229-macon-street-032113From the annals of the improbable: Caterer to New York City socials Serena Bass has bought a townhouse in Bed Stuy, according to a story last week in The New York Post. (Bass used to own Serena’s in the basement of the Chelsea hotel; her ex husband David Shaffer is also ex husband to Vogue chief Anna Wintour.) The only listing we could find for the property is for a three-bedroom rental, which was asking $3,200 but recently dropped to $3,000. Bass’ son reportedly paid $860,000 for the property at 229 Macon Street, above. Bass plans to hold catering and cooking classes in the townhouse, according to the Post. Ah-mazing.
Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark


Are any readers out there looking to start a design business? Lauren Stern, whose Carroll Gardens apartment was featured on Brownstoner’s The Insider last year, will be teaching a class on the business aspects of striking out on your own. Known for her “cozy, comfortable and warm” style, Stern worked as an interior designer at the firm Wilson Associates and as an event producer for Black Book Magazine before opening Lauren Stern Design in 2007. In addition to working on client projects, she is currently renovating her own house in Boerum Hill. “The Nuts and Bolts of Starting an Interior Design Business” will cover how to charge, the five phases of any interior project, and growing your business, as well as regulatory and legal requirements. The class, which costs $11, will take place at the Brooklyn Brainery at 515 Court Street in Carroll Gardens from 8:30 pm to 10 pm on Dec. 10.

Commercial real estate in Brooklyn remains strong, according to the latest report from commercial realty group TerraCRG. In the first half of the year, there were 563 sales worth more than $1.23 billion. That’s an increase of 50 percent in dollar volume over the same period last year, according to TerraCRG. Here’s why: Prices of development sites have increased. Development site transactions accounted for more than 15 percent of the total dollar volume. Not surprisingly, Downtown and Park Slope led in highest dollar volume of total sales, with Williamsburg and Greenpoint closely following. But surprisingly, the combined areas of Bed Stuy, Bushwick, and Crown Heights had the most amount of trades. Perhaps landlords see potential in those areas?

Not all of Brooklyn’s old factories have been turned into luxury condos; some still operate as factories, but on a smaller scale. Custom, niche manufacturing is thriving in Brooklyn, said The New York Times. From fresh bread to custom props for photo shoots, if speedy delivery and skilled workmanship are important, it is better to locate in Brooklyn than China. The executive director of the research institute Center for an Urban Future, Jonathan Bowles, said he is optimistic about this “revival of entrepreneurial manufacturing.” However, artisanal manufacturing employs only a fraction of the workers mass manufacturers do. The Navy Yard, for example, last year rented space to 275 businesses employing 5,800 people vs. the 15,000 employed in 1959. Nonetheless, the loss of factory jobs has slowed in Brooklyn. Between 2009 and 2011, Brooklyn lost just 1,205 manufacturing jobs. What do you think? Will artisanal pickles and custom furniture save our borough?
Small Factories Thrive in Brooklyn [NY Times]
Photo by wallyg

If you’re walking down 7th Avenue in Park Slope, you might experience sensations of dizziness or disorientation. This is due to the massive turnover along this commercial drag recently: The Brooklyn Paper notes that the main drag from Flatbush Avenue to 15th Street has 27 storefronts either empty or in transition. Since rents are going down and lower rents favor restaurants, says the article, this means more eateries are on their way in, changing the character of the neighborhood. Some residents bemoan these changes, while others are adding menus to their take-out drawers, but Steve Sommers, a local broker, notes that previously higher rents were too high. It was a bubble, but now all the hot air is getting let out, he told the Paper.
Seven Up or Down? [Brooklyn Paper]
Photo by Raphael Brion

For weeks, there has been a media hullabaloo concerning the possible closure of up to 40 Brooklyn post offices. But it may be much ado about nothing, locally at least: The Brooklyn Paper reports that many of the offices feared doomed aren’t even on the list for consideration. Specifically, the offices in neighborhoods like Park Slope, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Red Hook will be spared the gallows. The less fortunate offices will be studied by the USPS and considered for consolidation or closure. Additionally, the Times reported on August 4 that only 14 branches will be closed city-wide, and none of them are in Brooklyn.
Brownstone Brooklyn Spared [Brooklyn Paper]
Feds Go Postal on USPS [Brooklyn Paper]
USPS Full Study [USPS]
Postal Service May Close 14 Branches [NY Times]
Photo by Kate Leonova via PropertyShark

navy-yard-entrance-0109.jpgA ray of light among the darkening clouds: According to The Times, some niche manufacturers are doing just fine right now. Scott Jordan, whose workshop is in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, for example, told the Gray Lady that sales of his $2,600 sleeper sofas and $3,000 beds have actually risen of late. In fact, because of demand from small businesses like this, the Navy Yard plans to add another 1.5 million square feet of space and another 2,000 workers in the next two years, recession be damned.
In NYC, No Crisis for Niche Manufacturers [NY Times]
Photo by amybabyamy on Flickr

washhands_0808.jpg Less than two weeks ago, we heard that Brooklyn was poised to lose 6,000 jobs. But the Daily News reports that we have a secret weapon in the employment department: diversity. “”It goes back to how diverse our economy is,” sats president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Carl Hum. “We have virtually every business sector here.” Brooklyn’s food and health service sectors will actually increase by 1,500 jobs, and hotels, arts and retail should hold steady. The article predicts that the addition of restaurants and cafés to Bed Stuy and Crown Heights will help keep those areas booming, and some small manufacturers might add jobs, too. Thought you guys might need a dose of optimism… Although, actually, those 6,000 jobs are still expected to be lost.
Businesses Hang On Because of Diverse Culture [NY Daily News]
Dead-End Jobs. Photo by lilpixiegirl03.

Dumbo residents by and large have plenty of cash, they just haven’t had a lot of choice about where to put it. For the past couple of years, a sole Sovereign Bank has served the burgeoning community between the bridges. There was a limit to how useful it was: After all, how many people actually do their banking at Sovereign. Which is why it’s such great news that a Chase branch will be opening in the ground floor of the J Condo at 100 Jay Street. According to workers, it should be open just in time for all the condo dwellers to return from the Hamptons at the end of the summer.

Photo by Wendy Hope

Brooklyn native Adam Suerte is a painter, an illustrator, a graphic novelist, co-owner of Brooklyn Tattoo (located at 99 Atlantic Avenue), and the artist behind the awesome Brooklyn Bridge ink that we posted a while back. We spoke with him about body art and borough pride — two topics that are intimately linked for him.

Do you get a lot of requests for borough-related tattoos?

I get many requests for tattoos with Brooklyn themes. I have done the clocktower over a dozen times, the Brooklyn Bridge is a constant theme in my work. I have thrown the Brooklyn House of Detention into many a background. I am working on a sleeve for a carpenter from Bay Ridge where it shows the Verrazzano Bridge, and under that is the R train coming off the Manhattan Bridge, with the Brooklyn Bridge in the reflection of the train window… very distorted, but we got it all in there.

Another sleeve from a local that starts out on his wrist with Coney Island, and goes up through different Brooklyn landmarks ending up at Fort Green park on his upper arm, and I have done countless words and phrases relating to Brooklyn, and parts therein.

Theres a huge sense of Brooklyn pride, even with people who weren’t born here but now consider it home. They always ask me if that’s “uncool” — I am not one of those locals that think it’s stupid to be prideful of where you live, even if you haven’t grown up here. Many of my Brooklyn-themed tattoos are on people who were not born here. (more…)

Fourth Avenue turns up the heat with the addition of Salsa Salsa Dance Studio. Marcus Gonzalez and Raymond Colón, the owners, saw an opportunity to expand the original Salsa Salsa in Bushwick by opening a second studio in Park Slope. Doors opened in February and classes have been steadily filling. They teach a particular form of salsa, called On 2, or New York club style which refers to the beat on which dancers change direction. Beside salsa, classes are offered in tango, hip-hop, ballroom, and soon tap, Bollywood, and ballet.

This past Saturday, Marcus Gonzalez taught Beginning Salsa from 1:30 to 3:30. Wearing a headset microphone over his white bandana, he faced ten students in a line before him. They watched him demonstrate turn patterns and steps, laughing at his jokes and feeding off his enthusiasm. The narrow studio is painted a peachy hue, and a mirrored wall reflects the dancers and the matching light fixtures behind them. Two standing speakers on either side of the room project a full, quality sound of the lively salsa music from a sophisticated soundboard. Shoe cubbies and coat hangers keep the space neat and the floor clear while students shuffle around the floor. For a small space, it is organized and well planned—they have even thought to include a small vending machine stocked with Gatorade. Extended periods of salsa can be tiring, after all.
After the jump: An eclectic crowd, one-on-one attention.
Photo: Marcus Gonzalez explains how to incorporate an accidental elbow to the jaw into your salsa moves (more…)

The future home of Pacific Standard

According to Citysearch.com, Brooklyn offers over 1200 bars to choose from on any given Friday. So it takes a certain type of courage to enter another watering hole in the liquor-saturated playing field. Two men brave enough to give it a shot, John-Christian Rauschenberg and Jon Stan, aren’t scared of these numbers. After dreaming about opening bar together since they met at Berkeley ten years ago, they signed a lease late last year for a place on Fourth Avenue. The Brooklyn Record caught up with them over the weekend to ask what it takes to open a bar in the Borough of Kings. Pacific Standard, a name that fondly recalls the owners’ West Coast roots, is set to open by May and after months of jumping through Brooklyn’s bureaucratic hoops, Stan and Rauschenberg are more than ready to sit back and have a beer. (more…)