09/04/15 2:30pm

Brooklyn Community Board meetings September 15

Summer recess is over and community boards are back in session this month, with many of them welcoming new members for the year. At least one board, Community Board 2, plans to discuss Mayor de Blasio-led proposals for changes to zoning and affordable housing.

Brooklynites should be hearing a lot more about these proposals soon, as several are scheduled to kick off their formal public review process this month.

Here are a few boards meeting the week of September 7. (more…)

09/04/15 2:00pm

garden events guide Brooklyn fall 2015

From urban farming to shadow puppets and ballet, the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) is holding a plethora of free events this month. All happenings will take place in Brooklyn gardens that the nonprofit has been beautifying since Bette Midler founded the organization in 1995.

NYRP will host four Arts in the Gardens series in Brooklyn this month.


09/04/15 1:00pm

Vinegar Hill Brooklyn 50 Hudson Ave

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Vinegar Hill is one of our oldest neighborhoods. It remains one of the best locations to see what working class life in pre–Civil War Brooklyn was like in the days of Walt Whitman.

Name: Storefront with upper apartments
Address: 50-54 Hudson Avenue
Cross Streets: Plymouth and Water Streets
Neighborhood: Vinegar Hill
Year Built: 1828-1931
Architectural Style: Greek Revival
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: Yes, part of Vinegar Hill Historic District (1997)

A store and more

Like most of the older buildings in Vinegar Hill, these three-story brick buildings have two floors of apartments over a storefront. They were all built in a simple Greek Revival style, with stone lintels and sills on the upper windows, and simple cornices. The names of the builders are lost to history.

These buildings have stood for almost 190 years in a city that changes rapidly, so it’s no wonder the storefronts are in varying degrees of original authenticity. 50 and 52 Hudson Avenue’s storefronts were last altered sometime after 1977. (more…)

09/04/15 12:46pm

We’re coming up on Labor Day weekend, when people are generally more interested in savoring the last moments of summer than working Sundays and eyeballing real estate. So when it comes to open houses, this is not an action-packed weekend.

We’ve found a few, though — three in total. They’re all in brand-new condition: Two, in Bushwick, are gut renovations; one, in Crown Heights, is brand new construction.

The Bushwick houses are on the same block, as it happens: Eldert Street between Knickerbocker and Wilson avenues, a few blocks from the L train station at Halsey Street.

At No. 249 we’ve got an aluminum-sided number offering double duplexes, each 1,800 square feet, including an owner’s duplex with three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and a deck with stairs down to the backyard.

Up the block at No. 275 is a three-story brick townhouse  with a two-bedroom apartment on top and a two-bedroom duplex below, with a large “recreation room” in the basement and access to a fenced-in garden. It’s got a bit of a rustic vibe, with beamed ceilings, exposed brick and skylights made from reclaimed wood.

Last up, on St. Marks Avenue in Crown Heights, we’ve got a newly built home with a double duplex plus a finished basement. Each duplex has three bedrooms and an outdoor space — the bottom unit has the garden, the upper one has a roof deck.


275 Eldert Street in Bushwick
Broker: Corcoran
Price: $1,250,000
Sunday 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Photo by Corcoran


09/04/15 12:06pm

Doing alright, Brooklyn — two of our Open House Picks from six months ago have sold. Williamsburg’s 91 Berry Street closed in July at $2,900,000, $25,000 under ask.

A Boerum Hill listing that didn’t sell was in a similar price bracket, but needed work, the listing indicated. Our bargain pick, the Crown Heights listing, also needed work, going by the photos.

The medium-priced, updated Bed Stuy pick with lots of details closed for $100,000 over ask at $1,350,000.


Open House Picks 03/06/15 [Brownstoner]

09/04/15 11:00am

Hudson Valley Historic Towns Guide

Beacon, N.Y., streetscape. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Raise your hands if you love exploring historic towns. You can’t see it, but we’re all raising our hands along with you.

There’s certainly no shortage of them in the Hudson Valley. In fact, if you want to get technical, every town played a part in the state’s rich history, but this week we’ll be exploring a few of those towns that are known for their historic buildings, homes, museums and landmarks — no tri-corner hat or leather breeches required. (more…)

09/04/15 10:14am

Fortis Buys Long Island College Hospital

Fortis sealed the deal. After a multiyear acquisition process fraught with controversy and litigation, developer Fortis Property Group closed on the sale of the former Long Island College Hospital, according to Crain’s. Fortis purchased the LICH complex for $240,000,000 from the State University of New York.

The deal encompasses about 20 existing buildings in Cobble Hill — roughly 542,000 square feet of space — and brings Fortis one step closer in its plan to build four high-rise residential towers and other developments at the site. Members of the local community opposed the sale and continue to fight the high-rise construction.


09/04/15 10:00am

Brooklyn Interior Design: Matt Austin's Modern Whimsical Bushwick Apartment

The Bushwick apartment of designer and decorative painter Matt Austin is a playground of visual creativity. He has playfully painted and paneled the third-floor railroad flat with care, and filled it with eccentric oddities — many of his own design.

When Austin moved in, the apartment was a wreck, said New York Magazine, which features the home in its Winter 2016 Design Hunting magazine. (The magazine is out this week in print but not yet available online.)

But the friend renting it to him gave the painter free rein to make any nonstructural changes he wished. After a good cleaning and a kitchen remodel — assisted by Austin’s plaster-specialist brother and a furniture-making friend — the apartment became a canvas for his ideas and a showcase for his product designs.


09/04/15 9:30am


The four-story, mixed-use building coming to 237 Pacific Street in Boerum Hill will be modern with rustic materials such as brick and wood cladding, a rendering Brownstoner found on the fence shows. It should tip the balance of aesthetics on this once scruffy, ramshackle corner for the better.

Across the street on the opposite corner at 242 Pacific Street is a townhouse of compatible modern design by Brooklyn-based architects John and Jill Bouratoglou with interiors by Beastie Boy Mike Diamond. Two more apartment buildings by the same architects stand next to it. (more…)

09/04/15 9:00am

Brooklyn Gentrification Human Rights Violation

Is gentrification a human rights violation? Yes, according to one Brooklyn-based organization recently profiled in The Atlantic. Right to the City is a national alliance of racial, economic, and environmental justice organizations which believes “the freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is…one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights,” in the words of famous anthropologist and geographer David Harvey, whom it quotes in its literature.

Formed in 2007, Right to the City list just five staff members on its website, but lists over 60 member affiliations, and 23 allied groups. A national alliance, the group’s work has focused on civic engagement, community organization, and various housing campaigns. Its office is on Atlantic Avenue.

Gentrification has often been critiqued for displacing long-time residents and businesses, escalating rents to record breaking highs, and rendering New York’s landscape corporate and soulless. On the other hand, it has also been credited with revitalizing once devastated neighborhoods, restoring New York’s economy from the brink of bankruptcy, and has been correlated with a significantly lowered crime rate.