08/04/15 12:00pm

570 44th Street 1

This one-bedroom co-op at 570 44th Street in Sunset Park has an open and airy feel, with a dining room as well as a living room and lots of windows. The combined living and dining space is a massive 23 feet long.

There are also original details such as hardwood floors, high ceilings, moldings, built-ins and French doors. Interestingly, the apartment also has an old wall safe that apparently has never been opened — at least not by the current residents. (more…)

08/03/15 10:02am


A rendering is up at the construction site for the new apartment building that will rise at 369 Berry Street in Williamsburg. The design looks quite busy, and will use at least four different materials on the facade.

A tweedy brick in grey, black and beige will make up most of the facade. There will also be orange brick, beige tile and smaller multi-colored salt-and-pepper-colored tile (or possibly rock veneer). Colonial style sconces accent the entry, and a glass wall tops the structure.

The applicant of record is architect Charles Mallea, who is becoming quite prolific in north and central Brooklyn, with more than a dozen projects in Bed Stuy, Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Bushwick. Projects include a controversial apartment building with mirrored cracks at 410 Tompkins Avenue and more traditional buildings at 75 Ralph Avenue and 774 Bushwick Avenue. (more…)

08/03/15 9:30am


Are high levels of ownership good or bad for cities? Should the government push for more home ownership? What role do rental units play in the growth and vitality of cities?

Journalist and web developer, Ken Schwencke, who also works for The New York Times, has added to the discussion of some of those questions by creating a nation-wide interactive map that shows renters and owners across the country. To build the map, he spent some serious time with the US Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey data, zeroing in on home ownership.

The red dots on his map represent renters, the blue dots, owners. Each dot represents 25 housing units, and they are placed randomly within a census tract — an area of about four to eight blocks in Brooklyn.

Despite the frenzied housing market in Brooklyn over the last decade, the rate of home ownership has changed little. New York is a city of renters and Brooklyn is a borough of renters, as is made clear by the vast swaths of red in the map above.

According to the New York Housing and Vacancy Survey of 2014 (PDF), Brooklyn’s home ownership rate is 29 percent, higher than Manhattan and the Bronx but lower than the city average and far below the national average of 63.4 percent. City-wide, the total number of owner-occupied units is up slightly from the previous year.

Today the national home ownership rate is at its lowest point since 1967. But for cities a low home ownership rate may not be a bad thing.

Cities in general have low levels of home ownership. And some of those that have seen the most economic growth recently have very low levels of home ownership.


07/31/15 2:35pm


Last night a public hearing on the controversial residential towers to be built on Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park drew an overflow crowd and ran more than two hours long. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation needs a modification of the park’s General Project Plan to allow affordable housing in the park and in these particular buildings. Community Board 2 approved the modification earlier this month and this hearing was the next step in the approval process.

“The place was totally full (occupancy limit: 350), with another hundred people outside the hall, listening on speakers,” said Brownstoner commenter Andrew Porter.

The meeting was “boisterous. Thank goodness the air conditioning was fine,” he added. (more…)


Twin apartment buildings designed by prolific Queens-based architect Gerald Caliendo are rising at 9 and 11 Orient Avenue in East Williamsburg. The site was previously home to a 19th century Italianate wood-frame house and garage.

Like the development now sweeping Flatbush, many apartment buildings have replaced older frame houses on large lots in this section of East Williamsburg in the last decade. The most notable to meet the wrecking ball was a Second Empire mansion on the same block at 59 Orient Avenue that starred in the film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” then was taken over by squatters.

The film’s director, Michael Gondry, reportedly lived on the block, but didn’t save it. It was demolished in 2010 and is now an eight-unit rental building. (more…)

382 Lefferts Avenue

Last week the application period began for 46 affordable units at 382 Lefferts Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. There are five studios, 28 one bedrooms and 13 two bedroom apartments for rent to those who meet the requirements and win placement in the lottery. The availability of the units was first reported by DNAinfo.

Studio apartments will cost $1,909 a month for those earning between $67,406 and $96,800 a year. One-bedrooms are $2,047 a month and two-bedroom units are $2,465 a month for those earning between $86,572 a year and as much as $138,080 a year, depending on the number of people living in the unit. Applications are due by September 22.

This building was a bit of a test case for the city. In the wake of the financial crisis with developments stalled, the city launched its $20,000,000 Housing Asset Renewal Program. The goal was to provide funding to developers who were unable to finish their buildings in exchange for converting their market-rate projects to affordable housing. This building was the first to accept funding from HARP way back in 2011.


2015_05_17 Pierhouse 47

You may have thought the movement to save the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Promenade was dead, since the lawsuit over the Pierhouse development was decided in Brooklyn Bridge Park’s favor in June, but community group Save the View Now is hoping to resurrect its case. Last week the organization filed a motion to amend its complaint and renew its motion for a preliminary injunction based on what claims is newly discovered evidence that the developer, Toll Brothers and others involved in the project misrepresented the use of the controversial 30-foot bulkhead that blocks the view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The City, Empire State Development Corp, Toll Brothers and Starwood Capital have always contended that the bulkhead, which exceeds the legally mandated building height of 100 feet but is not counted as part of the building, was needed to house the building’s mechanicals since, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, they could no longer be located in the basement. Save the View Now says it has uncovered plans that show that the bulkhead will be used for more frivolous purposes than housing mechanicals. (more…)


As of Monday, applications are now being taken for 200 affordable units in the first City Point tower, now under construction in Downtown Brooklyn. Brick Underground was the first to notice that the lottery had opened through NYC Housing Connect.

The least expensive units are studios for $500 a month for those earning between $18,515 and $24,200 a year. One-bedroom units range from $538 a month to $2,038 a month depending on income levels.

The most expensive units are two-bedroom units for $2,455 a month for those earning between $85,612 a year and, at the top end, $142,395 a year. City Point’s website has full list of income requirements or it can be viewed as a PDF here.

Half of the units will go to those already residing within Brooklyn’s Community Board 2, and 5 percent will be set aside for municipal employees. Another 5 percent will be set aside for mobility impaired applicants and 2 percent will be set aside for those with visual or hearing impairments.


07/29/15 9:30am

154 Lenox Road

Most likely setting a record for the neighborhood, this detached frame house at 154 Lenox Road recently sold for $3,550,000. The sale hit public records earlier this month. The two-and-half-story house is large for Brooklyn at a hair over 3,000 square feet. And it has a garage in the back.

But we’re willing to bet it’s not the spacious wraparound front porch or whatever period details remain inside that helped this seller get such a high price. (more…)

07/28/15 11:43am

eric adams

After confronting problems with bad landlords and tenant harassment, at a pair of hearings earlier this month, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, in an article in City & State, tries to take on gentrification.

For well over a decade people in Brooklyn have been complaining about it, hoping for it, praising it and condemning it — and moving in and out of Brooklyn because of it. Just about everyone has a different definition of what it is, what causes it, how it changes neighborhoods and whether it is good, bad, inevitable or some combination of all of the above.

That’s Adams above, flanked by tenant advocates, announcing the hearings last month. One more is scheduled for July 26 (you can read all about it here).

Adams singles out four issues he says amplify problems associated with gentrification:

Tenant Harassment
The first is criminal harassment of tenants in an effort to empty units so the landlord can take advantage of rising rents. After an outpouring of horror stories from tenants whose landlords had denied them heat, hot water, or sanitary living conditions at the hearings he hosted earlier in the month, Adams is referring cases to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office and to the state attorney general’s office for prosecution. (more…)


Some of the last buildings that the government seized from their longtime owners in order to make way for the Atlantic Yards project are likely to be demolished soon. Demolition permits were filed on Thursday for 491, 493 and 495 Dean Street. The three 19th century row houses sit close to the corner of 6th Avenue, right across from Barclays Center in Prospect Heights.

The buildings, pictured below (491 is on the left), were part of a long dispute with developer Bruce Ratner of Forest City and the then Empire State Development Corporation. Eventually, the owners and their families, some of whom had lived here for generations, were ordered by the state to vacate the properties in September of 2014 and reportedly had 90 days to do so. The sums they were offered by the state for the properties were not made public. (more…)

07/27/15 12:20pm

735 and 737 Bushwick Avennue

Tenants in two buildings on Bushwick Avenue are being evicted to make way for a renovation, according to a tipster. “Although they tried to fight it the tenants are getting evicted,” she told us. “Construction is set to start in a month.”

We checked into permits at 735 and 737 Bushwick Avenue, and sure enough, the owner is planning to add a fourth floor to each building and increase the number of units. (One will go from three to seven units, and the other from three to six.) The plans were filed this month but have not yet been approved.

This is one example of change taking place all up and down Bushwick Avenue and throughout the neighborhood. We have noted many townhouses being gut renovated, spruced up, enlarged with top-story additions, and even being demolished and replaced by larger apartment buildings over the last year or so.  (more…)