When we moved to eastern Bed Stuy five years ago, our block was sleepy and quiet. Most of the houses are only three stories high, and there were quite a few empty lots as well as a pretty community garden. We liked the “land that time forgot” feel, as well as the big expanses of sky.

Now, as of about a month ago, there are four active construction sites on our block. (more…)


As rising rents push more people out into the streets, a scathing report on the city’s homeless shelters in Brooklyn and beyond has found they are dangerous to residents — sometimes life-threatening. The report, conducted by New York City’s own Department of Investigation, described a private shelter system with little to no city oversight, accountability, or controls in place. One of the 25 shelters investigated in the report was King’s Highway in Brooklyn.

The picture painted was similar to that uncovered by a series in the Times and other media outlets over the past few years, which implied the system is rife with corruption, with the city overpaying private operators who do not deliver a minimum level of service. Problems uncovered in the buildings where children were living included a dead rat left in a hall for days, puddles of urine in an elevator, open doors with broken locks, and a broken staircase. Above, the controversial proposed homeless shelter at 165 West 9th Street in Carroll Gardens, which has still not opened.

When will the system change? The Mayor has already moved children out of two facilities in Brooklyn, including one in Fort Greene that was the subject of a Times expose. But more — much more — needs to be done, according to the report. The full report can be viewed here.

Do you think it can be fixed? And how?

Report: Probe of Shelters for Families with Children Finds Serious Deficiencies [NYC DOI]
Review of New York Shelter System Finds Hundreds of Violations [NY Times]
City Blasts Its Own $360 Million Homeless-Shelter System [Crain's]
City Turns “Blind Eye” to Lethal Dangers in Homeless Shelters, Report Says [DNA]

The 19th century former police station at 4302 4th Avenue in Sunset Park has been flipped and is now on the market for $6,000,000, according to a story in DNAinfo. The crumbling Romanesque Revival style building on the corner of 43rd Street has been decaying for years, despite its landmark status, and the LPC issued a “failure to maintain the building,” otherwise known as “demo by neglect” to the longtime owner, the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association.

That group is still listed as the owner on public records, but TerraCRG, which is marketing the property, and a spokeswoman for the LPC told DNAinfo the site had recently sold.

The property is being marketed as a potential conversion to apartments. It consists of a two-story building with 5,952 square feet and a three-story building of 14,040 square feet. They require a gut renovation as well as exterior restoration, according to the story. The property also has 14,567 square feet of air rights.

We hope this is the start of better days for this corner.

Former Sunset Park NYPD Precinct House Hits Market for $6 Million [DNA]
Landmarks Moves to Save Sunset Park Ex-Police Station [Brownstoner]


As the building boom continues, more cases of shoddy new construction are coming to light, some the result of unseasoned, inexperienced developers, according to The New York Times. The story dove into problems at two buildings in particular, 500 4th Avenue (above) and 550 Grand Street.

At the former, a big new condo building, the cement cracked off the facade and balconies developed alarming cracks three years after opening. At the latter, a condo conversion of a 19th century brick building in Williamsburg, the roof leaked, the storm drainage system was not hooked up to the sewer system so the building frequently flooded, and “fire stopping measures” were missing.

The story mentioned two developers who have been named in lawsuits for construction defects in more than one building: Isaac Katan and Shaya Boymelgreen. It also recounted the travails of condo buildings that try to hold developers or sponsors accountable, and said ongoing litigation may make it difficult to sell.

Would you buy in new construction?

Construction Defects Follow a Brooklyn Building Boom [NYT]
Balconies Unsafe, Structural Problems at New Build on 4th Avenue [Brownstoner]
Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

69 vanderbilt avenue wallabout 122014

We’re sad to report that the city plans to demolish the crumbling mid-19th century wood frame at 69 Vanderbilt Avenue in the Wallabout Historic District. The HPD filed an emergency demolition permit last week.

A complaint from June said the house was shaking and leaning, and the DOB report said “front porch is unstable…neighboring houses may be in danger.”

Back in August after the construction fence went up we speculated the city had no plans to tear it down. Unfortunately, we were wrong.

“The New York Landmarks Conservancy has had No. 69 on its endangered list for years,” said the New York Times’ Christopher Grey in 2010. “There are only two ways it could get off the list, and right now it’s more likely to go feet first.”

Thanks to Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership for the tip and the photo.

69 Vanderbilt Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project LDC


We were astounded to pass by and see the falling-down house at 1260 Bushwick Avenue has been fixed up. If anyone’s wandered these parts, they’ve surely noticed the row house next to an empty lot with its front facade peeling off, porch roof crumbling and, most remarkable and eye-catching of all, huge side wall sheathed in pieces of thin plywood — and some of those coming loose as well. It’s been like this at least since 2007, based on PropertyShark photos and our own visits to the area. Sometimes it looked as though people were living in it, too, although we were never sure. Or perhaps they were squatters.

There had been signs, over the months, that some kind of construction might be imminent, but we didn’t really believe it. In any case, now here it is, with a completely new stucco facade, looking as if it were never abandoned or a likely candidate for a tear-down.

After years of stagnation, there is a frenzy of construction in Bushwick. It’s impossible to walk down the street in Bushwick without seeing new buildings rising and old ones being renovated — generally by investors, not owner occupants. We’ll be showing you more projects over the next week or two.

In the meantime, click through to see more photos of 1260 Bushwick as well as other houses being spruced up — or horribly altered, depending on your point of view. The stucco-over-wood-frame treatment is very popular these days. We saw two more up the avenue. (more…)


Residents of 992 and 994 Bedford Avenue were evacuated after a garbage truck plowed into the corner deli at 994 early this morning, according to a Brownstoner reader who emailed us about the accident. The truck swerved to avoid a car that ran a red light and injured eight people, said The New York Daily News.

The residents of 992 Bedford, a three-family building, were allowed back in after the DOB checked it out, but now 994 has a full vacate order on the property, said our tipster. The latter has two units over a store.

Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark


Demo has started at 111 Clarkson Avenue, the singular Victorian house in Prospect Lefferts Gardens whose style the AIA Guide once described as “berserk eclecticism.” A demo permit was issued March 14. When we stopped by Sunday, a fence had gone up, the interior had been gutted, windows had been removed, and holes chopped in the roof.

As reported, owner and developer Seth Brown from Aspen Equities plans two rental buildings of 22 and 28 units each. The interior of 111 Clarkson Avenue was lavish, as 1970s photographs by Dinanda Nooney revealed, but over the years the exterior had been altered and the house was rotting from years of exposure to the elements.

Click through to the jump for more photos.

Two Rental Buildings to Replace “Berserk Eclectic” House at 111 Clarkson [Brownstoner]  GMAP (more…)


The Landmarks Preservation Commission is fining Whole Foods a second time for failing to maintain the Coignet building at 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street, Brooklyn Paper reported. The $3,000 fine issued in December was dismissed because the city forgot to bring a piece of paper to court. Grocery store spokesman Michael Sinatra told the paper that restoration began Monday, as we noted. The project is supposed to wrap late this year.

City to Cite Whole Foods Second Time for “Neglecting” Old Building [Brooklyn Paper]
Coignet Building Coverage [Brownstoner]


Scaffolding has gone up on the side of the Coignet Building next to Whole Foods, above, where it appears the grocer is finally making good on its obligation to repair the landmark, Gowanus Your Face Off reported.

As we noted previously, in December a renovation permit was approved and Whole Foods was fined $3,000 by the city for failing to maintain the structure (after complaints to the DOB that construction on its new building had caused structural cracks in the facade).

The scaffolding is in the tiny alleyway between the two buildings. A construction sign at the site says the restoration will finish in “late 2014,” said GYFO.

Coignet Building Restoration Has Begun, Anticipated Completion in 2014 [GYFO]
Look Inside the Crumbling Coignet Building [Brownstoner]
City Approves Permits for Whole Foods to Restore Coignet Building [Brownstoner]
Coignet Building in Bad Shape [Brownstoner]
Photo by GYFO