What Happened on Brownstoner Last Week: Michelle Williams Buys Mansion, Steve Levin Takes on Uber, Historic Rent Freeze, and More


    Michelle Williams and her “Tara.” Photo at left by Gage Skidmore for Wikipedia Commons; photo at right by Kate Leonova for PropertyShark

    Hollywood in the Hood?

    Called “The Tara of Prospect Park South” (even the garage has columns!), this gigantic house will be home to movie star Michelle Williams. The eight fireplaces should keep her warm in winter and the 18 rooms will leave her less cramped than that old row house she’s been cooped up in. Montrose Morris wrote about this grand home’s history in 2011, and despite the asphalt shingles, she called it a “wonderful massive Victorian steamboat of a house.” We’re hoping Ms. Williams will restore the clapboard siding.

    Spring cleaning for the Flatbush Trees, a 70s-era landmark, came just in time for summer, thanks to local installation artist Dave Eppley, blogger and activist Tim Thomas of the Q at Parkside, and 100 middle school kids.

    If you miss Saturday’s walking tour of Sunset Park by preservationist Joe Svehlak — who grew up on 57th Street in the mid 20th century when the area was still called Bay Ridge — catch him on August 1 when he talks about the area’s community activism.



    News of the Century!

    The top story on Tuesday in our Daily Links section (linking to a New York Times article) was the historic decision by the city’s Rent Guidelines Board to freeze rents for the first time in its 46-year history. One-year leases on rent-stabilized apartments are allowed a zero-percent increase, while two-year leases got a two-percent increase. Meanwhile, is $5,725-a-month a reasonable rent in Williamsburg—even if the fitness center has a “workout patio”?



    The New Economy

    You were right! Recent statistics supplied by the Center for an Urban Future show that Brooklyn’s creative juices are flowing and jobs in film, TV, architecture, applied arts and performing arts have been growing by leaps and bounds. (Okay, Manhattan still has the most, but Brooklyn is on the rise!)


    How do these artistic-types get around? 18,000 Uber cars currently cruise the streets of this town (that’s about 5,000 more than yellow cabs), and 2,000 more Uber drivers hit the road each month. A bill co-sponsored by Steve Levin (from northwest Brooklyn) wants to put a hold on that growth.

    And how do these artists communicate? The Forum debates Time Warner Cable or Verizon FiOS.


    Standing on Barclays Center’s green roof. Photo by Chris Ryan for The Architect’s Newspaper.

    A Park Floats in Brooklyn

    Talk about going green. As per the original plan, the Barclays Center roof will soon be covered in sedum—a flowering plant that holds water in its leaves, capturing excess rainwater, reducing noise, and making the neighborhood look just a little bit greener.

    In other development news, developer-architect team RAL Development Services, Oliver’s Realty Group, and architect firm ODA New York will design and build two controversial residential towers on Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The development will bring affordable housing for moderate and middle income families in additions to shopping, community space, a pre-K center, and perhaps some much-needed shade to the park — all subject to public review. So stay tuned.

    More than a decade after a rezoning plan was put in place, these 100-year-plus Downtown Brooklyn tenements stand empty, waiting for the wrecking ball. They stand on the future location of Willoughby Square Park, a square acre of greenery surrounded by — you guessed it — mega-projects. The permit for demolition has yet to be granted. The park will feature an area commemorating the abolitionist movement, as the area may have been a stop along the Underground Railroad.

    Mega-projects aside, you can still find housing on a more humane scale in the borough. Take a look at last Monday’s House of the Day: a 21-foot wide Italianate brownstone at 25 Monroe Street in Bed Stuy flaunting arched doorways, crown moldings, and original woodwork — a classic! (Not to mention a stunner). And a Prospect Lefferts HOTD limestone for $1,295,000 looks, at first glance, to be full of original details. Meanwhile, here are all the details — from original ironwork to a bump-out oriel window — on a group of modest brownstones built on Bushwick Avenue in 1880.



    It’s the 4th of July!

    The nation’s most famous competitive frankfurter frenzy returns to Coney Island on July 4. Other items on your 4th of July weekend to-do list include fireworks on the Brooklyn Bridge and visiting the pop-up park next door to the Domino Sugar Refinery on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, opening on Saturday. The Brooklyn Bike Park will feature a paved pump track — a hilly trail where BMX bikers can use gravity (and “pumping”) instead of pedaling to navigate the course. The park will once again feature The Farm on Kent, a retail farm stand and CSA run by North Brooklyn Farms.

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