04/18/14 4:00pm

dumbo prices top most other nyc hoods

Two of Brooklyn’s most influential figures in art and real estate, choreographer Elizabeth Streb and developer Jed Walentas, will discuss the borough’s evolution and the importance of supporting artistic ventures next month at the Brooklyn Historical Society. The MacArthur Genius Award-winning choreographer started the Streb Lab for Action Mechanics (SLAM) in a Williamsburg warehouse in 2003, and she has since built the space into a creative and educational center that offers classes, workshops, demonstrations and rehearsal space.

Walentas, one of the principals of Two Trees Management, has been one of the driving forces in transforming Dumbo from an industrial ‘hood into one known for million-dollar condos, art galleries and coffee shops. Two Trees is also demolishing much of the old Domino Sugar Refinery complex and constructing a large mixed-use development that incorporates the factory’s landmarked main building as office space.

“Both have transformed community through art: Streb by creating an artistic home — whose doors are always open to passersby — in a  formerly industrial neighborhood; Walentas by providing free and low-cost space to artists and arts organizations,” BHS writes in the event description. The talk will take place Wednesday, May 7 at 6:30 pm at 128 Pierrepont Street. You can grab tickets on Eventbrite, and the event is free for members and costs $5 for everyone else.

Photo by Simon Collison

04/17/14 4:00pm

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Preservationists Elizabeth Finkelstein and Chelcey Berryhill will teach a class next week on how to research the history of any wood frame, stone or brick townhouse or apartment building in Brooklyn. Making use of digitized, online resources as well as other repositories in Brooklyn and Manhattan, “Research Your Historic Brooklyn House” will cover how to research the history of a building and find what it looked like originally and who lived there. Renters and homeowners both welcome.

Particular attention will be paid to finding historic photographs to show to an architect or contractor for an exterior restoration. The class costs $25 and takes place at 67 West Street, Studio 612, in Greenpoint at 7 pm Wednesday, April 23. For more information or to buy tickets, go to The Wooden House Project.

04/16/14 4:00pm

Next weekend, the third annual Brooklyn Zine Fest returns to the Brooklyn Historical Society with panels and a wide variety of publishers, artists and writers selling their wares. Panels will discuss topics like queer and trans zine writers, zine collecting and publishing zines anonymously.

And over 150 zine enthusiasts will be selling self-published magazines on everything under the sun: art, comedy, graffiti, comics, environmentalism, food, film, local history and much more. Check out the full lineup and the panel schedule for the festival, which will take place April 26 and 27 from 11 am to 6 pm at 128 Pierrepont Street.

Photo by Seth McFarland for Brooklyn Zine Fest

04/15/14 4:00pm

Tenants at Homewood Gardens Estates in East Flatbush claim their landlord is trying to push them out in favor of white tenants willing to pay higher rents, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court. The suit alleges that landlords Yeshaya Wasserman, Shay Wasserman and Yitzchok Rambod ignored repair requests, forced evictions and offered cash buyouts, the New York Post reported. The East Flatbush residents also say the landlords consistently refuse to make repairs for black tenants, fail to cash rent checks and delay the delivery of front door keys.

“In contrast, white tenants move into renovated apartments, their rent checks are cashed, they receive monthly rent statements and they are not subject to harassment,” the suit states, according to the Post.

The lawsuit also claims black residents have seen their rents double, while white tenants have seen minimal rent increases at lease renewal time. Wasserman and his partners bought the buildings on Brooklyn Avenue and Hawthorne Street in 2009. The state’s Tenant Protect Unit has been investigating Wasserman since last fall, when it subpoenaed documents from all eight of his properties in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Landlords Pushing Black Tenants out for Whites: Suit [NY Post]
Closing Bell: State Investigates Crown Heights, Flatbush Landlord for Tenant Abuse [Brownstoner]

Image via Google Maps

This morning at Borough Hall, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announced he plans to make the 166-year-old building LEED certified by retrofitting the windows, installing solar panels, and implementing geothermal heating. “Borough Hall is going to lead by example, that’s L-E-E-D,” said Adams. “If a government building built in 1848 can be transformed into an energy efficient structure, then every building that’s built in this borough and this city can follow.”

He promised to set aside capital funding to update the Greek Revival structure, one of the borough’s oldest public buildings. On top of that, he has already pledged $1,000,000 in capital funds to repair the bluestone and courtyard behind building.

Adams also announced the first meeting of his Renewable and Sustainable Energy Task Force (ReSET), which aims to encourage green building practices in Brooklyn and the rest of the city. “I’m helping the mayor infuse the green technology concept into the [planned] 200,000 units of affordable housing,” he explained.

No word on whether he has already checked with the Landmarks Preservation Commission on his plans for Borough Hall.

04/11/14 4:00pm

Council Member Stephen Levin has announced the five community improvement projects in District 33 that will receive $1,560,000 of city discretionary funds. Residents voted last week on how their tax dollars should be spent in the district through a process known as participatory budgeting. Here are the projects that received the most votes, in order:

  1. Repairs at four NYCHA playgrounds – Gowanus Houses, 572 Warren Street Houses, Wyckoff Gardens, and Jonathan Williams Plaza – will receive $400,000.
  2. The Gowanus Community Center, pictured, will get $325,000 for renovations.
  3. The McGolrick Park Playground will be completely reconstructed, to the tune of $450,000.
  4. BOOKlyn Shuttle: $198,000 will be set aside to buy and retrofit bus a bus designed by Pratt Institute to “inspire, stimulate and improve the literacy of North Brooklyn’s youth.”
  5. The bathrooms at P.S. 261 will be renovated and repaired with $175,000 in funds.

Image of Gowanus Community Center via Better Late Than Never

 

04/10/14 4:00pm

The Municipal Art Society is hosting a walking tour of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights and Boerum Hill that will explore its history and the ethnic enclaves that settled there a hundred years ago. Local historian and genealogist Mary Ann DiNapoli will delve into the lives of various members of the Arab American community that moved to the neighborhood in the late 19th and early 20th century.

She’ll also discuss the foods and traditions that are unique to this time of year, and tour attendees will get to sample some wares from some of Atlantic’s wonderful Middle Eastern shops. The tour will take place this Saturday at 10 am. Tickets are $20, and you can purchase them through the MAS website.

Photo by Katia Kelly for Pardon Me for Asking

04/09/14 4:00pm

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The Department of Transportation will install a slow zone on Atlantic Avenue this month, it just announced. The speed limit will be reduced from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour, lights timed to reduce speeds to 25 miles an hour, and there will be stepped-up enforcement of the traffic laws along an eight-mile stretch. The slow zone is the first of 25 planned for New York City this year.

Part of the Mayor’s Vision Zero program, the slow zone is designed to reduce speeding and fatalities in the area. There have been 25 deaths, including 13 pedestrians, on the street between 2008 and 2012.

04/08/14 4:00pm

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Volunteers who’ve been trying to prevent a developer from demolishing a community garden in Crown Heights are hosting a fundraiser this weekend to raise enough cash for the property. The gardeners want to save Roger That Garden on Rogers Avenue and Park Place, which they’ve been cultivating since 2006. Developer TYC Realty bought the property’s tax lien in December, and garden organizers began raising money to buy the property in January.

One of the garden’s founders told Brooklyn Paper that they estimate the land is worth about $80,000. The group sent a $15,000 offer to the developer last week, but they don’t have that money yet. They hope to raise it through Fundly and a benefit party this weekend. The party will include food, drinks, a DJ and art for sale, as well as raffle prizes from local businesses. It will take place this Saturday from 7 to 11 pm at Shoestring Press, located at 663 Classon Avenue.

Volunteers Try to Save Crown Heights Garden From Demolition [Brownstoner]

Two former Brooklyn Nets are partnering with PricewaterhouseCoopers to give away trees at P.S. 188 in Coney Island tomorrow. The giveaway is part of a Nets program called Trees for Threes, which will give away a tree for every three-pointer the team scores this season.

Former Nets players Kerry Kittles and Albert King will be on hand to give away the trees to local residents, along with volunteers from PwC, the Nets mascot, members of the Brooklynettes and students from P.S. 188 Michael E. Berdy School. The trees will be planted in community gardens, at schools and in yards. The event will happen Tuesday from 4 to 6 pm in the schoolyard at 3314 Neptune Avenue.

Photo via NYC.gov

04/04/14 4:00pm

Greenpoint residents called for more G train and bus service to accommodate the area’s growing population at a community forum last night about the forthcoming five-week summer suspension of the train line, the Brooklyn Eagle reported.

Longtime residents want the standard eight or 10 cars on every train instead of only four, and said the train is as crowded on weekend nights as at rush hour, perhaps because of the area’s growing young population. Others pointed out the new B-32 bus, which runs a similar route to the G train, should be extended on each end so it connects to subways in Manhattan and Queens.

The crowd booed mention of a study that said the G train is not overcrowded, and Assemblyman Joe Lentol promised to conduct his own survey. “Greenpoint is no longer the little hamlet of the past, but part of the big metropolis,” he said. 

G-Train Complaints Erupt at Greenpoint Forum [Daily Eagle]
Photo by All Nite Images

04/03/14 4:00pm

A new Brooklyn tourism site called ExploreBK.com will begin creating useful content next month for visitors who want to get to know the borough, according to the Daily News. The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is partnering with BlankSlate, a Dumbo-based media company, to launch the site next month. BlankSlate also runs Brownstoner’s advertising and marketplace. The website will cover events, restaurants, retail and hotels, and include a searchable directory of local businesses.

Tourism has been on the rise in Brooklyn, with 15,000,000 tourists visiting in 2010, according to the Borough President’s office. And 22 hotels are under construction to feed the demand for rooms that are cheaper than Manhattan but still close to major destinations, particularly in Williamsburg, Downtown Brooklyn and Sunset Park. Currently there are 3,500 hotel rooms, up from 778 in 2005.

Photo by Eric Konon