Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Coney Island Death Watch: Sitt Sending in Demolition Crews

Coney Speedway

It's been a while since we've posted a "Coney Island Death Watch," but developer Joe Sitt and his firm Thor Equities are clearing some of the land they own in Coney Island. Tenants got the boot from properties at the end of last year, and now, there are reports that a number of the Sitt-owned parcels are being prepared for demolition or will soon see demolition activity, including the Go-Kart track, batting cages and mini-golf course near the Coney boardwalk. According to reports on the Coney Island Message Board, copper wire is being stripped, light poles have been taken down and some fences have been cut. The area will reportedly be cleared so that it can be "activated" quickly if the firm gets the rezoning it is seeking from the city that will allow the construction of luxury housing and retailing on the Coney Island properties that it owns. Meanwhile, the New York Post reports that Thor has start to "clear some of the land where its planned construction would occur. Bulldozers have begun removing longtime attractions on Thor property along Stillwell Avenue."

There has been widespread speculation in Coney Island circles that Thor would move quickly to level buildings and attractions on property that it owns in Coney Island in order to increase pressure on the city to act on the zoning changes that it desires. It is thought that creating even more empty land in Coney Island, and the way it would make it appear vacant and unsafe, is a tactic to ensure quick approval of redevelopment plans. If the redevelopment somehow falls through, because Thor doesn't get the zoning changes it desires or because it can't line up financing, Coney would be left with blocks more empty, overgrown lots than it already has.

Related Post:
Mail from Mr. Sitt: Deliberately "Grassroots" Look?
Here's "Coney Island Park"
Coney Island Death Watch: Is Eviction and Demolition a Bargaining Chip?


Sitt Speaks: Give Me Luxury Housing in Coney Island, Or Else

Tilt a Whirl

Developer Joe Sitt is turning up the heat on the city in his attempt to have Coney Island rezoned to allow luxury highrise housing on the boardwalk. While Mr. Sitt's publicly-released plans have stressed retail development and amusements such as a new roller coaster, the New York Post reports that Mr. Sitt is suggesting he might pull out of Coney Island if he can't build housing. A story quotes Thor Equities spokesman Lee Silberstein as saying the planned $1.5 billion Coney development "isn't a financially feasible investment" without luxury highrises. Says Mr. Silberstein: "Everybody wants Coney Island to be revitalized, and housing has got to be part of it." The story continues that "the city faces losing its biggest private investment in Coney Island's future if it doesn't meet Thor's request."

It looks like some in Coney aren't taking the bait, however, or pushing the panic button in response to Mr. Sitt's ultimatum. The story continues:

Chuck Reichental, a member of the agency that will determine how Coney Island is rezoned, said a majority of residents opposes housing in the amusement district as well as any new development exceeding the height of the 262-foot landmark Parachute Jump.

Sources familiar with informal talks between the city and Thor say these are the two biggest obstacles to the developer's plan.

A city Economic Development Corporation spokesman said, "Our priorities remain to preserve and enhance Coney Island's historic amusement area, make sure it stays open to the public and create economic opportunities for local residents - and we have serious concerns that a predominance of residential towers . . . would work against those goals."

Clearly, Mr. Sitt and Thor have begun the process of trying to create pressure for the significant zoning changes they want, partly through calculated public statements.


Red Hook Noted in New Republic

If you're not a New Republic reader you might miss this next item, so we figured it's worth passing along. It's actually a story about Senator and Presidential candidate Barack Obama and his appeal across racial lines. The story, however, dwells quite a bit on some research that sociologists did in the 1990s in Red Hook:
In 1994, two sociologists went to Red Hook, Brooklyn, to solve a mystery. Red Hook abutted the East River, and along the waterfront sat shipping companies and warehouses — all in need of low-skilled labor. Next door sat a housing project teeming with exactly that. But the locals — primarily African Americans — didn't get hired. Instead, the jobs went to workers from outside the neighborhood, often Caribbean immigrants. Employers, wrote The New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell in summarizing the sociologists' findings, "had developed an elaborate mechanism for distinguishing between those who they felt were 'good' blacks and those they felt were 'bad' blacks." Were the employers racist? Yes and no. They clearly held anti-black stereotypes. And they discriminated against those who conformed to them, even by association. But they discriminated in favor of blacks who defied those stereotypes. A man named Bruce Llewellyn described the phenomenon this way: "White people love to believe they're fair."

As it happens, Llewellyn wasn't talking about Red Hook. He was talking about his cousin, Colin Powell — whose prospective presidential bid enjoyed mass white support roughly a decade ago. Like the employers in Red Hook, whites discriminated in Powell's favor because he challenged their negative stereotypes of blacks. First, he had succeeded in a respected white institution: the military. Second, he was the child of immigrants, a man whose family history highlighted America's opportunities, not its racism. Third, he wasn't ideologically radical. And, fourth, he didn't look or sound stereotypically black. No one was blunter about this than Powell himself. Asked in 1995 to explain his appeal to whites, he volunteered that "I speak reasonably well, like a white person," and, visually, "I ain't that black."

Barack Obama would never put it that way. But he surely understands the uncomfortable subtext behind the adoration being showered upon him by white America.
You can read the entire story over at, which is where we found it, or over at the New Republic, but you've got to register at the latter.

Brooklinks: Wednesday Midweek Edition

Atlantic Yards Property Update: Where the Eminent Domain Hammer Would Fall


What you're looking at above is a map of the Atlantic Yards site, color-coded to show who owns what. While the entire thing makes a pretty, multi-colored map and diagram of the project, what's of particular interest here are the areas in red. Those, according to Develop Don't Destroy, are properties that are still privately owned. In total, more than five acres of the proposed site are still privately owned or controlled. "Unless the developer can gain the deeds and leases to these properties, the arena cannot be built," the group writes. "In addition, much of the rest of the project, including the de-mapping (removal) of City streets required to construct superblocks, cannot be built as proposed." There is a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of using eminent domain to seize property for the project. There are 12 plaintiffs in the suit (representing 2 businesses and 26 residents) and the parties are in court next week.

Busy on Bayard Street: Out You Go

Tossing Things from Ikon

We caught a virtual symphony of construction work going on over at what we call Karl Fischer Row on Bayard Street next to McCarren Park on Sunday and have been so overwhelmed with posts this week that we're only now getting around to posting a couple of pics. There was the sound of banging and drilling. The construction elevators were going up and down. And, there were workers inside the building that will become The Ikon tossing a lot of stuff out the windows, a bit of which we caught in mid flight as it made its way out the window near Lorimer Street.

Ikon from Lorimer

More Crappy North Brooklyn Construction Sites: Greenpoint Edition


A special North Brooklyn correspondent who saw our post yesterday featuring two Williamsburg development sites that are pretty much open to those that wish to romp through the rubble and play demolition contractor or construction worker hit us off with the photo above of another fun site. This one is on Green Street in Greenpoint. Quality workmanship on the fence, no?

Need a Cup? Check A Brooklyn Coffee Map

Brooklyn Indie Coffee Map

These Brooklyn coffee maps, which are simply zoomed in versions of NYC coffee maps came to our attention via the Google Maps Mania blog. The top one--which shows independent coffee places--comes from cupofnyc's New York City coffee map. The bottom one shows the location of Starbucks (the paucity of which in certain parts of Brooklyn with either lead one to rejoice or to wonder when more will come, depending on one's orientation on this hot button issue). It comes from the findbyclick coffee map (no way to link to the NYC map directly. You have to type in New York in the search bar). We're pretty sure the "indie" coffee map is missing some spots, but the Starbucks map looks fairly complete. You can also search the "indie" map by neighborhood.

Brooklyn Starbucks Map

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

South Slope Development Follies, Continued: "I Noticed That the Building Was Gone"

If demolition and construction in Brooklyn were a genre of literature or drama, it would be Theater of the Absurd. How else to explain day-to-day, week-to-week spectacle of flagrant violations by developers and contractors, slow response by municipal officials and blatant disregard of any orders that are eventually issued?

We present without further explanation the following letter sent by Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights to the Commissioner of the Department of Buildings:
Despite your efforts; the illegal Demolition at 574 Fourth Ave. has continued. Last Friday there were 2 floors of a building. As I passed the site, this Morning, I noticed that the building was gone. At 1PM, when I returned to see what was going, on I found an 8 ton (probably more) Backhoe was busy taking down what was left of the building. There were 2 men [one Asian and one Hispanic] standing outside as lookouts, and one Polish (I think) man operating the Back-Hoe. I started to take some Pictures and was immediately descended upon. I asked if they had any permits. The operator of the Back Hoe (who happened to be the only one who could speak English) said that they were doing what there "BOSS" told them. I explained that their "BOSS" told them to break the law. Then I asked if they had a permit for the Machine and they looked at me like I had 3 heads. When I asked if the operator had a license to operate the machine and he immediately said "NO."...I am attaching 2 video, 2 Pictures and a short audio recording of the Operator admitting to not having a license.
Thank You and Enjoy!
All we need is a Commissioner or Inspectors with names like Pirandello or Kafka, and we're set.

Brookvid: A Trip to the Bottom of a Brooklyn Navy Yard Drydock

Our little trip to see PortSide New York's Mary A. Whalen in the graving dock at the Brooklyn Navy Yard was, to us, pretty damned cool. Yesterday, we posted a large flickr photoset from the visit. Today, we're putting up a Brookvid. It gives a little bit of the feeling of what it's like to be under a boat, several stories down in a drydock with a bulkhead holding back the waters of the East River. You don't get the damp cold or the kind of fish store smell, but it conveys some of the flavor. Watch the embed or click here.

Related Post:
Underneath a 613-Ton Ship: Visting the Mary Whalen in Drydock

BAM Cultural District Moving Forward?

After years of discussion and planning, the BAM Cultural District may be moving forward. The $650 million project would be built around the Brooklyn Academy of Music and in the words of today's Post create "a new Left Bank - Brooklyn-style." It will include a theater and arts library, dance studio, public park, museum & gallery, underground parking and residential housing. Plans, according to the Post, include:
* The Theater for a New Audience, to be built early next year. The 299-seat theater is modeled after London's Royal National Theater.

* A dance studio in a 20-story residential tower with 150 apartments, half of which will be affordable housing.

* The Visual and Performing Arts Library, currently on hold until a new executive director is named for the Brooklyn Public Library.

* A public plaza, which will be built with an underground parking garage by landscape architect Ken Smith, who designed the outdoor space at the new 7 World Trade Center building.
A request for bids on the project goes out next month.

Cool New Street Art in Williamsburg

Street Art One

We don't usually do posts on street art, except to feature it as a "Photo Du Jour" sometimes, but the recent outbreak of splashing, and the beauty of the two works here, merited a stand-alone post. In any case, we won't publicize the location of these two other than to say they're in Williamsburg somewhere between the BQE and the East River.
New Street Art Two

The No Longer Sunken Red Hook Lightship

[Photo courtesdy of Harvenyc/flickr]

Ever wonder about that sunken lightship in Red Hook by the Revere Sugar Plant whose masts were poking out of the water? The ship was reportedly removed from the water on Sunday by a massive crane floated into the Erie Basin by Thor Equities. We came across this flickr set of the lightship's actual sinking in the mid-1990s and thought we'd share in case you were curious and (like us) had never seen pics of the ship that had sat at the bottom. You can check out the entire set here or the slideshow of the set here. Below is one of our pics of how the lighship appeared until a few days ago.

Red Hook Lightship Masts

Brooklyn Mystery: Why Won't Albany Pay the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods???

Way back when, the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods was promised $100,000 to report on the Environmental Impact Statement for Atlantic Yards. The group did a good job of coordinating the "community expert review" of a terribly complex document and was vigilant in monitoring what some would say was a deeply flawed process. It turns out they were never paid. (Norman Oder digs into the issue on his Atlantic Yards Report here and there is an item on No Land Grab as well.)

The Council includes cornerstones of the Brooklyn civic and neighborhood world: the Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association, Boerum Hill Association, Boerum Hill For Organic Development, Brooklyn Bears Community Garden, Brooklyn Vision Foundation Inc., Cambridge Place Action Coalition, Clermont/Greene Ave Block Association, Dean Street Block Association, Develop Don't Destroy-Brooklyn, East Pacific Block Association, Fans For Fair Play, Fifth Avenue Committee, Fort Greene Association, New York Preservation Alliance, North Flatbush Business Improvement District, Park Slope Civic Council, Park Slope Greens, Park Slope Neighbors, Pratt Area Community Council, Prospect Heights Action Coalition, Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, Sierra Club-Atlantic Chapter, Society for Clinton Hill, South Portland Avenue Block Association and the Warren Street St. Marks Community Garden

Now, the group has started a campaign among each of its members to contact elected officials in Albany to find and turn over the money that has "disappeared" or that was made to vanish by political opponents such as former Assem. and Atlantic Yards supporter Roger Green. The letter reads in part:
CBN needs your help immediately. As you have read in the local papers and as we have discussed at our meetings, CBN was promised $100,000 from the New York State Assembly last year to fund our report on the Environmental Impact Statement of the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project. The report is finished and being used by many officials, including the State Assembly but the promised funds have not been forthcoming...
Some of the sample text:
The Assembly appreciated that the scope and complexity of this analysis would require the use of environmental experts working on the community’s behalf when it originally approved the CBN funding. Based on these assurances CBN contracted a team of consultants who produced an excellent series of reports in a completely transparent manner. The work has been done and is being used by the Legislature. It is unconscionable that the funding has not yet been made available.
Hopefully, a public airing of what would seem to be a hardball political payback will help resolve the situation so that everyone that did good faith and top-notch work analyzing the Atlantic Yards document will be paid.

Brooklinks: Tuesday Cold Again Edition

More Snow

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

Weather & Idiotarod
Doubling Atlantic Yards Subsidy
Everything Else

Another Perspective on the Revere Demolition

Leave it to the flickr photographer who goes by f.trainer to get a wonderful perspective on the Revere demolition in Red Hook. Don't stop at this photo. Check out his entire Revere photoset, shot over time, and definitely make a stop at his Gowanus Batcave photoset.

More Excellent Maintenance at Williamsburg Construction Sites

N10 and Berry

It's not like we walk around Williamsburg looking for messed up construction sites--you know, downed fences or poorly secured doors. But, sometimes, we practically trip across them. The specimen above is at N. 10th and Berry on the site of an old zipper factory that was recently demolished and that will become condos. The one below is from the corner of N. 8th and Driggs where the Wonder Foods factory was recently demolished and has offered excellen opportunities to romp through both the demolition site and, now, construction rubble.

North 8th Gate

Monday, January 29, 2007

Underneath a 613-Ton Ship: Visiting the Mary Whalen in Drydock


There is something that is both frightening and uplifting about standing under a 613-ton fuel tanker several stories beneath ground level. You look up and the mass of the ship, with a fresh black coat of paint, rises several stories above your head into the pale Brooklyn winter sky. The the left and right are the steep, stair-stepped walls of a drydock. Amazingly, she sits about nine or ten feet off the bottom of the drydock on more than a dozen massive blocks. Water rushes through a massive bulkhead in the Brooklyn Navy Yard graving dock, dropping in a little waterfall into a trough before being pumped out again. Underfoot there is a gritty black gunk left over from sandblasting, spotted with fuel oil from work equipment, the smell of which is fairly strong. The ship itself--which is a large vessel--seems oddly dwarfed by the 285-foot-long graving dock, which is one of the smaller ones at the historic Navy Yard.

Welcome to the Mary A. Whalen, an old tanker that is in the process of being converted into a floating museum and headquarters for PortSide New York. Gowanus Lounge visited the Whalen--a 172-foot tanker that delivered to ships around New York City and to ports as far away as Maine before she retired from active duty in 1993--on Sunday, having been invited by PortSide's Director Carolina Salguero. Ms. Salguero has been documenting the repairs on the PortSide Tanker Blog, which she is somehow managing to keep up, despite living on a ship in dryock. Ms. Salguero notes that the ship hadn't been in drydock for repairs in about 16 years and that the TLC she is getting is vital. The Whalen had been docked since fall at one of American Stevedoring Piers in Red Hook, and PortSide must raise capital in order to do the interior renovations that will turn her into a floating maritime museum, office space, cafe and community facility, but the stay at the Navy Yard is vital to ensuring that the Whalen has a long and healthy new life of service.The Whalen will leave the drydock late this week or early next week, and we'll write more about her, but for now, it's time to let our pictures say more than our words. We've got a small slideshow embed below, but you can click over to our flickr photoset or directly over to our flickr slideshow (which we'd embed here, except for the persistent glitches) for a whole lot of images of the Mary Whalen in drydock.

Mail From Mr. Sitt: Deliberately "Grassroots" Look?

How do you hide the fact that you're connected to the well-heeled developer proposing at $1.5 billiion project? You produce a flyer from an independent group that looks like it came off an underground printing press. On Friday, we noted that the a group calling itself The Future of Coney Island that is connected to Coney Island developer Joe Sitt's PR firm, the Marino Organization, was sending out flyers touting the redevelopment of Coney Island to Brooklyn residents. (The URL, which is a "parked" web page, is registered to the Marino Organization.) Over the weekend, someone posted a scan of the flyer on the Coney Island Message Board. The results are below. All we will say is that given what the players here are capable of producing, one can only assume the faux grassroots community group look is deliberate. The mailer looks like it's coming from local residents doing DIY organizing--against Mr. Sitt's project, for that matter--rather than from an organization sponsored by or with very close ties to Thor Equities.
inside of flyer
The Front

back of flyer
The Back

reponse card
The Response Card

Related Post:
Coney Island PR Material from Thor Hitting Mail Boxes


Revere Falling Fast, Getting Craned

Revere 01-27-Broken Dome

The Revere Sugar Plant in Red Hook is on its last legs. Demolition workers tearing the iconic structure down on behalf of developer Joe Sitt and his firm Thor Equities were back hacking away at the metal structure this week and also made more headway demolishing brick structures on the site. In addition, a huge crane on a barge has been floated up the site. When we were there, one of the masts from a sunken light ship that had long poked out of the water, had been lifted out. We're told that on Sunday, the entire light ship was lifted from the water and that a big hole was visible in the raised ship. Presumably, it's all in preparation for tearing down a conveyor structure jutting into the water, which raises interesting questions as to why clearing debris from the water is a priority during the demolition of the factory.

Revere 01-27 Crane

Revere 01-27-Centered

Street Art War Update: Faile Goes Up By One On the Splasher

N 6 Art One-This Week Last Week

Score one for the Faile crew. A check of the state of street art on N. 6th Street, which was one of the spots struck by the destructive Splasher, finds that the Faile crew has replaced destroyed street art. The art war was noted in the Sunday New York Times, and quoted a Faile member as saying they would incorporate the Splasher's splashing and "Excrement of Action" manifesto into their work, which they have done. Here's hoping they stay that way, but even if they don't we have faith that street artists will trump the pseudo-intellectual twaddle of the reviled Splasher.
N 6 Art Two

N 6 Art Three

N 6 Art Four

Monday: Brooklinks Brave New Week Edition

Barge with Bridge

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

Brooklyn Matters Online


The documentary Brooklyn Matters now has its own webite,, which is a good spot to watch a trailer and to get updated listings of where producer/director Isabel Hill's Atlantic Yards documentary is being screened. The website itself says:

No single event will have a more drastic and long-lasting impact on Brooklyn than the proposed Atlantic Yards development. This uncommon proposal, however, is mostly misunderstood. Brooklyn Matters is an insightful documentary that reveals the fuller truth about the Atlantic Yards proposal and highlights how a few powerful men are circumventing community participation and planning principles to try to push their own interests forward.
You can check out a partial calendar of upcoming screenings here as well as info about a comedy fundraiser for Develop Don't Destroy.

Brooklyn as Seen in the LA Times

Van Brunt and Verona

It's always interesting to see how Brooklyn is viewed, especially in light of its inclusion over the last year or so in a ton of travel section stories. In any case, here's a little something from yesterday's LA Times that we're including for fun:
The [Brooklyn Cruise] terminal, at Pier 12 off Bowne Street in the Red Hook area, isn't a neighborhood you want to stroll around after dark.

The best bet for staying overnight near the terminal is the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, which has big, comfortable rooms and a good restaurant, Archives. The other feasible (but less enticing) option is the Holiday Inn Express, farther away in Park Slope. It's no great shakes, but a good, inexpensive choice.

One of the best things to do is the most obvious: Take a walk on the historic Brooklyn Bridge for classic views of the Manhattan skyline from the pedestrian walkway above traffic. It takes 30 to 40 minutes to cross, or you can cheat and walk halfway and back. From the Marriott, turn right on Adams and continue to the waterfront, about a 15-minute walk. There's no public transportation available to the port terminal.

The Brooklyn Historical Society, in an 1881 Queen Anne building, and historic Montague Street are both a short walk from the Marriott. The historical society holds the papers of abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, who preached at Brooklyn's Plymouth Church, and memorabilia about the long-gone Brooklyn Dodgers. At the end of Montague Street is a knockout view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. Gardeners may want to check out the 52-acre Brooklyn Botanic Garden at 1000 Washington Ave., which has a bonsai museum and an outstanding orchid collection.

For a little local color, I ate one night at Frankie's 457 Spuntino in Carroll Gardens. It's a friendly brick-walled neighborhood place with good salads and pastas.

Another night I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express and found the delightful Moutarde a few blocks away. The menu is very French — onion soup, mussels, pot au feu, beef Burgundy — as is the bistro ambience.

Nearby Park Slope has delightful boutiques, such as Nest, for cutting-edge jewelry, tableware and toys. Bird sells high-end fashion for women.
We could point out that the writer says the Holiday Inn Express on Union Street is in Park Slope, but that would be wrong.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Idiotarod: A Lot of Cops, A Lot of Pics

[Photo courtesy of LarimdaME/flickr]

We missed the Idiotarod, which is a sort of winter version of the Mermaid Parade with shopping carts, which took place yesterday and ran from Clay and Franklin in Greenpoint to 45th Road in Long Island City. It apparently attracted a large police presence, including helicopters, in addition to a large number of participants and onlookers. Gothamist did some coverage as the "race" was going on that you can check out here and bluejake has a photo feature up. And as of this morning, there are 1,146 flickr photos up online from the 07 Idiotarod. More to come, no doubt.

Not every photo who shot Idiotarod photos (TresspassersWill's, eva101, JefferyEl, LarimdaME) put them in sets, but very cool flickr sets were posted by:

Disconnected in Brooklyn on Craigslist: You Wear Excellent Pantyhose

Sunday = Our favorite Brooklyn Craigslist Missed Connection--pathos, comedy and heartbreak, all in one place--on Craigslist. We've got to say that we had a hard time making up our mind. We enjoyed this one, from the guy who found some panties in his laundry, but it was more of a weird lost and found than a Missed Connection. We also must say that we dug this one about the female talking to herself at Baked in Red Hook and this one to the guy who works out with a friend who reads Penthouse Forum on the treadmill at the Y and goes outside to smoke.

All that having been said, this week's award goes to:
Pink hat, N Train, panty hose, black boots with zipper on the side? - m4w - 28

I feel dumb for doing this but I just have to! I hope you look on here hon. We got on the same time at the bay parkway station. You had pink furry gloves and hat,panty hose that i was looking at quite a few times heh , i think pink coat also. I know you had three different shades of pink on with those black boots. Sat about 3 feet away from each other...I really wanted to sit next to you and start were so lovely! But I was going on an audition so i had to go over my monologue to myself. We kept glancing at each other and you distracted me from my monologue very much!! I had a beard, longish dark hair, brown coat, and chewing gum later on during the ride. We had our eyes on each other when you got off and sat in the other train across from me. I hope you read this and are interested. I'd love to talk and continue together. Write soon
Ray xox
"I had to go over my monologue to myself." That would mean you were talking to yourself while checking out her pantyhose? Cool.

Brooklinks: Sunday Still Chilling Edition

Frozen in Red Hook

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


Gehry Doing a Miss Brooklyn Makeover

Frank Gehry breaks some news by noting that his Miss Brooklyn is undergoing a serious redesign. "Miss Brooklyn" was supposed to be a 60 story building, but its size was trimmed at before the Atlantic Yards development was approved by the Empire State Development Corporation. Now, Mr. Gehry says, as quoted in the Courier-Life paper: "Miss Brooklyn – she’s gone. She’s a new one now. I have a new Miss Brooklyn. I haven’t showed it yet and she’s better...I’ve always loved a reason to start over again and I did it."

You might remember Mr. Gehry's original explanation of naming Miss Brooklyn: "When we were studying Brooklyn, we happened upon a wedding, a real Brooklyn wedding. And we decided that Miss Brooklyn was a bride." Now, as it turns out, he says, "Miss Brooklyn got named when one of my guys was bringing the model from LA to New York and they had to buy a seat on the airplane, and when they sold the seat they needed a name so he said, 'call her Miss Brooklyn' and it stuck."

Also, Mr. Gehry says this regarding the Manhattanization of Brooklyn about which many residents are concerned:
It will be the Brooklynization of Brooklyn not the Manhattanization. Things are changing and growing, and people are attracted to the center — the cities, and whether you like it or not it’s happening here.
Somehow, we feel better knowing that it is inevitable.

Warm Up witth Vids of Coney Island

Here's a small (20 vid) playlist of Coney Island vids from youtube that we've put together for what we call GL's BrooklynTV. You can click over to the playlist here or, better yet, check out the selections on the very cool player below.


Gowanus Lounge Photo Du Jour, Part II: I Dream of Love & Corona

I Dream of Love and Corona
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

"Coney Island Park" TV News Report

Check out this report on CW11 about the "Coney Island Park" propsosal that Thor Equities floated this week. We found it thanks to a list of links on--what else?--Kinetic Carnival. The report is definitely worth checking out.

Related Posts:
Coney PR Material From Thor Hitting Mail Boxes
Here's "Coney Island Park"
Gowanus Lounge Coney Island React-O-Matic


Gowanus Lounge Photo Du Jour: Yellow Machine

Yellow Machine
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Second Street in the Slope Gets a Shot of Castoria

Second Street Castoria

When a Park Slope warehouse on Second Street near Fourth Avenue was demolished recently, it revealed an old ad for the stomach remedy Castoria on the side of an adjacent building. The big site is slated to be a four-story, 21-unit building designed by Karl Fischer Architect, best known for his work on Bayard Street adjacent to McCarren Park.

Great Squash Cook Off at V Spot

If you're a squash fan (the vegetable, not the game), there's going to be a "Great Squash Cook-off" with twenty amateur Brooklyn chefs working to create a vegan dish with winter squash. It happens next Sunday (February 4) from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm at The V-Spot in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The release promoting the event says, in part:
Squash, often overlooked in favor of ‘flashier’ produce, is starting to get noticed. In an effort to encourage home cooking and seasonal eating, a local holistic health counselor is teaming up with Park Slope’s only vegan restaurant, The V-Spot, to host The Great Squash Cook-off...The contenders include new takes on the traditional ( Drunken Squash Soup ), to the sweet ( Butternut Persimmon Pudding ), to the exotic ( Indian Squash Halva ). Dishes will be judged for taste, creative use of ingredient, presentation, and ease of preparation. The grand prize winner will receive $200 in cash as well as the honor of having their recipe featured on menu of The V-Spot.

The judges include an impressive list of local food authorities and restaurant owners, including Anna Lappé, author of Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen; Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of Vegan with a Vengeance; Vikas Khanna, owner and consultant for some of the top Indian restaurants in New York City; KalaLea, co-owner of smooch, an organic café and wine bar in Ft. Greene; and Danny Carabano, owner of The V-Spot.

Admission of $15 includes samples of the entries as well as the ability to witness the inauguration of Brooklyn’s very first squash champ. For more information about the event visit Space is limited.
The V-Spot, which is one of our regular desert stops because it carries an excellent selection of vegan cakes, is at 156 5th Avenue in Park Slope.

Brooklinks: Saturday Very Visual Edition

Snapple and Coke Behind Bars

Broolinks is a daily selection of information and, especially on weekends, information.

Not Images:

Get Your Fix of Demolition Porn

If you dig demolition porn, then by all means, you've got to check out this playlist of demolition porn (aka destructoporn) vids over at youtube. You can just click through them on the embedded player below to find the ones that, well, turn you on.

Gowanus Lounge Saturday Curbed Roundup

Kinetoscope Video: Coney's Winter Lull

Kinetic Carnival posted this moody, gorgeous vid of Coney on a dark and wet winter day, earlier this week. It's part of a seriers that he says he'll be doing, which is encouraging, because it looks like we'll be getting some great vids. In any case, click on the embed below or go over ot Kinetic Carnival's item with the video here.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Coney Island PR Material From Thor Hitting Mailboxes

Coney at Dusk from Astro Tower

Brooklynites have started getting mailers from an organization identifying itself as "The Future of Coney Island." The URL printed on the mailers is, which currently is a "parked domain" page. However, the domain name traces back to The Marino Organization, which is the PR firm of Thor's and developer Joe Sitt's PR person, Lee Silberstein. Mr. Silberstein is frequently quoted on Thor's behalf. Hence, The Future of Coney Island is closely tied to Thor Equities, even if it will be set up as another organization on paper.

We haven't seen the flyer--it is said to include renderings of the Cyclone, Parachute Jump and Wonder wheel, as well of photos of people eating, Nathans and other scenes. Its content was posted on the Coney Island Discussion Board. The verbiage is as follows:
Serving the community

Real Opportunities....

The future of Coney Island will tickle the senses and excite your taste buds. Residents of the area will soon have a variety of new restaurants, at all price levels to choose from. They will have a full-service hotel to accommodate visiting family and friends, a great selection of neighborhood and destination stores in which to shop...and a whole new modern amusement district made up of rides and games to enjoy (in boldface) throughout the entire year (end of boldface).

The new Coney Island will honor the colorful history of the Boardwalk as America's amusement destination, and it will bring visitors back to a place that has brought joy to millions of people.
The mailer includes (shades of Atlantic Yards promotional material sent out by Forest City Ratner) a return mail postcard that says, "Let us know your thoughts" and asks the recipient to check any of the following:
Yes, my community needs jobs
yes, my community needs more amenities
yes, there should be more amusements in Coney Island
yes, the Coney Island season should be expanded
The promo mailer says nothing about housing or highrises, both of which are controversial parts of Thor's plan. It was previously reported that Thor is planning a PR campaign for its Coney plans, including five mailers.


Gowanus Lounge Coney Island React-O-Matic

As with all previous releases of Coney Island renderings, yesterday's information about "Coney Island Park," which might rise on the site of Astroland, made a splash. We noticed that the plan contained a mass of highrise buildings that we presume would be the hotel part of the proposal, and were amused at the way the drawing made them vague, gray outlines. (Interestingly, it is said to be a six-acre plan, whereas the Astroland site is three acres.) In any case, here are a few reactions to the plan:

1) To me, it just sounds like a zillion other Six Flags and other amusement parks. Nothing New York-ish about it, nothing that nods to the heyday of Coney Island, nothing enjoyable retro. Pretty disappointing. [Popsurfing]

2) With this new report Thor seems to have gained many points to their side. Let's hope Thor and company keep the promise and integrity of the importance of the amusements in Coney. [Kinetic Carnival]

3) What I'm very curious to see are Thor's plans for the hotel and condos. It seems they are always these shadowy, undetailed blocks standing in the backgrounds of all these drawings. I'm sure they have very specific detailed drawings and plans for those - and very hidden away from the public. [ConeyHOP/Coney Island Message Board]

4) This is an awesome design with some awesome rides. [Im_a_ThrashHole/Coney Island Message Board]

5) Exciting news, even if the rendering makes Coney Island look like Atlantic City. [Gothamist]

6) Astroland will soon be transformed into a glittery hulking mass of commercialism and obsequiousness [Bridge and Tunnel Club]


Check Out the Brookvids Collection from GL

We've put together a youtube playlist featuring some of the Brookvids that we've made since fall (which is not as many as we'd have liked to make, but it's a start). You can access the playlist here or just flip through everything on the way cool embed below.

Dirt and Traffic With That Brooklyn Park?

One Brooklyn Bridge Park

Today's post is reporting that the early part of Brooklyn Bridge Park's life could be full of construction activity as the stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that runs above it is rebuilt. In addition, Furman Street will likely be used as a detour for traffic turning it into one very busy roadway. The bad news is reported in today's Post:
The restructuring of a busy 2-mile stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway could wreak havoc on the planned Brooklyn Bridge Park - both for visitors and the owners of luxury condos to be built there, a recently released report suggests.

The state-commissioned report on the BQE Triple Cantilever Project - which would rehabilitate or replace the split-level portion of the highway between the Brooklyn Bridge and Gowanus Expressway - suggests the new park could be a "staging area" for construction equipment, The Post has learned.
Should all be cleared up by 2012 or 2015, give or take.

Will Gowanus' "Public Place" Be Sent to Detox?

One of the more interesting places that figures in Gowanus redevelopment ideas is the site called "Public Place." It is a vacant parcel between the Canal, Fifth Street, the Smith-9th Street Station and Smith Street that was once the site of a manufactured gas plant owned by the corporate ancestor of Keyspan. It is also one of the most toxic parcels in all of Gowanus.

The Gowanus Comprehensive Plan envisions several possible futures for the site, all of which involve a cleanup and redevelopment that includes a combination of retail space, hosuing, community facilities and open space. (That's a diagram of the site, above.) The report says:
The Public Place site, including the adjacent warehouse to the south, offers the greatest potential due to its size, ownership and frontage along the canal. The controlling determinant is current contamination and the extent of clean up required (cost and time being critical issues). The best use of this area is shown...recommending residential uses, retail along Smith Street frontage, plus extensive open space and access to and along the canal.
Former manufactured gas plants in Gowanus (there were three) and around Brooklyn left behind a dangerous toxic soup that includes cyanide, but state environmental officials told Community Board 6 this week that the Public Place site can be cleaned up and "support virtually any development." Not all of the toxins will be removed from the site. Instead, barriers will be put in place to minimize health risks. The cleanup will take less time or longer depending on how the parcel--which is publicly-owned--is developed.

One of the major pollutants on the site is coal tar, which has been found to depth of 135 feet. Coal tar gas, meanwhile, is said to have spread far beyond the site. Pollutants from the site continue to enter the Gowanus Canal.