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A Tale of Two Brownstones: 192 and 194 Columbia Heights

Magnificent, manicured 192 Columbia Heights (r.), for sale at a $16 million asking price, has a notoriously ill-maintained neighbor, 194 Columbia Heights (l.). Photo by Lore Croghan

 

Eye On Real Estate: One's for sale for $16 Million, the other's got bricked-up windows

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

This is a tale of two brownstones. What will prospective buyers of what could be Brooklyn's priciest house make of it?

One of them is pristine 192 Columbia Heights – a magnificent, manicured 1850s brownstone with six bedrooms that's for sale at an asking price of $16 million – which would be a record for Brooklyn if that's what's paid.

The other, right next door, is 194 Columbia Heights – padlocked, long vacant, with bricked-up and boarded-up windows facing the famed Promenade, widely considered to be one of landmarked Brooklyn Heights' most mistreated properties.

In April, The New York Times announced that gorgeous, historic 192 Columbia Heights was headed for the sale market. The story made no mention of the problem property next door, and instead noted 192 Columbia Heights' “premier location on a pin-drop quiet block.”

Anyone who visits the impeccably restored brownstone is going to notice things are looking raggedy next door. In a minute flat, a Google search will uncover lots of kvetching by neighborhood residents about the condition of neglected 194 Columbia Heights.

A closer look at the stoops: This is vacant 194 Columbia Heights. Photo by Lore Croghan

A closer look at the stoops: This is pristine 192 Columbia Heights. Photo by Lore Croghan

Our retired colleague Don Evans detailed the brownstone's troubles in a 2009 Brooklyn Daily Eagle story, when a piece of the roof blew off and fell against a building next door.

Commenters on the Brooklyn Heights Blog have said 194 Columbia Heights' basement flooded in 2012 and “caused trouble for the neighbors on either side” and pointed fingers about a “rat problem” they said has been “centered around that part of the block” where 194 Columbia Heights is located.

Dr. Austin Moore, who according to city Finance Department records has owned 194 Columbia Heights since 1969, did not answer our call about the sad-looking house.

Let there be light – or not – at 194 Columbia Heights.

Kevin J. Carberry, who has the co-exclusive listing on 192 Columbia Heights, spoke in Dr. Moore's defense.

“The fact is he has tried to maintain the house,” Carberry, who's the owner-broker of Kevin J. Carberry Real Estate, told us. “Every time we talk, he says he wants to live in it. I speak with him with regularity.”

Dr. Moore's house, Carberry said, “may be an easy target because it isn't spic and span.”

Dr. Moore put a new roof on 194 Columbia Heights “that protects it from the elements,” the broker said. “He is doing what he can. He has expressed time and time again his desire to live in the house.”

Locked up tight at 194 Columbia Heights – Photo by Lore Croghan

It's entirely possible that prospective buyers of impeccably restored 192 Columbia Heights will not like the look of the neighboring brownstone, Carberry acknowledged.

“If someone walks up and decides not to buy 192 Columbia Heights because of the house next door, there's nothing you can do about that,” Carberry said.

Windows on the Promenade-facing side of neglected 194 Columbia Heights are bricked-up or boarded-up. Photo by Lore Croghan

But he had no doubts about the appeal of the single-family brownstone now being offered for sale, which was restored by Baxt/Ingui Architects and the construction firm Interior Alterations and has two terraces and a landscaped backyard.

“It's going to sell,” he said. “It's going to sell to someone who loves it.”

What about the rats?

“To point at the owner of 194 Columbia Heights as the source of the rat problem is grossly unfair. There have been rats on the Promenade for decades. Yes, there have been issues with rodents that peak and dwindle,” Carberry said.

“Rats exist. It's part of New York.”

A spokesman from Corcoran, the brokerage which shares the co-exclusive listing with Carberry, didn't respond to our queries by deadline.

The brownstone that's for sale, 192 Columbia Heights, has two terraces facing the Promenade. Photo by Lore Croghan

April 30, 2014 - 12:00pm


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