Saturday, March 31, 2007

GL's Save Coney Island Slideshow

Gif animations at

Here's some slideshow action from yesterday's Save Coney Island protest. You can check out our flickr set here and the flickr slideshow itself by clicking here.

Related Post:
Save Coney Island Protest Rocks City Hall


Brooklyn Nibbles: Supermarket Edition

Having visited the new Bowery Whole Foods yesterday, we have a couple of notes on Brooklyn food retailing.

1) The Borough President noted in a wide ranging set of remarks promoting development in Brooklyn that Trader Joe's "will be in Brooklyn shortly." The prediction, which is clearly based on knowledge of the space the retailer is scouting, is reported in the Bay News. GL certainly loves a mystery. Given that Trader Joe's requires less space than Whole Foods, any number of new buildings or existing spaces come to mind.

2) Speaking of Whole Foods, the Real Estate dispatched someone to gaze upon the toxic parcel of land at Third Street and Third Avenue in Gowanus that the organic food retailer intends to turn into a grocery store by next year. No word on the progress of the cleanup and Whole Foods--which was last heard telling Park Slope groups that they're not interested in putting a green roof on their store or in reducing the size of their mammoth parking garage--had no comment on the status of their plans. A spring start for the conclusion of the detox of the land (which includes benzene in the groundwater) and the start of construction has previously been mentioned.

Brookvid: The Save Coney Island Demonstration

Click on the embed and take a look at yesterday's Save Coney Island demonstration at City Hall.


Brooklinks: Saturday Visual Non-Coney Edition

Air 2

Brooklinks is a daily selection of Brookly-related information and, especially on weekends, images.

Not Photos:

Gowanus Lounge Photo Du Jour: Our Lady of the Body Shop

Our Lady of the Body Shop
Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Brooklinks: Special Save Coney Island Edition

Gowanus CDC Director Tom Chardavoyne Passes Away

Some sad news to report. Thomas Chardavoyne, the Executive Director of the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corp., has passed away. The news comes via an email from Community Board Six District Manager Craig Hammerman. Mr. Chardavoyne was deeply involved in efforts to create a strategic plan for the Gowanus community and to ensure that planning, rezoning and development went hand in hand. He was also involved in a large number of civic and neighborhood causes. On a personal level, we will say that we always found him to be very friendly, very warm and very caring about the community. We are very saddened by the news. There will be a wake for Mr. Chardavoyne on Sunday at Scotto's Funeral Home at 106 1st Place (off Court Street) on Sunday from 7-9pm and Monday from 2-5pm and 7-9pm. The funeral mass is on Tuesday, April 3rd at 10:15am at St. Boniface R.C. Church, 109 Willoughby Street.

Annual Submerge Festival Coming

Submerge Fest

The Urban Divers are sponsoring the eighth annual edition of their Submerge Festival, which showcases film/video, photography and other art media produced by local and international artists to raise awareness of water. This year's festival will be held in July in Red Hook (exact venue and days, TBD). The festival moves to a different waterfront community and venue every year.

Organizers are accepting all genres in video or film, photography, most matted and exhibit ready. Mobiles must take up more than three feet by three feet of space. Entry fees are only $20 per submission. A bio and description of art work should go along with the submission. The address for the entry fee and submissions is 89 Pioneer Street, Brooklyn NY 11231.

Artists would need to make arrangement for hand delivery of mobiles and photography, submissions are now being accepted and will be through the end of June. Winners will be announced on July 1.

The 8th Annual Submerge Art & Environment Festival will be presented this year in a unique outdoor exhibit and film screening venue, along with a presentation of Live! Beneath the Estuary – A live underwater video exploration and underwater narration with submerged Urban Divers. The festival will also travel to other waterfront venues along NY Harbor. The Urban Divers Submerge-Art and Environment Festival is in collaboration with Umbrella for the Arts and Sound Art Films. For more info call 718-802-9874.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Save Coney Island Protest Rocks City Hall

Coney GL3

The Save Coney Island protest arrived on the steps of City Hall this afternoon with costumes, music, speeches and an awful lot of cameras. "Coney Island is more than an amusment park," said author Charles Denson, who noted that he had originally favored developer Joe Sitt's redevelopment plan, but said he'd turned against it as he found that leaned heavily on condos in the amusement zone. "Thor is trying to undermine" the plan for Coney Island that calls for an amusement district running from Keyspan Park to the New York Aquarium. He attacked the proposals to build what he terms "a 40-story monstrosity" and to rezone for housing. "There is no such thing as one condo," he said. "As soon a it's rezoned, they will sprout like mushrooms."

Other speakers called on preserving Coney Island as a "resort of the poor and the working-class."

A seven-year-old speaker said, "When I was two years old my father used to take me there. It means so much to me. I don't want to lose it."

We will have more on the protest and remarks tomorrow. For now, a few photos.

Coney GL1

Coney GL5

Coney GL4

Coney GL7

Coney GL6


Hot Sheets for Hipsters: A New Greenpoint Hotel!

New Greenpoint Hotel Text

So, the first new hotel to open in Williamsburg-Greenpoint won't be a boutique hotel near Bedford Avenue. It will be one at 40 Withers, right up against the BQE, in Greenpoint. We don't know if it will be affiliated with any chains (it has that Days Inn kind of look) or if there will be mirrors on the ceilings (yes, it's a cheap shot, just like the headline), but it's seven stories tall and will have 54 rooms. It's also very convenient to Bamonte's (like, overlooking the Bamonte's parking lot) and should offer excellent, if not dramatic, views of traffic on the BQE. Another view of the place North Brooklynites can put mom up for the night or go when there are too many roommates around is below.

Greenpoint Hotel Two

Gowanus + Baseball = ?

What happens when you search for "Gowanus" and "baseball"? You find the Gowanus Rotisserie Baseball Gazette (who knew?) and a logo for something called the "Gowanus Aura" whose logo is on Webshots and which we reproduce here to the right. Now, avoiding the temptation to go on at length about a "Gowanus Aura," we'll say that we stumbled into this when we happened upon the Rotisserie Baseball blog and an entry it has about a bizarre but really cute designer dog called a Torky and its comment that it ranks at the top of the Google search results. We are not making this up.

Torkies? Gowanus Auras? Gowanus Baseball?

Okay, the Gowanus baseball thing isn't that off-base, given that a location on Third Avenue near Third Street is said to have been the site of Washington Park, where the Brooklyn Dodgers played from 1898-1912 and that a wall along Third Avenue is actually a remnant of some part of the park. The Times ran a story on the park back in February.

Just for the record, when you Google search "Gowanus" and "stink," which we just did on a whim as we were writing this, the No. 1 return is Gowanus Lounge and specifically a recent item on the Roebling Oil Field in Williamsburg. We only place third for "Gowanus" and "stench" but also come up No. 1 for "Gowanus" and "slime." We have achieved this status without the help of search engine placement consultants.

We are honored and humbled.

Trying to Enliven the New Stillwell Ave. Corridor of Blight

Coney Demolition Ten

We were a little cheered to see a report that the Coney Island Development Corporation discussed ways to revive Stillwell Avenue between the Bowery and the Boardwalk. Of course, the strip didn't need any reviving or revitalization until Thor Equities demolished everything, but now that it's been turned into a potentially dangerous wasteland, attention turns to how keep it safe and how to prevent it from turning into a blighted strip for the next three-five years. It's a legitimate concern and gains more immediacy on Sunday when Coney Island's season starts again and significant numbers of people return. Thor recently obtained permits to put up those blue plywood construction walls around its property.

Kinetic Carnival reported on discussion of ideas to:
keep Stillwell Avenue (behind Nathan's to the boardwalk) active and safe during the season, which is where most of the demolition is taking place. Ideas thrown about were arts and crafts booths, kiosks of food concessions and souvenir stands. Dick Zigun wanted to make sure that careful consideration be taken for the kind of competition it would create for the souvenir shops already in business along Stillwell.
Our favorite idea is the one floated by Diana Carlin, AKA Lola Staar, which is to set up temporary carnival rides on Stillwell. It strikes our (admittedly simply) minds as the ideal solution. The CIDC Board discussed setting up arts & craft or souvenir on the street or creating some sort of activity that help sustain traffic and interest on this very long block. It's also a very sensible idea even though there's concern that new business don't compete with existing ones.

If CIDC does not act to undo the blight that Thor is creating with its early, total demolition strategy, we are willing to wager that something awful will happen on Stillwell this summer. We are not wishing for this, but big urban strips devoid of activity are magnets for bad things. Allowing the creation of a walled-off urban dead zone and expecting it to be functional as a public space violates every planning principle there is.


Park Slope Transportation Roundup

[Slideshow courtesy of Streets Blog, which posted it on Slideshare]

Streets Blog has offered so much good reporting on Park Slope transportation issues over the last few days that it's hard to know where to start. Taken together, the items show possible progress on a number of important fronts, including making the death trap known as Grand Army Plaza into a safer and kinder place, improving Ninth Street so that it's friendlier to everyone using it and installing bike lanes in a number of place. All of them are critical community improvements.

There was an important Community Board 6 Transportation Committee meeting last night in Park Slope to discuss some of the Department of Transportation's proposals. We were unable to attend due to an obligation in another borough, but we're hoping someone will offer a rundown today.

We don't have the details of DOT's proposed improvements to Grand Army Plaza, but they focus on "improvements designed to enhance pedestrian mobility, access and comfort. In addition, there are proposals to install bike lanes and markings for left-turning lanes on Ninth Street between Third Avenue and Prospect Park West, a presentation on creating bike routes in Red Hook and "discussion and consideration" of a plan to put a speed bump on Columbia Street between Halleck Street and the Gowanus Bay.

Civic Involvement Reminder: Save Coney Island Protest Today

If you're of a mind to express your opinion about keeping Coney Island's amusement district intact for amusements and to question the current redevelopment proposals or, if you want to take in a colorful scene, don't forget today's Save Coney Island protest at City Hall. The full rundown is here, but we'll note the demonstration will be on the steps of City Hall from 12:00-1:00. It all starts with a parade from 11:30-12:00 around the block and onto the steps of City Hall, followed by the demonstration itself. The speakers will include Charlie Denson (author of Coney Island Lost and Found), Richard Eagon (Coney Island Hysterical Society), Louis Scarcella (Coney Island Polar Bears), Dianna Carlin (Lola Staar), Jo Weldon (cultural activist) and others. There will be a parade up Broadway at 1:00. More info at Save Coney's My Space page.


Brooklinks: Friday Coney Island, Baby, Edition

Coney Trenchcoat

Brooklinks is a daily selection of Brooklyn-related information and images:

Not Coney

Greenpoint Gets Banged, Too

Empire Pile on Green Street

Our favorite Williamsburg tool, the one that bangs every property in the hood, cheated for a few days, moving it earthshaking talents north of the border into Greenpoint. We got an email that said, "Since Tuesday they have had a 5-6 story pile-driver grinding away from roughly 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. I have wanted to destroy that thing much of this week." This is not to be confused with the conversation we had last week with someone on N. 7th Street in Williamsburg who complained his housed had been shaking all week as the pile driver banged away at N. 8th Street and Roebling. In any case, when we inquired in an off-hand way whether it was the Empire Pile driver--which we posted about on Monday--we were told that it was. It has since driven off to go bang something else in Williamsburg or Greenpoint, but our Greenpoint correspondent was good enough to photograph some evidence that North Brooklyn's Best Banger had been there.

Related Post:
Williamsburg Gets Banged: Big Pile Driver Moves On

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Here's How a 40 Story Building in Coney Island Would Blend


Lost in some of the publicity about Coney Island redevelopment is the fact that developer Thor Equities wants to put several highrise condo towers on or near the boardwalk. One building would be up to 50 stories tall. The others would clock in at 40 stories. All would be in the current amusement zone, which has emerged as a significant point of contention. So, what might a 40-story building look like in Coney Island?

We were a little tired of our Coney Island Scale-O-Matic, so we were grateful when Adrian Kinloch who is the person behind the Brit in Brooklyn and the Only Coney blogs, hit us off with this little rendering that he created. While we're certain that Thor's buildings would have more architectural merit than this monolithic thing that looks like a 1960s public housing creation on steroids, it gives a sense of what people might look up and see from the beach someday. And, this is an understated version. The Wonder Wheel is 12 stories tall and the building shown is only about 35 stories.

Also, we realize that the highrises probably wouldn't be located in this exact spot, which is the Astroland property, more or less, nonetheless, we think the rendering makes the point that the Coney Island future may look very tall. Very tall.

BONUS REMINDER: What promises to be a very interesting Save Coney Island demonstration takes place at City Hall tomorrow (3/30) at Noon. For details, check the item we posted yesterday or go to the Save Coney My Space page.

Related Post:
New Coney Island Tactic: Reshuffling the Deck


Red Hook Update: Street Art Rescued!

Beard Street Wall 500

After we posted our item yesterday about the street art on the shed on Beard Street in Red Hook that was about to be obliterated by demolition of the Revere Sugar Plant, our special neighborhood correspondent reported some happy news. The art was "rescued" by a neighborhood resident "hours before the Blue Monster of Red Hook could devour it." The art--which had taken a beating from the weather and from people taking some of the panels that made up the display--will "reappear in a new location," possibly even in an actual exhibit space "in the not too distant future." (The photo above shows the wall about a year ago when it was in better shape than today. For a panorama of the wall as it appeared this weekend, before the art was rescued, click here) We're wondering if the art might be part of a broader exhibit of photos and other work related to the demolition of the plant that played such a large role in the neighborhood and defined its skyline for generations. If not, it'd sure make a good show somewhere. Hint. Hint.

Related Post:
Last Look at Red Hook Street Art

Brooklyn Water #2: Newtown Creek Flambé?

Could Newtown Creek actually catch fire? Nah. But the blogger that captured this compelling image on the Brooklyn side of Newtown Creek--at the epicenter of the awful Greenpoint Oil Spill--brought up the Cuyahoga River and brought back memories of the days when Burn, River Burn was a very real thing. (The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was so polluted and had such oil slicks floating atop it that it actually went up in flames, most notably in 1969. This was also the era when Cleveland went bankrupt and Mayor Ralph Perk was famously photographed pointing a blowtorch at his head and setting his hair on fire, earning the nickname "The Hair-On-Fire Mayor.")

God, the good old days. They don't make news like that anymore.

In any case, as far as we know, Exxon is still refusing to continue pumping spilled oil out of the ground, in what is widely interpreted as a reaction to pending legal action. Their practice of releasing partly treated water back into Newtown Creek is also under, um, fire.

Related Posts:
State Finally Sues Exxon Over Greenpoint Oil Spill
Is There More Oil Under Williamsburg?

GL's Construction Site Du Jour: North Fork Supports 390 Lorimer

390 Lorimer Priceless 500

[Photo courtesy of Miss Heather]

Today, we turn to 390 Lorimer Street for our construction site du jour, not so much because it's unsafe--though it looks a little on the rickety side--but because using your bank's signage as part of your fence is a nice touch. Which only goes to show you that North Fork Bank supports you in every way. Totally. The site itself is destined to be a four-story buildings with 28 units.

390 Lorimer 3 500

Brooklyn Water #1: How's the Gowanus Doing?

Gowanus Dirty

Is it GL's imagination or is the water quality in the Gowanus Canal getting worse? It seems like every time we cross South Brooklyn's Grand Canal there's more oil on the surface and more garbage floating around. Again, it could just be that we notice it more on certain days, and we realize that everything is relative and that compared to, say, 1982, the Big G is like a swimming pool.

On that note, we'll point out that the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, whose existence we cheer and for whose effectiveness we pray, is hosting the third of its "Water Quality Summits" tonight (3/29). The session is "A Green District in Gowanus?" Peter Washburn (New York City Council) will discuss creating "green" developments and describe the incentives and policies used to promote green development and infrastructure in New York City. Dr. Franco Montalto (eDesign and Gowanus Canal CDC Board member) will discuss combined sewage overflow (CSO) events on the canal and possible modeling methods to improve conditions. Larry Fabbroni (Ehrenkrantz Eckstutu & Kuhn Architects) and Dr. Richard Plunz (Columbia University) will discuss green district planning policies that can be used to improve water quality in the Gowanus Canal. The session will also include student proposals for sites along the canal, as well as some of the recommendations included in the Gowanus Canal Comprehensive Community Plan recently released by the Gowanus Canal CDC. The session runs from 6:30PM-9:00PM at Polytechnic University, Dibner Library, Room LC 400; 333 Jay Street, Brooklyn.

Related Post:
Gowanus Water Quality Summit Meetings Starting Tonight

Brooklinks: Thursday Focus on Food Edition

[Photo courtesy of Porkchop Express]

Brooklinks is a daily selection of Brooklyn information and images. On Thursday we devote some extra attention to food.

The Food
The News

Sunset Park to Get Eventual Rezone

Nobody particularly likes to focus on a rezoning discussion, but battles over the future of neighborhoods are won or lost during the rezoning process. Most of what comes later is simply fallout. So, we note with interest that Sunset Park, which is already feeling a lot of development pressure as building spills over from the South Slope, is about to go through a downzoning process like neighborhoods to the north. Local groups have been working for some time to convince the city to take a look at downzoning the neighborhood to protect it from out-of-scale development. But the fight over the proposed 12-story building on 42nd Street and the subsequent agreement to cut the height to six stories, looks like it has prompted action. There was a meeting in the neighborhood on Tuesday night attended by both Mayor Bloomberg and by City Planning Director Amanda Burden. Ms. Burden announed that a zoning study will be completed by the end of the year. Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights writes:
Great news indeed, and no doubt there were many factors that played into this decision. Of course CM Gonzalez's ongoing work and the emergence of SPAN and the successful fight against the 12 story 42nd street building (420 42nd St., now successfully cut in half) were two factors. Little known, however, was our "behind the scenes" advocacy efforts with City Planning directly (dating back to Nov. 2005), and our recent submission of a long list of out-of-scale development sites which highlighted the growing problem in Sunset Park...
What has ensued in other communities both before and immediately after downzoning, however, is a race by developers to try to start as many projects as possible under old zoning rules allowing taller buildings. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in Sunset Park--which would seem to have bull's eye drawn over it by developers--in the extended process that would lead to rezoning. The history of recent rezonings in Brooklyn is that where there is a downzoning there is also an upzoning, so how the neighborhood boundaries are drawn will be critical. It's not hard to see an upzoning along a Sunset Park corridor to allow taller buildings as happened on Fourth Avenue in Park Slope.

Brooklyn's Serious Mortgage Foreclosure Outbreak

Brooklyn Foreclosure Map

The map above is from a study of foreclosures in 2006 that was done by the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project. Those big concentrations of red dots are what you might call Subprime Mortgage Pox that is afflicting low-income Brooklyn communities as the so-called subprime market implodes. The Daily News had an entire bunch of the colorful maps yesterday (an we apologize for only getting to this today). The Brooklyn problem is concentrated in Bed-Stuy, Bushwick, Flatbush and East New York--in other words, in the communities in which schiesty lenders tend to operate. Which is not to say that cruddy mortgages haven't been foisted on people in other communities or that people who might not have qualified for mortgages in a different market aren't going to be victimized too. (We wonder who the half-dozen dots in Park Slope are and also noted that the Manhattan map showed one lonely dot below 96th Street.)

The report notes that in some neighborhoods up to 10 homes per block faced foreclosure last year. Overall about 9,000 homes went into foreclosure in '06, 50 percent more than '05. And, we're afraid these numbers are going to seem like the good old days when all of these mortgages with artificially low front-end rates start claiming even more victims in the next one-four years.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Save Coney Island Demonstration Details

Details of the Save Coney Island demonstration at City Hall on Friday have been set. The release that just landed in our inbox says, in part, "Join us on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan as we protest Thor Equities' proposal to build high rise, luxury condos in heart of the Amusement District in Coney Island. Help us to create a grand spectacle to exemplify the true spirit of Coney Island. We will be showing support for the City's position against this rezoning of the Amusement District."

MEET UP 11:00-11:30
at the fountain in front of City Hall

PARADE 11:30-12:00
We will parade around the block and onto the steps of City Hall

Join us on the steps of City Hall at noon. Please tell the guards that you are attending the "Save Coney Island Demonstration."

Our speakers will include Charlie Denson (author of Coney Island Lost and Found), Richard Eagon (Coney Island Hysterical Society), Louis Scarcella (Coney Island Polar Bears), Dianna Carlin (Lola Staar), Jo Weldon (cultural activist) and other Coney Island scholars and colorful members of the community.

See the spectacle unfold on the steps of City Hall as our list of stunning performers testify to the true spirit of Coney Island. Performers will include the Hungry March Band, the Dazzle Dancers, Tigger, Miss. Coney Island, Angie Pontani will appear as Miss. Cyclone and many other jugglers, clowns, stilt walkers, musicians, dancers, mermaids and much much more!!

after the demonstration we will parade up Broadway.

Glitter!! Face Paint!! Costumes!! Aquatic Spectacles!! Mermaids and more!!
There you have it. You can check out Save Coney Island here.


Last Look at Red Hook Street Art

Beard Street Art Three

Some venerable street art on Beard Street in Red Hook will probably have disappeared from view by the time we post this. It has adorned a shed that is on the Revere Sugar property for a long time, including a sign that reads "Criminalize Greed, Not Graffiti." Some of the art is very faded and some is newer, one piece having been put up several weeks ago. No matter, it's all behind a big blue construction fence surrounding the old Revere Plant now. Come to think of it, that fence is a rather huge new canvas with which artists can work, not that we'd ever suggest that anyone do anything like that and liven up the Blue Berlin Wall of Beard Street.

Beard Street Art

Beard Street Art Two

New Coney Island Tactic: Reshuffling the Deck

Coney Scale O Matic Final

Apparently, would-be Coney Island developer Thor Equities is trying a slight strategy shift in Coney Island. (No public name calling has been reported this week, although late last week a Thor spokesperson seemed to publicly insult community businesses by saying the firm wasn't concerned with "tenants of the past.") The New York Post reports that the developer "is desperately trying to convince City Hall to back it by shifting more than 900 planned luxury condo units away from the boardwalk and into one 40-story tower." The latest version of developer Joe Sitt's proposal would move the controversial condos to the west side of Stillwell Avenue a little--but, not much--closer to Surf Avenue.

The suggestions were made as part of presentation to the community by Thor this week. One of the boardwalk towers would be reduced somewhat so it's closer in height to the Parachute Jump. According to the Post, "the revisions would allow riders of the nearby Cyclone roller coaster to retain Parachute Jump views." No word on whether any of this would allow people on the ground to see the Parachute Jump except through special "corridors" in which the view would be preserved. The somewhat less tall boardwalk highrise would be relatively close to the iconic structure that many call Brooklyn's Eiffel Tower.

GL sees the seeds of a shifting plan in all of this. We've suspected for a long time that the residential component of the plan would be shifted west of Stillwell Avenue. These parcels, however, are still in the amusement zone and would require rezoning for housing that many people strongly oppose both as a shrinkage of the traditional Coney Island amusement area and as an incompatible use between loud amusements and crowds and residences. (One also senses the late-blooming seeds of a Ratnerian strategy to try to build community support--we've heard about a very interesting strategy involving housing--but haven't been able to confirm it. There would appear to be a number of contingency plans to shift the game pieces around the board and to make it seem like scale and density are being reduced.)

To give a sense of the scale that is still involved here, we've revived our Coney Island Scale-O-Matic graphic, above.

Related Post:
Sitt Frustrated With Opposition to Coney Plan
Coney Island Deathwatch: Lola Star Moves Out


Big Park Slope Fire at Fifth and Baltic

[Photo courtesy of Brit in Brooklyn]

The blogger behind the always excellent Brit in Brooklyn photoblog was up last night capturing dramatic images of a big fire on Fifth Avenue at Baltic Street in Park Slope. No details on injuries, but it looks like an inferno in which residents and businesses lost everything.

Beyond One Way: Important Community Mtg on Transportation

Grand Army Plaza Arch

The last time the Community Board 6 Transportation Committee met (on March 15), people were lined up outside that were unable to get in and people inside were chanting, "Let Them In." We're guessing that Thursday night's meeting will be less dramatic, as it will deal with issues that inspire less outcry than the proposal to make Sixth and Seventh Avenues one way. (Interestingly, it will also be in a far bigger space than the meeting that attracted a crowd of more than 500 people.) There will, however, be some important issues related to livable streets, including a presentation by the Department of Transportation of improvements to Grand Army Plaza, which is both one of Brooklyn's premiere anti-pedestrian spaces and a horror for drivers. The DOT proposal will focus on "improvements designed to enhance pedestrian mobility, access and comfort.

There will also be a presentation of plans to install bike lanes and markings for left-turning lanes on Ninth Street between Third Avenue and Prospect Park West, a presentation on creating bike routes in Red Hook and "discussion and consideration" of a plan to put a speed bump on Columbia Street between Halleck Street and the Gowanus Bay.

Streets Blog writes, "As is always the case with bike lane projects -- and maybe more so in this case -- there will be community opposition to this plan. Noah Budnick from Transportation Alternatives urges advocates to attend and express their support." The meeting takes place on Thursday (3/29) at 6:30 PM at Old First Reformed Church, which is located at 729 Carroll Street (at Seventh Avenue).

GL's Construction Site Du Jour: Green Living on N. 6th

Urban Green One

The construction site on N. 6th Street, which we've previously called Williamsburg's Big Hole, because it's so deep and so big, has given us another gift. We've previously featured it when part of the fence fell over and opened the site up to people that like deep holes and the chance to fall 20 feet from the sidewalk into one. Now, we've found that the gate is locked but so flimsy that anyone can get in: unsupervised children, wasted hipsters, adventurous neighborhood grandmas out for a walk or romping dogs. (Okay, you've got to be hipster thin to get through comfortably, but even those with a couple of extra pounds of padding can squeeze in.) The site belongs to the development that will be known as Urban Green, although we're thinking of calling it the Big Urban Hole You Can Play In or Get Hurt In If You're Drunk the Way People Tend to Be on N. 6th Street at Night. In case you wonder how Urban Green was doing a couple of months ago when its fence fell over, you can check it out here. Meantime, answer us this: If you get killed in a big construction pit that will become a green building, is it an environmentally-friendly death and, therefore, you know, green? The sales office across the street, by the way, looks like it should be open soon.

Urban Green Two

Brooklinks: Wednesday Gold Bricking Edition

Gowanus Lounge

Brooklinks is a daily selection of Brooklyn-related information and images:

Sign of Spring: Time to Get Your Egg On in Prospect Park

Audubon Centerx500

Spring is coming! Spring is coming! (Actual spring, as demonstrated by yesterday's energizing weather, not technical spring, which has already been around for a week.) We know this because things are starting to bloom in and around Prospect Park and because the park is having an "Egg-O-Rama" staring on Saturday (3/31). The egg thing goes from Saturday through Tuesday, April 10 at the Audobon Center from Noon-5PM. It will include "egg crafts, eggsperiments, egg games, and special eggxibits." (We take no credit for writing those words, which is why we double-checked to make sure we'd put them in quotes.) There will be an egg hunt on Saturday, April 7, from 1-4 at the Audobon Center. The UniverSoul Circus will also be running in the park from April 18-May 6 in the Wollman Rink parking lot. You need tickets for the circus, though. Prices start at $10.

Saturday (3/31) is actually "Opening Day" in the park with a Little League Parade and special events. The Lefferts Historic House, the Carousel and the Prospect Park Zoo, are all open daily for Spring Break from March 31-April 10.

Can you tell GL is excited about Spring?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Old Coney's Last Season: Opening Day Details

Coney in May

As you may or may not know, April 1 is opening day for Coney Island. While the fact that it falls on April Fool's Day this year is dripping with irony, we'd simply point out that Coney Island's current season--from just before Easter through Columbus Day--is one of the longer one's for a Northeast waterfront spot. Anyway, here are details on the festivities, courtesy of Coney Island USA.

1) Coney Island USA's 2nd Annual Band Organ Rally comes your way from 12-6PM - Free. For more info, call (718) 372-5159

2) The World Premiere Performance of Save Coney Island, a new song by Coney Island composer Amos Wangler with chorus sung by Coney Island's Polar Bear Club at 2:30 PM - Free

3) Herman Melville's The Confidence Man at 5:00PM - Admission $10. Join Trav S.D. and company performing a new adaption of Melville's epic tribute to the American tradition of swindles, hoaxes, practical jokes and blarney. April 1, 2007 marks the 150th anniversary -- to the day -- of the publication of Melville's experimental masterwork, his last novel published during his lifetime. For more info, call (718) 372-5159

4) Denos Wonder Wheel Park brings us the "Blessing of the Rides" at 11AM with live music and a ribbon cutting with Miss Coney Island. Park opens at Noon. For more info call (718) 449-8836

5) Astroland celebrates the 80th Anniversary of the Cyclone and the 40th and final Anniversary of the park starting at 11:30AM. The festivities include the Hungry March Band, Miss Cyclone, Miss Coney Island and Kinky the Clown. First 100 Cyclone riders ride free!!!! For more info, call (718) 265 2100


Brooklyn Nibbles: Williamsburg Edition

Amazon Cafe

1) Amazon Cafe, which is an outpost of the chain, is now open at 236 N. 12th Street. We talked to the owner on Sunday who said it had been open about a week. The lighting looks a little more subdued than the Smith Street branch, which is too bright (and is also in the really nice space--now carved up--that used to house Halcyon). Given that the area on this side of McCarren Park has no place to grab some quick food or a drink, it's a welcome option.

2) On the retail front, Shoe Market has opened on N. 6th Street on the site of a former flea market. Talk about changing retail conditions. The new shop has some very cool shoes--a lot of Terra and some very cool Keds--some of which are surprisingly reasonable in price, while others tend toward the upper end of the price range. In any case, it's comfortable and inviting looking, if very unlike the spot it replaced.

Empire Rink Supporters Fighting Closure

There's a report in the new City Limits on the rally held by Project Empire this past weekend to protest the closing of the Empire Roller Skating Rink. The group gathered outside the rink--which is slated to close and be converted to a storage facility next month--on Saturday to, in the words of the writer, "voice their pain and anger about the loss of such a vital recreation resource." City Council Members Charles Barron and Leticia James were among the speakers. According to the report:
Unlike many others, these politicians recognize and acknowledge that Empire Roller Rink is a cultural and historical landmark that should be preserved.

Members of the skating community had strong reactions to the anticipated closing of the rink in April. Many were brought to tears. Sophia Dawson, 19, member of the Brooklyn HYPE skate team I created, gathered with her fellow team members, aged 12 to 19. Breaking into tears, she shared, “It is not just skating … this is my family.” Spry, the program director of HYPE, expressed discontent with the new owner’s decision to build a storage facility. “How dare you come into our community and decide what we need without consulting us?” shouted Spry. “What the new owners need to understand is that we will not support you in the tearing down of a facility that means so much to us.”

I wonder where the children will go. Skating is therapeutic for children – it provides an outlet for them to escape the stress in their lives. If this rink is shut down they will end up in the lobbies of our buildings getting high, on the corners selling drugs. We need to invest in this building and make it a multi service recreation center that can be a safe haven for these kids to keep them off the street and out of trouble. A former Empire employee, Jackie, and other loyal skaters from Project Empire spoke passionately about what the closing of Empire means to them and verbally solicited stars like Oprah and Brooklyn native Jay Z to donate funds to the restoration of Empire Roller Skating Rink.
Another Brooklyn institution about to bite the dust, this one raising very legitimate questions about the lack of recreational opportunities for young people in many Brooklyn neighborhoods.

[Photo courtesy joshbousel/flickr]

Ikea Making Excellent Progress Filling Graving Dock

Filled Graving Dock

For those wondering how Ikea's effort to fill the historic Graving Dock at former Todd Shipyard that both preservationists and working waterfront advocates had been working to save, we can report that progress excellent. While crews weren't at work this weekend, we did manage a look at it and we can say that if you didn't know it was a huge drydock you would think it was a future parking lot. Which is what the Swedish home furnishings giant intends.

Brooklyn Nibbles: Special Bubby's Edition

We had dinner at Bubby's in Dumbo on Friday night. The first thing we noticed was the big, cash-only sign on the door. The second thing was that the menu had shrunk to a shadow of its former self. And the other was the "We are Closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on the check." Not knowing how long all this had been the case, we didn't do a post on it. Yesterday, the Brooklyn Record--which was not asleep at the switch and sensed an interesting story--reported on it, wondering if Bubby's was in trouble. Today, Dumbo NYC reports on its discussion with Bubby's owner, who said that they're having problems handling the large space during the week and had a difficult winter. He tells Dumbo NYC that:
I believe that DUMBO-Bubby’s will grow as DUMBO grows, and as people know that you can have a great time, eat good home cooking, and feel comfortable bringing your kids, your grandma, your congressman, or your new bride. Now that spring is here, Bubby’s in DUMBO is doing much better; it was a rough winter. We will continue doing our best, and I welcome any dialogue.
We hope they can tough it out, because their population base in Dumbo is about to expand dramatically. We have a soft spot for Bubby's, having wandered in there on its opening night several years ago, and having had countless dinners there. It's one of those Brooklyn spots we like to head over to after a long week for a no BS meal. The thought that it might not make it saddened us.

Deuce Seven Gets Tagged, Art War Wall Goes Lavender

Deuce Seven Cement Truck

Some street art stays around for a long time. Some has a very short shelf life. And some gets tagged up. Case in point is this Deuce Seven piece located in the former cement plant across from 184 Kent in Williamsburg. One of the pieces was painted over on a tank that was later removed from the property. This one has been tagged, apparently by the same person that tagged up another work by the same artist on N. 6th Street. On another front, the green gate on N. 6th, which has been the scene of splashings and such, has been painted lavender just in time for spring and Easter.

N 6th Wall

Brooklinks: Tuesday Goal Posts Edition

MagicVision Comes to Greenpoint

Magic Vision Arrows

Remember 110 Green Street, the development in which Magic Johnson has invested? The one with the crappy fence that was immediately replaced by a Super Fence with two-story poles? We figured the developers were going to toss up a humongous fence. Turns out they put up the poles so that they could put up video cameras. So, the transformation is complete. The site, which you could once have waltzed into and camped out in, now is protected by both fence and six cameras. Local residents have been seen flipping the bird to the cameras reports our correspondent Miss Heather, who also hit us off with the pic.

Next time you're on Green Street, smile for Magic.

Gowanus Lounge Photo Du Jour: Rubble and Skeleton

Rubble Plus Skeleton
Willamsburg, Brooklyn

Monday, March 26, 2007

Getting Ready for the New Coney Island Season

Coney Reopening Two

We were in Coney Island this weekend to check on the progress of the demolition being done by Joe Sitt and Thor Equities (still ongoing, but the war-like wreckage that made for excellent photo has been cleaned up a bit, except for all those pesky paint chips) and found it busy with workers re-installing rides and getting ready for the April 1 reopening. Rides were turning and employees were finishing up the task of reattaching the cars to the Wonder Wheel, which was rotating. Workers were also getting the rides in shape at Astroland, which reopens for one more season before the demolition crews are dispatched again. Today's Sun has a great article about Astroland getting ready for its bittersweet final year.

New Coney Season One

Coney Reopening One