Painted Ladies of Atlantic Avenue


Sometimes in Brooklyn you see an old wooden storefront and, once in a rare while, a pair that has somehow managed to survive the decades. But how often do you see EIGHT in a row, freshly painted in vivid retro colors?

Never, unless you’re on the north side of Atlantic Avenue between Third and Fourth Avenues in Boerum Hill, where a long, uninterrupted row of 1880s buildings with original storefronts, no two alike, defied the odds. (The block is NOT even part of the Boerum Hill Historic District.)

Back when...

Back when…

First developed in the 1970s by Bill Harris of Renaissance Properties and called Atlantic Gardens, the original six buildings plus two adjoining ones were purchased in 2006 by developer Barbara Koz Paley and partners, and restored inside and out with the help of Taylor & Miller Architecture in Greenpoint.

You can tour the storefronts and their 4,000- square-foot landscaped garden, view art installations, and taste handmade chocolates by Nunu on Saturday, February 7, starting at 5PM.

Right now, four stores in the complex are occupied by retail tenants: two of them new (Sanctuary, an Aveda concept beauty salon, and Nunu, a high-end organic chocolatier) and two pre-existing,Islam Fashion and a video store.

The other four stores are for rent, at prices ranging from $3,750 to $10,000/month, says Paula Ingram of Ingram & Hebron Realty; a cafe is close to signing a lease on one of them.  In the meantime, art installations — geometric shapes outlined in neon-colored tape by artist Aakash Nihalani in one store, and Caroll Taveras’s photographic portraits of Brooklynites in the Obama era in another — enliven the space.

The storefronts’ eye-popping colors were carefully researched and custom-mixed, says architect Alex Miller. “We took historic colors that were typically used for trim, and used them on a bigger scale. The sheer fact of combining all these colors in this one location identifies the development as something unique.”

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in BROOKLYN, HISTORIC PRESERVATION and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Painted Ladies of Atlantic Avenue

  1. Melissa says:

    I’ve always loved walking along this section of the Atlantic. Old Fulton Street had a few buildings like this (haven’t walked over in a while and not sure what new development has done to the block), and Vinegar Hill has some forgotten storefronts of old.

  2. cara says:

    I saw an absolutely amazing old storefront this afternoon — a lone survivor — on Grand St in Williamsburg, painted dark green, about 3 blocks up from the river. I glimpsed it as I was driving, so couldn’t see whether it was in use or not. There are probably more of them than we realize. We just have to keep our eyes open!

  3. Melissa says:

    Hmmm…this might be the making of a new photo project for me…

  4. timberpalace says:

    Clever way to get some properties noticed.

    Paint always protects so I guess it doesn’t really matter if they are historically accurate. Its too bad I am on the west coast. I totally would have signed up for that tour.

  5. cara says:

    hi, West Coast! What passes for an ‘old house’ where you are? 1920s?

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