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 two high-rise residential towers at the site. Members of the local community opposed the sale and continue to fight the high-rise construction.

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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 reign 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.

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09/04/15 9:30am

237-pacific-street-boerum-hill-090415

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.

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09/04/15 8:30am

3rd Avenue Bay Ridge

One Worker Dies and Two Are Injured in Wall Collapse at Bed Stuy Construction Site [NY Times]
Prokhorov Nears Deal to Buy All of Barclays Center, Nets [NY Post]
De Blasio Signs Rent-Regulation Bills Protecting Tenants [NY Post]
New Laws Prevent Landlords From Pressuring Tenants Out [Crain’s]
Rendering for Washington Avenue Condos in Clinton Hill [BuzzBuzzHome]
Revealed: 359 Linden Street in Bushwick [NYY]
Nine-Unit Residential Building Filed at 2756 East 23rd Street in Sheepshead Bay [NYY]
Berger, Miller Strike Again With $25 Million Brooklyn Heights Buy [TRD]

3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge.
Brownstoner on Instagram
Photo by Laura Leebove

09/03/15 4:30pm

Trump mural on Putnam Avenue Brooklyn

“Suspicious” Fiske Terrace Blaze Leaves Six Injured, Victorian in Ruins [NY Daily News]
Worker Killed, Seven Others Injured When Wall Collapses at Bed Stuy Construction Site [CBS]
Crown Heights Tenants Fight Court Ruling That Would Double Their Rent [Gothamist]
Menu Generator Challenges You to Distinguish Real Brooklyn Menu From Parody [Gothamist]
Flatbush Food Co-op Opening New Administrative Office on Church Avenue [Ditmas Park Corner]

Donald Trump mural on Putnam Avenue in Bed Stuy.
Photo by Brownstoner reader Cameron Clendaniel
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09/03/15 3:00pm

brooklyn-history

Ebbets Field in 1913

It’s one thing to know a lot about Brooklyn, but there’s only one official Borough Historian.

Appointed in 2002, lifelong Brooklynite Ron Schweiger has been the borough’s reigning history buff for more than a decade. On Tuesday, September 8, Schweiger will be giving a mini-lecture on Brooklyn’s history in conjunction with Brooklyn Lifelong Learning for retired and semi-retired adults. Specifically, Schweiger will cover how the streets and neighborhoods of Brooklyn got their names.  (more…)

09/03/15 2:00pm

UMD Urgent Care Brooklyn Heights Coming to Montague Street

Empty no more! Another long-vacant storefront on Montague Street is showing signs of life. When Brownstoner walked past just the other day, we saw that a UMD Urgent Care will soon occupy 109 Montague.

The location was previously a Crumbs cupcake shop. The bakery closed abruptly in June of 2014 just before the chain filed for bankruptcy. For a year, the storefront languished.
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09/03/15 1:00pm

Consolidation of New York Great Mistake

Here’s an updated look at the most important thing to happen in Brooklyn since Henry Hudson landed at Coney Island. Many people call it “The Great Mistake.” Was it? Read Part One of this series here.

On January 1, 1898, the City of New York officially rose from the collection of cities, towns and neighborhoods that made up Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx.

For those who had worked for close to 20 years to make this happen, it was a glorious day. For the common folk of New York, business probably just went on as usual.

In 1873, talk of a Greater New York City began in earnest. The leading citizens and politicians of both New York and Brooklyn began talking about joining the two cities. The opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 gave the idea wings.

Simon Chittenden, one of Brooklyn’s leading citizens, was one of the first serious proponents of this annexation, and he held meetings in his Brooklyn Heights home, successfully getting the proposal to the 1874 State Legislature. The measure did not pass.

The chief mover of the Consolidation Movement was Andrew Haswell Green, a Manhattan lawyer, city planner and visionary. Some historians refer to him as the 19th century’s Robert Moses for his vision and determination in changing the face of New York.

Appointed chairman of the New York City Parks Commission, he worked tirelessly on city planning projects. His name is associated with the creation of Central Park, as well as Riverside, Morningside and Fort Washington parks.

He widened Broadway, created the circle at Columbus Circle, and sponsored the creation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History. He also joined the Tilden, Astor and Lenox funds to finance the creation of the New York Public Library system.

Green was appointed by the state legislature to be the head of the consolidation commission called the Greater New York Committee. (more…)

09/03/15 12:12pm

220-congress-street-1

Today’s pick is a Cobble Hill co-op that comprises two combined apartments. Located at 220 Congress Street, in a 1952 building, the resulting unit has two bedrooms and two baths.

If if’s prewar charm you’re after, you won’t find it here. But the place has a fair number of pluses. It’s got exposures on three sides, for starters, and is on the top and sixth floor, so we’d expect views and light. The kitchen is attractive and recently renovated, and in general the whole place looks to be in top shape.

The unit also has a lot of built in shelving, a plus for many, and tons of closet space, including a wall of pantry storage in the kitchen. The bedrooms are ample sized, and the master has both a dressing area and a sitting area with a wet bar (aka the former site of that unit’s kitchen). (more…)

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.

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