could come with such a large construction.

But at least one area resident said that you can’t stop progress. Morris, after all, isn’t the only developer intending to build in the area.

“The neighborhood is changing, different people are coming in and they want different things,” said Arnold’s 21-year-old son Antoine, who was born and raised across the street.

“If they can afford it, I guess we have to accept it.”

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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