The Renovation: Downing Street — A Modern Take on a Classic Brownstone

From TLC to the LPC: This modern interpretation of a classic brownstone receives a thorough Dixon renovation in the Clinton Hill Historic District.

By the turn of the 19th century, much of Clinton Hill had evolved from a quiet middle-class enclave to a center of wealth and affluence. Grand residences, especially along Clinton and Washington avenues, earned the neighborhood a designation as the "Gold Coast" of Brooklyn. But even among this grandeur, homes of more unassuming origin also took root. As the Clinton Hill Historic Designation Report describes: "A few streets in the neighborhood, such as Clifton Place and Downing Street, were built up during the 1870s with more modest rowhouses that were purchased by less affluent middle-class and lower middle-class businessmen and craftsmen, but the buildings were designed in the same styles used elsewhere and with the same materials giving the same effect of quiet respectability."

"There were a number of violations on the property when we acquired it," explains the Dixon Projects team. "The previous owner had moved forward without a permit to perform work on the front façade, including replacing all the windows, which is a big problem for Landmarks. There were also issues with illegal work to the interior. There were exposed walls everywhere, exposed joists and electrical, and drywall was missing."

The Dixon Projects team's long and successful track record in working with historic homes under the LPC's jurisdiction was an invaluable asset in navigating the complicated approvals process. "It meant we had to spend a lot of time figuring out how to clear all the violations, because you can't apply for new approvals without removing the illegal work. First, we explain to Landmarks, in depth, how we’re going to cure all the violations, and then put all the money necessary to remediate them in escrow. Once those corrections are complete, we submit the plans for renovation to the Department of Buildings and the LPC and finally, when approved, move forward with the renovation process."