Livingston Street pancake palace closing to make way for apartment house
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bye bye, IHOP.
There'll be a paucity of pancakes in Downtown Brooklyn when the Fourth of July weekend is over.
The flapjack franchise at 276 Livingston St. is closing its doors Sunday to make way for a new apartment house to be built by developer TF Cornerstone — with 714 residential units and approximately 56,000 square feet of retail space.
“There will be tears Sunday — tears for my bills that won't get paid,” said a worried IHOP worker who doesn't know what she's going to do next.
A new IHOP planned for a site across the street at 253 Livingston St. won't be ready to open until November, anxious employees told the Brooklyn Eagle. The prospect of waiting until then to go back to work in Downtown Brooklyn is unappetizing, so to speak.
“Unemployment's not much money. Our wages are only $5 an hour,” one waitress confided.
General manager Richard McCook told the Eagle many of the restaurant's 82 employees have been offered jobs at an IHOP the Livingston Street franchisee owns on Flushing Avenue in Bushwick. And owners of other metro-area IHOP restaurants have been asking about hiring his workers.
But another employee who hasn't decided on her next step is wary of taking a job at another IHOP.
“I feel like there's not going to be enough work to go around,” she said. “It's going to be like a battle to go into other people's domain, like taking food out of their mouths.”
When it opened six years ago, the Livingston Street pancake palace was hailed as a welcome addition to a grim commercial corridor tenanted by garages, 99-cent stores, salons and the backside of Macy's — the side with no display windows.
But in the past couple years, TF Cornerstone and other residential developers including Doug Steiner of Steiner Studios and Benenson Capital Partners working with Rose Associates have stepped up with plans to bring upscale development to the unglamorous street.
TF Cornerstone, which is headed by high-profile brothers Tom and Fred Elghanayan, is starting asbestos abatement and other prep work prior to demolishing the garage and retail facility where IHOP is the last remaining tenant.
“We're taking a site that's underutilized and frankly could use an upgrade and building a Class A apartment house with a large amount of retail in the base of it that will attract a retailer that's desperately needed,” Jeremy Shell, the firm's senior vice president of acquisitions and finance, told the Eagle.
“It's really going to enliven the area,” he added.
He expects demolition at 33 Bond St. to start in the fourth quarter of this year and apartment leasing to begin in the first half of 2017. (That's a side-street address for the property, which also has frontage on Schermerhorn Street.)
Twenty percent of the apartments (143 of them) will be for low-income tenants. The project is as of right and is being built according to inclusionary housing rules that were in effect in the last mayoral administration, Shell said.
Handel Architects, the designer of the National September 11 Memorial at Ground Zero, is the project architect.
Shell shared a rendering of the 25-story apartment house, which will have 170 parking spaces, with the Eagle. The website New York YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) was the first to publish the rendering last week.