040408riversiderendering.jpgRendering of proposed garage garden courtesy Joralemon Realty.

After stalling their landlord’s attempt to build a parking garage in their courtyard next to the BQE two years ago, tenants and other community activists are still fighting the proposal. Built in 1890, the Riverside Apartments at Columbia Place and Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights were regarded as a great advancement in tenement living. Located near the Columbia Place docks, the nine buildings were unique for their running toilets, common courtyard, ventilation, and fireproofing, something unheard of for tenements at the time.

040408riversideapts.jpgBut when the BQE was constructed, the courtyard was reduced by half and four of the buildings were destroyed. It’s now owned by the Pinnacle Group, which is trying to construct a bi-level parking garage in the courtyard. One level would be subterranean, and the garage roof would be a 1/3 acre garden, with a lawn, fountain (adapted from the original courtyard fountain) and “a narrow watercourse to help mask the constant noise from the adjacent BQE.”

Pinnacle’s renderings (above) look idyllic – except for the BQE part – but not to some to tenants, who speculate the spaces will eventually be rented to all drivers, turning their out of the way street, not far from Brooklyn Bridge Park, into a noisy traffic jam. The landlord insists tenants will have first dibs on the parking spaces, but it will be necessary to make some of the 135 spots available to other drivers in order to pay for the roof garden.

And other tenants tell the Brooklyn Eagle that what the owner really wants is to convert the apartments into market-rate condos; a garage would be crucial to that plan because of the building’s remote location and dearth of nearby parking. In any case, the garage will need to be approved by the Buildings Department, and city Landmarks Commission will consider the proposal at a hearing April 8th.

Photo of Riverside Apartments courtesy Tim McCormick.