hpd tenants rights forum

If you’re confused about rent stabilization, Section 8 housing, or any of your legal rights as a tenant, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is hosting a forum next month in Brownsville to answer your questions. HPD reps will also discuss housing code violations, NYCHA housing, bed bugs, rent protections for seniors and the disabled, discrimination and affordable housing lotteries. The forum will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at P.S./I.S. 323 in Brownsville, located at 210 Chester Street. Check out the Facebook event for more details.

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Arts Gowanus has issued an open call for artists to create public art on either side of the Carroll Street Bridge, in front of Whole Foods, and other public sites around the neighborhood, as Brokelyn was the first to note. Projects should highlight “the history, the Canal, the culture of creativity and the diversity of the community,” according to the organization.

A panel made up of reps from the Parks Department, Department of Transportation and local arts nonprofits will select three to five works to display throughout Gowanus. Projects can be in any medium and must follow the Parks Department guidelines for public art. A $35,000 grant connected to Brad Lander’s “Bridging Gowanus” program will fund the installations.

The deadline for proposals is March 2, 2015, and all artwork must be ready for installation by June 30, 2015. Work will be on display outdoors for up to 11 months. Anyone who’d like to participate is encouraged to attend a community meeting on Monday, February 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Old Stone House, located at 336 3rd Street. At the meeting, local leaders and community members will discuss what makes Gowanus unique and what they’re looking for from artists. 

dumbo arts fest jane kratochvil

The Dumbo Arts Festival won’t return this fall, after 18 years in the gallery-filled waterfront neighborhood, Two Trees announced this afternoon. It began in 1997 as the Art Under the Bridge Festival, a grassroots art initiative meant to attract art lovers and artists to Dumbo. One of the original organizers, Joy Glidden, ran the festival until 2009, when Two Trees took over organizing the event.

“But as the festival grew and grew – more than 220,000 visitors flooded the neighborhood for the festival weekend last year – it became clear that we could no longer mount the festival ourselves without commercializing it in a way that didn’t feel right. We were getting too far from the original mission of the festival,” Two Trees’ cultural affairs director Lisa Kim wrote in an email. 

Instead, Two Trees will spend the money for the Dumbo Arts Festival on other arts programming, including Dumbo galleries, the First Thursday Art Walk, a studio program that offers free work space to artists, subsidized rent for cultural organizations, public art commissions and art projects at the Domino Sugar site in Williamsburg.

Photo by Jane Kratochvil for Two Trees

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BRIC’s television channel, Brooklyn Independent Media, is hosting a town hall on gentrification tomorrow evening and inviting experts, politicians, activists and urban planners to weigh in on how rapid economic development is transforming Brooklyn. “Where do market forces and policy need to meet so that we can preserve the integrity of our diverse borough?” asks the event description.

Speakers include New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer; Brooklyn College Sociology Professor Sharon Zukin; City Council Member Robert Cornegy (36th District); Ron Shiffman, urban planner and founder of the Pratt Center for Community Development; Jherelle Ben, an organizer for the Flatbush Tenant Coalition; and Juan Ramos, chair of the Broadway Triangle Coalition.

The free event will take place tomorrow from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the BRIC House Ballroom at 647 Fulton Street, and you can register to attend through Eventbrite. It will also be broadcast live here

Black Artstory Web-Poster

Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership is coordinating an interesting list of events for Black History month that celebrate Fort Greene and Clinton Hill’s deep culture of African American arts and performance. Brooklyn-based contemporary dance company Hammerstep will blend Irish step dance and hip hop in a performance at Ingersoll Community Center on February 7, and a group of renowned local jazz musicians will perform live on February 15 at Splitty. There will also be a “digital media and live sound installation that re-imagines the concept of Afrofuturism in the wake of recent police violence in New York City” at the Emerson Bar on February 28. You can check out the full schedule, which includes poetry readings and art shows, over at Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership’s website.

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Small businesses and community groups near the Barclays Center have banded together to bring their concerns about the impact of the Democratic National Convention to the city. The Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance wants Mayor de Blasio to appoint someone to coordinate government agencies, Greenland Forest City, the local community boards and elected officials to minimize disruption.

Ongoing construction, film shoots, and events at Barclays Center have in the past limited access to local businesses and caused them to lose income, according to the group’s press release.

The alliance “asks for a plan to promote local businesses as well as a commitment to compensate for any lost income caused as a result of access limitations necessitated by such a high security event” as the convention.

Members include the North Flatbush BID, residents of Newswalk, Dean Street Block Association (6th Avenue to Vanderbilt), The Atlantic Terrace Outreach Committee, St. Marks Block Association, and various individuals and small businesses.

the liberator brooklyn historial society

Brooklyn Historical Society is hosting several unique events to celebrate Black History Month in February, including a talk with rapper Prodigy of Mobb Deep, documentary screenings and a tour of one of the largest private African Art collections in America. Harvard superstar professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., will kick things off Thursday, January 22 with a look at five centuries of African American history. Unfortunately, it is already sold out, but it is not too late to check out historian Eric Foner’s book talk on January 27, when he’ll discuss little-known figures of the underground railroad. And every Sunday at 3 pm, there will be free screenings of the documentary “Brooklyn Boheme,” which explores the black arts movement in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill in the ’80s and ’90s.

As part of BHS’ ongoing series of events with hip-hop icons, Mobb Deep will sit down with Wes Jackson of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival on February 25, and they’ll discuss the intersection of literature and hip-hop. Finally, Clinton Hill native Eric Edwards will offer a tour of his extensive African art collection, which encompasses 1,600 pieces created over 4,000 years. Head over to BHS to see the full schedule of programs.

Photo of an Abolitionist banner via Brooklyn Historical Society and Massachusetts Historical Society

kings theatre matt lambros

Flatbush’s Kings Theatre is set to re-open for the first time in 40 years with a free debut performance on January 27 by local dancers and musicians, including the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the Brooklyn Ballet. The beautifully restored venue at 1027 Flatbush Avenue has also announced its lineup of 2015 concerts, which kicks off with Diana Ross and includes Crosby, Stills & Nash, Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, Sarah McLachlan and Gladys Knight. Diana Ross will headline the grand opening concert on February 3, and there will be a free open house tour of the theater on February 7, according to KensingtonBK.

Tickets for the free show on January 27 will be available on the Kings Theatre website starting January 20. Check out the full schedule here. We’re looking forward to seeing the interiors, which just underwent a $94,000,000 renovation led by developer ACE Theatrical Group and Martinez & Johnson Architecture.

Built in 1929, Kings was one of the five Loew’s “wonder theaters” constructed throughout New York and New Jersey. It shuttered in 1977 and remained abandoned until 2012, when the city selected ACE to revive it.

Photo by Matt Lambros

affordable housing crisis

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery is organizing a conference Thursday evening to discuss how tenants could be affected by changes in the rent regulation laws, which are due to expire this summer. The New York State Senate will decide whether to renew them on June 15. Several local politicians, including Mayor de Blasio, are pushing for the repeal of the 1971 Urstadt Law, which gives the state control over rent regulation instead of the city. Many of those politicians will appear at tomorrow’s conference, including state senators Montgomery and Hamilton, as well as City Council members Laurie Cumbo, Stephen Levin, Carlos Menchaca and Robert Cornegy Jr. State Assembly members Joe Lentol, Walter Mosley and Felix Ortiz will also attend.

The Affordable Housing Crisis will take place January 15 from 6 pm to 8:30 pm at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church at 85 South Oxford Street. RSVP by emailing or calling Senator Montgomery’s office at 718-643-6140 or ojonas@nysenate.gov.

smith-9th street bridge gowanus

Creative agency Vanderbilt Republic, who lit up the Kentile Floors sign one last time using projections, will project a constantly changing “light sculpture” onto the Smith-9th Street Bridge in Gowanus. Beginning January 12, “this half-mile light sculpture will evolve nightly through two weeks of research, transforming the frame of the Smith-9th Street Bridge into a canvas for ecstatic creation,” according to the group’s website. The show will start after dark every night until January 23. There will also be an artist reception January 16 featuring an installation from light artist and scientist Colin Bowring, aka “the Wizard,” at Gowanus Loft, 61 9th Street, Loft C8.

Flyer via Vanderbilt Republic

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The two-year-long battle between community group Preserve Park Slope and Methodist Hospital has finally come to an end, because the two negotiated a settlement to limit the size of the hospital’s new building, both parties announced today. The court-ordered agreement ends the lawsuit Preserve Park Slope filed against the hospital and the city last summer, which prevented the expansion plans from moving forward. Methodist has agreed to build only six stories, instead of seven, on hospital-owned property bounded by 5th Street, 8th Avenue and 6th Street, across the street from its current building. (The rendering above shows the previous plans.)

The proposed U-shaped outpatient center will be 14 feet shorter — Preserve Park Slope wanted it 45 feet lower — and 28,000 square feet smaller. The hospital will move a planned pedestrian entrance to 6th street not far from 8th Avenue, rather than on the corner of 8th Avenue and 6th Street. A traffic expert will also develop a plan to manage congestion on nearby streets, and landscaping will be added on the 8th Avenue side of the building.

Community activists will be included on committees that will weigh in on the building’s design, construction and demolition plans. And Methodist will create a website to update the community on its construction plans. The planned Center for Community Health will house a cancer center, surgery center, urgent care and a 300-car garage. 

Methodist Coverage [Brownstoner]

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Green-Wood Cemetery is teaming up with online social network Groupmuse to host a classical concert inside the cemetery’s beautiful Gothic chapel later this month. “Groupmuse connects young classical musicians to local audiences through concert ‘house parties’ in unexpected locations,” according to the writeup.

There will be cocktails and mingling with the musicians before and after the event, and you can bring your own or purchase drinks there. The concert will happen Friday, January 23 at 7 pm. Tickets are $10 or $5 for BHS/Green-Wood members, and you can buy them through Groupmuse.