Billburg Condo Plan Dealt a Blow

austinnichols Billburg Condo Plan Dealt a BlowThe Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Austin, Nichols & Co. Warehouse at 184 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg a landmark yesterday. The building sits smack on the East River, making it a distinctive part of the Brooklyn skyline when viewed from Manhattan. The six-story building, built in 1915 and designed by Cass Gilbert, was used to process and package many types of food, from dried fruit and coffee to peanut butter for Sunbeam Foods.

According to the L.P.C. press release, buildings like this–with exposed concrete elevations sloping inward and crowned by flared cornices, it’s an example of the Egyptian Revival style!–influenced Le Corbusier and his remarkable Radiant City designs (see Matthew Schuerman‘s article in The Observer this week for a discussion of Corbusier’s influence in New York City; also, check out Michael Calderone‘s rundown on the Williamsburg real-estate scene).

It remains to be seen how this will influence developer Louis Kestenbaum’s plan to convert the building into 240 luxe condos. The L.P.C.’s designation will wreck havoc on his plans (by architect Karl Fischer, who’s all over Billyburg) to enlarge the building’s windows, add four additional floors, and insert a 80-by-20-foot open-air courtyard in the center of the 500,000-square-foot building, all by 2008 (we’ll see about that).

- Matthew Grace