festive fifth

Park Slope’s 5th Avenue is hosting a holiday festival this Saturday, complete with a tree lighting, Santa Claus and carolers. The fun begins with a tree lighting at 6:30 pm at the corner of 5th Avenue and 3rd Street (in front of S’Nice). There will be free hot chocolate, marshmallows, cookies, brownies and popcorn during the outdoor festivities, which will last until 9 pm. Puppetry Arts and NY Kids Club will present puppet performances and games, and singer-songwriter Amy Miles and carolers from Opera on Tap will perform. And there will be specials and sales at shops and restaurants all along 5th Avenue in honor of Small Business Saturday.

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Council Member Brad Lander released his Bridging Gowanus framework this afternoon (we were expecting it Monday), condensing a year of community meetings. The document lays out a vision for development in Gowanus that hinges on high-rise apartments to help fund improvements residents demand, including anti-flood measures, more parks, more schools, affordable housing, and ways to protect artists and manufacturing businesses.

It proposes a “mandatory mixed-use zone” that will “require a balance of light industry, cultural and artistic uses,” a special manufacturing zone, and mandatory inclusionary zoning to require affordable housing in new developments. (The first two are new types of zoning districts proposed by the City Council in a report Wednesday.) The document includes a list of buildings that should be considered for landmarking, as well as alternative approaches to preserving Gowanus’ historic buildings.

He’ll present the plan at a public meeting on Monday, November 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at P.S. 32, at the corner of Hoyt and Union streets. Residents can submit comments through the end of the year and read the full framework on the Bridging Gowanus site. You can also read the press release and summary here.

Lander Offers Gowanus Trade: High Rises for Flood Upgrades [Brownstoner]
New Zoning Districts Could Dramatically Change Bushwick, Gowanus and Other Nabes [Brownstoner]

brooklyn heights cinema

Developers Madison Estates and JMH Development have paid $7,500,000 for the landmarked brick building at 70 Henry Street that housed Brooklyn Heights Cinema, The Daily News reported. The sale, whose date was not reported, has not hit public records.

Any plans for development would have to be approved by Landmarks, which never approved the previous owner’s plans despite several meetings. Madison wouldn’t comment on its plans, but is likely planning apartments, according to the Daily News. The story said the 1895 building was originally a butcher shop.

The theater closed in late August after more than 44 years in business, as we reported at the time. So far, owner Kenn Lowy has not been able to find a new space.

“For the money these landlords want, I’d have to run a meth lab, not a cinema,” he told the Daily News.

Brooklyn Heights Cinema Sells for $7.5 Million to Local Real Estate Developer [NYDN]
Brooklyn Heights Cinema Coverage [Brownstoner]

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Lightstone Group is holding a community meeting tonight to discuss its plans for the next phase of construction at 363-365 Bond Street, the 700-unit megadevelopment on the shores of the Gowanus Canal. Reps from the developer will present the upcoming construction timeline and take questions from neighbors, according to an announcement sent out by Council Member Brad Lander.

“The meeting is no doubt a small concession to the community, which had to deal with months-long pounding noise and vibration from pile driving during phase one of the project at 365 Bond Street,” noted Pardon Me For Asking, which published the announcement.

The meeting will happen from 6:30 to 8:30 pm tonight in the Community Room at Mary Star of the Sea, located at 41 1st Street in Gowanus.

Rendering by Goldstein Hill & West

like sunday, like rain

The Williamsburg Independent Film Festival is screening five days of indie flicks at the Wythe Hotel this weekend, starting Thursday. Each night of screenings begins at 6:30 pm and features 10 to 12 short films created by emerging filmmakers based in Brooklyn and around the world.

The first night will include the premiere of the feature-length movie “Like Sunday, Like Rain,” pictured above, starring Deborah Messing and Billy Joe Armstrong. Tickets are $15 for each hour-and-a-half long block of films. You can buy tickets and see the full schedule at Brown Paper Tickets.

Image via Williamsburg Independent Film Fest 

Council Member Brad Lander has condensed a year’s worth of feedback from the “Bridging Gowanus” meetings and plans to present the highlights at a meeting later this month. He calls it a “draft community planning framework” on his website, and told Brooklyn Paper that ideas included protecting manufacturing and improving transportation and environmental infrastructure in the area, although the list of recommendations isn’t finalized yet.

Lander and other pols first organized the Bridging Gowanus meetings last year to solicit feedback from the community about development. Neighborhood groups criticized the process for being “undemocratic” and having a hidden agenda to create a consensus — or the appearance of one — to rezone the area for residential, as we reported at the time.

The meeting will happen Monday, November 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at P.S. 32, located at 317 Hoyt Street, between President and Union Streets. Those who won’t be able attend can email their comments to info@bridginggowanus.org.

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Community Board 2′s full board voted last night to oppose the 13-story Ace Hotel proposed for Bond and Schermerhorn Streets in Downtown Brooklyn, Curbed reported. The developer, GFI Capital, wants a variance to build 50,000 square feet larger than as-of-right zoning allows, and the board’s Land Use committee voted against it last month. Almost the full board agreed, citing concerns about increased traffic on Bond Street and the hotel’s lack of parking. GFI can’t include underground parking or a basement because the hotel will sit directly over the A/C/G stop at Hoyt-Schermerhorn. Although the developer conducted a traffic study, the board said it wasn’t convinced.

Permits were filed in July for the development at 53-61 Bond Street, which specified 285 rooms distributed across 156,984 square feet. By contrast, an as-of-right building would have 169 rooms spread over 107,760 square feet. The board’s vote is only advisory.

Local Board Opposes Possible 285-Room Ace Hotel in DoBro [Curbed]
Ace Hotel Coverage [Brownstoner]

brooklyn theater fire

Green-Wood Cemetery and Brooklyn Historical Society are hosting a lecture and tour about the tragic Brooklyn Theater Fire, a conflagration that killed hundreds at a Brooklyn Heights theater in 1876. After the fire, a mass grave was donated to Green-Wood, and a memorial was erected at the theater’s former site on Washington and Johnson Streets (now Cadman Plaza).

Historian Joshua Britton will give a free talk in the cemetery’s chapel examining how the blaze affected the city’s policies and Brooklyn’s cultural growth and development. Then there will be a guided trolley tour of the cemetery, which costs $20, or $15 for members. The event will happen Saturday, November 22 from 1 to 3 pm. Head over to Green-Wood’s event page to buy tickets.

Image via Bowery Boys

bush terminal park

Bush Terminal Piers Park has finally opened on the Sunset Park waterfront, after more than a decade of planning and several delays during two years of construction. DNAinfo reported that the park officially opened its gates to the public Wednesday.

The eight-block-long green space runs from 43rd to 51st Streets but only has one entrance, at 43rd. The park has two multi-purpose soccer and baseball fields and a waterfront esplanade with tide ponds and restored wetlands, according to the Parks Department.

Until March 1, the park will be open from 8 am to 4 pm, and the summer hours will extend until 8 pm. The city spent years cleaning up the 11-acre stretch of waterfront, a former brownfield.

Bush Terminal Piers Park Opens to the Public on Sunset Park Waterfront [DNAinfo]
Image via NYC Parks

Tom's Diner

We are sad to report that Gus Vlahavas, the owner of Tom’s Restaurant on Washington and Sterling in Prospect Heights, died yesterday, according to DNAinfo and OurBKSocial. The Vlahavas family first opened the restaurant in 1936, survived riots in the late ’60s, and watched the neighborhood change dramatically around them.

In recent years, Vlahavas was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the restaurant, which is open as usual for business. Did anyone know Gus or want to share memories of him here?

Image via Neighborhood Slice and NYC Media

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Community group Gowanus United today filed a lawsuit to halt the construction of a three-story, 61,000-square-foot parole reporting facility at 15 2nd Avenue, between 5th Street and the Gowanus Canal, just behind Whole Foods. The suit claims the state’s Department of Corrections didn’t perform an environmental review to examine how the building and its day-to-day operations would affect the community. A press release sent out by the group did not say in which court the suit was filed.

As previously reported, the state department lost its previous headquarters downtown several years ago to development and has been housed in three different downtown locations since then. The offices serve about 5,000 parolees, or 400 a day. The state signed a contract over a year ago and construction is well under way (we took the above photo in August). Construction is supposed to finish in January, and the building is supposed to open in April.

The lawsuit also seeks to overturn a zoning waiver granted by the Bloomberg administration late last year, which allows the state to build fewer parking spaces than the site’s zoning requires. The group’s press release argues that the site isn’t served well by public transportation, and a lack of off-street parking would only make nearby traffic and parking worse.

BBP Adams: Parole Office Should Be Downtown, Not in Gowanus [Brownstoner]
Steel Rises Next to Gowanus Junkyard [Brownstoner]

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As part of its “Crossing Brooklyn” exhibition, the Brooklyn Museum is holding a slew of film screenings, musical performances and author talks tomorrow from artists based in the borough. The schedule for tomorrow’s Target First Saturday includes a hip-hop-inspired brass band, a screening of Union Docs’ “Living Los Sures” film about the South Williamsburg neighborhood, and a talk from Brooklyn-based author Bridgette M. Davis. They’ll have interesting events all evening long from 5 to 11 pm. Check out the schedule as well as the two pieces of performance art (pictured above) planned for Saturday evening.

Photo by Xiaotian Yang via Brooklyn Museum