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Maple Street School, a Prospect Lefferts Gardens preschool founded in 1978, is expanding. The school signed a 15-year lease for 5,500 square feet at 626 Flatbush, the 23-story mixed-use 80/20 tower Hudson Companies is building in the neighborhood.

The school will mostly occupy the second floor of the community and retail space at the base of the building, pictured above. It will have a private entrance and a 1,200 square foot roof terrace, a Hudson spokesperson told us.

The school has been at 21 Lincoln Road since 2001. The new location will more than double the school’s space.

“Every year, Maple Street School has to turn away more students than it accepts. We are thrilled at the opportunity to expand to this second location, so that we can accommodate more children and help meet the great need in this community for quality early education,” said school Director Wendy Cole in a prepared statement.

The building is expected to be ready for occupancy in early 2016, said Hudson. GMAP

Rendering by Marvel Architects

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Bakery and cafe IM Pastry Studio is prepping to open at 1131 Nostrand in Prospect Lefferts Gardens the first weekend in March, one of the three co-owners told us. Started in 2009 as a home-based custom cake business, IM Pastry Studio in its new space will serve coffee, cookies, cakes and cupcakes, as well as offer custom creations and a place for children’s birthday parties and bridal and baby showers.

The business is known for its remarkable looking confections and dessert tables for special events, including for magazines and sports stars. Click through to its website to see brightly colored cookies with gold seal designs, “Frozen” themed cupcakes, and a gravity-defying tiered cake that looks like a stack of spaghetti and sauce pots boiling over.

IM Pastry Studio had a preview Thursday, February 12, and will be taking custom orders only until the March grand opening. GMAP

Photo by IM Pastry Studio

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Aspen Equities developer and OneTitle founder Seth Brown sent us the above rendering of one of the two buildings planned to replace the now-gone berserk-electic Victorian at 111 Clarkson Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. The address of the new building will be 520 Parkside Avenue.

Permits were granted in December, and construction will start next month, he said. As we have already detailed, the two buildings combined will have 50 rental units. They will be mostly one-bedrooms, with “a few two- and three-bedroom units,” said Brown.

There will also be a landscaped courtyard with individual gardening plots, a gym, and roof deck with a barbecue. Construction should wrap and leasing begin in about 16 months.

What do you think of the look?

111 Clarkson Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Rendering by Joseph Spector via Aspen Equities

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We have never seen anything like this ‘teens one-family at 26 Winthrop Street in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Outside, it’s Neo-Classical in red brick with white accents and dormer windows. Inside, it’s a ‘teens Tudor with a barrel-vaulted ceiling, Gothic-meets-Arts-and-Crafts fireplace, a bay window with a window seat in a niche with built-in bookcases, parquet and inlaid floors, and floor-to-ceiling mahogany paneling — and that’s just in the living room.

The dining room also has paneling, although less of it, as well as arched stained glass windows. The kitchen is updated, with granite counters and new Arts and Crafts-style cupboards with an arch over the sink that matches the ones in the living room. The inlaid floors continue upstairs, where there are six bedrooms, a blue stained-glass skylight, and a roof deck. We’d love to know what the two bathrooms look like, but they’re not pictured.

The house is not in the landmark district, unfortunately, but the listing says it was built in 1914 by a shipbuilder as his own house. The living room is “a replica of a ship’s stateroom,” it says.

What do you think of it and the ask of $1,550,000?

26 Winthrop Street [Corcoran] GMAP

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MTOPP leader Alicia Boyd and another woman who appeared to be a member of the group were handcuffed and removed shortly after the beginning of Community Board 9′s second land-use committee meeting about zoning in Prospect Lefferts Gardens Wednesday, DNAinfo reported. City Council Member Laurie Cumbo wrote an open letter disparaging the group’s tactics and supporting a controversial zoning study. She said in the letter that she fears gentrification and displacement of residents in the area by luxury towers and that she has not yet reached a conclusion about how the area should be rezoned or if it should be rezoned. Above, Empire Boulevard, currently zoned for commercial only.

From what we have gathered, it does not appear as if the two meetings so far have been sufficient for the committee to make a recommendation to the full board about the zoning study at the next meeting, as was the plan. Apparently some board members agree: “With little consensus among residents, some board members expressed concern about holding a vote on the letter’s contents [about the zoning study] at the next CB9 full board meeting on February 24,” said the story. “It is unclear how the board will move forward on the issue.”

Video: Police Remove Activist Leader From Crown Heights Rezoning Meeting [DNA]

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Wednesday’s Community Board 9 ULURP committee meeting — one of three planned and highly anticipated and long-awaited meetings on the topic of PLG rezoning — was disorderly and unproductive, according to bloggers and press who attended. The purpose of the meeting was a public discussion of the community board’s request to City Planning to study zoning in the area.

Long before the 23-story as-of-right tower at 626 Flatbush was even a hole in the ground (it topped out in December), residents of the area have been asking for a downzoning. But lately, the group called Movement to Protect the People, or MTOPP, has advocated no rezoning for a stretch of Empire Boulevard, above, where currently no housing is allowed. Other residents and members of the board say they would like to see housing there, as long as it’s not more than a certain number of stories, includes affordable housing, and caps are put on building heights throughout the neighborhood.

MTOPP’s leader, Alicia Boyd, says the process is corrupt and City Planning is likely to upzone most of the neighborhood if they do anything at all. MTOPP has been a thorn in the side of the board and local politicians and has drawn condemnation from some area residents for its disruptive tactics, threats of lawsuits and racially charged accusations.

Wednesday night, City Council Member Laurie Cumbo personally called out Boyd on her tactics, and the two got into a heated shouting match. “I want to say to you, personally, Alicia: What do you want to have happen here? You want to have fisticuffs right here?” Cumbo said, according to a report in DNAinfo.

We thought commenter Zach S, a self-proclaimed newcomer to the area, on local blog Q at Parkside had an interesting analysis of the situation:

MTOPP’s actions — shutting down public meetings, shouting down fellow members of the community, trying to stop a City Planning-led zoning study at all costs — are justifiable if it’s true that the city-led process can’t be trusted and that promises have been broken and can be expected to be broken again. If that’s the case, maintaining the status quo (which is bad) may be preferable to a rezoning that only accelerates the luxury units (which is even worse).

To read more, check out DNAinfo’s story, Q at Parkside’s two stories here and here, and a discussion thread on Brooklynian. Also, Truthout published a long feature on the dispute yesterday.

Racially Charged Shouting Match Heats up Crown Heights Rezoning Debate [DNA]
Notes From the ULURP Meeting [Q Parkside]
Cheap Post [Q Parkside]
CB9′s ULURP Meeting on Wednesday [Brooklynian]
“Progressive” Gentrification: One Community’s Struggle Against Affordable Housing [Truthout]

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The mayor’s pastel-colored vision to develop East New York, above, with thousands of new units of mixed-income housing could backfire, making the area and others like it less affordable, said neighborhood residents and housing advocates quoted in a New York Times story: “Around New York, people who have watched luxury buildings and wealthy newcomers remake their streets are balking at the growth Mr. de Blasio envisions, saying the influx of market-rate apartments called for in the city’s plans could gut neighborhoods, not preserve them.”

The mayor’s affordable housing plan was the centerpiece of his State of the City speech yesterday, but it was light on specifics.

The Wall Street Journal and the Post also ran stories critical of the mayor’s plan. Some key points: Rents are unlikely to be low enough for the truly poor, union labor will increase costs, and locals will resist tall towers, said the Journal. An opinion piece in the Post called the plan “far fetched” and impractical. Residents fear an influx of higher-income newcomers, but “stagnation, not gentrification, is the more likely result,” according to the Post, because returns in low-income areas won’t be enough to offset the cost of the subsidized units. (more…)

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This three-bedroom, two-bath apartment in Prospect Lefferts Gardens is freshly renovated and affordable. There are stainless steel appliances, a dishwasher and washer/dryer. The living room and bedrooms seem nicely sized. And the Parkside Avenue Q is only two blocks away. Here’s the downside: it’s on the second or third floor and looks right over Flatbush Avenue. Do you think it’s worth it for $2,450 a month?

703 Flatbush Avenue [Corcoran] GMAP

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After months of suspense, then a postponed meeting due to this week’s snowstorm, now Prospect Lefferts Gardens and southern Crown Heights’s Community Board 9 has scheduled three public meetings to hash out its controversial request for a zoning study.

On Wednesday, February 4, the ULURP committee will have its first meeting in about a year to “review and discuss” the rewording of the controversial request, according to a notice on the board’s website. Then a second meeting will take place on Wednesday, February 11, to go over the specific wording of the request and vote on it, prior to presenting it to the full board. (If we read the notice correctly, the actual writing of the request will take place in private somewhere between the two meetings. This could also be controversial, though efficient.) The full board will consider the wording of the request on Tuesday, February 24.

Above, Empire Boulevard, one of the areas that might be included in a zoning study.

Community Board 9 Coverage [Brownstoner]

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A House of the Day post at the height of the last bubble (2006) engendered a long discussion about price, value and, of course, safety in Prospect Lefferts Gardens — with side discussions about Paris and brie. Was a standalone woodframe house in PLG “overpriced” at $875,000? Heck — would it be now?

House of the Day: Hawthorne Street Woodie [Brownstoner]

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This three-story limestone at 28 Midwood Street is just the sort of house we would expect to fly off the shelves, but it’s been on the market since March. (See the listing on Sotheby’s site here.) There is a fancy new kitchen and baths with lots of marble and designer appliances as well as tons of original detail.

The latter includes late 19th century fireplaces with tile, parquet, columns, built in seats under windows and the stair, panelling, a beamed ceiling in the dining room, a pier mirror and plenty of wood work, both dark and painted white, throughout. (We wonder, though, if the white-painted exposed brick in the extension kitchen might make the room a little chilly?)

The house last sold for $1,290,000 in 2005, before the renovation — quite a chunk of change back then, even for a single-family house in the Manor. Do you think the asking price of $2,500,000, which has not changed since it was first listed, could be holding it back?

28 Midwood Street [Sotheby's] GMAP

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Big news — although not unexpected — for Prospect Lefferts Gardens and preservationists: The Landmarks Preservation Commission yesterday voted to designate Chester Court. The beautifully intact teens Tudor Revival cul-de-sac was first suggested for landmarking back in the 1970s as part of the original historic district in the area.

Also yesterday Landmarks approved the revised plans for the mixed-use development that will replace a gas station at 112 Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill. The redesign is similar except the windows look more like those of surrounding buildings: Tall and narrow — but still lots of them. Yay, Landmarks.

You can read more about the votes in New York YIMBY, The New York Daily News and The Brooklyn Eagle. Click through to the Eagle story to see a photo showing the 112 Atlantic Avenue redesign.

Chester Court Coverage [Brownstoner]
112 Atlantic Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]