Name: New Lots Community Church, originally New Lots Reformed Church Address: 630 New Lots Avenue Cross Streets: Corner Schenck Avenue Neighborhood: East New York Year Built: 1824 Architectural Style: Federal, with early Gothic Revival details Architect: Unknown Landmarked: Yes, individual landmark (1966)
The story: In addition to homes and taverns, the most important building in our early Brooklyn communities was a church. Churches functioned not only as places of worship, but as town meeting halls and places of refuge during disaster or trouble. The Dutch Reformed Church was the most prolific church in Brooklyn in the early days, but a strong and hard-won freedom of religion led to the building of churches and temples in other denominations and faiths. Almost all of these early buildings were wood framed structures, some small, but others capable of holding a sizable congregation. You can count on both hands the number of these wood framed churches that have survived to this day. (more…)
An affordable housing development powered by rooftop solar panels in East New York will start taking applications this Friday. Brick Underground first spotted the announcement for the lottery at Gateway Elton II, a 175-unit rental at 516 and 524 Vandalia Avenue. Rents at the Hudson-developed complex start at $494 a month for a studio and go as high as $1,317 for a four-bedroom. To qualify for the low-income rentals, families must make no more than 40 percent to 60 percent of the area median income. Income caps range from $33,560 for a family of four to $66,480 for a family of eight.
The units will have dishwashers, and amenities include parking, a bike room, a fitness center, wifi in the common areas and laundry rooms. HPD has already rented out the 197 low-income units in Phase I, and Phase II broke ground in May 2013. Phase III will have 302 units and begin construction in July 2015. When it’s finished, the complex will feature a 300,000-watt rooftop solar array and 60,000 square feet of retail, including a day care, restaurants and a grocery store. The development is rising on a 236-acre former landfill in the Spring Creek section of East New York. GMAP
Community group Arts East New York is bringing some holiday cheer to New Lots Avenue next weekend by hosting a tree lighting, holiday craft market and live performances from local musicians and dancers. Attendees can enjoy free hot chocolate, raffles and giveaways, photo booths and an awards ceremony with speeches by local politicians.
An arts and crafts market called “The Flock” is taking over a newly opened park on Pitkin Avenue in East New York this Saturday, giving more than 20 local vendors a space to sell their work. Visitors will be able to buy clothing, ceramics, paintings and jewelry, as well as food and drinks.
There will also be live painting, music, an interactive community mural, face painting and art workshops for children and adults. The market will take place from 1 to 6 pm on October 11 at Mi Tierra, located at 2501 Pitkin Avenue. Community groups worked to transform the vacant 10,000-square-foot plot at Pitkin and Berriman into a park, which opened in mid-August.
Grocer Shoprite has opened a huge store in Gateway Center in East New York, joining Staples, Old Navy, Babies R Us, and other big box retailers. The 90,000-square-foot store will add 350 jobs and fresh produce and seafood, said a story in The New York Daily News. The store is the ninth grocer to open as part of the city’s healthy supermarket program, Food Retail Expansion to Support Health Program. Another big opening at Gateway Center is slated for Wednesday: Nordstrom Rack. The center, located at 501 Gateway Drive, also has Target, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Home Depot and JC Penney.
Here’s another entry from the Montrose archives. If you’ve traveled along Atlantic Avenue in East New York, you’ll recognize this building:
Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Former Borden’s Diary Factory Address: 2840 Atlantic Avenue Cross Streets: Barbey and Schenck Streets Neighborhood: East New York Year Built: 1914-1915 Architectural Style: Very simplified Medieval German-inspired factory building Architect: Otto Strack Other Works by Architect: E.W. Browning Company Building, 11 W. 17th St, Manhattan; Pabst Theater, Kalvelage House, both in Milwaukee Landmarked: No
The story: When we think of important landmarks that should be preserved, we think of buildings like Grand Central Station, or the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, or Gracie Mansion. If we really appreciate architecture, we may expand our list to buildings like the Eagle Warehouse in DUMBO, or the Riverside Apartments in Brooklyn Heights. It’s not very often that we consider factories on these lists, because factories are usually utilitarian, no-nonsense kinds of buildings that aren’t usually known for their architectural or even historical worth. But there are always exceptions to the rule, and East New York’s Borden Dairy Factory is one. (more…)
The mayor’s affordable housing and rezoning plan seems to be causing real estate speculation, which could make the plan difficult to carry out. Land prices for development properties in East New York have nearly tripled in one year, from $32 a square foot to $93 a square foot, reported The Wall Street Journal. (Though a careful look at the Journal’s accompanying graphic seems to show an unexplained spike in 2011.) The sample size was very small, as both the Journal and Gothamist pointed out, but affordable housing developers said land is already too expensive for them. Even if affordable housing is built, it could have unintended consequences, according to the story.
“The de Blasio administration wants to create significant new development in East New York but without price increases that push out existing residents. That could be hard to do. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment has risen 10% to more than $1,200 a month from $1,082 a month in 2012, according to Nancy Packes, a development consultant.”
The area around the massive Broadway Junction transit hub in East New York is desolate and dangerous. For the neighborhood to flourish, it needs more people on the street, according to yet another report on the area calling for its redevelopment.
Specific recommendations include:
*Create a more pedestrian-friendly environment.
*Close some roads.
*Consolidate land ownership.
*Repurpose the empty Long Island Rail Road substation into manufacturing and office space for “creative” companies a la Industry City in Sunset Park.
*Spur mixed-use development.
Redevelopment of the area would help the de Blasio administration meet its affordable housing goals, according to the report. Crain’s was the first to write about the report and its recommendations.
The document was authored by Urban Land Institute New York, a chapter of a D.C. think tank, and sponsored by the New York City Department of City Planning. The report stemmed from ULINY panels held over the summer.
Do you think this will work? And if it does work, who will benefit?
JCPenney is prepping for opening day, August 29, in Gateway Center, the mall in East New York where Walmart had once hoped to locate. The store, JCPenney’s first in Brooklyn, will have a few “Brooklyn-centric touches, including murals of borough landmarks,” said a story in The New York Daily News.
JCPenney will be anchoring Phase II of the big, surburgan-style mall, developed by Related Companies. It joins Target, Home Depot, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Best Buy, Red Lobster and Olive Garden, among other retailers. (more…)
Mayor de Blasio’s plans to redevelop East New York — a test case for his affordable housing plans for all of New York City — are fatally flawed, according to a report from Newsday. De Blasio wants to rezone the area to encourage mixed-use high-rise development with 50 percent market rate, 30 percent middle income and 20 percent low income apartments and retail on the bottom level. But income levels and rents in the area now are too low to attract developers, middle class residents or retailers, according to developers and others quoted in the story. (more…)
Once again, East New York is in the news as the ground zero for Mayor de Blasio’s housing plan. If we read this article in Crain’s correctly, the formula seems to be: Rezone Atlantic Avenue from Euclid Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue. Inject public and private dollars into developing office, retail and manufacturing space around the Broadway Junction transit hub. This, the thinking goes, will spur development of 50-30-20 high-rise housing in East New York, which will help assuage the city’s affordability problem. (more…)
Howard’s Woods was a farm tract established by William Howard, the eldest of seven brothers who came to the Flatbush area in the late 1600s from England. They settled on land that was part of the “New Lots” opened up to Flatbush settlers looking for more room. As time went by, new neighbors came to the area; a pretty remote spot near the Jamaica Bay. Around 1700, William Howard turned his large Dutch style farm house into an inn and tavern.
He was near a crossroads where the Jamaica Plank Road that led to Long Island was met by other local roads, including what would become Atlantic Avenue, the perfect place for a tavern. His customers were farmers, merchants and others making their way back and forth to Brooklyn and Long Island. He called his inn Howard House.
Howard House soon became a way station for stage coaches, and a tourist destination for those heading further out on Long Island, or to Manhattan via Brooklyn, and William Howard was a busy man. In the old tradition of English pubs and inns, he always kept a key on a hook outside so that anyone could enter after all were asleep and take shelter. Howard knew his customers were honest and would settle up later. On August 27th, 1776, Howard House was visited by a man who used that key and came into the inn at two in the morning.
The American colonies were flexing their muscles toward independence from England. The Declaration of Independence had been signed, and war was in the air. General George Washington and the Continental Army was in Brooklyn, in the Gowanus and Brooklyn Heights area, and even out in New Lots, people were wondering what would happen next. Many people, like William Howard, were English themselves, but had committed themselves to the cause of American liberty.
So when the British gentleman who entered the inn at two in the morning woke William Howard and his son up, they had no idea what was going on. Even though it was in the middle of summer, the man had a coat on, and a cap on his head. He was accompanied by several other men, and they called for a round of drinks for themselves. After downing their ale, the leader of the group announced to Howard and his teenage son that they were his prisoners. He was Lord William Howe, the commander of the British forces. The tavern soon found itself surrounded by red-coated British troops who came out of the woods in huge numbers. (more…)