• I am a Historic Preservation graduate student at Pratt Institute where I am taking a Neighborhood Planning and Historic Preservation Studio focused on Brooklyn Community District 8 [roughly from Flatbush to Ralph, and Eastern Parkway to Atlantic].

    At this point in the semester, we are creating a community plan based on our research over the last few months. My current assignment is to determine the viability of rehabilitating the Kingston Lounge for re-use. As you may know, it's an old jazz club located on Bergen Street. It has been closed since the 80s and has since fallen into disrepair.

    You can see some photos of the current conditions and read a little more about it here:

    The building is located within the boundaries of the Crown Heights North historic district and is built above its FAR, so it is extremely unlikely that it would be torn down. However, it has been vacant since 2001 and a string of owners have sat on the property for years.

    The current mortgage on the building is for $499,000. It's assessed market value for 09/10 is $683,000. The commercial space is 1517 sq. ft., while the three upstairs apartments comprise another 4129 sq. ft.

    I'm interested in hearing from community residents with ideas about how this space could be used and who could implement such a project. Do you think there is a market for it to return to its original use as a jazz club? Do you have any sense of how much it would cost to rehabilitate a space like this? Do you know of projects similar in scope and size? Do you know of any people who would be interested in a project like this?

    Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!


    Tara Kelly
    MS Candidate, Historic Preservation
    Pratt Institute '09
  • It's definitely a cool building and it would be great to bring it back as a jazz lounge. The current owners obviously do not care about the property as they have let it fall apart. At this point it will need significant renovations in order to make it habitable.

    If anything is going to happen with it I think the owners will have to be willing to sell and to do so at the current market rate which will be at or below the current mortgage amount. Unfortunately, if they are not in a distressed situation this may not happen any time soon.
  • I think there is definitely a market for a jazz spot as many jazz clubs have disappeared over the years.

    You might want to talk to some of the property owners on Nostrand or Franklin Ave about costs to renovate buildings in this neighborhood for this type of venue. I'm sure there are one or two that could provide you with comparables for commercial space in CH located on similar commercial strips.
  • I once met an older gentleman a few years ago who told me a story about how he got swindled out of the building in a ruse to that was to get it restored.
  • As a nearby resident of the Kingston Lounge, I would love to see this site revitalized. Right now, it is one of the biggest eyesores in the community but it certainly has a lot of potential. Of course, you would need to address noise and loitering issues due to the fact that it's surrounded by residences but that shouldn't be too hard to do.

    For the place to be financially viable as a jazz club, I think you would have to figure out a way to market the place to both the longtime residents of CH as well as the young people who are moving in and spending lots of money at the new restaurants and bars over on Franklin, for example. You would also have to figure out how to bring in folks from outside the community who may have misgivings about being on Kingston late at night for a jazz show. That corner doesn't have the greatest reputation.

    I would also suggest looking at what the space would be used for during the day. Would it just be a bar or would there be a restaurant that could be a local gathering spot in the community? Perhaps there is an opportunity, too, to provide musical programming for youth in the afternoons- maybe in conjunction with the Children's Museum. I think some of the clubs in the city do youth programming. The state provides some fairly generous funding for programs that serve youth in our community.

    As for who would spearhead such a project, I don't have any ideas right now. I'll post later if I think of anything.
  • I would love to see this place renovated and think it would do quite well if recast as a bar/restaurant/music venue. I think it'd be prudent to broaden the music offerings, though. As a longtime jazz fan, I know that that market is limited, especially in the middle of a residential Brooklyn neighborhood. In order to succeed, this place would have to appeal to a wider audience.

    Also, the Kingston Lounge was a jazz club during a time when live performances were a major part of America's social life. Nowadays, with computers, video games, netflix, iPods, etc., people are more homebound and frequently listen to music via devices rather than at venues. Yes, I know that many people still enjoy live music, but, still, it's a fraction of what once was and I think that should be take into consideration here.

    Regardless, I hope the Kingston Lounge gets resurrected. I'd support is for sure.
  • rule of thumb. gut reno. 200 to 300 a square foot. I'll let you do the math.
  • I remember when it was open - and much like the Lenox Lounge in Harlem it had it's glory days. I think a space to host not only live music, but spoken word and other performances would thrive in this changing community. ...
  • modsquad wrote: rule of thumb. gut reno. 200 to 300 a square foot. I'll let you do the math.

    It can be done for far, far less than this. For 100 a foot you can do something very nice and it can be done even cheaper. 2-300 a foot is what people spend doing high end renovations in their park block brownstones.
  • Ben wrote: [quote=modsquad]rule of thumb. gut reno. 200 to 300 a square foot. I'll let you do the math.

    It can be done for far, far less than this. For 100 a foot you can do something very nice and it can be done even cheaper. 2-300 a foot is what people spend doing high end renovations in their park block brownstones.

    Well 300 could be high but 100 is to low. figure 20 tons of AC plus the heat, duct work, complete new kitchen with duct to roof, sprinkler system for legal place of assembly, all new electric, new 4" water main for sprinkler, ADA compliant, some sound insulation for the apartments upstairs, these are the unique extras above and beyond the normal renovation required in an abandoned building. I don't know, I might stick with the 300.
  • Subject: great project!!

    ps i was thinking of applying to the historical preservation program but ended up going for something entirely different.

    in any case, it is an amazing old space in terrible condition. i live about a block away. i'd love to see it restored and function as a jazz club / music/performance venue / coffee house / community space, etc...
  • I logged on to the Kingston Lounge blog and was sad to see that very little of the original interior remains. It seems that someone tried to renovate it, with the result being a 1980s era suburban rec room. Oh well, at least the sign remains.
  • Perhaps you can reach out to the Crown Heights North Association. Their mission is, in part, "dedicated to the preservation of the historic buildings of Crown Heights North community and residents. CHNA is also devoted to community revitalization, economic advancement, housing stabilization and cultural enhancement."

    They are currently spearheading the landmarking of Crown Heights North, but a project like this might be right up their alley.
  • Thanks for all your help! See below:

    Planning and Historic Preservation graduate students at Pratt Institute have spent the spring semester studying your community, Community District 8 in Brooklyn, and I know many of you spoke to them or filled out a survey designed to get your input. We thank you so much for your thoughts, feedback and advice, and would now like to invite you to come hear the studio's ideas for your neighborhood.

    This event will take place on Wednesday May 13, at 6:30 p.m., at Pratt Institute's Higgins Hall, on the corner of Lafayette Avenue and St. James Place in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. We will be using the gallery space on the ground floor, just behind the guard desk.

    If you would like to attend the presentation, and participate in what we hope will be a lively discussion afterward, please send me a reply email [vweiner@pratt.edu] so I can put your name on the attendees list. If you have friends, family, or colleagues that would also like to attend, feel free to send me their names as well.

    Thank you so much for your participation in the work of our students! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.


    Vicki Weiner and John Shapiro
    co-instructors of the Joint Planning & Preservation Studio
    Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment
    Pratt Institute
  • On Monday I saw that work permits had been posted for a Type 2
    Alteration/partition removal, along with a "Work in Progress" sign with an anticipated completion date of June 2015. The rendering shows only the Bergen Street side of the building and looks pretty much the same as what's there now.

    Kingston Lounge
  • Thanks so much for the update! I looked at the permits and they have been filed by Daniel Branover, owner of Basil:

    It looks like he purchased the building last spring for $925,000.
  • So, once we include his new place "Meat" is that three buildings on Kingston he owns?

    Meat: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/964289
  • 115 Kingston Avenue ("Meat") is kitty-corner to the Kingston Lounge at 120 Kingston Avenue.
  • Yeah, Kingston Lounge is at 120 Kingston on the corner of Bergen ... diagonally across the street from the "Meat" building.
  • Got it. Thanks.
  • My understanding is that Branover intends to make this a jazz type lounge.
  • southeast said:

    My understanding is that Branover intends to make this a jazz type lounge.

    Wow! Thats great!
  • Scaffolding is going up around the Kingston Lounge building. workers were inside cleaning out all last week.
  • Pretty cool. I was "temporarily relocated" to124 Kingston from 207-2011 while they gut renovated my building on Franklin.  I loved reading about the history of that place in its heyday and looked forward to the day when it would hopefully be renovated.  Whatever the downsides of gentrification/urban renewal, it's nice to see old beautiful buildings like this being restored to their former glory.  That particular intersection is going to look at lot different in a couple years than it did  back when I moved back in 2011 (when it was still fairly desolate).
  • This site (120 Kingston) seems to now be in the process of completing an application to LPC, and would like CB8's support re: same.

    Basically, the applicants/owners need to convince CB8 and LPC that they are renovating in a way that maintains the character of the building, and in exchange they:

    1. Get to do it.
    2. Get some tax credits and whatnot.

    CB8 will scratch its chin and decide whether to back the plans on Thursday, June 4, 2015 at the Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation located at 727 Classon Avenue (between Park and Prospect Places) at 6:30 PM

    The good news is that EVEN WITHOUT GOING TO SAID MEETING we can infer from this that the project is continuing to move forward.

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