bed stuy blizzard 12015

The latest from the National Weather Service predicts Brooklyn could get hammered with up to three feet of snow thanks to the nor’easter rolling through tonight and tomorrow, and the city will effectively shut down tonight. Cuomo declared a state of emergency around 1 p.m. today for New York City, along with Rockland, Ulster, Suffolk and Westchester counties. Subway trains will run on local tracks only after 8 p.m., as the MTA will use the underground express tracks to store trains.

City public schools will be closed tomorrow, and all non-emergency vehicles are banned from the roads starting at 11 p.m tonight. Parks will close at 6 p.m., and public libraries will shut at 5 p.m. Alternate side parking rules are also suspended today and tomorrow while plows clear the streets. And for those of you in Prospect Lefferts Gardens and southern Crown Heights, the CB 9 ULURP meeting is cancelled! For current updates, follow the Times’ live blog and WNYC’s Transit Tracker. And of course, steer clear of the long line just to get into the Court Street Trader Joe’s.

Update: All MTA service, including subways, will shut down at 11 p.m. tonight. From the MTA’s website: “The MTA is committed to the safety of its customers and its employees, and due to the forecast, will be suspending service on all bus, commuter rail and subway service at 11:00 p.m. this evening.”

Black Artstory Web-Poster

Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership is coordinating an interesting list of events for Black History month that celebrate Fort Greene and Clinton Hill’s deep culture of African American arts and performance. Brooklyn-based contemporary dance company Hammerstep will blend Irish step dance and hip hop in a performance at Ingersoll Community Center on February 7, and a group of renowned local jazz musicians will perform live on February 15 at Splitty. There will also be a “digital media and live sound installation that re-imagines the concept of Afrofuturism in the wake of recent police violence in New York City” at the Emerson Bar on February 28. You can check out the full schedule, which includes poetry readings and art shows, over at Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership’s website.

crown heights autumn 112014

We’re happy to report that Historic Districts Council has chosen Crown Heights as one of the six neighborhoods where it will focus its preservation efforts in 2015. As part of its Six to Celebrate program, the Historic Districts Council will help the Crown Heights North Association revive its preservation campaign. Although Crown Heights has two historic districts, some of the neighborhood’s historic buildings are still at risk for development and demolition. Landmarks calendared Crown Heights North Phase III three years ago, but never voted on the expansion.

Another important — and ambitious — Six to Celebrate project is “Landmarks Under Consideration, Citywide.” These are 150 proposed landmarks that are unprotected, 96 of which Landmarks said it would “decalendar” before backing off the plan last year. The Council plans to “document, publicize and conduct community outreach” for all 150 sites to gather support for designation and to help LPC with its backlog. In Brooklyn, the list includes Green-Wood Cemetery, the Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House, and the Forman Building at 183 Broadway.

The Council offers help with research, landmarking, publicity and zoning to community groups in Six to Celebrate, and it hosts walking tours to raise awareness about a chosen neighborhood’s history and architecture.

barclays-021014

Small businesses and community groups near the Barclays Center have banded together to bring their concerns about the impact of the Democratic National Convention to the city. The Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance wants Mayor de Blasio to appoint someone to coordinate government agencies, Greenland Forest City, the local community boards and elected officials to minimize disruption.

Ongoing construction, film shoots, and events at Barclays Center have in the past limited access to local businesses and caused them to lose income, according to the group’s press release.

The alliance “asks for a plan to promote local businesses as well as a commitment to compensate for any lost income caused as a result of access limitations necessitated by such a high security event” as the convention.

Members include the North Flatbush BID, residents of Newswalk, Dean Street Block Association (6th Avenue to Vanderbilt), The Atlantic Terrace Outreach Committee, St. Marks Block Association, and various individuals and small businesses.

the liberator brooklyn historial society

Brooklyn Historical Society is hosting several unique events to celebrate Black History Month in February, including a talk with rapper Prodigy of Mobb Deep, documentary screenings and a tour of one of the largest private African Art collections in America. Harvard superstar professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., will kick things off Thursday, January 22 with a look at five centuries of African American history. Unfortunately, it is already sold out, but it is not too late to check out historian Eric Foner’s book talk on January 27, when he’ll discuss little-known figures of the underground railroad. And every Sunday at 3 pm, there will be free screenings of the documentary “Brooklyn Boheme,” which explores the black arts movement in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill in the ’80s and ’90s.

As part of BHS’ ongoing series of events with hip-hop icons, Mobb Deep will sit down with Wes Jackson of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival on February 25, and they’ll discuss the intersection of literature and hip-hop. Finally, Clinton Hill native Eric Edwards will offer a tour of his extensive African art collection, which encompasses 1,600 pieces created over 4,000 years. Head over to BHS to see the full schedule of programs.

Photo of an Abolitionist banner via Brooklyn Historical Society and Massachusetts Historical Society

kings theatre matt lambros

Flatbush’s Kings Theatre is set to re-open for the first time in 40 years with a free debut performance on January 27 by local dancers and musicians, including the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the Brooklyn Ballet. The beautifully restored venue at 1027 Flatbush Avenue has also announced its lineup of 2015 concerts, which kicks off with Diana Ross and includes Crosby, Stills & Nash, Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, Sarah McLachlan and Gladys Knight. Diana Ross will headline the grand opening concert on February 3, and there will be a free open house tour of the theater on February 7, according to KensingtonBK.

Tickets for the free show on January 27 will be available on the Kings Theatre website starting January 20. Check out the full schedule here. We’re looking forward to seeing the interiors, which just underwent a $94,000,000 renovation led by developer ACE Theatrical Group and Martinez & Johnson Architecture.

Built in 1929, Kings was one of the five Loew’s “wonder theaters” constructed throughout New York and New Jersey. It shuttered in 1977 and remained abandoned until 2012, when the city selected ACE to revive it.

Photo by Matt Lambros

462 halsey street community garden

The city is looking to develop hundreds of vacant lots, including 15 community gardens, throughout the five boroughs into affordable housing. By our count, the list of properties includes 122 Brooklyn sites, at least seven of which are community gardens. Yesterday, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) released the list of the publicly owned sites. Last month, it issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), inviting developers who would like to build small affordable housing projects on the sites.

Developers can choose to build small affordable rental buildings, co-ops, condos or one- to four-family townhouses. The affordable condos or co-ops can’t be larger than 14 units, and may qualify for financing through the New Infill Homeownership Opportunities Program (NIHOP). Co-ops and townhomes built through NIHOP are aimed at families making 80 to 130 percent of the Area Median Income ($83,900 to $109,070 for a family of four), with one-third set aside for those making 80 to 90 percent AMI.

Through the Neighborhood Construction Program (NCP), developers can build rental buildings ranging from 15 to 30 units. Only renters making less than 165 percent AMI can qualify ($138,435 for a family of four).

Here’s our possibly incomplete list of the gardens slated for redevelopment:

451 Bedford Avenue — La Casita Verde
615 Saratoga Avenue — Isabaliah Ladies of Elegance
120 Jefferson Street — El Garden
659 Willoughby Avenue/267 Throop Avenue — Tranquility Farm
1680 Pacific Street — Green Phoenix
462 Halsey Street — 462 Halsey Street Community Garden
119 Vernon Avenue — New Harvest
142 Patchen Avenue — Patchen Community Square
774 Halsey Street — Halsey, Ralph and Howard Community Garden

Photo via 462 Halsey Street Community Garden/Facebook

affordable housing crisis

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery is organizing a conference Thursday evening to discuss how tenants could be affected by changes in the rent regulation laws, which are due to expire this summer. The New York State Senate will decide whether to renew them on June 15. Several local politicians, including Mayor de Blasio, are pushing for the repeal of the 1971 Urstadt Law, which gives the state control over rent regulation instead of the city. Many of those politicians will appear at tomorrow’s conference, including state senators Montgomery and Hamilton, as well as City Council members Laurie Cumbo, Stephen Levin, Carlos Menchaca and Robert Cornegy Jr. State Assembly members Joe Lentol, Walter Mosley and Felix Ortiz will also attend.

The Affordable Housing Crisis will take place January 15 from 6 pm to 8:30 pm at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church at 85 South Oxford Street. RSVP by emailing or calling Senator Montgomery’s office at 718-643-6140 or ojonas@nysenate.gov.

70-willow-elev-011315

The Landmarks Preservation Commission has approved the proposed renovation plans for the historically significant 1839 Greek Revival house at 70 Willow Street in Brooklyn Heights, we hear from readers who attended the hearing this morning. Two caveats: The LPC asked the owners, Grand Theft auto creator Dan Houser and his wife Krystyna, to retain the existing ironwork and the front door, shown in the recently revised and approved front and side elevations, above. The rear porch, however, is history.

70 Willow Street Coverage [Brownstoner]
Rendering by Bories & Shearron

caton avenue and east 7th street

Last week, the DOT unveiled a lengthy list of street changes to improve pedestrian safety in Kensington, including slow zones, one-way streets, improved signage, speed bumps and high-visibility crosswalks. Local parents and politicians were particularly concerned about safety at the soon-to-open P.S./I.S. 437 campus at Caton Avenue and East 7th Street (the corner shown above), where a hit-and-run driver struck and killed a 14-year-old boy in November.

Ditmas Park Corner and DNAinfo both wrote about the packed meeting last week at P.S. 130, which was attended by Councilman Brad Lander, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Councilman Jumaane Williams, among others. By the end of the summer, the DOT is expected to implement curb extensions at East 7th and East 8th streets on Caton Avenue, convert East 7th and East 8th streets to one-way streets, and reduce speed on Caton Avenue, according to Ditmas Park Corner. You can also see the full DOT presentation here [PDF].

Major Safety Upgrades Planned for Area Roads; Hundreds Attend Meeting [DPC]
Kensington Street Safety Upgrades Will Be “Dramatic Improvement,” DOT Says [DNA]
Photo by DOT

smith-9th street bridge gowanus

Creative agency Vanderbilt Republic, who lit up the Kentile Floors sign one last time using projections, will project a constantly changing “light sculpture” onto the Smith-9th Street Bridge in Gowanus. Beginning January 12, “this half-mile light sculpture will evolve nightly through two weeks of research, transforming the frame of the Smith-9th Street Bridge into a canvas for ecstatic creation,” according to the group’s website. The show will start after dark every night until January 23. There will also be an artist reception January 16 featuring an installation from light artist and scientist Colin Bowring, aka “the Wizard,” at Gowanus Loft, 61 9th Street, Loft C8.

Flyer via Vanderbilt Republic

Methodist Hospital revised rendering 12014

The two-year-long battle between community group Preserve Park Slope and Methodist Hospital has finally come to an end, because the two negotiated a settlement to limit the size of the hospital’s new building, both parties announced today. The court-ordered agreement ends the lawsuit Preserve Park Slope filed against the hospital and the city last summer, which prevented the expansion plans from moving forward. Methodist has agreed to build only six stories, instead of seven, on hospital-owned property bounded by 5th Street, 8th Avenue and 6th Street, across the street from its current building. (The rendering above shows the previous plans.)

The proposed U-shaped outpatient center will be 14 feet shorter — Preserve Park Slope wanted it 45 feet lower — and 28,000 square feet smaller. The hospital will move a planned pedestrian entrance to 6th street not far from 8th Avenue, rather than on the corner of 8th Avenue and 6th Street. A traffic expert will also develop a plan to manage congestion on nearby streets, and landscaping will be added on the 8th Avenue side of the building.

Community activists will be included on committees that will weigh in on the building’s design, construction and demolition plans. And Methodist will create a website to update the community on its construction plans. The planned Center for Community Health will house a cancer center, surgery center, urgent care and a 300-car garage. 

Methodist Coverage [Brownstoner]