Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Could Lee Brothers Garage On Smith Street Become The Next Carroll Gardens Development Site?

Corner of Smith Street and Third Street, looking North
Lee Brothers Garage at 375 Smith Street
New development at 360 Smith Street, which is located directly across the street from Lee Brothers Garage

Thursday, January 30th
I am happy to report that I just received an email from a reader indicating that Lee Brothers at 375 Smith Street is open this morning.  That's great news and hopefully an indication that the garage was only temporarily closed.  That's great news.

Yesterday morning, I received the following message from ChickenUnderwear at
"What's up with Mr Lee Auto Repair on Smith and 3rd [Street]? The sign on the gate says closed indefinitely . I gotta get my car inspected before the end of the month."

I grabbed my camera and walked over to Lee Brothers Auto & Body Repair garage at 375 Smith Street, and sure enough, a notice has been taped to the door, informing that the shop will be closed until further notice.
Of course, there could be many reasons for the closure. Let us hope that the Lees will re-open soon.

But one has to wonder if this may have to do with the fact that the garage sits on one of the most desirable lots in one of the most coveted neighborhoods of Brooklyn.
Perhaps, a developer has made the Lee Brothers, who own the site, an offer that they could not refuse? Maybe the brothers will develop it themselves, as they indicated a few years back.

According to the Carroll Gardens contextual rezoning, which was approved in 2009, the site is in an R6B zone, with a height limit of 50 feet and a commercial overlay fronting Smith Street
The Carroll Gardens community pushed for the contextual re-zoning and height limit in part because of the opposition to 360 Smith Street, the 70 feet building right across the street.

Though the Lee's building is rather run down, it was once the Court Theatre, a neighborhood movie theatre. Some details of its past are still visible on parts of the fa├žade. Here is a link to an old tax photo from 1928 that shows the theatre.
Sometime in the 1940, the structure was changed into a gas station. In the 1980's the pumps were taken out, but the repair garage remained.
More on the building's history can be found here.

For those who need their car inspected or repaired in the meantime, ChickenUnderwear reports back that he took his car to Mr. Nam on Baltic Street and was very satisfied.


porkeypete said...

NOOOOOOO! Love those guys.

Anonymous said...

This would be progress. Using a lot right on top of a train station for an auto repair shop is perverse and backwards.

The CG community should DEMAND that this parcel be developed.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I did not even recognize the corner with that ugly apartment building there. It looks so out of place.

neil said...

Those guys are great! They actually perform a useful function in the community. Hate to see it lost to more bars and boutiques. Housing would, however, be perfect for this location.

chickenunderwear said...

It was the 28th of the month and I needed my car inspected. Kenny Lee had always been kind to my 16 year old POS, so I got a little worried when I saw the sign. I wiggle on over to Nam's on Baltic near Bond. It was like a parallel universe of honesty.

Mr Nam said that he never takes customers from Mr Lee but did not know he was closed. He figured he was selling the land, that is hard to resist.

BTW, this is my blog post that makes reference to Kenny Lee's shop.

chickenunderwear said...

I do hope he is just moving. But I did love that location. Dropping the car off and then jump on the train to get to work and pick it up on the way home was super convenient.

Andy said...

Truly hope he'll use this payday to open another shop nearby. Kenny was great, but Jimmy was my go to man!

Anonymous said...

Kenny's mother passed away.

Katia said...

I am very sorry to hear about the family's loss.

Anonymous said...

Why is a garage "perverse and backwards"? what a strange comment. And since when can people " demand" development? " we demand a condo! By midnight! " In any event, I suspect the Lightstone group has bought the Lee's former movie house/garage, with its higher ground, turn into a flood free valet parking arena for it's 700 unit folly on Bond. :( look, all kidding aside it may become housing but another luxury unit is something I wouldn't

Anonymous said...

About 6 months ago someone on Brownstoner mentioned that the Lee Brothers themselves were the ones who were going to develop the property--luxury rentals, I believe they said. They were in the process of doing the environmental study then, must've completed that and now onward with the building plans. Makes sense. This is prime real estate.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 8:52 sounds about right. Right around then there were some borings done on the property I'd assume was for site testing.

Anonymous said...

Just walked by during business hours. Closed again.

Katia said...

That may be because today is Chinese New Year?

Anonymous said...

chinese shopowners usually close for three days during new year.

kung hey fat choy!

Anonymous said...

I know this is off-topic but I wasn't sure where to put it, do you know what is going on with Luna Rossa on Court st? They've been closed awhile now and they were one of my favorites in the hood. Would really hate to lose them for good.

Katia said...

You know, I walked past there about two weeks ago and noticed that they were closed. Will check it out.

chickenunderwear said...

It's old news, but they are open again. :)