The steel frame has reached the top floor at 600 Bushwick Place, where developer Cayuga Capital is transforming a two-story, pre-war commercial structure into a six-story, mixed use project. The ground level would house a 2,521-square-foot medical office, as well as 12,504 square feet of commercial space. Sixty-six residential units would span 47,948 square feet, averaging 726 square feet each. Hustvedt Culver Architects are behind the design of staggered, cantilevered forms.
The main roof rises 70 feet, reaching the limit imposed by local zoning. Bulkheads boost the structural height close to 90 feet. Incorporation of the former townhouse site of the at the intersection of Bushwick Avenue and Melrose Street enables the property to open onto the street corner, where the project faces a similarly-scaled, seven story residential structure built several years ago on the opposite corner.
The two-story commercial property at 594 Bushwick Avenue was built around the start of the 20th century, when Bushwick consisted of a mix of industrial spaces and worker tenements. An auto showroom occupied the ground floor until the start of the 1950s. From that point onward, the space served as an auto repair facility. In recent years, the second floor housed a small concert venue known as the Lightning Bolt, and an avant-garde art gallery called Loft 594.
The gallery’s official blog states that its operators resisted the incoming conversion. Loft 594 closed on June 15th, 2014, ten days after the builder filed the renovation permit with the Department of Buildings. Scaffolds rose around the facade of the commercial building and the neighboring three-story townhouse at 592 Bushwick Avenue in 2015. Crain’s reported that Cayuga secured a $28 million construction loan in September of that year.
In its original state, the approximately 120-foot-long facade sported large showroom vitrines throughout the lower level, a row of windows at the second story, and a tall parapet decorated with ornamental brickwork. Decorative stone accents added to the building’s appeal. Unfortunately, years of ill-advised alterations stripped much of the structure’s architectural value. A mismatched array of garage doors, windows, portals, and bricked-in walls replaced the original storefront array at the ground level. By the 1980s, more than half of the second floor windows have been bricked in, as well.
Some of the windows were reintroduced in the following years, yet the facade’s earth-tone brick and white stonework were painted a dark blue color that further diminished the building’s architectural value. A disjointed array of signs blighted the once-stately facade.
Original renderings indicate a near-total restoration of brickwork and ground level storefronts. Partial removal of the parapet would allow for an array of large casement windows at the third floor. Upper floors would be clad in floor-to-ceiling glass, with horizontal metal ribs adding a sense of streamlined motion to the industrially-inspired composition.
The rendering posted at the site differs dramatically from the images released online. This iteration shows conventional window arrays that punctuate a dark facade accented with white bands.
The on-site rendering indicates complete removal of brickwork, although our site visit confirmed that at least part of the original facade remains preserved.
Several other renderings available online present variations of the same basic scheme. Regardless of which design represents the current iteration, the building is a great improvement over a structure that turned into an eyesore in its later years. Ground level retail is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, which is seeing rapid residential growth.
Williamsburg-based Cayuga Development focuses almost exclusively on northern Bushwick. The firm is finishing work at The Saint Marks at 616 Bushwick Avenue two doors to the south. Its 99 rental units, some of which went to an affordable housing lottery launched two months ago, sit within a repurposed 1890 Victorian Gothic church and an adjacent seven-story extension. The glass curtain wall and horizontal metal accents at Cayuga Development’s 77 Wythe Avenue, proposed three blocks northeast, more closely echoes the style of 600 Bushwick Avenue.
More development is in progress along nearby blocks. A group of large mid-rise apartment buildings in progress two blocks north would bring hundreds of residential units to the former site of the Rheingold Brewery. Several other construction projects cluster further south around the Myrtle Avenue station of the J, M and Z trains, which provides the transit access necessary for ongoing development.