Empire State Dairy Site Gets Update, Affordable Housing Plans

Recently declared a historical landmark, the Empire State Dairy complex that has stood since the early 1900’s is looking forward to a little touch-up as well as an expansion. When the city settled on rezoning East New York, historians sought landmark status for the former dairy processing complex in order to protect the structure from demolition. Its most notable feature are Swiss pastoral scenes pictured on the front facade in ceramic tile. It is the largest remaining decorative display by the American Encaustic Tile Company. Some gentle restorations of the structures as well as new construction are now in its near future. 

The Most Recent Changes to the Development Plans

Already in the complex’s new plans, a few adjustments have been made to address concerns that had been raised. The initial proposal involved: 

  • Restoring the facade to its former glory;
  • Taking down some of the connected buildings; and 
  • Constructing a new 14-story residential structure that would cantilever over the landmark. 

Heeding commentary on the first approved plans for the new development, a few small changes have been made to perfect the project moving forward. These include: 

  • An altered facade that excludes the cantilever, which critics felt didn’t respect the original landmark, as it would call for demolishing the original chimney;
  • New positioning for the rooftop mechanicals;
  • New windows at the front that more closely resemble those on the original structure; and 
  • Darker brickwork.

The Current Plan, As It Stands

The zoning plan for this property is going to allow for 270,000 square feet of retail and residential space. Visual renderings released to the public show a number of characteristics: 

  • The structure shows a U-shaped design that hugs the preserved landmark.
  • The completed project should offer around 330 affordable new apartment spaces, as designed by Dattner Architects
  • Apartments would include 70 studios, 160 single-bedrooms, 88 two-beds, and 17 three-bedroom apartments, allowing for families of every shape and size. 

On the original dairy facade, changes such as a replica clock, restored signage, and stone casting to match the original architecture will also be major focuses. 

What Will It Take To Complete the Current Plan? 

The project will likely come in several phases, focusing on small-scale demolition where needed, wholly new construction, and updates to the facade. It will pull in tradespeople from demo experts to stone workers, electricians, and more. 

  • Restoration will call for stone and glassworkers to restore the facade and install a working clock. 
  • If developers wish to clean, update, or otherwise improve the ceramic tile displays, there may be a call for more specialized contractors. 
  • The new building and all 14 stories of it will call for quality living spaces of multiple sizes and layouts, as well as community (5,000 square feet) and potential retail areas (another 29,000 square feet). 

The ending structure aims to meld historic style with modern amenities, much like many mixed-use structures taking shape in older areas of the city. Dattner Architects, as a company, seems to be no stranger to these kinds of projects, as you can see more of their work at the Atlantic Chestnut project in another part of East New York, bringing another 1,000+ units of affordable housing in the near future. 

 

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