It’s hard to imagine a more picturesque urban neighborhood than Brooklyn Heights. New York’s “first suburb” is well known for its romantic brownstones and narrow leafy streets, but the upscale neighborhood is also home to some stately buildings from the previous century that continue to impress.
One such building is 72 Poplar Street, a brick fortress which was the long-time home of the 84th Police Precinct. Repurposed as a residential condominium, the landmarked building now comprises 14 residences and is hailed as one of the most coveted addresses in one of New York’s most revered neighborhoods.
Today, this challenging reclamation finds itself in our crosshairs as a newest addition to our “Buildings We Love” post.
Police precincts in New York City were once built as imposing structures to endure and inspire. Civic architecture was hailed as community pillars, inspiring people of all classes. But buildings, no matter the nobility of their design, have often outlived their usefulness as needs and technology evolve over time. 72 Poplar is no exception.
Built in Italian Renaissance Revival style, the original structure opened in 1912. Once the city emptied the property in the mid 1990s, it took almost two decades and multiple failed attempts to reinvent the historic structure. The Datan Group in collaboration with Freyer Architects, have succeeded where others have not.
Ideally located mid-block between Henry Street and Hicks Street, the building sits within easy walking distance to some of Brooklyn’s finest parks, including Brooklyn Bridge Park and Cadman Plaza Park. For dog lovers, Hillside Dog park is less than two blocks to the west. Across the street is yet another finely designed condo conversion, Bridge Harbor Heights Condo. This residential destination was crafted out of a former schoolhouse.
With the rebirth of 72 Poplar, the exterior of the building underwent an extensive renovation. The bricks were divinely restored, new windows installed and the regal cornice reinvigorated to its former glory. The building was also expanded from three floors to five. Both of the upper floors are set back from the street located well behind the cornice that caps the height of the original structure. Additionally, the adjoining garage has been converted into a charming single-family carriage house.
Above the front entrance, the words “Police Department, City of New York,” inscribed in the limestone, remains as a reminder of the building’s past. Two resplendent wall sconces adorn either side of the entrance, welcoming you home.
There is nothing cookie-cutter about this development. Each of the 14 homes features a unique layout. And as one might expect with a limited number of residences, the apartments are large, ranging in size from 1500 to 4000 square feet.
Renowned interior designer Richard Mishaan is responsible for the brash, modern interiors of these resplendent homes. In contrast to the building’s historic exterior, the only feature that lends itself to the building’s past are the eight-over-eight windows. While not original (all the windows were replaced), they do lend themselves to the period. Otherwise, think contemporary loft. Highlights include open spaces, high ceilings, open kitchens, multi-zoned cooling and heating, Smart-home wiring and individual washer/dryers. Some of the units provide private outdoor space as well.
At the time of the sell out (2015-2016), median prices settled just above $1400 per square foot. The last unit to have sold, 2-B, was a three-bedroom unit that closed at $2.4 million in August 2020. The price represents a per square foot price of about $1576. Apartment 4-B, a four-bedroom residence, is now available for $4.1 million, $1670 per square foot, through Douglas Elliman. The property was originally listed for $4.95 million in March 2019.