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Guide to NYC

The Offerman Building: Then & Now

April 6, 2018

A Downtown Brooklyn landmark in every sense of the word, the Offerman Building was constructed at 248 Duffield Street near Fulton Street between 1890 and 1893. Commissioned originally by millionaire Henry Offerman, today the building will be given new life with the construction of 121 apartment units designed by Greenberg Farrow Architects that will maintain the charm of the historic building.

A Strong Brooklyn History

Fulton Street has a long history associated with shopping, as the Fulton Street shopping corridor has been around for over 150 years. Before the Brooklyn Bridge was constructed (1867-1873), much of the commercial activity in Brooklyn was by the waterfront, between Borough Hall and Fulton Ferry. The construction of the new bridge along with new roads leading to it resulted in disrupted traffic patterns. As a result, retailers relocated to the upper portion of Fulton Street. This trend was furthered by transit improvements, which connected the district not only to outer Brooklyn neighborhoods, but also to Manhattan and Long Island. The establishment of a number of department stores (a 19th century invention) including A.D. Matthews & Sons and Wechsler & Abraham secured upper Fulton Street’s status as the main shopping district in Brooklyn. Today, over 100,000 people shop there daily.

The Offerman House was commissioned by Williamsburg local Henry Offerman, a relatively obscure figure who made his fortune in the sugar industry as president of the Brooklyn Sugar Refining Company. The building was originally constructed to house S. Wechsler and Brother, a department store that specialized in dry goods. The store was celebrated when it opened and for sale were a vast variety of items, from clothing and linens to furniture and rugs. When the Wechsler store closed in 1897, following Henry Offerman’s death, a succession of department stores were ushered in. The most famous and successful tenant was Martin’s Department Store, posited as a higher-end alternative to the Abraham & Strauss department store located across the street. The store was best-known for its bridal ware and was a favorite of many Brooklynites. The Offerman Building was home to Martin’s from 1924 to 1979, when Martin’s was sold to the Seedman Merchandising Group.

At the time of its construction, at eight floors high, the Offerman Building was one of the tallest buildings in Brooklyn. Stylistic choices, such as the use of light-colored materials (limestone, terra cotta, and pale brick) were used to distinguish the building from its neighboring retailers. The building’s architect was Peter J. Lauritzen, who designed the building in the Romanesque Revival style. Lauritzen, a Danish immigrant, was inspired by German, Italian, and French medieval sources. Some notable features of the building included billet moldings, ornamented columns and arches, a roof-top pavilion, and lions holding scrolls with Offerman’s initials.

The Restoration of a Classic

The new residences at the Offerman House are truly some of the most unique apartments for rent in Brooklyn, NY. The modern conveniences of new construction are matched with the charm that only a landmarked building can offer. Staying true to the building’s history, only the top five floors will be converted, as the bottom floors will remain retail space. Inside the lofts, traditional details such as cast-iron columns, platform floors with trundle storage, and reclaimed wood floors harken to the building’s past, while modern amenities including a rooftop lounge with a large movie screen and fire pit appeal to 21st Century tastes. Each of the 121 loft-like units will have soaring high ceilings, oversized windows, and natural white oak floors. Stainless steel appliances from Bosch and Fisher & Paykel, complemented by Scavolini wood cabinets and a Caesarstone backsplash make the kitchens a chef’s dream.

Downtown Brooklyn: A Vibrant Day & Night Neighborhood

Wondering what’s going on in Downtown Brooklyn? Outside your door is food, fun, and culture galore. 

The newly-opened Dekalb Market Hall is just around the corner offering 60,000 square feet and over 40 food vendors. Some standout vendors include Katz’s Delicatessen, Arepa Lady, and Ample Hills Creamery. If you’re looking for a summer spot where you can sit outside, then the Latin-American restaurant Colonia Verde on Dekalb is the place to go. For Sunday brunches, French Louie is a French-American bistro with twists on classic dishes like creme brulee French toast and everything-bagel bloody marys. Our favorite go-to for drinks?  Livingston Manor, a Catskills-inspired bar that serves up modern takes on traditional drinks. Another neighborhood standout is Grand Army, which offers a seasonal cocktail alongside a seafood bar, making it a great after-work summer hangout spot. Of course, there’s an abundance of coffee shops in the neighborhood, including Gregorys Coffee, AVA Brew, and City Farm Cafe.

Nearby parks include Fort Greene, Columbus Park, Cadman Plaza Park, and Walt Whitman Park. Fort Greene and Columbus park both have weekend farmers markets with dozens of vendors. During the week, grocery shop at nearby Trader Joe’s or Brooklyn Fare. For a Friday night movie, head to the newly-opened Alamo Drafthouse, a dine-in movie theater a few blocks away that shows blockbusters, classics, and indie films all while serving salads, burgers, and Oddfellows ice cream, along with a large selection of beer and cocktails. The nearby Barclays Center is an endless source of entertainment, where you can see an Islanders game one weekend and Jay-Z the next. Check out the New York Transportation Museum, the Brooklyn Ballet, and Kumble Theater for a culture-filled weekend. 

Of course, the Fulton Mall and Atlantic Terminal Mall are nearby, but there are also a number of boutiques in the area for a unique shopping experience. Neighborhood favorites include Hunting with Jake, a home goods shop selling an eclectic mix of vintage and new items and UrbanGlass, a glassware shop and studio. 

For commuters, the Offerman House lofts are around the corner from the Hoyt Street station and 2 and 3 subway lines. The 4, 5, A, C, G, B, Q, and R lines are only a few blocks away.

Looking for more information on this new development? Click here!

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