Reading the ads for the Standish Arms Hotel in Brooklyn Heights that were in newspapers at the turn of the 20th century, you might be forgiven for thinking they were published recently. Like today’s ads for high-end developments in the area, most of them tout the quick commute to Wall Street by ferry and the views of Manhattan.
But one ad that ran in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in April 1935 highlights a stark difference: Monthly rent at the hotel, where rooms could be paid for by the night or longer, was $50, a far cry from the $2,000-a-month studios that were being rented in the building just a few years ago.
Now the new owners of the building, DDG and Westbrook Partners, are turning the 12-story structure just off the promenade into a 31-unit condominium building. Rechristened as The Standish, at 171 Columbia Heights, it will have apartments ranging from $1.3 million for a one-bedroom to $13.5 million and up for a five-bedroom.
“Everyone knows that the townhouse stock in Brooklyn Heights is incredible, but there aren’t a lot of places with a view,” said Joseph A. McMillan, Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DDG.
Mr. McMillan plans to preserve the building’s history. For DDG’s first restoration project and its first development in Brooklyn, the company has hired Higgins Quasebarth and Partners, a historic preservation consultant. The building is within the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, and Mr. McMillan said he worked with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to dig up old tax records to determine the original materials used to build the structure in 1903.
Designed by Frank S. Lowe, a Brooklyn architect responsible for homes throughout the borough, the building has a brick facade that will be stripped and recoated to mimic its original ivory hue. The limestone base will also be restored, Mr. McMillan said, as will the marble fire staircase with cast-iron railings near the middle of the building.
According to a June 1903 article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Eliza Matilda Chandler was the owner of the land that was bundled and sold for about $75,000 to the company that built the Standish Arms Hotel. She was known as Mrs. S.V. White, the wife of Stephen Van Culen White, a former congressman and a prominent Wall Street broker; she was also a descendant of Myles Standish, an English officer who came over on the Mayflower and served as a military adviser to the Pilgrims.
The building has an impressive fictional history, too. Comic book fans may remember Clark Kent living in apartment 5H at the Standish Arms Hotel in Metropolis, while those of Arthur Miller might recognize it as the name of the hotel where Willy Loman, the central character in “Death of a Salesman,” has an affair. (In fact, the hotel in the play was in Boston, but Mr. Miller lived in Brooklyn Heights for years, leading some to believe that he lifted the name of the familiar neighborhood building.)
A handful of one- to four-bedrooms, priced at $1.3 million to $4.5 million, will be available once sales begin on September 19. Pending approval from the state attorney general’s office, there will also be a townhouse unit with up to 12-foot ceilings and a yard and a maisonette duplex with a recreation room in the cellar, according to James Lansill, a senior managing director of the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, which is handling sales.
Amenities will include a roof terrace, a fitness center, a children’s playroom and a 24-hour concierge / doorman, said Mr. Lansill, who expects interest from townhouse owners in the area looking to downsize, as well as Manhattan residents who want a neighborhood that has the feeling of the West Village or TriBeCa and also the spectacular views many of the units will offer.
“The building could not be in a better location,” he said. “It’s like locational nirvana.”