Tag Archive for 'real estate'

Carroll Will Never Be The Same

Carroll will never be the same

Barriers erected outside the Carroll Street MTA entrance at 2nd Place and Smith Street, in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

Looks like the 360 Smith luxury condo development is going to shut down my subway entrance, and severely mess up the nice plaza in front:

Because the safety of our customers is of utmost concern, this closure will be in effect on a 24-hour, 7 days per week basis for 6-8 months (subject to the progress of the construction project)…

See outside.in for more history of this controversial development.

Crashing an Open House

awkward

A new Robert Scarano “luxury” condo building at 326 State Street, in Boerum Hill.

A week or two ago, I walked past a new Robert Scarano “luxury” condo building at 326 State Street, in the northern reaches of Boerum Hill. This past Saturday, Tyler and Sarah were down from Boston for a visit, and we walked by again – and they were having an Open House. Why not have a look? [from iPhone]

More below the fold.

Continue reading ‘Crashing an Open House’

The Hotel Commonwealth


Kenmore Square, Boston, has always had a reputation for being a little bit seedy—much the way Times Square used to be. It boasts a major Subway interchange, the best Ballpark in the American League, if not all of baseball, and it used to be home to a diverse group of small businesses and restaurants.

When I first moved to Kenmore Square, in 1996, there was a Methadone clinic, a punk-rock venue called the Rathskeller, a late-night restaurant called Deli-haus, a gritty coffee house called Fuel, and a bunch of other businesses housed in the cluster of Browstones on the opposite side of the Square. In 2003, chalk these landmarks into a new chapter of Lost Boston.

When Boston University proposed bulldozing much of the south side of the square, and replacing the century-old brownstones with a “European-style” hotel, city and community leaders largely supported the idea… largely, I suspect, because BU was willing to pay generously to relocate affected businesses with neighborhood association ties, such as Cornwall’s Pub. Also, the university is giving millions to upgrade the Subway station and traffic configuration in the Square.

Whether or not you identify with my bemoaning the loss of a funky piece of an otherwise boring city, what is not in question is the public reaction when the workers finally unveiled the facade. For a hotel looking to project Continental luxury and flair, it looks like a reproduction on the back lot at Universal Studios, or, perhaps, Main Street USA, Disneyland. Tacky, cheap, and an insult to a city with truly exceptional architecture.

I am not, I think, and elitist when it comes to architecture… I think classicist ideals of style and materials are preferable to 90% of all avant-garde rubbish of the past 50 years. But, BU and the developers cheated by trying to copy the style of the French Second Empire, while using materials common on a Wal-Mart job site. Instead of limestone, let’s use fiberglass. Brick too expensive? Substitute fiberglass for the real thing. And, the dormers can just be cut-outs—I mean, who looks that closely, right?

The fact is, this hotel would look pretty good from your car on the Interstate at 75 MPH, if it were located out in the sprawl belt of I-495 and 128. It’s cartoon color and features would blur from the highway strip. But, this hotel is in the heart of the city, with thousands of pedestrians walking by each day. And it looks Mickey Mouse, compared with the surrounding buildings.

The photos I took, unfortunately, fail to show how bad the facade really is. Trust me, it looks as if they were trying to save a few bucks… which is precisely not the image you’re going for in a 4-star hotel that wants to charge hundreds of dollars a night. Apparently, BU and the developers are going to spend $2 million to “fix” the facade. Good luck.