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Historic Department of Environmental Protection Facility Completes $31.6 Billion Refurbishment

The Department of Design and Construction oversees South Williamsburg project in a century-old building.

The historic Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) building on Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn - a relic of early 20th Century infrastructure - completed its $31.6 million renovation project Friday.

The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) managed the construction of upgrades in the three-story facility  The structure is currently the home of the DEP water tunnel and shaft maintenance staff.

DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza and DDC Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer both expressed pride in completing the preservation and improvement effort for a structure so vital to the history of city infrastructure.

"Operating and maintaining the City's vast water infrastructure requires DEP to be present in nearly every community across the five boroughs and we strive to integrate our facilities into the neighborhood, including this historic building in south Williamsburg," said Sapienza. 

The building, which was originally completed in 1904, occupies an entire city block between Flushing Avenue, Kent Avenue, Little Nassau Street, and Taaffe Place. It was designed by Warren and Wetmore, the architectural firm responsible for New York City landmarks such as Grand Central Terminal.

The Neo-Classical/Neo- Egyptian design elements reminiscent of the early 20th Century prompted the DEP to preserve its historic quality. 

"It is critical that we also be active partners in our preservation efforts to preserve historic buildings and landmarks where possible. 

This work helps maintain the community, serves the needs of our DEP water tunnel and shaft maintenance staff, and protects the drinking water across the five boroughs for over 8 million New Yorkers.  Job well done!" said City Councilmember Stephen Levin. 

The DEP's predecessor, the Department of Gas, Water, and Electricity bought the building for $300,000 in 1934 and retrofitted it two years later as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.

Now, 85 years later, the building once again received a refurbishment that meets the needs of the era. The DDC restored the masonry facade, roof, skylight, and structural framework of the building.

The upgrades were not solely aesthetic, however. New wet and dry fire alarm systems along with fireproofing and waterproofing bring the facility up to modern-day safety standards. Furthermore, handicap-accessible ramps were installed in accordance with ADA standards. 

"This historic building, which houses a vital and under-appreciated water supply function, has been fully reinforced and waterproofed and is now ADA-accessible with upgraded lighting, environmental controls and fire alarm systems," said DDC Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer.  "We're proud of this project, which was undertaken with great care to preserve the character of this 120-year-old structure."

The project is a part of the DEP's larger capital program which seeks to make over  $20.1 Billion in investment over the next ten years.