With scheduled construction of a hotel to the left of it (from this angle) and the largest tower in Brooklyn slated to go up to it's right, this lonely little building is at more than a few interesting intersections on Schermerhorn Street at Downtown's edge.
In Downtown Brooklyn, Schermerhorn Street is a heat sink, to borrow and adjust the term for a computer part who's principal purpose is to suck all the heat to one location. In computers this is useful because heat sinks sit on or next to fans and vents, that allow the heat to be dispersed. Lonely Livingston Avenue, sitting parallel between the active avenues of Fulton Street and Atlantic hadn't been as useful for decades.
In my life time of several decades it's been home to city offices, like the Board of Education (now moved to midtown in an effort to reign in their ranks) and state service offices like medicaid, unemployment and the bureau of child welfare. Other than that, the back side of a municipal parking garage, occasionally wafting with the fragrance of urine, a small sadly neglected city park, and a few other odds and ends were all I could tell you about Schermerhorn until about ten years ago when the condo boom erupted in downtown Brooklyn. Since then there are a few tony developments. For example the "Be@Schermerhorn" is complete with an anchor retail tent in the style of a whole-foods-esque, which made me laugh because I remember when a hotdog and a person in need of medical attention was much of what you could reliably find on Schermerhorn, and those days weren't long gone when that particular condo and market went up. Which could account for some of the issues they had filling the vacancies before an angel swooped in and saved them.
I found myself downtown this week. "Found" being a disingenuous term for my guilty pilgrimage to Brooklyn's own ShakeShack, which besides staying delicious, stands as in this era as an appropriate if unofficial greeter to the western edge of Fulton Street and the Downtown Brooklyn shopping area.
Travel home by chilly bike (I'm a blogger remember) I came across many freshly vacant lots, (which I've learned from Brownstowner are owned by Steiner Development and slated to be discount hotels) some already deep in the throws of new residential construction. There wasn't much time for me to take in the flurry of new before I can across this lonely outpost.
I also found this sate-photo I've highlighted to be pretty hilarious as you can see where the lonely soldier stands in regard to the development.
This gritty little building shares the block with the mega development "The Hub" as reported on Gothamist (seen below) which as shown in this rendering will not only be a major real estate development but the new largest tower in Brooklyn (It'll be 52 stories) will push the borough's vertical profile further to the stratosphere.
That of course means it'll become a commercial destination. With BAM, "The Theater for a New Audience" on Rockwell as well as the high-rise residential tower 66 Rockwell all one block away it's guaranteed to be a hot spot. And that doesn't even include the Two-Trees mega BAM tower slated to go up across the northern nub of 3rd Avenue and Flatbush, which would add another cultural center, replacement library (there's debate about whether it's a replacement library or not) and residential tower. This area now has potential to be a consistently vibrant and enriching center in the way it hasnt been since the 50's when it was just around the corner from rows of Brooklyn's theater district. All of this development no doubt benefiting from tax exemptions, and the market cultivated by buildings like "Be" and the Barclay Center just (technically) three blocks away.
Personally I'm curious to know how all all this will embrace the African Street Fair that has been part of BAM's spring Dance Africa event for over a decade. Since the Two-Tree's project is aimed at the footprint of the street festival, it would make sense to me that some sort of connective supporting relationship be made.
Other than concern for Dance Africa and the annual street festival, I got no gripes about all this mind you. I don't want massive condos towering over and killing classic city and neighborhood sight-lines in Prospect or Crown Heights and the like, but this is Downtown, it's were massive projects should be. Hopefully since so many are residential the city has plans in the works to address the reality of the thousands new people who will be using nearly century old infrastructure in that area, and new school with all those some of the cash from all those new tax payers would be good too.
Vaguely I recall seeing a few residents on Schermerhorn and my guess (+mischieveous hope) is at some point in the down and out 70's or 80's a resident bought this building, thus ensuring a place in the glistening tomorrows to come. Of course it could be that some speculator came along at the right moment and there's nothing romantic about this building, but eh, in a life less ordinary, I'll vote for the romance.
So maybe it's good if there's a hold out relic from the past sticking up like a thumb against the new. Judging from the generic glass-rectangle-rific architectural design of many of these new projects it might be the easiest way for new comers to see what character looks like.