The building at the corner of Fourth Avenue and President Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn will become a gym, thanks to approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday. This comes after minor backlash against Greystone & Co.’s plans to turn 227 Fourth Avenue into condominiums. The gym will reportedly be operated by Blink Fitness, though Blink’s logo could not be found in the submitted plans.
The building itself was originally designed by Raymond F. Almirall and completed in 1910 as a public bath. In fact, when it was designated as an individual landmark in 1984, it was as “Public Bath No. 7.” However, in the 1930s, it was made into a gym, closed in the 1950s, and later became a theater, recently known as the Brooklyn Lyceum.
The conversion plan was presented by Cas Stachelberg of the preservation firm Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, which worked with the Chelsea-based architectural firm Daniel Goldner Architects. There will be plenty of restorative work, which the building certainly needs.
Additionally, new windows will be installed, as well as at-grade entrances on Fourth Avenue and on President Street. A gate will be removed from in front of the center of the Fourth Avenue façade and from the entirety of the President Street side of the building. Neon signs will also be added, as well as interior signage visible from the exterior, and four lanterns on the Fourth Avenue façade will be recreated.
New mechanical equipment will be installed on the roof, plus a new railing, minimally visible from the street.
Some of the commissioners are looking forward to the the building’s new use. Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said it would have an “enormous benefit” for the community. Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron said it was “very exciting.” Commissioner Michael Devonshire said he’s been admiring the building since he moved to Park Slope in 1982. He’s elated that it was designated as an individual landmark since he said Fourth Avenue has become the “land of Godzilla apartment buildings.”
Some of the commissioners weren’t wild about the new entrance planned for Fourth Avenue, expressing a wish for a double door. But Stachelberg said that wouldn’t be possible given the space available. Many commissioners also expressed concern about the planned windows. In approving the application, the commission asked the applicant to work with LPC staff to have the first and second floors have matching multi light windows.
Community Board 6 issued conditional approval of the project. One of those conditions was reducing the amount of neon, which Stachelberg said they’ve done. The other condition was setting back the HVAC units even farther, which Stachelberg said could not be done given planned construction next door.
There were only two pieces of public testimony delivered. Kelly Carroll gave the Historic Districts Council’s blessing to the project. “HDC is pleased with this sensitive restoration and the very modest alterations, allowing this building to keep its description of ‘most ornate public bath in Brooklyn.’” Carroll said. “The Committee also is relieved to see that this building will remain intact as a single entity, as opposed to being chopped into several units, which may have resulted in less sympathetic alterations to the façade.”
One man, an Eric Richmond, delivered his absolute no to the proposal. He alleged that the public notification process had not been followed (which Stachelberg disputed). He said he was under the impression there would only be restoration, not alteration, and he didn’t like the alterations.