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The New York City Planning Commission certified the Flatbush Rezoning Proposal on Monday, ushering in the 60-day public review period at the beginning of the ULURP process. The rezoning covers approximately 180 blocks between and paves the way for a more contextual development and preservation of existing detached and row houses. Flatbush is one of the city’s most architecturally diverse and breathtakingly beautiful residential neighborhoods,” said Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden. Mayor Bloomberg’s strategy to protect the city’s lower-density neighborhoods while providing opportunities for new and affordable housing is exemplified by this comprehensive proposal.” For all the gorey details about boundaries, height limits and contextual zoning districts, check out the press release. The neighborhoods most affected by the proposed rezoning, notes Flatbush Gardener, are Caton Park, Beverley Square West and East, Ditmas Park West, and South Midwood.
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal Certified [Flatbush Gardener]
Flatbush Rezoning in the Works [Brownstoner]

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That’s what Brooklyn Based is asking, following up on their series of neighborhood investigations. “What began as a series of swanky developments in the early 1900s, luring white, upper class residents from Brooklyn Heights, is now attracting professionals and ex-Park Slopers to the stately homes of Victorian Flatbush — a term that’s only three decades old,” they write. Flatbush has attracted immigrants from everywhere: Italians and Jews, Caribbeans, Pakistanis and Southeast Asians. Within the sprawling neighborhood are its mini-enclaves: Prospect Park South, Ditmas Park, Fiske Terrace, Wingate, South Midwood, Midwood Park and West Midwood. For the scoop on life in the ‘bush, they interview a young couple, one originally from the Bahamas, the other with Trinidadian parents. Their thoughts: “I like Flatbush, it’s convenient to everything I need and the apartment is big and affordable.” The food? “We walk to Kensington for non-Caribbean food, but there’s a Japanese restaurant [Sushi Tatsu III] up the block and there’s Tex Mex [Tex Mex Fresco] and there’s a Spanish spot [La Cabana Rodriguez Restaurant] that you can sit and eat, maybe have drinks.” Neighborhood changes? “For the first time in life, my neighbors are Caucasian. You see them jogging, skateboarding, food shopping, with children in strollers, walking their dogs.”
What’s It Like in Flatbush [Brooklyn Based]
Photo by Rufus Mangrove.

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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.

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Beer Table: Now Serving the Most Expensive Brunch in Brooklyn
427 B 7th Avenue (between 14th and 15th Streets), Park Slope
“On weekends they’ve just started serving a $23 brunch menu inspired by the mid-morning Bavarian meal of weisswurst (white sausage), a pretzel, and weissbier (white beer). Weisswurst is fresh sausage made from veal, pork, cardamom, and other spices, then boiled and served in its cooking water… They’re served with two extra-crispy Belgian style waffles piled high with greenmarket fruits, a spoonful of some of the best butter I’ve ever tasted–it’s from Evans Farmhouse Creamery in Norwich, NY–and a 500 ml glass of Schneider Weisse.” [BA Foodist]

Newish in East Flatbush: Jerk-a-Rama
704 Rogers Avenue (near Lenox Road); (718) 284-4100
“Jerk chicken at the newish Jerk-a-Rama is deeply smoky and cooked ‘damn near perfectly,’ wleatherette reports. Spicing could be stronger and the hot sauce is too sweet, she adds, but this place is a keeper, ‘a solid B/B+.'” [CHOW’s Outer Borough Digest]

Two Newbies on Atlantic
Slice reports that a new brick oven pizza place, La Pizzetta, has opened at 145 Atlantic between Clinton and Henry (in the old Bouillabaisse/Soju/Dragon Lounge/Buck’s spot). Chowhound EJC says that a barbecue place called Dallas Jones “is moving into the Old Red Pepper takeout Chinese space next to Magnetic Field (RIP)… One more new restaurant to note — on Henry St, just south of Atlantic, the old TV Repair shop has a building permit in the window for a restaurant and bar. Any ideas what that is?”

After the jump: The New Yorker visits James, another one bites the dust in Park Slope, Time Out offers dates with chefs, bakers, and barkeeps, and Hope & Anchor gets a TV spot…

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Our friends at Flatbush Gardener have given the DCP’s Flatbush revised rezoning plan, presented to CB14 last month, a review. More below.

From everything I’ve heard and seen about this second draft, they got it right. In general, lots that are 50×100 feet will get the R3X designation, while lots that are 40×100 will get R4A. This is a more tailored approach than the broad brush of R4A that was painted over Ditmas Park West and South Midwood in the first draft. They really listened to the concerns of residents, went back and re-drafted to address them. The free-standing homes responsible for the physical character of this area of Flatbush will be protected. All of Flatbush will be protected against unlimited height residential development. There are new opportunities for commercial development, and incentives for affordable housing. It’s hard to find something to critique in this draft.

We spoke with CB 14’s chair Alvin Berk, who says the DCP has been very responsive to community input, but they take no official position until the formal proposal is finished and certified for the ULURP process. “We won’t really see the shape of this until it goes through those public hearings,” he says, which might happen by early 2009. What do you guys think?
Flabush Rezoning Moving Forward [Flatbush Life]
New Flatbush Rezoning Proposal Gets It Right [Flatbush Gardener]
Flatbush Rezoning in the Works [Brownstoner]

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We included 2777 Bedford Avenue in our Open House Picks back in January when it was listed at $649,000. It still hasn’t sold and the price is now down to $599,000. (Judging from the differing sets of photos in the new Mary Kay Gallagher listing versus the photos in the original Brooklyn Properties listing, the sellers have already moved out, suggesting there may be some urgency to the sale now.) We have a little crush on this house Colonial charmer and hope someone who appreciates its historic details comes along and buys it. For those readers who complain about there not being enough lower-priced houses featured, this is as nice a house as you’re going to find in the $600,000 range. Of course, it requires that you want to live in the Brooklyn College area.
2777 Bedford Avenue [Brooklyn Properties] GMAP P*Shark
2777 Bedford Avenue [Mary Kay/NYT]
Open House Picks 1/25/08 [Brownstoner]

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The 300,000-square-foot Triangle Junction development in Flatbush had been having a bit of trouble finding tenants, the New York Times reports, until Target saved the day. The idea was to “rejuvenate an anemic mix of mostly small retailers at Flatbush and Nostrand Avenues,” but since the two-story, 225,000-square-foot Target &#8212 the company’s largest &#8212 signed up in April, more chains are trickling in: David’s Bridal, Children’s Place, Payless ShoeSource, and Applebee’s. Two ground floor spots are still open, and rents are rising all around the area; retail space rents “within a two-block radius of the intersection have doubled, or in some cases tripled, over the last two years, to about $100 a square foot annually,” according to the Times.
Big Stores in Odd Shapes Arriving in Brooklyn [NY Times]
Flatbush Junction Target Coming Soon [Brownstoner]
Photo from BrooklynJunction.

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Park Slope’s former Cornbread Cafe is being reincarnated in Flatbush Junction as the Cornbread Diner. The Southern-style restaurant opens this Monday on Flatbush Ave between Farragut and Glenwood. The same chef/owner behind the old 7th Avenue Cornbread, Bettina Harris, is helming the new venture, which’ll offer garden dining while the weather’s still fine. The locals certainly seem excited about the development: “Three cheers to Bettina Harris for gracing one of Brooklyn’s most
“epicuriously challenged” strips with some comfort food,” quoth the blog Flatbush Pigeon. “We need it out here!”
Big Flatbush News! [Flatbush Pigeon] GMAP

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The city is once again shopping around for a developer to bring the dilapidated Loew’s Kings Theatre in Flatbush back to life, according to an article in the Post. Potential grand plans for the neglected building could extend further than simply getting the 63,000-square-foot structure in working condition again; the deal might include giving a developer air rights to build residential space, a boutique hotel and retail shops. The price tag for just restoring the theater is expected to cost a whopping $70 mil. The EDC has a video on its website (developer no like read?) about the building’s history that includes Marty Markowitz waxing poetic about how his first date was at the Wonder Theater. In all seriousness, though, it does seem high time for somebody to step up to the plate and hopefully broker a win-win: Brooklyn would get to see the revitalization of one its most magnificent structures, and a developer would get to make some cash off that work.
‘King’ of Rehabs? [NY Post]
Loews Kings Theater [EDC]
A Chance to Bring Back an Old Brooklyn Gem [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photo by marioletto.

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Brooklyn Junction dug up a fresh rendering, above, for the new building on at Farragut Road and Kenilworth Place that will provide housing for about 220 Brooklyn College students. Developer Sefi Zvieli is putting up the 8-story building, and the residence hall will be privately owned and operated (not by Brooklyn College). The dorm rooms will be ready to rent in Spring ’09, according to a statement from the school.
Brooklyn College Dorm: Second Rendering [Brooklyn Junction] GMAP