June 2009: I spent a recent Saturday in rapidly-changing Williamsburg, which has evolved from hard-scrabble industrial- somewhat-residential neighborhood dominated by breweries and powerhouses, with the Navy Yard looming to the south and west — to the East East Village — to the Brooklyn Gold Coast. Even with all the rapid change, some aspects of the neighborhood are steadfast in never changing, despite increasing Gold Coast incursions. Today we’ll look at the 4 corners of Driggs Avenue and North 4th Street, where the juxtaposition of the old Willie and the new Willie has never been more stark.
This new condo on the NW corner of Driggs Avenue and N. 4th is Nforth by archiect Karl Fischer, who has worked extensively in Montreal and NYC. He has perpetrated a traves … er, muscled the old LIRR/Pennsy Powerhouse in Hunters Point into residential units and has also designed Schaefer Landing on the site of the old Schaefer brewery on Kent Avenue.
I actually like the building – it features very large windows — a trend in residential architecture — and a throwback look with actual brickface.
One of our pet peeves about most of the new brick buildings that get put of these days is that the bricks look too, well, new. In the case of Nforth, however, as the close-up photo on the jump shows, the brick, while probably not old, has the same matte, aged quality that old bricks do. And to us, that makes this place stand out a little from the pack. Brownstoner
Ah, but what will Nforth residents be seeing out those picture windows once they plunk down their half mil for a one-bedroom and full 1M for a two-bedroom? I shot the other three corners of Driggs and N. 4th to give you an idea…
NE corner… not too bad, a very large concrete schoolyard with the school behind, and a rare Willieburg street tree.
SE corner … parking lot surrounded by a barbed wire fence, backed by the un-windowed side of a nondescript warehouse
SW corner … yet another barbed wire lot, this one with a corrugated iron fence. Nforthers on the ground floors will, however, see these craftily done handlettered, artisanal (a big word in Willieburg) no parking signs.
San Loco “Saint Crazy?” Tex Mex restaurant.
It’s now unfashionable to actually announce on the store street sign what you’ll find within, so you have to peek in the windows to gather that Wonk is an office/home furniture store. “Wonk” is one of my least favorite words in the language; it is a term for an elected official or aide who actually studies policy.
Page completed June 29, 2009