Where’s the Mustard? GreenbergFarrow’s 80 Metropolitan in Williamsburg

The 123-unit loft and townhouse development in Williamsburg won’t include the historic Old Dutch Mustard Company building, which was demolished because of building code issues.

gbNYC has always argued in favor of preserving existing buildings as the single most sustainable construction practice, particularly here in Gotham where the existing building stock is so extensive. Accordingly, we were disappointed to read about 80 Metropolitan, a 123-unit loft and townhouse development currently under construction on the corner of Metropolitan and Wythe Avenues in Williamsburg.

The project sits on the former site of the the Old Dutch Mustard Company building, which was closed for over twenty years before being razed a little over a year ago. Developer Steiner NYC purchased the property back in 2006 and, according to Multi-Housing News, had hoped to incorporate the historic structure into 80 Metropolitan. While the latter is currently moving forward pursuant to a design executed by New York-based GreenbergFarrow, the Mustard Company building was demolished due to a number of building code concerns and design considerations.

GreenbergFarrow principal Navid Maqami told Multi-Housing News this week that the firm “tried really hard to see if we could build around the existing construction, but it was not possible.” Instead, Greenberg designed the project from scratch, attempting to create an architecture echoing the neighborhood’s industrial vernacular. “80 Metropolitan will incorporate many forward-looking design elements but will at the same time incorporate the character of the neighborhood, which was once dominated by factories and warehouses,” Magami said to MHN; specific details on how green those progressive features might be do not seem presently available. The six-story project features 114 condo units and nine three-story townhomes that range in price from $425K to $1.6M.

While the energy required to construct a new building is only one tenth of that which the same building will consume over its lifetime, we’re never happy to see historic structures cast aside in favor of new development, particularly where there may have been a chance to salvage, at least in part, portions of the older structure. Nevertheless, a building’s operations are where it can impact its surroundings most significantly, so we’re curious to hear whether 80 Metropolitan will take that challenge seriously given the project’s somewhat dubious green beginnings.

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