85 Water Street, circa 2001 (Photo courtesy of Mo’s Fo-Toes’)
85 Water Street, 2008 (Photo courtesy of tinygines)
Originally built in the 1830’s, the landmarked building, known as 85 Water Street was used as a pepper mill before it became vacant from 1950 until about 2003. It was then renovated by Two Trees and Bob Vila featured on “Bob Vila’s Home Again” in season 14 in 2003. The rehab and renovation episodes are interesting and can be viewed online at BobVila.com.
The rehabilitation removed an elevator shaft, converted each of the three upper floors to separate living spaces, and remodeled the commercial space on the ground level. Chris Vila worked with Dumbo’s architectural team of Della Valle and Bernheimer Design to create a contemporary living space while preserving the historic elements of the building.
The New York and Washington, D.C.-based Beyer, Blinder, Belle Architects & Planners also helped in the architectural restoration and worked to gain Landmarks’ approval since the building is part of the Fulton Ferry Historic District. The initial plans added another set-back floor on top. However, the LPC denied this plan.
Although the renovation took place only 5 years ago, the building keeps its historic character and now consists of a ground floor with a retail tenant, Almondine Bakery, and three upper rental units (offered by Two Trees) plus a roof. The teams did a great reno job by keeping the building’s bones in tact, and now, Dumbo is lucky to have one of the best bakeries in the city located at 85 Water Street.