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Brownsville

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Recently we published some interior shots of Brownsville’s Pitkin Theater pre-renovation. Construction has now begun on the school and retail conversion, and the Architect’s Newspaper has come into possession of a rendering of the the project. Due to disrepair the interior will be mostly gutted, so it’s nice to see the exterior will remain largely preserved.
Showtime for School in Rundown Theater [Architect’s Newspaper]
Inside the Lowe’s Pitkin Theater [Brownstoner] GMAP
Loew’s Pitkin to be Converted to School, Retail [Brownstoner]

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Last week we wrote about the conversion happening at the Loew’s Pitkin Theater in Brownsville; both a charter school and 70,000 square feet of retail space are moving in. A completely new interior structure will be built while still preserving many of the architectural details of the theater. These incredible photos from the existing interior were taken by Chasi Annexy at Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony.
Loew’s Pitkin to Be Converted to School, Retail [Brownstoner] GMAP

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After many months, a coalition of community members and preservationists have won a battle to save an historic church in Brownsville. The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn had shuttered the Lady of Loreto Church at 124 Sackman Street two years ago, and last year announced plans to allow a non-profit developer to tear it down and build 102 affordable apartments in its place. Under a compromise plan, the church will now be saved and turned into a community center and only 50 apartments will be built. “It’s a toned-down plan,” said Charles Piazza, 57, who helped lead the preservation fight as a member of Italian Americans for Preservation and Community. “But at least we have saved the church.” Director of the Brownsville Heritage Center, Patricia Deans, who worked with Piazza to convince the Diocese not to demolish the church, said, “It means we’re going to finally serve the needs of the community.”
Brownsville Community Saves Our Lady of Loreto Church [NY Daily News]
A Reprieve for Historic Brownsville Church [Brownstoner]
Lady of Loreto’s Most Desperate Hour [Brownstoner]
Fight to Preserve Ocean Hill Church [Brownstoner]
Photo from NYLC

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The plight of the Lady of Loreto, the landmarking-worthy-but-not-yet-landmarked church in the formerly Italian but now primarily African American and Latino neighborhood of Brownsville, went to Defcon 1 last week, as workers for the Catholic Diocese began draping the 100-year-old church in netting in preparation for demolition. (We were unable to find any record of a DOB application for demolition though.) The Diocese plans to replace the structure with 88 units of affordable housing. A group of Italian-Americans that has been waging a campaign to preserve the church has put forth an alternative plan that would create the housing while preserving the church as an arts and community center; the plan was put together in conjunction with several prominent members of the local African American community, including Jeffrey Dunston, CEO of the nonprofit Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation. “We have a real plan, which will make a real difference in this community,” Msgr. Kieran E. Harrington told The New York Times. “The other side has wishful thinking.
A Fight for a Church Is Evoking Introspection [NY Times]
Fight to Preserve Ocean Hill Church [Brownstoner]
Photo from the Bridge and Tunnel Club

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Under $350K Range: BAY RIDGE
9411 Shore Road, #3-D; Price=$330,000 GMAP
StreetEasy says this 850-sf co-op in an elevator building was listed at $339,000 back in September. The listing said that this junior 4 offers harbor views from its private terrace but is in need of some TLC. Common Charges= $669. Entered into contract 12/8/09; closed on 2/16/10; deed recorded on 2/19/10.

$350-$500K Range: DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN
150 Myrtle Avenue, #1507; Price=$405,000 GMAP
This 1-bedroom, 609-sf condo in the 38-story, 240-unit Toren (which recently opened their pool) went into contract back in the spring of 2008, says StreetEasy. Entered into contract on 5/1/08; closed on 2/16/10; deed recorded on 2/18/10.

$500-$750K Range: BROWNSVILLE
64 Blake Avenue; Price=$518,000 GMAP
Built in 2007, this 2,400-sf two-family house sold for $520,000 in October 2009, says PropertyShark. Entered into contract on 11/21/09; closed on 2/16/10; deed recorded on 2/19/10.

$750K-$1 Million Range: WILLIAMSBURG
97 North 7th Street; Price=$960,000 GMAP
This 3,600-sf building, with 3 residential units and 1 commercial space, has had the same owner for over 30 years, according to PropertyShark. Closed on 2/16/10; deed recorded on 2/19/10.

Photos from Property Shark.

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New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger has just posted his list of the Ten Most Positive Architectural Events of 2009. There’s one Brooklyn mention:

Brooklyn, the borough that didn’t get Frank Gehry’s new arena for the Nets, got something a lot smaller and much more suited to its immediate needs, which is an exceptionally handsome and dignified community center in Brownsville by the architect George Ranalli. The Saratoga Avenue Community Center, built by the New York City Housing Authority, is a small, self-assured brick building that loosely echoes Frank Lloyd Wright, but is altogether original, and stands as a welcome—and welcoming—reminder that the city government actually is capable of being a good client when it wants to be.

For the rest of Golderberger’s list click here and to see more images of the community center check out the architect’s website.
Ten Most Positive Architectural Events of 2009 [New Yorker via Curbed]
Saratoga Avenue Community Center [George Ranalli]

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A book called The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn has just been published and we’ve got some of the photos for you above. Author Ellen Levitt, a lifelong Brooklynite, examines 91 former synagogues in Brownsville, East New York, East Flatbush and Bedford Stuyvesant that, largely through shifting demographic patterns, are no longer used for their original purpose. In most cases, like the five from Brownsville above, they have been converted to churches despite retaining their Jewish symbols.

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Now Open: Unauthorized Obama Eatery
“In an apparent bid to stand out in the crowded fast food market, a Brooklyn business has rechristened itself ‘Obama Fried Chicken.’ Previously known as Royal Fried Chicken, the eatery, located at Rockaway Parkway and Rutland Road in Brownsville, unveiled its revamped name last Thursday afternoon when the business’s new awning was installed,” says the Smoking Gun. We can only wonder if this fried chicken joint will meet the same fate as Sixpoint’s Hop Obama beer.

Ditmas Park: Home of the City’s Best Hummus
1209 Cortelyou Road (Westminster Road), Ditmas Park; (718) 284-4444
The New York Times reports on the Israeli hummus parlors popping up around the city and says, “The newest of these hummusiot also happens to be the best. Mimi’s Hummus opened in February on Cortelyou Road, the Restaurant Row of Ditmas Park.” At this 8-table spot, owner Mimi Kitani — an Israeli with Moroccan-Kurdish parents — draws culinary influences from each culture and serves 5 types of hummus priced from $8 to $9.

Pizza Pizza
Bloggers across Brooklyn are buzzing about two newcomer pizzerias set to open this week — Ignazio’s (4 Water Street, Dumbo; 718-522-2100) and Anselmo’s (354 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook; 718-775-5386). Time Out New York says that Ignazio’s “menu is mostly devoted to thin-crust and Sicilian pies. Special versions include toppings such as lobster or seasonal greens, like baby dandelion and chicory.” And Slice shares the story behind Anselmo’s: “[Jack] Stella, one of the joint’s three partners, runs a chemical business down the street. He and his colleagues in that business originally bought the building that would house Anselmo’s as a sort of clubhouse where they could take smoke breaks. While gutting it, he discovered the coal oven, and realizing he had the proverbial diamond in the rough, made plans to turn it into a pizzeria. Their loss of a smokers’ lounge is our gain as coal-oven aficionados.”

After the jump: 3 new grocery stores, a new restaurant from a Red Hook ball fields vendor, a secret new Williamsburg eatery, Buttermilk Channel hits the big screen, and more…

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Brooklyn mortgages dropped 18 percent in 2007, reports the Daily News, in line with the city’s statistics. But it turns out the number of mortgages was chopped in half, or more, in poorer, minority neighborhoods, which are bearing the brunt of the foreclosure crisis &#8212 they call it the “tale of two Brooklyns.” “The number of mortgages issued fell by 60% in Brownsville, 58% in Bushwick, 57% in East New York and 45% in East Flatbush,” they write. “Experts say the declines are due to a combination of the drying up of the subprime market and lending discrimination by banks reluctant to make loans &#8212 even to qualified buyers &#8212 in those neighborhoods.” Now for the other Brooklyn: the number of mortgages rose 48 percent in Brooklyn Heights and Fort Greene; 11 percent in Williamsburg and Greenpoint; and stayed the same in the Slope.
Mortgages Plunge by 50% in Some Minority Neighborhoods [NY Daily News]
Photo by Jimmy Legs.