When we look back at the biggest Brooklyn news stories of 2015, we see a trend: the continued desirability of Brooklyn and its rising stature.
From the real estate boom to Hillary Clinton locating her campaign headquarters in the borough, here’s a blow-by-blow recap of the biggest stories of the year.
10. Broken Angel is gone. The most potent symbol of the transformation of Brooklyn, artist Arthur Wood’s decades-in-the-making dark creation and home was transformed into minimalist condos. They launched and sold out in less than a month.
9. Barclays sells. Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov purchased 100 percent of the controversial and popular Barclays Center — home of basketball team the Brooklyn Nets — from developer Forest City Ratner in December in a deal valued at $1,700,000,000.
8. CitiStorage warehouse burns down. A massive conflagration on the Williamsburg waterfront in February incinerated City records and rained down medical files. The fire smoldered for weeks, and also reignited the controversy over the City’s failure to deliver the promised 28-acre Bushwick Inlet Park, which was supposed to include the CitiStorage site.
7. Vito Lopez dies. A highly influential and effective champion of rent regulation and affordable housing, the former Brooklyn Democratic party boss and New York State Assemblyman was controversial for his old-fashioned machine-style politics. Lopez resigned in 2013 over sexual harassment allegations and died of cancer in November at the age of 74.
6. Kings Theatre reopens. Perhaps nothing is as emblematic of both the old and new Brooklyn as the newly restored Kings Theatre in Flatbush. Closed for 40 years, it reopened in February after a $93 million restoration, bringing renewed interest and major musical acts, ballet and plays to one of the oldest parts of Brooklyn. It also won a preservation award and in September was acquired by the Ambassador theater chain as part of a larger deal, whose terms were not disclosed.
5. Affordable housing rejected. Brooklynites considered, and overwhelmingly rejected, Mayor de Blasio’s complex, three-part plan to promote affordable housing, despite widespread concerns about rising prices. Locals said they fear the proposals — rezoning East New York, requiring affordable housing in developments that take advantage of rezonings, and changing the building code — will accelerate gentrification and ruin the character of Brooklyn.
4. Landmarks grow. Under new chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated several individual historic landmarks and two new historic districts, the Crown Heights North III Historic District and the Bedford Historic District. It held hearings on its backlog of proposed sites and, more controversially, permitted the new owner of storied Brooklyn Heights house 70 Willow to demolish a rear verandah where Truman Capote once lounged. A landmarked Greek Revival home in Wallabout was torn down for safety reasons.
3. Development sweeps Brooklyn. Pharmacies, laundromats, gas stations, churches, movie theaters, White Castles, and wood-frame houses from Cobble Hill to East Flatbush became construction sites, as development radiated out from Downtown and Williamsburg. Some of the biggest controversies concerned the Pierhouse and Pier 6 developments in Brooklyn Bridge Park, the sale of the Brooklyn Heights library, the development of the former Long Island College Hospital and, in Bed Stuy, a design for an apartment building commenters dubbed the Bulgarian Neo-Goth Supervillian Crack Lair, the demolition of a pre-Civil War Carpenter Gothic church, and the destruction of the iconic Slave Theater.
2. Prices just keep climbing — until September, when the market paused to catch its breath. The median price per square foot reached $885 by the end of the third quarter, an increase of 27 percent over the same period in 2014, when it was $695. In June, a former stable at 177 Pacific Street in Cobble Hill was snapped up by photographer Jay Maisel for $15,500,000, resetting the home sales record for Brooklyn. In November, agents reported a slow down. Has the tremendous boom — both sales and rentals — of the last few years peaked?
1. Hillary Clinton comes to Brooklyn. In April, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton announced her campaign headquarters would be located in Brooklyn, at 1 Pierrepont Plaza. Political pundits speculated she might be trying to get out the youth vote, but it certainly signaled a change in the borough’s profile and stature.