Friday, August 31, 2007

Gowanus Nursery Appeals for Help Fighting Likely Eviction

We noted during a Community Board 6 meeting we attended in late spring that one of the Red Hook Garden District's recent arrivals, the Gowanus Nursery, was being threatened by new residential development. The nursery had been on Third Street and moved this year to Summit Street in Red Hook. Here's the email from the Nursery's owner that we just got:
On Wednesday August 22, a small group of business owners, employees and clients attended a city planning meeting that was to decide the fate of a few parcels of land located on Summit and Carroll streets.

The likely outcome is Gowanus Nursery will be forced to move, once again.

Remarkably this change is a thinly disguised 'spot zoning' to allow for a residential development in a grandfathered commercial zone. This action, in the words of community Board 6, has been the most aggressive use of ULURP (re-zoning) procedures that the current board has ever seen, forcing out active and flourishing businesses to make way for residential development.

Borough President Marty Markowitz's recommendations suggested that the nursery occupied lot provided property owners the opportunity to lease under-developed land with minimal investment (part true since the only investment came in the form of our own labor and financial funding.) There seems something fundamentally wrong with labeling well-used open 'green' space as 'under-developed.' On a personal note, I am frustrated not only by the futility of the work we have already logged here, but also by the casual way that zoning change is happening in 'our' neighborhood.

Last year, you my customers and colleagues came to offer your services during the first move. Now I ask for your help to help save this 'green oasis' from perishing in the changes affecting all of Brooklyn.

One of the questions asked by the city planning commissioners was "We have heard a lot of testimony about how this is the 'best' nursery, could you please give some definite examples to support this statement?" Well we hope that our garden making has been successful; stimulating ideas and offering advice, suggesting different ways of seeing plants and how they effect our environment directly and indirectly. Of course something akin to a mission remains: providing gardeners experience-based knowledge and the broadest selection of perennial plants for Brooklyn gardens.

We hope that you can take the time to email the following parties to let them know in a few words what makes us an important part of the neighborhood and the whole Brooklyn experience.

Council representative - Bill de Blasio; City Council Speaker - Christine Quinn; Land Use Committee Chairperson - Melinda R. Katz; Mayor Michael Bloomberg.,,,,

The following are some statements to paste into your appeal:It's impossible to run a nursery without land. Businesses such as these provide necessary services to the community, and are the reason we choose Brooklyn.

Please help Gowanus Nursery to remain a Brooklyn institution.

We support green business in Brooklyn.
The building that would replace the Gowanus Nursery, which is at 45 Summit Street, would be nearly a dozen stories tall.


The Bunker in Gowanus Getting an Exterior

The Bunker Exterior

Finally! The building we like to call The Bunker on Bond and Carroll Streets in Gowanus because of its stunning street-side lack of windows abundance of wall space, is getting a skin. The facade appears to be white. You will also note the exterior wood paneling, which is a trademark of architect Robert Scarano on some of his buildings. Unfortunately, we're not sure any sort of exterior treatment will be able to liven up the window-deficient wall space-abundant face The Bunker turns to Bond Street.

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New Building Putting the Green Back in Greenpoint

Karl Fischer Diamond St Update

Given that we featured a jaw-dropping Gowanus building designed by Karl Fischer earlier this week, we figure this is a good time to have another look at one of the architect's buildings rising on Diamond Street in Greenpoint. (We last checked on it July.) The photo comes from our Greenpoint correspondent. Of the green facade she writes:
I finally placed where I have seen this shade of green before. In the late 70's my dad had an Oldsmobile this color. Its name was Gonzo. When he wanted to get rid of it no one would buy it. My dad ended up donating it to a church and taking a tax-write off.
Should you be in this part of North Brooklyn and wish to see the building for yourself, it's at 130 Diamond Street. We're still hoping the green stuff is temporary, knowing deep down that it's most likely permanent.

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The Most Disgusting Gowanus Photo Ever: Do Not View Before or After Meal

Ninth Street Trash

We almost hesitate to post this photo because it's so freaking foul. It and some others were sent to us by a GL reader who submitted it in order to share the situation on Ninth Street between Second and Third Avenue in Gowanus that it depicted. Call it Garbage Porn. Of the trash company whose vehicle is shown our reader wrote:
They park their truck all day and night on 9th street and clean them on 9th street as well. This causes the sewege et al to drain in front of all the houses and into the drains...
Our friendly Gmail service thoughtfully sorted this email into our spam folder, so we don't know if the problem has been resolved or not. Even if it was taken care of, though, imagine this funky crap marinating in August heat and humidity. We've seen and smelled disgusting garbage trucks in our lives, but what the hell was in that thing? Our apologies if you've viewed this photo right before or after a meal.


A Succulent Wall Grows in Williamsburg

Green Wall One

Have you ever wanted to call a place succulent? Well, now you can. Perhaps you've read about the Green Wall in Williamsburg. It was covered not long after installation in Dwell. Well, we figured we'd post these photos of the exterior wall of the new Williamsburg bar called Oulu, which is on N. 4th Street (west of Bedford) and named after a coastal town in northern Finland. The wall, which consists of trays of succulents comes, in part, from Marni Horwitz (who has been active trying to promote the idea of a green roof for the Gowanus Whole Foods). She wrote in an email:
I organized and installed this Green Wall project with the help of architect Evangeline Dennie, LEED AP, the company Green Living Technologies.
Dwell filled in more detail:
The succulents are planted in 35 or so panels of soil, each less than three inches thick, which are screwed to the wall. A hidden watering system gives them a steady spritz. A living wall can easily be planted on a residential façade, Marni says, at a cost of about $50 a square foot. Interior walls are roughly $30 more per square foot because they contain tropical plants, which are more expensive.
You should check it out on your next wander around the Burg. It's quite the look.

Green Wall Three

Green Wall Two

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Brooklyn Nibbles: Special Slope Pizza Edition

Pizza Plus

We're especially happy to run this item, because it concerns Pizza Plus, the little Seventh Avenue pizza place that was devastated by a bad fire in May that also displaced residents upstairs. As you can see in the photo above, Pizza Plus is almost back. It's been a long haul, but the restaurant has gotten a top-to-bottom remodeling and looks like it's set to reopen very, very soon. Welcome back!!!


Brooklinks: Friday Long Weekend Edition

Berry St Art Project

Brooklinks is a selection of Brooklyn-related information and images. Have a Happy Labor Day Weekend. We'll be here if you need us! And, we'll have some exciting news to share on other side of the holiday.


GL Brooklyn TV: West Indian Carnival Videos

It's time for the 40th Annual West Indian Day Parade on Monday, so here are some vids posted to the YouTube of the parade & carnival in past years. Enjoy.

Spend Time at Hank's with the Freddy's Crew Tonight

[Photo courtesy of dlemieux/flickr]

Ever wonder what it would be like spending time in two possibly doomed bars at once? Tonight's your chance. Via No Land Grab we find that the crew at Freddy's Bar, which sits in the path of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards Project, is taking over Hank's, the bar at Atlantic Avenue at Third Avenue. You might have noticed that Hanks has been sporting a "development site" for sale sign recently--which we've been meaning to photograph and post for some time. This means that Hank's days are limited. The people at Lucid, from whence the info originally came, write:This night is pretty appropriate since both venues’ days are numbered by encroaching luxury housing, [Freddy's] by the Ratso Ratner Atlantic Yards goons while Hank’s owner has put the place up for sale as a “development site” – you know what that means. John Sharples and his jangly crew play around 10 followed by Plastic Beef who will have the nonpareil Erica Smith singing this time, and jam the hell out of everything they touch with some pretty way-out results.Brooklyn drinkers, you know your assignment.


Disco Don't Destroy


While there may be a lot of bulldozing and drilling going on in the vicintity of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, the future of the Atlantic Yards development hinges on the various legal battles against it, which include a still active lawsuit against the use of eminent domain and a suit about the environmental review process. To that end, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn is holding a Kids Disco Don't Destroy fundraiser on Sunday, September 23 from 2PM-6PM at the Grand Space at 778 Bergen Street in Prospect Heights. Suggest contributions per family are $25, $50 and $100. Meanwhile, the Third Annual Develop Don't Destroy Walkathon will be coming up on October 14.

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Upcoming: Get Poopy at the Park Slope Barnes & Noble

No, we're not talking about what goes on in the restrooms downstairs at the Park Slope Barnes & Noble on Seventh Avenue at the changing tables. (Though an incredible amount of it goes on.) We're talking about a reading in the store next Wednesday at 7:30 by Dave Praeger, who is the author of Poop Culture. We've posted a couple of tidbits from the book before (like here and here), given that, uh, crap-related issues are part and parcel of our territory since Gowanus is in our name. Mr. Praeger emailed to say that he's been in New Dehli for some time and has been doing some fascinating addtional research:
I met with an organization called Sulabh international that strives to provide sanitation to the hundreds of millions of people across the subcontinent. One of the things I'm going to discuss at the reading is the future of sanitary infrastructures in both the developing and the developed world -- contrasting New York with New Delhi, including the problems with the Gowanus.
Now, is that an author who knows how to get our attention, or what? In any case, check out Mr. Praeger's reading and discussion next Wed. (9/5) at 7:30.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Has Another Developer Struck Black Gold Near Roebling Oil Field?

Roebling Oil Field Oil

We will preface this by saying that we have not personally smelled the oil which is alleged in the following email that was passed along to us, nor have we personally seen evidence of it. However, given that the email comes from the office of a New York City Council Member, we think it is worth mentioning. Here is some of it:
I'm writing concerning a recurring problem with construction on Roebling St. At the moment, a new developer is working between 9th and 10th st, and his work has unearthed oil, which is producing a strong smell throughout the neighborhood. Apparently, this is not an isolated incident, and when this has happened on previous occasions, contractors have made use of some sort of membrane to prevent this from happening. Would that be possible in this instance, and if so, can we require it?
The only development site can think of that matches this description is the one where demolition is currently underway that we first posted about back in June. We also followed up with a Construction Site Du Jour post based on its crappy fence. Back in June we joked "More construction sites to sniff!" The site is directly across the street from the Roebling Oil Field & Building, so the presence of, uh, petroleum products wouldn't come as a shock if the email is accurate. Noses have been dispatched to try to smell out the problem.

BONUS: At least one Williamsburg resident trying to follow up on the extent of the contamination near the Roebling Oil Field is complaining of severe problems getting information from the Department of Environmental Conservation. At issue are updated results from the test wells drilled around the Roebling Oil Field Site at N. 11th and Roebling. Preliminary results showed that oil was coming from an off-site source, although the extent or the spread of the contamination was not clear. Our source complains, "I've been calling since April and not one call has been answered or returned." A large package of documents and data that we saw in the spring only covered test results through March.

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Is F Train Express Idea Dead Until 2012?

Don't look now, but even some supporters are starting to suggest that the F Train Express idea, which has gotten much play in the media, may have died at the starting gate. That's because the MTA is sticking to its guns and continuing to say that there's no way they can do it until 2012. Work on the Culver Viaduct (the big very tall structure that crosses the Gowanus Canal) sounds like it will make life on the F Train--regular F Trains--awful in coming years. According to Second Ave. Sagas, one of the blogs that has been pushing the concept:
I’ve been in touch with Jeremy Soffin, the MTA’s deputy director of media relations, in an effort to get the bottom of the Culver Viaduct Rehabilitation project and its effects on the express tracks. Here’s what Soffin said to me in an e-mail:

The Culver Viaduct Rehabilitation project requires the reconstruction of the viaduct and all four tracks on the viaduct. During the project, two of the four tracks will be taken out of service at any given time for a period of four years, precluding the implementation of any express service on this segment of the F line. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2012. As part of this project, G service, which currently terminates at Smith-9 Sts, will be extended to Church Av Station.

It’s my understanding that crews will be working not only on the tracks but around and underneath them too. With the recent attention to track worker safety, the MTA isn’t, rightly so, about to start screwing around with train bottlenecks on a large viaduct. With the current F and G trains relying on just two tracks for their routes and turnarounds, the tracks simply cannot support adding more trains.

To me, it sounds like the folks along the Culver Line are in for a rough ride.
One can read the MTA response any way one wishes, but Mr. Soffin's statement about the four-year rehab makes it sound like there will be an F Train Gowanus Crawl blog and people will be circulating petitions to demand the F Train move at more than 5MPH during rush hour by this time next year.

One certainly hopes the 2012 explanation is an exaggeration and that the F Train isn't about to go from simply sucking to sucking in a major, major way. Depressing news and, hopefully, still subject to change.


Brooklyn Nibbles: Williamsburg Edition

Red Bowl Open

Today, we have a couple of Williamsburg food & drink items to bring up to date:

1) Red Bowl is open on Bedford Avenue. The new restaurant--which is the third addition to Bedford's little Asian Row that includes Wild Ginger and Thai Thai--bills itself as new Asian, but the mix leans heavily toward refined Chinese. Which is a nice thing based on the dishes we sampled, which included Fried Seaweed and Scallion Pancake appetizers as well as Kung Po Shrimp and a Chinese Broccoli and Tofu stir fried with Garlic. The shrimp, while excellent, were actually General Tso's Shrimp or a very odd rendition of Kung Po. Regardless, it was good, although it paled in goodness compared to the Chinese Broccoli. The nicest thing about Red Bowl, in fact, may be the huge selection of fresh seasonal vegetables ranging from mustard greens to four different varieties of bok choy. They can be prepared with oyster sauce, garlic or steamed. Given that good, simple vegetable dishes can be hard to get outside of the various Chinatowns in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, Red Bowl is actually adding something nice to the Bedford food options. The bathroom sink is a big, opaque red bowl, by the way.

2) Work continues on the new Radegast Hall & Biergarten that will open at Berry and N. 3rd Streets. Looks like work on the Austro-Hungarian beer garden and restaurant is at an advanced stage. (This would be the place with the 2,000 square foot beer garden with the roof that opens.) "Biergarten" signage has been applied via paint that is intended to look old, as you can see in the photo below.


See something in your Brooklyn neighborhood? Then, for the Love of God, say something to GL. We gladly accept tip for Brookyn Nibbles and anything else, so if you have something for us, email us at gowanuslounge (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Coney Island #2: Zoning Recommendations Delayed Again

Coney Astroland

The long awaited Coney Island Development Corp. zoning recommendations, which had been expected as early as this week, have been delayed again until October. This latest development is reported by Neil deMause in the Village Voice. One could conclude that the zoning study is taking time, but it's more likely on hold to give more time to the negotiations between city officials and developer Joe Sitt being conducted, mostly in private, and sometimes in the press. Mr. DeMause crisply lays out the options should the city stick to its guns and not allow condos or timeshares between the Cyclone and KeySpan Park:
Flip his Coney properties to another developer who's willing to build within the city's zoning guidelines. Movie theaters, restaurants, and catering halls would all be OK, according to Coney Island Development Corporation president Lynn Kelly, as a means to expand the "shoulder seasons" of late spring and early fall without detracting from Coney's traditional amusements.

Take a bulldozer to the buildings he owns along Surf Avenue—which include the Grashorn Building, Coney's only surviving 19th-century structure, and the Henderson Building, where Harpo Marx made his stage debut—and gamble that either this mayor or the next will cave on the rezoning once faced with vacant lots.

Accept the city's offer to swap his 10 acres of amusement-district land for eight acres of city-owned property where the Abe Stark skating rink and Keyspan parking lot now sit, which would presumably be OK'd for condos. (Kelly won't confirm the offer, but other sources have.) If this land is valued at the same $500 per square foot that Sitt got for the adjacent Washington Baths site, which he sold to fellow developers Taconic Investments last year, it would be worth $180 million—more than double what he paid for his amusement-district properties.
In the meantime, businesses like the Lola Staar Boutique are again in the dark about whether eviction or lease extensions are coming and the Astroland saga continues.


Coney Island #1: Thor Mermaid Parade Vid Is Back

That video produced by Thor Equities about the Mermaid Parade and then pulled down for some tweaks after a request by Mermaid Parade founder Dick Zigun is back. (You can read the back story here if you aren't familiar.) The main change that we can see identify is that it now says "Thor Equities at Mermaid Parade 2007" at the beginning and end, whereas it previously said only "Mermaid Parade 2007." It also appears to have been reedited somewhat. You can still see the Thor employee toward the end exclaim, "The spirit of Thor is the spirit of Coney Island!" In any case, in case you didn't see it, this is another chance, unless it's pulled again.


Red Hook Moment: Sleepy-Sleep in the Ruins

Sleeping in the Ruins

The demolition equipment that has been hard at work on the former Revere Sugar site being cleared by Thor Equities was silent at the time we found this gentleman catching some rays and some z's. He's one of the group of people that spend serious summer quality time with their boats docked in Red Hook during the summer. Their boats, outdoor furniture and signage juxtaposed against the Revere plant in its various stages of decay have always made for interesting images, though few of them quite as fun as this one.


Urban Green Fences Up in Williamsburg

Urban Green April-August

Given the amount of grief we've given the condo development on N. 6th Street called Urban Green (perhaps you might remember it as Urban Death?) for maintaining a construction site that we thought was so wide open that it was a peril to children and drunken hipsters, it's only fair to note that they've got a more solid operation now. Whether they cleaned up their act because of civic mindnessness or persuasion from the Department of Buildings, we don't know, but you can no longer stroll into the big hole and play with the construction equipment. In case you're motivated to check on past highlights from Urban Green, you can click here, here, here and here. We have faith, however, that another site will be along shortly to claim UG's status as the most potentially hazardous in Williamsburg.

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West Indian Carnival Is Coming

Eastern Parkway Flags

The special GL correspondent who sent us this photo she took on Eastern Parkway yesterday said it put her in the carnival spirit. We agree, and it compelled us to note that the 40th Anniversary edition of the parade is happening on Monday, Sept. 3. There will, of course, be events all weekend long. If you want to learn more about the Carnival's history, the Brooklyn Public Library has a nice page about it. Of course, you should also check out the West Indian American Day Carnival Association website, which has all the carnival info you could possibly want. The parade will run down Eastern Parkway on Monday. It is the first one without parade founder Carlos Lezama.


Thursday Transportation Special: No Bikes Here Pretty, Pretty Please

No Bikes Here Please

Quite simply, we have nothing to add to this image that could possibly say more than the image itself.

Related Post:
Williamsburg Transportation Policy: It's a Bike. No, It's a Trash Can


Say What: Snow Route, Etc., Etc.

Say What--Snow Route

Yes, it comes from Williamsburg. No, it's not the most tagged up sign we've ever seen, but we think it's rather nicely stickered, hence our decision to include it here.

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Brooklinks: Thursday Long Weekend Around the Corner Edition

Old LPs

Brooklinks is a selection of Brooklyn-related information and images with respect, today, for Hilly Kristal.


Renovation Progress on Williamsburg's S. 6th Street

The Waterfront Alliance of Greenpoint & Williamsburg reports in on the renovation and conversion of one of the more beautiful buildings on the south side of Williamsburg, the old Bedford Avenue Theatre at 109 S. 6th Street. They write:
Located on South 6th, just west of Bedford Avenue, this building was graced with a peeling coat of yellow paint - picturesque in its own right, but nothing compared to the beautiful facade that has been uncovered...The Bedford Avenue Theatre was constructed in 1891 by builder W. W. Cole (the architect is not known). Its inaugural performance featured the actress Fanny Rice in A Jolly Surprise. The theatre's tenure as a theatre was cut short - literally - by the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge. The right of way for the bridge, which was opened in 1903, cut off the back half of the theatre, stage and all.
The building has been leased by Maxim, which currently operates a health club in a converted loft building on Driggs Avenue between N. 9th and N. 10th Streets.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

PM Update: Veto of Building Inspection Measure Angers Brennan

(RIP, CBGB founder Hilly Kristal, who has died at the age of 75 from cancer. Mr. Kristal ran CBGB's for three decades, until it was forced to close last October.)

You might have noted this morning that Gov. Eliot Spitzer vetoed a bill yesterday to require more inspections by the Department of Buildings of structures and projects cited for hazardous requirements. Currently, DOB is only required to check buildings deemed an imminent hazard.

Assem. Jim Brennan, who authored the measures and others that would address construction and development-related problems in the city, issued a press release saying that it is "highly regrettable that Governor Spitzer chose to let the New York City Department of Buildings off the hook in relation to a change in the accountability of the Department for enforcing the building code of the City of New York." He suggested that enforcement of the building code "has gross shortcomings."

Brennan's bill would have required DOB to reinspect buildings cited for hazardous conditions every two months until the problem was fixed. The current time frame can stretch up to four months. Mayor Bloomberg urged a veto of the bill saying that it would be too burdensome for the Buildings Department and that the added inspections could cost up to $4 million.

Mr. Brennan told the New York Times that he introduced his bill in April after seeing a "longstanding disregard for public safety," including many issues in his own district in neighborhoods such as Park Slope. He told the Times: "A common theme of these accidents, injuries and deaths are violations that have been issued by the Buildings Department and not been enforced."

Ironically, there is a story in today's Daily News by Jotham Sederstrom about the huge increase in construction and development-related complaints in Greenpoint, Williamsburg and downtown Brooklyn. Construction-related 911 calls alone--which mean actual accidents and injuries--are up 300 percent since 2003.

BONUS: Speaking of the Department of Buildings and disregard for inspections and paperwork, newyorkshitty reports DOB inspectors might be interested in the work going on at 48 Box Street in violation of a Stop Work Order. At least, that's what the photos would seem to indicate.

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New Look Gowanus Will Not Be Like the Old One

399 Third Avenue

The rendering upon which you are gazing? It's a building designed by the prolific Karl Fischer Architect. We came across it in the course of checking out yesterday's Brownstoner post about Mr. Fischer's design for a new hotel at 237 Duffield Street. While plans are currently in a state of rejection at the Department of Buildings, this building, or something very similar to it could soon rise at 399 Third Avenue, which is at the corner of Third Avenue and Sixth Street, next to the building with the big Eagle Clothes sign that is a Gowanus landmark. More significantly, it's basically down the block from the Gowanus Whole Foods site. The building is described as an 11-story commercial and "community facility" and would clock in at 70,000+ square feet. (Accept our apologies if you've seen this before, but it's certainly new to us.)

If you look closely at the reflection in the window of the rendering, you'll note that it's a big building, although none currently exist on the spot from where the reflection would be coming. (Wishful thinking? Intelligent guess?) Also, note the presence in the rendering of people in jackets and ties at Third Avenue and Sixth Street.

The developer of the Glass Tower of Gowanus is Dominic Tonnachio. If the name is familiar, that is because he is the developer of the new Hotel Le Bleu as well as a condo on Fourth Avenue and Warren Street. Demolition permits have been issued for the existing property, which has one small building, but the plans for the new building were disapproved on Aug. 14 by the Dept. of Buildings. We suspect it's only a temporary setback.

The good news: the views of the Gowanus, the F Train and Whole Foods--especially of the parade of trucks delivering and unloading food--should be dramatic.


Park Slope Getting Some Law & Order

Law and Order

Those of you who were thinking that the nice thing about being in Brooklyn during the last week of August instead of at the beach is that you can park your car any place you freakin' want, think again. The fun people at Law & Order have something in store for you tomorrow (8/30) on a three-block stretch of Prospect Park West between Sixth and Ninth Streets. The upside is that you get to watch a film shoot, if you're not too busy trying to figure out where your car's been towed in the interest of, you know, law and order.

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More Neighborhood Intrigue Over 360 Smith Street

What would a week be without more intrigue concerning that controversial building at 360 Smith Street in Carroll Gardens? The emails making the rounds yesterday concerned who is (and isn't) invited to a meeting with developer Billy Stein scheduled to take place this evening at Assemblywoman Joan Millman's office. One of the local groups that has been most vocal about both neighborhood zoning issues and the building itself, CORD, requested to be included in the meeting. The group's members, who turned out in significant numbers for the Town Hall session last week, were told by Ms. Millman and by City Council Member Bill de Blasio that they would ask the developer and get back to them. The last email we saw said, "CORD has neither been invited nor otherwise notified." On a more positive note, some members of the group--which has gathered more than 2,000 petition signatures calling for a moratorium on tall buildings in the neighborhood, will be meeting with Mr. de Blasio very soon to discuss the building moratorium, and the still developing plans for 360 Smith Street. Stay tuned for much more.


New Brooklyn Blog: Sunset Park's Mural vs. Condo

We were super happy to find Mural vs. Condo, a new blog being produced out of Sunset Park, which is a Brooklyn community with a lot of important issues and news, but that has not had a great deal of blogging voices. A quick glance at Mural vs. Condo's latest post told us about an upcoming "Sunset Park Neighborhood Summit" on September 23, for instance, that aims to try to create some consensus about "a plan for the future development of Sunset Park that will support families and residents." The effort is an outgrowth of the battle about that proposal for a 12-story building on 42nd Street.

We especially love the blogger's introductory post from earlier this month:
Hello. My name is Amina. The place I call home is the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn, or more specifically, the Latino area of Sunset Park. (There is a Chinatown here that starts a few blocks from me.) My neighbors are from Mexico, Ecuador, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and a few other places. I am half Puerto Rican and half Arab-American...

I love my home. I love that all the countries of Latin America are repping here and that we pretty much all get along. Some people are here illegally and some like me are born and raised here, but pretty much everyone is just here to make a better life for themself and their neighbors, sometimes against formidable odds. Their strength inspires me.
The blog takes its name from a mural about immigration on the wall of PS 24 and from the some of the housing and gentrification issues in the neighborhood. It says it will offer "My personal account of development and gentrification issues in Sunset Park, Brooklyn."

GL looks forward to reading as new items come into our RSS feed.

[Photos courtesy of Sunset Park Autonomous Zone]

UPDATE: The blogger has changed the blog's name to Sunset Park Autonomous Zone, and we've updated the links in the post to reflect that.

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Williamsburg Transportation Policy: It's a Bike. No, It's a Trash Can!

Bike with Trash One

We're not sure why there seem to be a profusion of bikes with baskets doubling as trash receptacles around the Williamsburg, right now. Although, we might conclude that if you own a bike and you're going to lock it up, especially on Bedford, you might think about deleting the basket. Our other conclusion is that, possibly, Bedford Avenue as well as Berry Street need more trash cans.

Bike with Trash Two


Red Hook's Big Blue Ikea Grows & Beard Street Widens

Red Hook Blue on Beard

The big Ikea box on Beard Street keeps getting bluer and bluer and the formerly narrow cobblestone street is getting wider. You can see both things going on in these photos, which show the Ikea blue is now visible from all over. (We're especially liking the view across the Thor Equities demolition zone known as the former Revere Sugar site.) Likewise, Beard Street is in the process of getting wider by about two lanes over a distance of several blocks (so far). It's starting to look very Swedish big box on the waterfront.

Ikea Through Revere Site


Brooklinks: Wednesday Mixed Emotions Edition

Two Chairs

Brooklinks is a selection of Brooklyn-related information and images.


Say What: Dead Dead End

["Dead End" courtesy of I'mjustsayin/flickr]

Who knows how this Dead End sign on Kent Avenue, poignantly backed by a Stop sign, was undone. Truck. Construction. Vandalism. The pic was posted on flickr by Williamsburg blogger INSIJS, who emailed us the following description: "Both a Dead End and a Stop sign...they died together in tragic slumber like Romeo and Juliette, no post nor pole in sight." Who knew that compromised signage could be the source of such poetic inspiration?

BONUS: This has nothing whatsoever to do with signs, but if you want to see some gorgeous photos of a New York City sunset from the Williamsburg side of the East River, check out INSIJS' East River Sunset flickr set.

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Underneath East New York

[Photo courtesy of Nathan Kensinger Photography]

Nate Kensinger, who is one of the local photographers with a talent for going places that we wouldn't crawl or venture into, not to mention climb, takes us into a 1914-vintage abandoned rail tunnel in East New York with his latest post on his Nathan Kensinger Photography photoblog. The post is called Underneath East New York and it has some great photos of the tunnel. One of Nate's photos of the now-buried-by-Ikea-for-parking Graving Dock at the Todd Shipyard in Red Hook was a finalist in the My Brooklyn Photo Exhibition, which is running at the Brooklyn Public Library through tomorrow.


Take the Municipal Art Society Prospect Heights Walking Tour

If you're unfamiliar with the neighborhood that could end up standing in the shadows of Bruce Ratner and Frank Gehry's Atlantic Yards towers, you owe yourself a get acquainted tour of Prospect Heights. Via No Land Grab, we found news of a great tour being offered by the Municipal Art Society on Saturday, September 15 at 2:00PM. Here's the MAS verbiage about the tour:
Every once in a while, you walk the streets of a neighborhood and can’t believe it wasn’t designated as a historic district years ago. Prospect Heights in Brooklyn features some of the best late 19th-century brownstone blocks in the city, filled with outstanding Italianate and neo-Grecian row houses, as well as fine churches, institutional buildings, commercial buildings, and apartment houses, all in a vibrant multi-racial enclave that in recent years has filled with good restaurants, cafes, and shops. The Municipal Art Society worked with the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council to survey and catalogue more than 1,100 buildings in the neighborhood. That work formed the basis for a submission to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for historic district designation. Join us for a tour full of surprises in the area between Grand Army Plaza and the Vanderbilt railroad yards, where the “Atlantic Yards” mega-development has been proposed. Leader: Francis Morrone, architectural historian. Meet at the N.E. corner of Vanderbilt Ave. and Sterling Pl., a short walk from the Grand Army Plaza. (Transit: # 2, 3, 4 trains to Grand Army Plaza; Q train to Seventh Ave.)
The tour starts at 2PM and the cost is $12 for MAS member and $15 for non-members. No reservations are needed.


Domino Plant "Alternate Plan" Website Launched

Domino Alternate Plan Screencap

That Williamsburg group that has floated the idea of turning the old Domino Sugar Plant into an art museum have put up a website to push the idea. The current proposal, of course, suggests up to 2,400 units of housing and buildings up to 30 and 40 stories tall. The old plant itself would be converted to housing, with community uses or retail on the ground floor. The group argues that a museum like the Tate Modern in London would be a big tourism and revenue generator:
Using conservative figures based on the Tate Modern Case Study, the Domino site, with a modest admission price, would bring in between $60mm—$80mm in revenue per annum.(3) These figures do not include revenue generated through businesses outside the Domino site.
We're not sure how this would come to pass--and it's been suggested that it's a "pipe dream"--but the physical similarities between the buildings are certainly striking.

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Have You Seen the All-Steel Cube House in Sea Gate?

So, we're guessing you may not watch much Home and Garden TV (HGTV). That's why we're mentioning tonight's (8/29) broadcast of a segment that will include one of Brooklyn's more interesting architectural curiosities. It's the "Sugar Cube House" AKA the "Cube House" in Sea Gate, the gated community that is at the end of Coney Island. The building is interesting because it was designed by William Van Alen, the architect of the Chrysler Building. Basically, it's an all-steel cube. Its history was noted in the New York Times back in 2000. In any case, you can check out a blurb about the show here, which notes that it was thought to be the "wave of the future" when it was built in 1930. The Cube House will be featured along with a flying-fish themed house and a "tv house." It will be broadcast tonight at 11:30PM and rebroadcast on August 30 at 3:30AM and on September 11 at 6:30PM. We found out about it on the Coney Island Message Board, where a poster found out about it via the Sea Gate Revisited Newsletter. Now, if you could only wander around Sea Gate and check it out yourself.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

NOO! Park Slope Maggie Moo's Closes

Save the Park Slope Maggie Moos

God, Nooooooooo! Not the Park Slope Maggie Moo's. As you can see from the signage, the Park Slope Maggie Moo's has gone to the big frozen dairy treats factory in the sky. Strolling Seventh Avenue yesterday evening, we watched as a woman crossed Second Street and pumped her fist angrily at the gated ice cream spot. Strange time to be closed, we thought. Then, we looked down and found the sign above taped to the sidewalk. If Maggie Moo's can't survive in this storefront of death that has now swallowed up three establishments in the last five years, what can?

The person responsible will surely live out eternity in a Circle of Hell Reserved for the Lactose Intolerant Who Disregard Their Lactose Intolerance. We leave it to your imagination what happens there.

Repeat after the teenagers of Park Slope:

Save Maggie Moo's.

Save Maggie Moo's.

Maggie Moos Two


How to Have Fun on Bedford Avenue Dressed as an Insane Rabbit

Bedford Bunny One

We. Have. No. Idea.

All we know is that someone taped up "Lost Bunny" signs on Bedford Avenue with this person's photo and that this he was marching up and down the street. We're betting that it was a marketing or promotion effort like everything turns out to be, but holding out hope that it was a random individual acting out for personal or non-medication-taking reasons.

Bedford Bunny Two


Red Hook Vendors Attract Indie Film Hipsters

A GL reader who caught this interesting scene at the Red Hook Ball Fields where the vendors are under siege by the Parks Department, sent us a link to the YouTube vid he shot that was part of a short being produced by Red Bucket Films. So, now, the Red Hook Vendors have to contend with Parks Department competitive bids, overzealous Health Department Inspectors and filmmakers looking for interesting backdrops. Here's the email that accompanied the video and photos below:
I was eating at the Red Hook park food vendors when an odd ice cream cart came through. An old man sitting at the end was playing a piano like instrument while another pushed the cart. Along the side of the cart read "Ice Cream Soup". A team of film makers were following the cart as people swarmed around it to get a look. They were giving away free ice cream, apparently to make a short film. I asked the film makers about it and they told me to check out their website at Some of their films are interesting, such as giving a dollar to people on the street for 50 cents. Whatever the point, it was interesting to look at, listen to and watch kids line up for free ice cream. Whoever said that nothing in free... well I guess the signed waver to be in their video may be the rub.
Pics below.

Red Hook Film One

Red Hook Film Two


Gowanus Whole Foods Demolition Moving Along

Lake Gowanus and Demolished Building

Last week, Brownstoner's Gabby Warshawer offered a look at the demolition activity underway at the environmentally-challenged Whole Foods site in Gowanus, noting that a promised Spring 2008 opening seems a bit optimistic at this point. When we strolled over to have a look for ourselves, we found the entire building that adjoins the little body of water on the site we've come to know as Lake Gowanus was already gone. We do understand that neighborhood organizations and the big retailer have had some discussions about making the huge store more responsive to neighborhood concerns, although we're unclear as to what direction those conversations have taken. Whole Foods has previously rejected requests to reduce the amount of parking on the site and to include environmentally-friendly features like a green roof.

Gowanus Whole Foods Rubble

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Brooklinks: Tuesday Getting There Edition

Subway Ent

Broolinks is a daily selection of Brooklyn-related information and images.

Not Transportation:


Work Underway at 184 Kent

184 Kent Work

With all the attention that's been paid to the Austin Nichols Warehouse at 184 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, it's worth noting that early work is underway on the significant alteration and conversion of the building to more than 300 luxury apartments. The big steel door in the front of the building has been removed and replaced with plywood. Several permits have been issued over the last several months, with the most recent coming at the end of July. The building has been empty for more than a year and we noted the future look only last week.