nehemiah_201009.jpgWhen the Nehemiah project launched in the 1980s, it sold houses to residents of East New York for as little as $39,000. The church-run program would buy abandoned, city-owned properties and erect inexpensive homes for residents that met the program’s strict financial credibility checks. Nowadays, Nehemiah (named after the post-exile Biblical character who rebuilt Jerusalem) homes sell for as much as $120,000, but this is still well below market rates for similar properties. NPR profiled the organization this week, pointing out that the project has stringent financial checks to ensure that applicants are not involved in any criminal activity and to ensure that they will not default on their mortgages (applicants can spend no more than 20 percent of their income on the mortgage; no more than ten out of over 4,000 homes have been foreclosed in the program’s entire history). Zandra Brockman, an applicant to the program, said the application process was worth the result: “Where else could we live at the prices we had?” she told NPR. “It was truly a blessing for us.” The article adds that applicants who are rejected often organize their finances and re-apply later successfully. Sarah Plowden, who works for Nehemiah and also owns a home through the program, said: “We more than just bought homes. We bought into one another as a people.”
Low-Cost Brooklyn Housing Sees Few Foreclosures [NPR]
Affordable Houses Infused With Color [NY Times]
Low-Income? You’re Kidding! [NY Magazine]

10/20/09 8:31am

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Lanes for Buses Only, and New M.T.A. Chief Means It [NY Times]
City Awarded $105 Million in Exxon Mobil Lawsuit [NY TImes]
British Regulator Proposes Tighter Rules for Mortgages [NY Times]
Author ponders death — at Green-Wood Cemetery [NY Post]
Andrew Lloyd Webber Disses Coney Island [NY Daily News]
Bed Stuy Foot Soldiers Survive Recession [NY Daily News]
Man Shot at Home on Vanderbilt Avenue [NY1]
Photo by flatbushnelson

10/19/09 10:31am

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At the Walk Don’t Destroy Brooklyn fundraiser held Saturday by Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, DDDB announced that it would file another lawsuit today against the Atlantic Yards development project, this time regarding “the failure of the Empire State Development Corporation to issue a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement in response to changes in the project,” according to the Atlantic Yards Report. This lawsuit, sponsored by 19 community organizations, joins two other major lawsuits currently in the courts, both co-sponsored by DDDB: the massive eminent domain case and the MTA case. Update: DDDB along with 19 other community groups did in fact file suit earlier today. Read all about it here.
DDDB: New Lawsuit Challenging Atlantic Yards [AYR]
Atlantic Yards: Suit Filed Against MTA [Brownstoner]
Oral Arguments over Eminent Domain at Atlantic Yards [Brownstoner]
Photo by Tracy Collins

10/19/09 10:01am

cnr-map-1009.jpgAs we mentioned last week, CNR Healthcare was hoping to get special upzoning and build an outsized supportive services facility on Lefferts Place in Clinton Hill. At a community meeting held last Thursday with politicians who supported the idea, locals fought back passionately, according to The New York Times. Our concern isn’t with the low-income housing for seniors; the project itself is an amazing and important project, said John Katsos, president of the civic association. We just feel that a project at that size and design is not inclusive of the community. Rezoning will set a bad precedent by opening up the entire block to massive development, and we’re all private residents. In the face of community backlash, the politicians wobbled, and CNR said that it would not pursue the development project without support from the community. We have to go back, assess what we learned tonight and figure out what our next steps are, said Mitch Korbey, a lawyer representing CNR. GMAP
Prospects Dimming for Lefferts Senior Complex [The Local, NYT]
Meeting About Special Lefferts Rezoning Request Tonight [Brownstoner]
Lefferts Place Threatened by Healthcare Developer [Brownstoner]

10/19/09 9:31am

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Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, the Atlantic Yards watchdog organization, held its fifth annual Walk Don’t Destroy fundraiser on Saturday, which raised over $40,000 according to the Atlantic Yards Report. City Council Member Letitia James, DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein, actor John Turturro, and about 200 others walked the 2.3-mile route, which included a stop at Borough Hall, headquarters of Borough President Marty Markowitz, a supporter of the Atlantic Yards development. This is about working-class people, Ms. James said as she marched across Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, according to The New York Times. This is about saving our homes and businesses against billionaires. We want our community back. The cash raised by the event will presumably go towards DDDB’s efforts to prevent the Atlantic Yards stadium and residential development project, such as its current lawsuit against the MTA for negligence of due process in its sale of land to developer Forest City Ratner.
Staying Power at Fifth DDDB Walkathon [AYR]
Walking Against the Bulldozers [NY Times]
Atlantic Yards: Suit Filed Against MTA [Brownstoner]
Photo by Tracy Collins

10/19/09 9:00am

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Jonathan Miller posted a neat little graph over at Curbed on Friday, which attempts to show the savings of living in Brooklyn vs. Manhattan over the past seven years. Mr. Miller acknowledges that the graph is “simplistic and fraught with problems,” but it gives an approximated view of how much buyers save by living in Brooklyn, and that saving’s relationship to the boom and bust years. Using median sales price data (of condos? co-ops? houses? all available residential sales?), Mr. Miller concludes that the peak time of Brooklyn savings relative to Manhattan was the second quarter of 2008. Again, it’s an approximation, but an interesting one. Take a look at the original article for more details.
Three Cents Worth: Manhattan to Brooklyn Value Proposition [Curbed]

10/19/09 8:30am

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Police Offer Reward in Beating of Immigrant [NY Times]
Face-to-Face Socializing Starts With a Mobile Post [NY Times]
Arts, Briefly: BAM to Host First Opera Festival [NY Times]
Brooklyn Man Gunned Down After Quarrel [NY Daily News]
Dad Is 1 of 3 Slain in Bronx, Brooklyn [NY Daily News]
For Akiva Goldsman, a Beautiful Turnaround [LA Times]
GOP Challenger Debates Markowitz [Brooklyn Eagle]
Author Ponders Death—at Green-Wood Cemetery [Brooklyn Paper]
Photo by Barry Yanowitz, Brownstoner Flickr pool

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Lots of ground to cover this weekend for house-tour lovers…Tomorrow, the 31st Annual Bedford Stuyvesant House Tour runs from 11 am to 4 pm; you can buy tickets in advance from Brownstone Books at 409 Lewis Avenue or pick them up at the kick-off spot at Brooklyn Academy High School at 832 Marcy Avenue. On Sunday, the action shifts to Prospect Heights, where ten homes—including three architects’ residences—will be open for viewing. The self-guided tour goes from 12 to 5 p.m., and you can purchase tickets ($20 ahead; $25 same day) at Forest Floor Antiques at 659 Vanderbilt Avenue. For more info., call 718-393-7653 or visit their website.

10/16/09 11:30am

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This is the eleventh installment of a weekly blog hosted at Brownstoner chronicling the design and construction of the Greenlight Bookstore at 686 Fulton Street in Fort Greene. Written by project architect Frederick Tang of deFT Projects. See the first ten posts here.

For the past couple weeks, we’ve been saying “we’re in the home stretch!” but the completion of the project always seemed elusively one more week away. This time, though, it’s really true. Floor protection has been removed. Books are going up on the shelves. Computers are installed in their final locations. And most exciting of all, our launch party is scheduled for next Saturday, October 24! (more…)