Sweeney Building

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30 Main Street, Brooklyn, New York City, NY

Sweeney Building

Over 100 years old and still looks good
Building Information
Architect David Walentas
Number of Units 87
Number of Floors 12
Year Built 1908
Construction Method Concrete
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30 Main Street, Brooklyn, New York City, NY, United States
Distance to Public Transit About two blocks
Region New York City
Municipality New York City
Zoning M12/R8A
Title of Land Condominium



The Sweeney Building is a former industrial building ... turned condo. It is also known by the address, 74-86 Water Street.

Note the intricate detailing of the exposed concrete façade
It was erected in 1908 by the W. H. Sweeney Manufacturing Company. The company was founded by three brothers from Marysville, Ontario. They manufactured copper, brass, nickel, and silver kitchenware. The brothers relocated to Brooklyn from Manhattan.

The Sweeneys did not fully occupy the building until 1913. Previous tenants included the Metal Packing Company, manufacturers of tin boxes, the Waitzfelder Braid Company the E. B. Kursheedt Apron Company, the C. S. Davisson & Company and the Wilson & Bradbury Company, both of which made handkerchiefs.

The Sweeneys had begun to purchase property around the Water and Main Streets area around 1898 and owned the entire site by 1904. The Sweeneys retired form the manufacturing business around 1924 and began a real estate company.

The conversion to condominium was completed in 2003 and was designed by John Fifeld of Fifeld Piaker Elman Architects. As with many conversion projects from industrial or office buildings to residential use, the ceilings are higher than normal and this building has over sized windows as well.

87 apartments were created within the 12 story structure.[1]


The Sweeney Building is located in Brooklyn, in the neighborhood known as DUMBO, or Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Is is just across the street from the converted Clocktower Building, a building of a similar design, but includes a four story tower with clocks in four directions covered with a mansard roof.

It is perfectly centered between the on ramps to both the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge making the commute into Manhattan fairly easy - traffic permitting.

The immediate area features the Brooklyn Bridge Park, an initiative taken by the city to revitalize the East River Waterfront area of Brooklyn. Formerly a highly industrialized area, the park now offers citizens 85 acres of green space utilizing pre-existing piers to provide outdoor volley ball courts, dog runs, and athletic fields.

Several restaurant choices exist very nearby such as, Miso Sushi (self-explanatory), 7 Stars Deli (check out taco Thursdays - rave reviews), Front Street Pizza (again, should be able to work out what they serve), and Rice (should also be obvious, but beware. They offer ten different kinds of rice, from Bhutanese red rice, to Thai black rice. Don't be indecisive - pick one).

Bars and pubs? A little further away. The Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club sounds enticing towards Vinegar Hill, the next neighborhood over. Interestingly, there are two cinemas right around the corner from the Sweeney Building.

Public transit to other parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan over the river is a couple of blocks away, including several subway stations.[2]


The bright red and white water tank on the roof
The Sweeney Building is yet another sturdily built structure from the early 1900s. So many buildings from that era still stand today.

This 12 story concrete structure as a manufacturing building. Metal boxes, handkerchiefs, and kitchenware of various metals have all been created within its walls.

Crews working on the infrstructure of the streets
Today, however, those types of manufacturing have long since moved away to areas with cheaper rent and more likely, cheaper labor. So the building remains. Developers are seeing a good way to make money by gutting and renovating older structures and re-selling the individual spaces as residences.

The Sweeney Building lends itself well to its new purpose with higher than normal ceilings, as high as eleven feet in some of the lofts. The ceilings are beamed quietly displaying the strength of its construction. The windows are huge for an industrial building of that era giving the suites incredible views of the Brooklyn Bridge for some and the Manhattan Bridge for others.

At first glance, the building seems grey plain. But closer examination will reveal articulate molded stone construction with arched windows on the second and eleventh floors. The top level of windows are new with the renovation where an identifying concrete façade with the name SWEENEY MFG. CO. emblazoned on it. The building takes its name from this, of course.

The roof line has a prominenet overhang decorated on the underside with a regular pattern of dentils. Overall the building has an unsurprising blocky shape with regular fenestration and string courses interrupting the façade at the second, fifth, and eleventh floors.

The rooftop is occupied by the cabanas and the sun deck overseen by the bright red and white water tank and other building mechanicals.

Layout and Features

The Sweeney Building has a fully attended lobby with a doorman and a concierge.

Along with the roof deck and cabanas up top, the building features a fitness center and health club.

The building may not have balconies or fireplaces ... bu it has a fenced in moat. This is not a feature that is seen too often these days.

Kitchens in the apartments are equipped with modern stainless steel appliances from Sub-Zero, Thermador, Viking, Bosch, or Broan and Franke.

There are solid core birch doors and custom designed hardware marble master baths with separate shower stalls and double sinks. Laundry rooms are fully outfitted.[3]

Floor Plans

The Sweeney Building offers one to four bedroom layouts. Here are a few:


  • Concierge
  • Doorman
  • Attended lobby
  • Central air conditioning
  • Roof-top cabanas
  • Roof deck
  • Fitness Center
  • 11-foot ceilings
  • Fenced moat
  • Impressive views
  • Large windows
  • Health club


Sweeney Building Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No
Barbecues Yes

  • Pet friendly
  • Rentals have been recorded for this property
  • Barbecues allowed on the roof deck


The Sweeney Building is not considered to be a "green building", nor was it recorded that any efforts were taken to make it such during the renovations.

However, modern materials, constructions techniques, and proper waste disposal were followed, as mandated by law.

As well, energy efficient appliances, upgraded electrical systems, and modern plumbing fitted with low-flow fixtures help to lessen this building's impact on the environment.

Residents may also participate in New York City's extensive recycling programs.


A great aerial shot of the expanse of the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Notice the Clocktower Building with the green roof and the Sweeney Building catty-corner just beyond it.
  • The Brooklyn Bridge Park was the site of the Fulton Ferry Landing as far back as 1742. Other interesting facts about this park are:[4]
    • A small town called het Veer, which is Dutch meaning, the Ferry was a crucial location for George Washington and the Continental Army in the American Revolution’s Battle of Long Island. In the middle of the night, George Washington and his men evaded the British Army, who were quickly gaining upon the Continental Army, by escaping across the East River to Manhattan.
    • In 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was constructed.
    • In 1909, the Manhattan Bridge was completed.
    • The importance of the ferry service was removed and the Fulton Ferry closed operations in 1924.
    • The Port Authority started to sell off the piers for commercial development in 1984. The organization, the Friends of Fulton Ferry Landing was formed and the idea of a waterfront park was conceived. They became the Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition in 1989.
    • Park construction began in 2008 with Piers one to six open to the public today. Pier 5 opened in the fall of 2012.
    • Jane’s Carousel is a restored, historic carousel from 1922. It is now housed in a glass pavilion designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Jean Nouvel, it is open to the public six days per week


  1. City Realty - Review
  2. Walk Score
  3. Street East - Sweeney Building
  4. Wikipedia - Brooklyn Bridge Park

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