04/21/14 10:00am

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The passive-house affordable apartment building at 424 Melrose Street wrapped in February and 22 of the building’s 24 units are already filled, reported The New York Daily News. A joint project of the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and the United Mennonite Church, which owned the land, it was paid for by private bank loans, a federal tax credit and the New York State’s Housing Trust Fund.

Rents range from $400 to $1,100 for a studio to a three-bedroom. Eight units are for low-income residents and 15 are for handicapped. Interior photos in the Daily News show beautiful long windows and tiny radiators. There are two small boilers on the roof and 16 thermal solar panels. The 28,000-square-foot building cost $8,500,000 to construct and uses about 10 percent of the energy of most buildings of its size, according to the story. The architect is Chris Benedict.

Construction caused evacuation of nearby buildings in 2012, as we reported at the time.

The finished building looks different from the rendering, but we like it. The beige and white color scheme is not particularly inspiring, but we like the rhythm and pattern created by the grouping of the passive-house windows, whose look too often detracts from older buildings. This is one of many affordable projects in Brooklyn with admirable architecture, including a number spearheaded by the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council. Another passive building with 24 units at 803 Knickerbocker Avenue is scheduled to finish this summer.

Click through to the Daily News article to see the finished building. What do you think of the design?

Inside the Country’s First Multi-Family Affordable Passive House Apartments [NY Daily News]
Bushwick Buildings Evacuated After Cracks Appear [Brownstoner]
Rendering by Chris Benedict via Inhabitat

04/21/14 9:30am

Brownsville’s Stone Avenue Library is commemorating its 100th anniversary and its recent reopening after five months of renovations and improvements at a press conference this morning. When it first opened in September 1914 as a children’s library, hundreds of children lined up to explore the Gothic-style building at 581 Mother Gaston Boulevard, which was designed to look like a fairy tale castle by William B. Tubby, said a story in The New York Times.

Financed by Andrew Carnegie, it was one of the country’s first libraries devoted entirely to children. If you want to see what the library looked like when it first opened, the Times has a great slideshow with photos from its early years.

The branch has received several improvements, including a gigantic chess board and a “Word Wall” displaying 600 words children should know by 5th grade. During construction, the library was closed as briefly as possible — from November 30 to January 16 and from March 8 to 17. Check out the new interior after the jump!

A Brownsville Sanctuary, 100 Years and Counting [NY Times]
Photo via Historic Districts Council

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04/21/14 9:00am

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A story in The New York Times suggests Mayor de Blasio can do an end run around Albany and forge a public transportation route to meet new needs with a modern streetcar line along the waterfront from Brooklyn to Queens. The line would make it easier for residents to get around Brooklyn; tie together transit starved areas such as Red Hook, Greenpoint and the Navy Yard; connect to ferry, bus and subway routes; and link Brooklyn to Queens.

The author estimates it would cost somewhere around $600,000,000 or so. Now that Brooklyn is less Manhattan-centric, do you think this is an idea whose time has come, or should we just improve existing bus and subway service?

Imagining a Streetcar Line Along the Brooklyn Waterfront [NY Times]

04/21/14 8:30am

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Catholic High School in Windsor Terrace Abruptly Loses Its Fight to Stay Open [NY Times]
A Way for Artists to Live in Brooklyn [NY Times]
Senator Schumer Urges FTC to Examine Sky-High ConEd Bills in Brooklyn [NY Daily News]
Brooklyn Couple Is Using Old Brewery Tunnel to Age Cheese [WSJ]
Good Friday Procession on Brooklyn Bridge Draws Cardinals, Faithful [WSJ]
Urgent Care Center to Replace Five Tenants on Flatbush in Prospect Heights [WSJ]
Dumbo Leader Tweaks Raw Nerve in Brooklyn Heights Library Redevelopment Dispute [BHB]
Brooklyn Heights’ Columbia Place, 1959 [Wooden House Project]
New Crown Heights Antique Store: Reclaimed Home [Casacara]
Teaser Site up for Crown Heights’ 341 Eastern Parkway [BuzzBuzzHome]
The 25 Best Houses in Brooklyn: A Highly Subjective List [Brooklyn Mag]
Bright Hats and Bonnets Fill Brooklyn Churches on Easter Sunday [DNAinfo]

04/18/14 4:30pm

Metropolitan Avenue G Train Stop Appears to Be Getting a Touchscreen Kiosk [Brokelyn]
Graffiti Burners in Brooklyn [Animal NY]
Patrick Stewart Wants to Ban Strollers in Park Slope [Intelligencer]
Photo of the Week: Changing Corners of Bed Stuy [Brooklyn Historical Society]
What Will Become of the Huxley Envelope Building in Greenpoint? [Greenpointers]
Every Single Place That’s Ever Been Called the “Next Williamsburg” [Free Williamsburg]

Photo by Juni Safont

04/18/14 4:00pm

dumbo prices top most other nyc hoods

Two of Brooklyn’s most influential figures in art and real estate, choreographer Elizabeth Streb and developer Jed Walentas, will discuss the borough’s evolution and the importance of supporting artistic ventures next month at the Brooklyn Historical Society. The MacArthur Genius Award-winning choreographer started the Streb Lab for Action Mechanics (SLAM) in a Williamsburg warehouse in 2003, and she has since built the space into a creative and educational center that offers classes, workshops, demonstrations and rehearsal space.

Walentas, one of the principals of Two Trees Management, has been one of the driving forces in transforming Dumbo from an industrial ‘hood into one known for million-dollar condos, art galleries and coffee shops. Two Trees is also demolishing much of the old Domino Sugar Refinery complex and constructing a large mixed-use development that incorporates the factory’s landmarked main building as office space.

“Both have transformed community through art: Streb by creating an artistic home — whose doors are always open to passersby — in a  formerly industrial neighborhood; Walentas by providing free and low-cost space to artists and arts organizations,” BHS writes in the event description. The talk will take place Wednesday, May 7 at 6:30 pm at 128 Pierrepont Street. You can grab tickets on Eventbrite, and the event is free for members and costs $5 for everyone else.

Photo by Simon Collison

04/18/14 3:00pm

1635 Bergen St. GS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Berean Missionary Baptist Church
Address: 1635 Bergen Street
Cross Streets: Utica and Rochester Avenues
Neighborhood: Crown Heights/Weeksville
Year Built: 1894
Architectural Style: English Gothic
Architect: Benjamin Wright
Landmarked: No, but should be

The story: On August 11th, 1850, a group of Brooklyn abolitionists got together to found a great experiment; a fully integrated Baptist church congregation. Many of Brooklyn’s churches were nominally integrated, that is black people could attend many white churches. The black congregants were usually relegated to the back pews or the balcony, and did not participate in the social and fellowship activities of the church. They certainly did not become deacons or trustees, choir members or ministers. Although many white churches were bastions of anti-slavery activity, and lauded the fact that they hosted speakers like Frederick Douglass, and other black anti-slavery heroes, it was a fact of life that true social equality was a long time in coming, even in God’s house.

This new church was called Berean Baptist, and was originally a small wood-framed church in the vicinity of Prospect Place and Utica Avenue, a couple of blocks south of the present location. This part of Brooklyn was still largely unsettled land, except for the growing African American communities of Weeksville and Carrsville, which were settled by black folks beginning in the late 1830s. These were independent towns where black people could live on their own terms, with their own homes, businesses and institutions. (more…)

04/18/14 2:00pm

A tipster sent along these photos of Tripp & Cooper Cafe in Fort Greene, which the city closed Tuesday for operating without a permit. The cafe and coffee shop at 80 Dekalb Avenue, across the street from the Long Island University campus, opened in the fall of 2012. It served crepes, coffee, sandwiches and pastries. Click through the jump to see the health department notice. GMAP

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04/18/14 1:00pm

Park Slope
526 3rd Street
Broker: Brown Harris Stevens
Price: $3,995,000
Sunday 12:00 – 1:30
GMAP

Greenpoint
78 1/2 Norman Avenue
Broker: Corcoran
Price: $2,495,000
Sunday 1:00 – 2:30
GMAP

Clinton Hill
308 Waverly Avenue
Broker: Elliman
Price: $2,250,000
Sunday 1:00 – 3:00
GMAP

Bed Stuy
165 Lewis Avenue
Broker: Corcoran
Price: $840,000
Saturday 2:00 – 3:00
GMAP

Update: The open house at 526 3rd Street has been cancelled.

04/18/14 11:30am
89 scheller park rd coxsackie ny

89 Scheller Park Road, Coxsackie: $485,000

Have we yet extolled the virtues of Coxsackie? Pretty sure we have, but we’re going to do it again, because it’s spring and you need an excuse to visit a new place. Coxsackie in Greene County, 30 minutes south of Albany, 10 minutes north of Catskill, and two hours and 35 minutes north of Brooklyn. The riverfront town is known (to us, anyway) for great historical architecture, a nice waterfront park, and one of the best places around to find some good, affordable properties. Don’t let the weird name scare you away. One thing we will mention, though, is that it’s sleepy. Businesses have come and gone, but it’s poised, friends. Right on the cusp. Worth a car trip, no doubt about it.

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232-238 Bainbridge St. composite

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

Since wooden houses are in the Brownstoner news lately, today’s Past and Present shows some that are no more. They were lovely little frame houses on Bainbridge Street, between Malcolm X Boulevard (formerly Reid Avenue) and Sumner Avenue. These houses were from this eastern part of Bedford’s early development, back when the neighborhood’s streets were sparsely developed, and mostly had small groups of frame houses on rather odd shaped lots.

The lots are the legacy of the Dutch families who owned this land beginning in the late 1600s. By the beginning of the 19th century, most of the land that makes up Bedford belonged to the Lefferts family and their relatives by birth or marriage. It didn’t take clairvoyance for them to see that urban development was in the future, and when the city incorporated in 1834, and began planning outward expansion from downtown, the family began parceling off their land, and selling to developers and individuals.

The house in the photograph was probably built in the late 1700s or early 1800s. Back then, it would have been surrounded by fields, and the land bought from, or leased from old Lefferts Lefferts, the family patriarch himself. It’s a classic gambrel-roofed Dutch farmhouse. We can’t really tell now, but the small addition on the right may even be the original house, and the larger structure built on to it later, as the family fortunes got better. Such is the case with several of our remaining Dutch houses in Brooklyn and Queens, which look exactly like this. (more…)