Brooklyn Life

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And we quote…In the period prior to the 1830’s or so, most of the rowhouses being constructed in New York had either brick or wood facades. Alternatives such as marble existed, of course, but these were far too costly for most homeowners to consider, especially since the stone had to be cut by hand and transported long distances. With the growth of the new urban middle class came a desire for something more sophisticated in appearance than simple brick, and more durable than wood. Brownstone, a type of sandstone, was readily available from quarries located in New Jersey and Connecticut. A form of sedimentary rock which frequently contains fossilized footprints of prehistoric animals, it owed its unique dark brown color to high concentrations of iron, which turned color with exposure to water. Using barges, it could be shipped easily to New York, where it quickly became popular. In Brooklyn, brownstone houses could be found anywhere from Bedford Stuyvessant to Brooklyn Heights and Carroll Gardens. Houses themselves were not constructed of brownstone, but rather a veneer less than a foot thick was placed on the front of each home, which was actually constructed of brick. The mark of a good brownstone mason was his ability to cut and assemble the blocks of a facade so carefully that it almost appeared to be a single mass of stone.
Tidbits [Nero Wolfe]

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July 12, 2005, Wall Street Journal Online — If, as some analysts claim, the U.S. has a property bubble, does Japan’s “lost decade” of economic misery provide a glimpse of what’s in store? As in the U.S. today, property values in Japan were spurred by low interest rates. What’s more, the Japanese run-up in real estate continued a couple of years after the stock market peaked at the end of 1989. In the U.S., house prices are still rising more than five years after the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its peak in January 2000. But economists say there are significant differences. For a start, Japanese house prices jumped faster and higher. The average price of a 750-square-foot condominium in Tokyo rose to more than 70 million yen, or about $625,000 at current exchange rates, in 1991 from about 25 million yen in the early 1980s. After crashing in the early 1990s, the average house price has hovered around 40 million yen, or about $360,000, for the past 10 years. House-price inflation in major U.S. cities has been more moderate. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight’s index of home prices rose 159% in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and 129% in the New York metro area during the 10-year period through March 2005.
Japan’s Bubble Burst May Not Echo in U.S. [Real Estate Journal]

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Home Depot announced yesterday that its newest Brooklyn store–at 569 Dekalb Avenue–will open on August 18. The company also released renderings for the 111,000-square-foot location in Bed Stuy, its fifth in the borough. Frankly, we’re thrilled. We are not familiar with the existing architecture on the block so we can’t comment on the aesthetic impact of the store, but from a selfish perspective the proximity to Clinton Hill is a huge score for us.
Home Depot Announcement [Brooklyn Eagle] GMAP

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In addition to selling the standard array of old building materials and fixtures, Virginia-based Salvagewrights also specializes in rescuing historic structures. We had the pleasure of accompanying owner Craig Jacobs to the site of a 5,000-square-foot clapboard house that he is in the process of dismantling and moving to the other side of the county. It was being moved to make way for an industrial park. Is anyone aware of instances of entire brownstones being saved and moved to another site in the New York?
Homepage [Salvagewrights.com]

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We just got an email from a loyal Brownstoner who recently left Clinton Hill for Denmark. Unfortunately for her, she went out of the frying pan and into the fire:

The market is just as wild in Copenhagen as it is in New York. And everyone just says the same “This can absolutely NOT go on for any longer!” Half the people here are eagerly waiting for the market to crash. We went to an open house for a wreck last weekend and it looked like a block party!!! And it wasn’t exactly cheap!

Kouun wo inorimasu, Julie!

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July 13, 2005 — Swedish construction company Skanska said Wednesday it has received a contract worth US$136 million (euro111 million) to construct an environmental project in New York. The order from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection will be included in bookings for the second quarter, the company said. Skanska will build the final phase of the Paerdegat Basin Water Quality Facility, aimed at improving water quality in Brooklyn, New York. The contract includes construction of new buildings and plant facilities. Skanska will also be responsible for installation of control systems, piping, valves and pumps. The contract requires wetland restoration for certain areas of Jamaica Bay. Site work will begin in July with expected contract duration of four years.
Skanska Gets $136M Construction Deal [Forbes]