09/02/15 10:30am

Brooklyn Renovation Blowing Out the Back Wall in Carroll Gardens

In December, when Jessica Siegel and her husband saw a “for sale” sign in the window of a narrow four-story Carroll Gardens home, they immediately called to make an offer. And were initially outbid.

But the other buyer got scared off by the building’s water damage, sagging floors and even worse problems — so by the end of March, they had the keys in hand.

“It’s the tiniest house with grandest details,” Jessica Siegel told Brownstoner. Measuring only 11 feet wide on the inside, the mid-19th-century four-bedroom came with a swooping curved staircase and elegant moldings.

It also came with the worst termite damage their inspector had ever seen in the neighborhood. But Siegel — a designer at GDD Interiors — saw the home’s problems as an opportunity to start fresh.

“It gave us license to bring back the grandeur while maximizing space,” she said. “On the parlor and garden levels, especially, every quarter inch counted. But we didn’t just butcher what was there.”


09/02/15 10:00am

J'Ouvert Celebration West Indies Day Parade

In the predawn hours of Labor Day, before the West Indies Parade begins its march along Eastern Parkway, there is another celebration. Often beginning around 4:30 a.m., J’ouvert (pronounced joo vay) is a contraction of the French words for daybreak (“jour ouvert”).

The traditional celebration originates with French settlers’ introduction of masquerade balls to the Caribbean in 1783. Banned from participating in their masters’ Carnival celebrations, slaves would hold smaller carnivals in their backyards. Once emancipated in 1838, slaves began participating in Carnival, blending in their own rituals.


09/02/15 9:30am

Brooklyn Building Permits Plummet 97% in July As 421A Tax Break Expired

The rate of Brooklyn’s housing permits went on a roller coaster ride this summer as builders hurried to begin construction before the lucrative 421-a tax break expired on June 15. Brooklyn gave out 8,499 construction permits in June — more than any other borough. But in July, that number was a meagre 246, reported Crain’s.

The 421-a program gives developers a tax break if at least 20 percent of their units were affordable housing. But as we wrote about last week, not all Brooklyn developers have held up their end of the 421-a bargain.

Builders could have cooled it in June — the law was extended through the end of the year, and a new version of the 421-a is in negotiations. If passed, it will likely require a higher percentage of affordable units and higher wages paid to workers on 421-a sites.


09/02/15 9:00am


Perhaps nothing is as emblematic of both the old and new Brooklyn as the newly restored Kings Theatre in Flatbush. After a $93 million restoration, it opened in February for the first time in 40 years and has gone on to win a preservation award and kindle renewed interest in the area.

And now it will be acquired by Ambassador, a vertically integrated theater chain, which produces shows, sells tickets and runs theaters. The iconic theater was not an acquisition target on its own but is part of another theater group, ACE Theatrical Group, that Ambassador is acquiring, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. (more…)

09/02/15 8:45am

Brooklyn Bridge Park beach

Did you know that Brooklyn is the biggest hub for photography in the U.S.?

If you’re contributing to this trend and want your Brooklyn photos featured on Brownstoner, send your shots to laura [at] brownstoner [dot] com either as email attachments or via a link to a shared folder (e.g. Dropbox or Google Drive).

Please include your name and a link to your website if you have one, and they may be featured in one of our daily Blogwrap posts. Photos should be horizontal (no squares) and at least 1000 pixels wide.

Photo by Shinya Suzuki via Flickr

09/02/15 8:30am

Shore Court Bay Ridge Brooklyn

At the Food Sermon, Keeping the Faith in Crown Heights [NY Times]
For Bernie Sanders, Brooklyn Roots Pose a Test, History Shows [NY Times]
Recent Commercial Real Estate Transactions in Bed Stuy and Beyond [NY Times]
Brooklyn Meets Bavaria in Sprawling Beer Garden [WSJ]
Two Key Voices Speak Out to Support Pier 6 Housing [Eagle]
Levin’s Brooklyn District to Participate in Budgeting $1.5 Million [Eagle]
Developer Secures $28 Million Construction Loan for Bushwick Rental Project [Crain’s]
Brooklyn Residents Enjoy Last Days of Summer [News12]
Bushwick Church Group Expands, Files Permits at 405 Evergreen Avenue [NYY]
Moshe Braver Plans 59K-Square-Foot Mixed-Use Building in Bushwick [TRD]
Kahen Properties Picks Up Three DoBro Buildings for $23.2 Million [TRD]
Community Board 6 Supports Middle School at Atlantic Yards Site [AYR]
Council Member Cumbo Hosts Participatory Budgeting From Fort Greene to Crown Heights [DNA]

Shore Court in Bay Ridge.
Brownstoner on Instagram
Photo by Laura Leebove

09/01/15 4:30pm

Brooklyn pop-up pool

Spike Lee Unveils Street Named for “Do the Right Thing” [BK Paper]
42 Homes Without Power After Electrical Fire in Midwood [Sheepshead Bites]
Laundromat Art Festival Celebrates Neighborhood Culture Across the Boroughs [DNA]
Sheepshead Bay Street to Be Named for Beloved Comics Writer [Bleeding Cool]
Bay Ridge’s Beloved Pipin’s Pub Finds New Home in Face of Demolition [Gothamist]
Could This Be the End for Mezini? [South Slope News]

Photo by John W via Flickr

09/01/15 3:00pm

Queens Broadway walking tour

There’s a Broadway in every borough, with Manhattan’s of course being the best known. While Broadway in Queens doesn’t have the same lights and attractions, there’s still plenty to see along this thoroughfare that spans from Ravenswood to Elmhurst.

Kevin Walsh takes us on an insider’s guide to Queens’ Broadway, making note of shops and businesses worth visiting.

Read all about it on Brownstoner Queens.

09/01/15 2:00pm


The Brooklyn Emerging Artists in Theater (BEAT) festival returns this fall, showcasing a diverse array of Brooklyn’s finest emerging performing artists. BEAT celebrates the Brooklyn community and its many performance spaces, and its lineup is as varied as its venues.

From September 10-19, the BEAT festival will feature nine artists performing 11 shows. The events, some free and some ticketed, will span four Brooklyn neighborhoods: Crown Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Sunset Park and Williamsburg. Below, a comprehensive guide to all BEAT performances. (more…)

09/01/15 1:00pm

Robert Graves Wallpaper Company Brooklyn History

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

If you’ve ever restored an old house and come upon 19th- or early-20th-century wallpaper, it could have been made by the Robert Graves Company of Brooklyn.

Between 1843 and 1929, the Robert Graves Company produced some of the metropolitan area’s finest wall coverings. It did it all: one-of-a-kind commissions and limited editions for interior decorators, as well as more modest mass-produced papers for middle-class homes.

Robert Graves was born in Ireland. Unlike many of his fellow Irish immigrants, he did not arrive on our shores with nothing. His father, Sir William Graves, was a well known artist. Robert came to America as a successful wallpaper manufacturer. (more…)

09/01/15 12:11pm


Today’s rental is a garden apartment in a Boerum Hill brownstone, with some charm and a nice landscaped garden out back. Listed by James Stubbs at Brooklyn Bridge Realty, the place is at 178 Bergen Street.

There’s no floor plan and photos are few, so we’re not sure of the exact layout, but it looks to be two rooms. The kitchen is in the back and off to the side, so there is room for a dining room table next to it and, presumably, a couch as well. (more…)

09/01/15 11:10am


Public Advocate and potential mayoral hopeful Letitia James has joined the fight against Mayor de Blasio’s plan to add affordable housing in two towers on Pier 6. The controversial plan is currently going through an official public review process to alter the park’s General Project Plan to allow affordable housing in the park.

If the plan is approved, partner developers RAL Development Services and Oliver’s Realty Group would construct a 29-story and a 14-story tower on the Pier 6 section of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Of the 339 units slated to be built, 117 would be below market rate, bringing the Mayor that much closer to his affordable housing goals. (more…)