09/03/15 11:00am

brownstone kitchen renovation

A few years back, when this 1910 limestone on an elegant park block changed hands, the house was in such a state of preservation that it still retained at least one working gaslight and a winding back stair, once used by service staff, from the kitchen on the parlor level to the floor below. That kitchen, in a two-story extension at the back of the house, needed radical updating. The lower level, where the laundry was, was full of exposed pipes and particularly uninviting.

Enter Gerry Smith, a residential architect based in Greenpoint. Smith was once, in his own words, “a diehard modernist,” but lately, he said, with more projects in brownstone Brooklyn, “I’m becoming very interested in modern insertions into a historical shell.”

As a friend of the new homeowners, Smith agreed to take on the job of revamping the whole extension. Working with Dean and Silva, a Brooklyn-based general contractor with an in-house millwork shop, he managed to keep considerable old-fashioned charm while bringing the space functionally up to date and linking it with the utility quarters below. The new space, now bathed in natural daylight, offers views of the garden that’s shared with the house next door.


09/03/15 10:30am

Brooklyn Book Festival 2015

At last! The Brooklyn Book Festival has announced a finalized lineup of its events. The annual celebration of Brooklyn’s rich literary scene celebrates its 10th anniversary this year with a full week of activities and lectures presented by a star-studded lineup of hundreds of authors and moderators.

The largest free literary event in New York City, the book festival plays host to a multitude of activities, including the Brooklyn Book Festival Children’s Day on Saturday, September 19, and a series of bookend events from September 14-21. The day of the festival itself is set for September 20.


09/03/15 10:00am

Brooklyn School Rezoning Dumbo Vinegar Hill PS 8

A summertime school switch-up has Dumbo and Vinegar Hill parents reeling. New boundaries have been drawn for the overcrowded, but high-achieving P.S. 8, rezoning many students to the less crowded, albeit less elite P.S. 307, school officials revealed this week.

While better balancing the quantity and diversity of students at each school, the change-up does little to assure improved quality. First, some details of how the student makeup might change under the new rules.

P.S. 8’s current student body is 66 percent white, a number expected to rise to 75 percent with the new boundaries. Meanwhile, P.S. 307’s current student body is 95 percent minority, a number expected to decrease to 55 to 65 percent with the influx of students previously zoned for P.S.8, the Brooklyn Paper reported.


09/03/15 9:30am

City Point Tower Affordable Housing Workshops

Workshop leaders Tiffany Gorritz and Kenia Gomez of WinnCompanies at Tuesday’s event

More than 62,000 applications have already been submitted for City Point Tower One’s 200 affordable units. Of this daunting number of applicants, however, many will be disqualified because of snafus in their application, explained Tiffany Gorritz and Kenia Gomez of WinnCompanies at a workshop Tuesday. (The company is running the lottery process for City Point.)

While the process may seem straightforward, even qualified applicants could be removed from the lottery due to small, easily preventable mistakes.

The Tuesday meeting was the first of five affordable housing application workshops Community Board 2 will be holding this month to teach people how to fill out an affordable apartment application — and how to correct mistakes if they’ve already submitted a faulty one.

The workshop information applies not only to those interested in City Point Tower One, but for all affordable housing applications for any current project.



The modular tower known as B2, nestled against Barclays Center at 461 Dean Street in the Pacific Park/Atlantic Yards development, cause of lawsuits and greatly delayed, reached the 17th floor a few weeks ago. Its problem days are behind it, according to the latest communique from a spokesman.

But Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report, in a story on City Limits and two on his own blog, has dug up some details of its construction via FOIL that reveal a tortured past indeed — and might give pause to anyone contemplating renting there.

Atlantic Yards Report today published the FOIL documents in full. They reveal problems with leaks in the misaligned modular units far more extreme than previously indicated. (more…)

09/03/15 8:30am

Carroll Street in Park Slope

City to Foreclose on 162 Properties in Brooklyn [NY Post]
At Williamsburg Starbucks, It’s Americano Mornings and Malbec Nights [WSJ]
City Prepares Rent-Collection Robocalls to NYCHA Residents in Brownsville and Beyond [Politico]
Three-Story Commercial Building Planned at 121 Thames Street in Bushwick [NYY]
Permits Filed: 186 21st Street in Greenwood Heights [NYY]
Crown Heights Vacant Lot Sold for $1.25 Million [DNA]
Spring Creek Towers Sued for Barring Tenants on De Blasio’s Rent Program [DNA]
City Agrees to Help South Williamsburg Day Care After Center Files Lawsuit [DNA]
Thin-Crust Pizzeria Takes Over Former Pete’s Waterfront Ale House [DNA]

Carroll Street in Park Slope.
Brownstoner on Instagram
Photo by Laura Leebove

09/02/15 4:30pm

Brooklyn news

Fort Greene Families Celebrate Impending Improvements at Whitman Library [Fort Greene Focus]
Anti-Waste Task Force Demands EPA Investigate Garbage Station Work Site [Bensonhurst Bean]
Our Historic House Is Haunted, Carroll Gardens Funeral Directors Say [Eagle]
News From the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket [PMFA]
Mas Camps for Carnival All Over the Neighborhood [Q Parkside]

Photo by Stephen Weppler via Flickr

09/02/15 3:00pm

Renovation dust & odor from neighbor's construction

A Brownstoner reader is dealing with odors and dust from a renovation happening next door and is concerned about the impact it might be having on their own building.

classon writes:

The house next to me, which is old and in poor condition, is being gutted. Both houses are dusty with age anyway, never mind vibrations from the demo loosening even more dust.

About 2 weeks ago I came home to a terrible odor in the front room on the garden level. It was definitely a smell resulting from the work next door—bitter and very unpleasant. There was also a lot of dust in the room, along the wall that’s adjacent to the house being reno’d. On that wall there is a fireplace (not in use though it acts as a chimney for the furnace) that is blocked with plywood but not totally sealed as far as I can remember. There’s also wainscoting that’s in decent condition cosmetically, but not restored, so there are cracks that can also let in dust. I cleaned the room and it helped a little with the smell but it lingered.



Roy Sloane, the controversial first vice president and acting president of the Cobble Hill Association, today announced that he is stepping down from the neighborhood organization. Two dozen Cobble Hill residents called for Sloane’s ousting last week and organized a special meeting for September 10 to discuss his departure.

The Cobble Hill Association is in the midst of fighting a plan by Fortis Property Group to built two high-rise residential towers in the neighborhood on the site of the former Long Island College Hospital. Sloane had been representing the CHA in talks with Fortis,  but several members did not believe that he was fighting the development as strongly as he should be.


09/02/15 2:00pm


Warriors, come out and…have a reunion show! The protagonist gang from the 1979 cult classic The Warriors return to Coney Island on Sunday, September 13, for The One Day That Will Go Down in Warrior History.

Presented by the Village Voice and LSRR Tour, the reunion has a full day of activities planned. The day kicks off at 10 a.m. with an autograph signing from the cast followed by a cosplay contest, performances from the Gotham Mashers and Sick Of It All, a special screening of The Warriors from director Walter Hill, a Q&A session with members of the cast, and then at 11 p.m., after 13 consecutive hours of Warriors, “Saying Goodbye to Coney.” (more…)

09/02/15 1:00pm

Grand Union Tea Company 68 Jay Street

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Before Dumbo teemed with tourists, residents and artists, it was one of the busiest industrial neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Large food companies like the Grand Union Tea Company were major contributors to jobs and commerce.

Name: Former Grand Union Tea Company, now offices and studios
Address: 68 Jay Street
Cross Streets: Water and Front Streets
Neighborhood: Dumbo
Year Built: 1915
Architectural Style: “Daylight factory” with transitional Queen Anne elements
Architect: William Higginson
Other works by architect: Industrial architecture in Greenpoint, Dumbo and Manhattan. In Dumbo, most of the Gair buildings, including 1 Main Street.
Landmarked: Yes, part of the Dumbo Historic District (2007)

A block-wide and -long warehouse for tea

Construction began on this massive warehouse in 1896, the same year that Frank, Cyrus and Charles Jones brought their Jones Brothers/Grand Union Tea Company to Brooklyn.

This part of the block-long, block-wide complex was the last to be built, out of modern steel frame construction and brick. It is a transitional example of a “daylight factory.”

Daylight factories were introduced in the 20th century. They mostly refer to the reinforced concrete factories of the day that allowed for more windows and natural light to flood the work spaces. This construction also allowed for fewer interior beams and more open spaces. (more…)