Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hotels Grow Like Mushrooms in Downtown Brooklyn

Here's the latest look at the burgeoning hotel site(s) at 216-228 Duffield Street. The Lam Group is building two hotels on Duffield, across the street from the famous alleged underground railroad sites, that will add up to 501 rooms. The construction shown above will be a 325-room Sheraton;to its right, work not yet visible, will be a 176-room Aloft hotel.

- Boutique Hotel on Duffield Street, and More Brooklyn in Brief Tuesday
- Goodbye Duffield Street Underground RR Homes

Photo by MK Metz

Bogus Birds Sing at Brooklyn's MetroTech

Or, The Kind of Thing You Sometimes Run Into When You Least Expect It

So there we were, strolling through MetroTech in Downtown Brooklyn when we heard, up in the trees, the sweet warbling of -- wait a minute -- the weirdest, most ungodly "birds" we ever heard. One of them sounded like somebody was croaking out, "Poor Sam Peabody. Peabody. Peabody..." Another sounded like a bunch of Zen monks taking a spin on riding lawn mowers.

Peering up into the branches, we eventually realized that the sounds were not coming from actual birds, but were emanating from overhead speakers placed throughout the trees running down the middle of the walkway running through Metrotech.

"Ha!" we thought. This must be Art. And sure enough, after rooting around a bit, we discovered that this particular piece of Art was Nina Katchadourian's "Please, Please, Pleased to Meet'cha," part of the Public Art Fund's "Everyday Eden" exhibition going on at MetroTech until next September. (Unless the real birds stage a revolt and attack the hell out of those speakers.)

Public Art Fund's Web site describes the project this way: "Please, Please, Pleased to Meet'cha is a sound project inspired by the elusive task of describing birdsong ... Because the human attempt to describe birdsong is a kind of translation problem—from aural to written, from animal to human sound—the artist asked UN translators and interpreters to interpret the sounds, suggesting that human communication might have the innate ability to cross linguistic (even species) boundaries."

Well, okay then. As long as they don't drop any -- you know -- stuff on us as we walk under the speakers.

Photos by MK Metz

A Brooklyn Folly? Someone's Not Happy at 110 Livingston

Stephanie from sent this video about the lawsuit over alleged square footage fraud at 110 Livingston, the former Board of Ed headquarters that Mayor Bloomberg calleda “notorious Kremlin” and Giuliani wanted to blow up.

Seems like a few unhappy tenants may want to blow it up, too -- or at least their contracts. A couple who paid almost $800,000 for a yet-unbuilt apartment,
found that the place was 109 square feet smaller than Two Trees had promised -- a 17 percent difference, and one that they call fraud.

The Observer provides a link to the actual lawsuit here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Is This the Start of the Recession? Ad Revenue in Newspaper Industry Predicted to Drop 9 Percent Next year

Bank of America analyst Joe Arns cut his rating on the New York Times company to “sell” from “neutral” and reduced his price estimate on the stock to $14 from $21. Mr. Arns estimated that ad revenue in the newspaper industry will likely drop 9% next year as a collapse in the housing market, coupled with a hiring slowdown, reduce the demand for classified advertising. Crains New York

The Market Has 'Peaked' in New York, and More

- The Real Deal has packaged together a list of links relating to the ever-so-slowly sinking real estate market in New York. Here are numbers 1 - 3 out of 11 points (not all are pessimistic):
1. Panel at REBNY event agrees that the market has passed its peak more [NYO]
2. A look at the subprime mortgage crisis' impact on the market more [NYO]
3. Trulia adds foreclosure listings more [Trulia Blog]
Points 4 - 11 here.

- We love the ever-optimistic New York City Housing Bubble blog. Today's headline is 'The Existing Home Sales PlungeOmeter.' Read it and weep here.

Biggest Building in Brooklyn -- So Far -- Proposed for City Tech's Klitgord Auditorium Site

Everybody's been posting this rendering of the new City Tech tower that's been proposed for the corner of Tillary and Jay Streets in Downtown Brooklyn, but it is so stupendous it deserves to be seen again.

As reported in the Brooklyn Eagle, Forest City Ratner’s MaryAnne Gilmartin had announced the project and its designer, Italian architect Renzo Piano, at a meeting of the Metropolitan New York Chapter of the Appraisal Institute in 2006, but this is the first visual of the "stunningly tall" building -- estimated to be between 65-70 stories.

The site is that of the existing two-story Klitgord Auditorium on the southeast corner of Tillary and Jay (shown below), which will be demolished. In October, we noticed that the Jersey Boring and Drilling Co. was conducting test borings around the auditorium as part of the subsurface investigation of the site.

Photo of the existing Klitgord Auditorium by MK Metz

The credit chain: The rendering was first posted on the Wired New York Forum on Thanksgiving Weekend and then picked up by the 110 Livingston Blog. From there it went to the Gowanus Lounge and Brownstoner.

UPDATE: The Daily News reports that a Forest City Ratner spokesperson says the design is a year old, and "not a reflection of what we're considering today."

UPDATE: Here are several future iterations of the complex.

- Digging For Gold at City Tech's Klitgord Auditorium

Brooklyn Bridge Park to Have Permanent Floating Pool? And More Brooklyn in Brief

- The Floating Pool Lady was such a big hit last summer, when it was moored at the foot of Atlantic Avenue, that Brooklyn Bridge Park planners are considering building another one to be permanently docked within the planned, 85-acre park. Brooklyn Eagle

- Borough President Markowitz has named CB 2 chair Shirley McRae to be the new Brooklyn representative to the city Planning Commission, replacing Dolly Williams, who was forced to recuse herself from discussions about Atlantic Yards. Brooklyn Paper

- The 300-acre Brooklyn Navy Yard will soon be adding four acres through a dredging project that will pave the way for more than $500 million in private investment there - the greatest expansion there since World War II. New York Post

- Dumbo Improvement District’s Second Annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony will take place on Thursday, November 29, 2007 at 6:30pm in the Pearl Street Triangle. DumboNYC

- The most widely used influenza drug in the world -- Tamiflu -- should carry a stronger warning label about psychiatric problems seen in a handful of patients, government advisers said Tuesday. New York Times

Deck the Halls at Brooklyn Borough Hall

Crews Tuesday began to festoon Brooklyn Borough Hall for the holidays.

Photo by MK Metz

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Brooklyn Bus Shelter From Hell

Is this bus shelter cursed?

It was only a a couple of weeks ago that this Downtown Brooklyn bus shelter on Cadman Plaza near Borough Hall was demolished, with several injuries. Now, this Thanksgiving weekend, it's been smashed again -- by what, we don't know.

Correspondent bj sent in the above cell phone snap Saturday. Below is a photo (by MK Metz) of the devastated bus shelter as it looked November 5th, after the first accident.

- Rebuilding the Bus Stop at Brooklyn Borough Hall
- Update: Car Smashes into Bus Shelter, Brooklyn Borough Hall
- Car Through Bus Shelter on Cadman Plaza/ Brooklyn Borough Hall

Synthetic Turf Hazards: Is That Beautiful Green Field Harming Our Kids? Cadman Plaza Park a Case in Point

Signs posted around the synthetically turfed and still controversial Cadman Plaza Park (in Brooklyn Heights/Downtown Brooklyn) inform us of a presentation to be given Thursday about the potentially hazardous chemicals in synthetic turf. Speakers are William Crain of City College of New York and Junfeng Zhang of Rutgers. See the sign above for time and location.

Protests marches and meetings with Councilman Yassky failed to prevent the plasticizing of Cadman Plaza Park last year. Once called a "dust bowl," the park gets more use than ever from both sports teams and casual ball-throwers now that it has been perma-greened.

Vast improvements besides the synthetic turf were made to the long-neglected park at the same time. A meandering running trail was installed, drainage was improved, grass, bushes and flowers were planted around the synthetic field and other improvements were made. The north oval of the park received a major soil upgrade and reseeding, as well. The Parks Department no longer lets news television trucks (covering the nearby courthouse) drive on the Fieldturf, as it did when the area was covered with grass.

But in spite of the attractive perma-green, safety questions linger. Professor Crain says that one problem is the lack of conclusive studies on the safety of the pellets used in the synthetic turf. The pellets "stick to bloody scrapes and sweaty skin and find their way into socks," he said. Preliminary testing indicated the rubber pellets, made from recycled tires, contain high levels of polycyclicaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that exceed levels deemed safe by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

- That Brooklyn Astroturf is Hot!
- With Hoopla But No Protests, Brooklyn's Astroturfed Cadman Plaza Park Unveiled
- Cadman Plaza Park Opens --- Officially
- Blue/ Green Slime Invades What Remains of Cadman Plaza Park
- Cadman Plaza Park Opened -- But Not by Parks Department
- Parks Dept. Refuses to Study Synthetic Turf Health Risks
- Keeping 'Em Down on the Farm
- Toxic Park in Brooklyn Heights?

Photos by MK Metz

A Final Conversation with Norman Mailer

This conversation with Norman Mailer took place in June, 2007. It's an excerpt taken from a program by in which Mailer talks with authors Gunter Grass and Andrew O'Hagan on the topic of "The 20th Century on Trial." Some of the areas Norman discusses include national pride, the Iraq war, and American neoconservatives.

Brooklyn in Brief Monday

- The 300-acre Brooklyn Navy Yard will soon be adding four acres through a dredging project that officials say will pave the way for more than $500 million in private investment at the city-owned industrial park - the greatest expansion there since World War II. New York Post

- N
o one is willing to positively ID the “national chain” with "close to a century of experience" in the food trade that will be coming to the corner of State and Court streets. Broker Tim King of Massey-Knakal real-estate said only that the company is a national chain with about a century in “food production.” Brooklyn Paper

- Bleak "Black Friday" at Fulton Street mall. Business was not so good on Fulton Street this weekend; the Gallery at MetroTech, formerly enclosing Toys-R-Us and a dozen other stores, is already being demolished. Brooklyn Eagle

- Oh, oh. The
Federal Reserve Board forecast this week that there will be no recession in the United States in the foreseeable future. (!) It says the gross domestic product will grow by as little as 1.6 percent in 2008, but is confident that growth will accelerate after that. New York Times (Thanks to New York City Housing Bubble)

- PortSide NewYork was recently in the news for staging a Puccini opera aboard a tanker in the Red Hook containerport.
Now they are moving the tanker Mary Whalen to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and are inaugurating their new home with a book launch. Tuesday, 11/27/07; at GMD Shipyard, Tailshaft and Valve Shop. Tickets on sale now here.

A police detective has repeatedly failed to show up to give a deposition in a Brooklyn man’s lawsuit charging police brutality. Now the city says the detective has retired and cannot be found. New York Times

Let the kids cut loose while you shop for high quality crafts at Brooklyn Friends School’s 28th Annual Holiday Crafts Fair. A one-day event of fun, food and amazing shopping, the fair takes place Saturday, December 1st, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 375 Pearl St., near the Marriott. More here.

- Visit Bed-Stuy on BCAT's Neighborhood Beat Monday and Tuesday (Nov. 26 and 27) at 12:30 and 8:30 p.m. Take a look at Bed-Stuy's high tech community and get the scoop on Bed-Stuy's blogs and WiFi spots. BCAT

Sunday, November 25, 2007

North 6 to Film in Brooklyn Heights Tuesday

Signs are posted near the Promenade on Pierrepont Street -- move your cars by Monday 8 p.m. We don't know what they're filming, but according to the web site, North 6 does casting, location scouting, production logistics, etc. for a huge variety of clients in the fashion, beauty and advertising areas.

Photo by MK Metz

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Brooklyn in Brief, Thanksgiving Weekend

- How far will the Atlantic Yards Project’s basketball arena be from the street? This matters because security may depend on how far the arena is set back from the roadway. New York Times

- The owner of the 177-year-old Hubbard House -- a small, white, wooden frame farmhouse that is one of only 13 original Dutch farmhouses left in Brooklyn -- has been trying to landmark it for 10 years. But the Landmarks Commission says that "further study" is required. Brooklyn Eagle

- Looking for a public kindergarten? The Park Slope Child Care Collective announces the 2007 Kindergarten Forum. A Child Grows in Brooklyn

- Fort Greene’s Brooklyn Hospital Center is hoping proximity to condos like One Hanson Place and the Oro will help keep it in business. Brownstowner

- Brooklyn Borough Hall will illuminate its façade in green November 26-27 in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s annual “Thanks and Giving” campaign. Courier Life

- Hillary Clinton's campaign is capitalizing on "an overlooked strain of feminism in blue-collar women -- nurse's aides, factory workers, farmers, and single mothers" -- to help fuel her strength among the Democratic candidates for president. Huffington Post

- The state Attorney General's office accepted 710 condo and co-op plans for New York City in 2006. The majority were for condos and co-ops in Brooklyn. NY Observer

Meeting: Put in Your Two Cents About How to Use Brooklyn Bridge Park

How should Brooklyn Bridge Park be used? Do you have ideas about recreation or cultural programming? Transportation or access? Landscape design?

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy and other involved organizations are holding an "input" meeting on Monday, November 26, from 6:30-9:00 pm at Congregation Mt Sinai, 250 Cadman Plaza West, in Brooklyn Heights.

The future 85-acre park will stretch 1.3 miles along the East River from north of the Manhattan Bridge to Atlantic Avenue.

See here for an overview of the park plan. See here for FAQs.

A Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy release says: "In addition to a general statement of goals and major recommendations, the final Strategic Plan will include suggestions for potential partnership arrangements and strategies, recommendations for interim uses during park construction, general recommendations for types of major facilities, infrastructure recommendations, a timeline for implementation of programs and construction of facilities and venues, and a financial plan for self-sustaining programming which carefully balances public and private uses."

Their web site also had a form where you can share your ideas here.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Schermerhorn House: Affordable Housing for Artists and Homeless

The Actors Fund and Common Ground Community have joined forces to develop a 217-unit residence for single adults right in downtown Brooklyn, on Schermerhorn Street. Half of the building will target individuals affiliated with the performing arts and entertainment industry, and half will house formerly homeless individuals living with HIV/AIDS or mental health needs.

Schermerhorn House will feature numerous “green design” elements, including rooftop gardens and a high efficiency boiler system. Situated over two subway tunnels, the building is cantilevered to keep its weight off the tunnels below.

Eligibility for Schermerhorn House is based on federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Guidelines. An applicant's gross income from all sources (employment, benefits, asset interest) cannot exceed $29,760 and not be less than $18,500. Monthly rents start at $630.

Call for an application now; applications will be available in December. Schermerhorn House Hotline: 212.221.7300 ext. 264

Common Ground

Photo by MK Metz

Bush Pardons Thanksgiving Turkey

Sorry this video source went belly up.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Questions About the Shut Down Coney Island Meeting -- Especially, 'Where Do You Get 500 Matching Yellow Hats Made Really Fast?'

A public hearing on Mayor Bloomberg’s Coney Island redevelopment plan was shut down Monday night, and questions abound:

1. Where did State Sen. Carl Kruger find 500 people to bus in on short notice, effectively shutting the meeting down? Brooklyn Eagle

2. Why were the 500 bused-in people all wearing matching yellow hats reading “Bloomberg’s Plan: How much? How long? Who pays?” Brooklyn Eagle

3. Is Bloomberg’s proposal similar to “many failed plans” to revitalize Coney Island considered over the last 50 years? Brooklyn Paper

4. How much will it cost to buy out developer Joe Sitt, whose Thor Equities has spent somewhere between $100 and $200 million to buy land in Coney’s amusement zone — land that the mayor now wants to buy, rezone as parkland, and have an outside theme park operator develop as an all-year attraction. Brooklyn Paper

5. If the meeting was canceled because of the unexpected appearance of 500 people all wearing matching hats -- then where did the pre-printed cancellation letters handed out by the CIDC come from?! Kinetic Carnival

6. The Plans: Everyone familiar with them raise your hand. (One difference: Thor's plan dedicates 4 acres to amusement park type stuff; the city's plan dedicates 15 acres.) Brooklyn Eagle

7. Where can we get 500 matching yellow hats made really fast? Cafepress

Photo by Duluoz Cats, Creative Commons license

In Memory of a Pleasant Little Seating Area

"It wasn’t much," said the Brooklyn Eagle. Just a pleasant little seating area on the cobbled path running through the park that wraps around the Brooklyn Supreme Court and Surrogate Court building.

It consisted of four benches, a few old-fashioned street lamps and some Belgian block.

But no matter, because it’s gone now.

More here.

Photo by MK Metz

Huge Drilly Thing at 340 Court Street in Brooklyn

A "huge drilly thing" has appeared in front of the old Longshoreman's Association building at 340 Court Street, says the Pardon Me For Asking blog. "When Clarett Group... announced that they would be moving quickly at this site, they sure were not joking" says PMFA. More here.

- Developer Promises to Limit Height at 340 Court Street; Will Build Three and Four-Bedroom Units

- 'Something Big' About to Happen at 340 Court

Manhattan Lights -- From the Brooklyn Heights Promenade

Photo by MK Metz

Monday, November 19, 2007

Debbie Almontasser Sues City

Just one more indication that something is very wrong with the New York City Department of Education: Debbie Almontasser -- a stalwart Brooklyn educator, attacked by right wing web sites who answer to no one -- has resorted to suing the DOE for a measure of justice. Brooklyn Eagle

Brooklyn Heights Church Swears in New Minister Via Cell Phone

The First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn and its new senior minister, the Rev. Dr. Patrick T. O’Neill, overcame an unexpected adversity Sunday, the date of his scheduled installation at the landmark Heights church.

Hours before the service, a broken toe had sent the Rev. Dr. O’Neill to the emergency room, and he remained hospitalized -- as the 5 p.m. installation began, via cell phone.

Installation by cell phone: Brooklyn Eagle

Photo Strip Booth in Brooklyn?

A posting on a local e-list: "Does anyone know where there is an old school photo booth where you get the strip of photos while you wait?"

One answer: " At Bubby's restaurants. There's one in Dumbo and one in Tribeca."

Any more?

Photo by D&E, Creative Commons license

'On Prospect Park': Nicely Designed Beneficiary of Tax Abatement Program

We walked by Richard Meier's "On Prospect Park" building the other day (mentioned on the Gowanus Lounge blog as "an example of a building that fits the scale of its surrounding and is nicely designed"). It's certainly coming along. It's also a beneficiary of the 421-a tax abatement program.

According to the Gowanus Lounge, the tax-abatement program "has run amok, and is routinely used to subsidize luxury housing." Like this one.

But wouldn't you?

More here.

Photo by MK Metz

Icky Really, Really, Really Doesn't Like the Brooklyn Paper

We respect the Brooklyn Paper's stance vis-à-vis Atlantic Yards but -- a rather hilarious diatribe against the paper, by Icky in Windsor Terrace here.

City and State 'Pissing on Each Other,' and Other Brooklyn Briefs

- Developer Bill Stein says he won’t build atop the public courtyard at the Carroll Street entrance to the F train, which is a good thing, since he doesn’t own most of the land, says former assemblyman Frank Verderame. Verderame says the courtyard on Second Place and Smith Street is divided into several parcels, and the city and Metropolitan Transportation Authority have jurisdiction over most of the plaza. Brooklyn Paper

- Are the city and state "pissing on each other?" That's one reason being given for delays in the building of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Brooklyn Eagle

- The 9-year-old Brooklyn girl who told cops she fought off an attacker by biting his hand admitted to investigators that she made up the "harrowing tale." NY Daily News

- The attorney Rishi Bhandari and his wife Heather put 10 percent down on a $795,000 apartment at 110 Livingston in March. And by this Wednesday they'd filed suit against Mr. Walentas’ Two Trees Development. A few days before the couple was set to close on their apartment, they found that the place was 109 square feet smaller than Two Trees had promised. Observer

- Christmas shopping starts this week. Spurred on by hundreds of millions of dollars of advertising, more than one hundred and fifty million Americans will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ by engaging in a mindless, debt-building, four-week frenzy of consumerism. Huffington Post

- There's a feeling of "rebirth" surrounding the Busy Chef/Oven/UCG trio of eateries in Brooklyn Heights -- and even talk of expansion. Brooklyn Heights Blog

- BCAT's Reporter Roundtable: A panel of reporters led by editor Gersh Kuntzman of the Brooklyn Paper weighs in on top stories making headlines this month. Topics include the development of Coney Island, Downtown Brooklyn and the upcoming elections. (Monday, November 19 at 1 p.m., Tuesday, November 20 at 1:30 and 9:30 p.m. and other times) BCAT

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bangladesh Cyclone Kills More Than 2,300; Estimates Range Up to 10,000

The death toll from Bangladesh's most devastating storm in a decade climbed to at least 2,300 on Sunday and relief officials warned the figure could jump sharply as rescuers reach more isolated areas. Teams from international aid organizations worked with army troops in a massive rescue effort that drew help from around the world. Huffington Post

- An "ecological disaster." Bangladesh is home to the endangered Royal Bengal tiger. AFP

- "Please also give us some clothes to wrap the bodies," begged one villager as he pulled a dead man from a river. Reuters

- Saudi Arabia announced emergency aid of $100 million to Bangladesh’s cyclone victims.

- U.S. to donate $2 million to Bangladesh survivors. BBC

- To donate, please visit International Federation of Red Cross/ Red Crescent Societies

Wall Street Journal Does Brooklyn, With Hotel Le Bleu As Ground Zero

Say you were a tourist in for a weekend and you wanted to see the New Brooklyn everybody's been talking about. You've heard that Smith Street has great restaurants, Carroll Gardens is trendy and Gowanus has a lot of artists, but you don't know where to start.

You could start HERE. The Wall Street Journal has published a three day weekend guide (by Candace Jackson) as part of their free Saturday content.

Begin by checking into Hotel Le Bleu (yes, it's officially, sort of, open -- and it'll cost you at least $300/night), then wander over to Fifth Avenue and visit shopping spots like Brooklyn Mercantile and Cog & Pearl. For lunch, grab a lobster roll and fresh oysters at Brooklyn Fish Camp.

Get the idea?

And so it goes, a full three-day itinerary of walking tours, restaurants, drinking holes, museums and performance spaces. Of course there are things that I would have added (like Sahadi's, BAM and -- for the well-rounded --Bargemusic), and -- cheap me, I'd stay in a bed & breakfast and save a hundred bucks a night -- but it's a good jumping off place for the first-time visitor -- or even the Brooklyn native who really doesn't get out enough.

UPDATE: By an amazing coincidence, the New York Times has supplied the "Weekend in New York" Atlantic Avenue segment missing from the Wall Street Journal article above. Clip both and save. Here.

And Maybe a Side Trip to Manhattan? - WSJ
An Exotic Oasis in Brooklyn -- NYT

Map courtesy WSJ

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Girl Caught Under Street Sweeper in Borough Park

A young girl was caught under a street sweeper at 16th Avenue and 34 th Street Friday. Reports say the driver was crying at the scene. The girl's condition is not yet known.

Park Slope Religious Store Burned Down

Montague Street's 'Island Grill' Long in Coming

The Greens, a kosher vegetarian Chinese restaurant on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, has been closed for maybe two months, and those newspapers in the upstairs window are getting old.

Rumor has it there's some kind of "property problem" slowing down the transition to the new "Island Grill" Singapore-style restaurant. Anyone know the timeline?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Red Hook Matter -- An Alternate Explanation, Involving an Evil Spirit of Darkness

"What the hell is happening in Red Hook?" New York Magazine asks. About a year ago, this hard-to-reach part of Brooklyn was booming, a Fairway grocery store had just opened, and there was a "new pretty face" every day.

But for all the crazy hype, the neighborhood now seems to be going in reverse, says NYM. The Pioneer bar has shut down. So has the bistro 360 and, just recently, the Hook. Buildings put on the market for $2.5 million have stayed empty and unsold. In August the Post ran a story headlined "Call It ‘Dead’ Hook."

"What if gentrification isn’t self-sustaining after all?" NYM asks. And what if that's a good thing?

But what if there's an alternate explanation, involving Red Hook's "evil spirit of darkness and squalor?"

H.P. Lovecraft, in his "The Horror at Red Hook," wrote the following about Red Hook in 1925:

"Red Hook is a maze of hybrid squalor near the ancient waterfront opposite Governor's Island, with dirty highways climbing the hill from the wharves to that higher ground where the decayed lengths of Clinton and Court Streets lead off toward the Borough Hall ...

It is always the same ... the evil spirit of darkness and squalor broods on amongst the mongrels in the old brick houses, and prowling bands still parade on unknown errands past windows where lights and twisted faces unaccountably appear and disappear. Age-old horror is a hydra with a thousand heads, and the cults of darkness are rooted in blasphemies deeper than the well of Democritus, The soul of the beast is omnipresent and triumphant, and Red Hook's legions of blear-eyed, pockmarked youths still chant and curse and howl as they file from abyss to abyss, none knows whence or whither, pushed on by blind laws of biology which they may never understand..."

This leads us to wonder: maybe Red Hook is not the best place to attempt gentrification. Maybe best leave it alone ...

UPDATE: "The death of Red Hook is highly exaggerated," says Dennis Holt of the Brooklyn Eagle. While major landowner Greg O'Connell is perhaps slowing down the gentrification process, "
eventually there will be a second cruise line terminal, the city will get its act together on waterfront development, and a hotel will appear within walking distance of those terminals," says Holt.

Photo by MK Metz

Developer Promises to Limit Height at 340 Court Street; Will Build Three and Four-Bedroom Units

The former International Longshoremen’s Association building, previously owned by Long Island College Hospital and reportedly sold to Clarett for $24 million, would be razed to make way for 30-40 condos in one building, and five “brownstone-like” townhouses with stoops on both Sackett and Union Streets, Assemblywoman Joan Millman told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Though nothing is in writing, she said that Clarett said it would keep the height down to six or seven stories.

Millman said the developer stressed the condominiums would be large, “a lot of three and even four-bedroom units,” each with one parking space. She was also told Clarett is “actively seeking a commercial tenant for Court Street, possibly a grocery store.”

More details here.

Something Big About to Happen at 340 Court Street

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

'Something Big' About to Happen at 340 Court

Last week, the Long Island College Ambulatory Care site (formerly known as the Anthony Anastasio International Longshoremen's Association Building) at 340 Court Street in Carroll Gardens had its ground floor windows boarded up, reports the Pardon Me For Asking (PMFA) blog. In addition, rat baiting warning signs appeared on the front door windows.

(Don't know what happened to the LICH School of Nursing... )

PMFA says that rumor has it that the Clarett Group wants to move quickly, so demolition of the existing building could happen very soon. (Pictures here.)

Back in September, the Brooklyn Eagle mentioned that the tower, as of right, could go a bit over 21 stories. If you paid $24 million for a property, wouldn't you develop it to the legal limit? More here.

Lost New York City blog: The Anthony Anastasio Memorial Wing —Brooklyn Longshoremen's Medical Center. * "... Staring at it [the sign] was a chilling reminder of the nabe's vicious past and how much South Brooklyn was once in thrall of the Mob." Anthony "Tough Tony" Anastasio was a union boss who ruled the Brooklyn docks with an iron hand and the threat of reprisal by his mad brother, Albert Anastasio, head of Murder, Inc....

And let's not forget the $17 million for the construction of ambulatory care facilities (at 340 Court St. and 349 Henry St.) The modernization was made possible in part by a $130 million endowment from the estate of Brooklyn philanthropists Donald and Mildred Othmer (old friends of Warren Buffet). Donald Othmer served for many years as a hospital regent.

* Anthony "Tough Tony" Anastasio was a Brooklyn mobster and labor racketeer for the Genevese crime family controlling the Brooklyn dockyards for over thirty years.

Thanks to Brownstoner for link to LICHAC.

City to Commemorate Underground RR in Brooklyn -- At Site Where It Wants to Demolish Alleged Underground RR Safehouse

The city is looking for a non-profit to commemorate Underground Railroad activity in Brooklyn, possibly using the planned Willoughby Square Park as a central orientation point, the Brooklyn Eagle reports.

The move comes on the heels of last month’s eminent domain hearing, which included a home on Duffield Street -- allegedly itself once a safe house along the Underground Railroad -- that the city wants to knock down to build the one-acre park.

More here.

Previous posts on this topic:
- Goodbye Duffield Street Underground RR Homes
- Video Explains All: Brooklyn's Duffield St. Houses
- Lawsuit to Save 'Duffield Seven' from Downtown Brooklyn Plan
- Brooklyn Underground Railroad Home for Sale for $4.5 Million
- Underground RR Consultants Tried to Pull (Another) Fast One
- Atlantic Yards Consultant Bill Up to $4.8 Million
- Red Hook Lane Demapped, No Longer Exists
- Is $500,000 Underground Railroad Study Bogus?

Photo by MK Metz

Big Holiday Crafts Fair at Brooklyn Friends School, Downtown Brooklyn

A correspondent sent this in:

Save the date: Brooklyn Friends School’s 28th Annual Holiday Craft Fair is taking place Saturday, December 1st, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 375 Pearl Street, Downtown Brooklyn near the Marriott.

Don't miss Brooklyn's premier holiday shopping event, featuring hand-crafted items such as ceramics, sweaters, scarves and other wearables, musical instruments, jewelry, and other one-of-a-kind items. This is shaping up to be the school’s biggest and best Craft Fair to date, with more than 40 vendors.

Bring the kids – childcare will be provided while you shop, along with fun activities like a Moon Walk, Obstacle Course, face painting, carnival games and performance.

For more information, call 718-852-1029, or visit:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Romanesco Broccoli at Farmers Market in Brooklyn Heights

The mysterious and beautiful Romanesco broccoli (or fractal broccoli) is an edible flower of the species Brassica oleracea -- and a variant form of cauliflower (see Wikipedia).

Visit the farmer's market at Borough Hall for a great selection of these beautiful vegetables (sooner rather than later).

According to FourmiLabs's Fractal Foods: "This is so visually stunning an object that on first encounter it's hard to imagine you're looking at a garden vegetable rather than an alien artifact created with molecular nanotechnology."

Photo by MK Metz

Sex -- Make that 'Text '-- in the City (Dumbo)

In conjunction with Sex in the City, the group exhibition currently on view at the Dumbo Arts Center, Sara Marcus presents an afternoon reading, Text in the City, this coming Sunday, November 18, 2007 at 3 p.m.

Dumbo Arts Center, 30 Washington Street

Monday, November 12, 2007

All Out War Declared Against New York's Pigeons -- Robotic Hawks Soon to Be Unleashed

The ice caps are melting, Al Qaeda laughs at us and rats run rampant through our parks -- but at least we can beat the hell out of pigeons.

The City Council is considering legislation that includes slipping pigeons birth control, unleashing robotic hawks to scare them, and ticketing people for sprinkling bread crumbs on the ground. One robotic hawk (plus stand) costs $4,072.

Councilman Simcha Felder announced legislation Monday aimed at thinning the city’s pigeon population -- spurred by complaints to his office that elevated train stations were covered with their droppings, reports the Brooklyn Eagle.

“The people of New York are sick and tired of dodging pigeons and their droppings as they walk around the city,” he said.

His multi-faceted plan would be overseen by a “pigeon czar."

Trained hawks, guided by handlers, were employed to frighten roosting pigeons in Bryant Park a few years ago. Though the program resulted in a 50 percent reduction of pigeons, “it was abandoned when one of the hawks mistook a small dog for prey,” said the report.

Sad but true: the whole story here.

Photo by Swami Stream, Creative Commons license

Carroll Gardens Landmarking Meeting

Out-of-context development is changing the face of Carroll Gardens, says CGNA (Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association).

Join the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association on Monday, November 19, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at PS 58 (the Carroll School Auditorium, Carroll Street entrance) for an opportunity to learn about the process of landmarking from the experts. A panel of professionals and residents will explain landmarking, how the process works, and more. For more information, please contact Maria Pagano, 718 858 4699, or

- DeBlasio to Meet with 360 Smith Street Petition Signers
- Size DOES Matter on Second Place
- Brooklyn Wednesday in Brief
- Smith Street: Zombies? Performance Art?
- 'Stop Scarano' Rally at DOB Today
- Brooklyn's Smith Street Today
- 'Protect Our Homes in Carroll Gardens' Petition

Photo by MK Metz

Namesake of Barclays Center in Brooklyn Said to Be Bankrolling Mugabe's Corrupt Zimbabwe Regime

The Sunday Times of London reports that Barclays Bank (as in Barclays Center, the proposed home of the Brooklyn Nets) is bankrolling President Robert Mugabe's corrupt regime in Zimbabwe by providing "substantial loans to cronies given land seized from white farmers."

Ironic, considering that Barclays Bank was reported to have recently conceded that companies it bought over the years may have been involved in the slave trade. Or maybe not.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Frank Gehry's Buildings Don't Leak, Manhattan Real Estate Will Never Go Down, and More Brooklyn in Brief This Weekend

- “My name’s Frank Gehry, and my buildings don't leak," announced the architect at last Thursday's Guggenheim International Gala. So just forget about that MIT lawsuit. New York Magazine

- Lundy's in Sheepshead Bay to become a "Whole Foods-style" market? Gowanus Lounge

- Greenpoint's NewYorkShitty has a problem with "Passion Parties." NYShitty

- A white swan was seen paddling up the Gowanus Canal. "The same canal recently found to harbor social diseases. The swan paddled against the putrid tide, towards the brownfield that will one day house the new Whole Foods ..." SPWilliams blog, via Gowanus Lounge

A top intelligence official says it is time people in the United States changed their definition of privacy. Huffington Post

- The real estate recession is not solely a 'Sub-Prime' problem, says New York City Housing Bubble, adding, "Yes, Real Estate Prices Can Drop in Half--Even in Manhattan." NYCHB

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Yankees Persevere in Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn's 14th Civil War Regiment established an encampment, complete with drills, at Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims' Yankee Fair Saturday.

It was an excellent neighborhood event (taking into account that the neighborhood is historical Brooklyn Heights, i.e. George Washington Slept Here), with a lot of stuff for the kids -- a petting zoo, pony rides, bouncies -- and satisfying amusements for adults, including a book fair (50 cents for paperbacks, a dollar for current hardcovers, carried away bags-full) and holiday shopping galore. Nice food too -- chili, sandwiches and sweets, served by church elders. Neighbors chatted with neighbors at the tables. All in all, a relaxing and fun gathering, in the heart of Yankee Country.

BTW, Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims was the “Grand Central Depot” (via NY Times) of the Underground Railroad in New York City. If you ever get a chance to take a tour of its basement -- a honeycomb of interconnected rooms and tunnels to freedom -- jump on it. (Ask for church historian Lois Rosebrooks.)

From Plymouth Church, it’s a quick walk to the corner of Fulton and Duffield Streets, where the new "Abolitionist Place" sign hangs. But the city will likely soon demolish other reputed sites of the Underground Railroad here, in order to build an underground parking garage as part of the grand Downtown Brooklyn Plan.

- Second Hearing on Underground Railroad Properties in Downtown Brooklyn
- Second Chance for Duffield Street Underground Railroad Homes
- Buildings Shooting Up in Downtown Brooklyn, Why Offer Incentives?
- Goodbye Duffield Street Underground RR Homes
- Video Explains All: Brooklyn's Duffield St. Houses
- Lawsuit to Save 'Duffield Seven' from Downtown Brooklyn Plan
- Brooklyn Underground Railroad Home for Sale for $4.5 Million
- Underground RR Consultants Tried to Pull (Another) Fast One
- Atlantic Yards Consultant Bill Up to $4.8 Million
- Red Hook Lane Demapped, No Longer Exists
- Is $500,000 Underground Railroad Study Bogus?

Photo by MK Metz

Norman Mailer, Dead at 84

Norman Mailer has died at the age of 84.

McBrooklyn studied his "Armies of the Night" in Journalism class in college. Never thought that we would eventually end up in Brooklyn, and actually meet the man himself. Ran into him from time to time at Eastern Athletics, where he tried to keep his body in fighting trim. Ran into Norman again on Cape Cod, where he's actually lived for some years.

Times calls him "Towering Writer with Matching Ego."

Recommended to McBrooklyn the Mu Shu Chicken at Fortune House on Henry Street. Excellent!

Many things have been said about Mailer, but he was always kind to a nondescript writer. For a serious remembrance, see the NY Times obit here.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

This 'Mom Song' Video Got 3.8 Million Hits on YouTube as of Thursday

This is not specifically about Brooklyn, but it's spreading like wildfire, so we thought we should mention it -- It's the famous video of the "Mom Song," sung to the William Tell Overture, by Anita Renfroe. What a mom says in 24 hours, condensed into 2 minutes and 55 seconds. The delivery is perfectly imperfect. Turn the sound up slightly.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How to Escape 'Airport Hell'

New York airports ruining your life? This week, New York magazine presents a comprehensive guide on “How to Escape Airport Hell.” Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about JFK, LaGuardia and Newark including:

- How to Beat the Traffic (from various starting locations, including Park Slope). Even if you get a car service, just print this out and give it to your driver.

- Where to Eat: Dining secrets of local airports revealed. From where to get the best breakfast at La Guardia, to the new Balducci's outlet at JFK.

- How (and Where) to Kill Time: Where is there a "comfortable row of Macs and charging stations with Wi-Fi access" at LaGuardia? Where's a day spa at JFK?

- Plus:The Best Flights: to 8 major cities.

See it here.

Photo by Sittered, Creative Commons license

Jones Soda? Official Soda of the Brooklyn Nets

No Coke? No Pepsi?

Seattle-based Jones Soda Company will be the exclusive carbonated soft drink and bottled water provider once the Nets, owned by Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner Companies, moves into the Barclays Center (named after the British bank for a reported $400 million).

The company declined to disclose the terms of the seven-year deal, but Conde Nast reported it as $1.7 million per year.

Little-Known Jones Soda Gets Exclusive Rights at Brooklyn Nets Arena -- Brooklyn Eagle

The Foster, Court Street, Brooklyn

Photo by MK Metz

Brooklyn Super Throws Acid on Tenants

One witness said that the tenant went after the super, and the super threw acid on him and his girlfriend. Their clothes literally melted off.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Walking Tours About Brooklyn Development

McBrooklyn received an email from Samara Smith about Anyplace, Brooklyn, an audio walking tour about development and public space in downtown Brooklyn. The tour takes place every Saturday in November, noon to 2 p.m. One hour tours begin every 5 minutes.

The tour "... will replace that vague notion of yours about what Brooklyn is becoming with something concrete." Brooklyn Based

"Smith compressed two years worth of research into a 60-minute walking tour, allowing one to walk in her steps, listening to interviews with area residents and activists, and seeing this space in a whole new way." Citynoise

Where to Go: Come to the public tables @ Willoughby and Adams Streets in downtown Brooklyn to pick up materials and begin the tour. One-hour tours begin every 5 minutes between noon and 2 p.m. on every Saturday in November.

What to Bring: You must bring a CD player or an mp3 player with the downloaded files from to participate.

Dutch Days in Brooklyn

At the end of World War II, there were over seventy Dutch American farmhouses and barns remaining in Brooklyn. Today there are only thirteen. The history of the Dutch in Kings County and in New York has long been overshadowed by the history of the English and Americans, but the Dutch influence still remains today. Using historical archeology combined with a new look at historical documents, scholar Christopher Ricciardi will explore the history of the Dutch in Kings County and New York on Sunday, November 18, 2 p.m. at Lefferts Historic House.

The lecture is part of 5 Dutch Days, a citywide celebration ( sponsored by the New York Council for the Humanities. The celebration includes the reopening of the Jan Martense Schenck House at the Brooklyn Museum.

Photo: The Jan Martense Schenck House at the Brooklyn Museum.

MTA: More Riders Than Ever, Huge Surplus. So Why the Fare Hike?

Hundreds of MTA patrons showed up in Downtown Brooklyn to protest the perhaps inevitable fare hikes. Some called on Gov. Spitzer to step in and do something.

Hmmn: According to the Brooklyn Eagle, the MTA projects a $6 billion funding shortfall in the next four years, despite a 50-year high in ridership and an expected $966 million surplus for this year and $377 million for next year.

Here's another point: Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said that fare increases on mass transit would result in increased traffic, and that runs counter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “bold” congestion pricing plan.

Brooklyn to MTA Board on Fare Hike: The Answer Is Still No-- Brooklyn Eagle

OMG -- There's An Election Today! How Do We Vote?

Today, Tuesday,November 6, is election day.

If you live in Brooklyn, a surrogate judgeship is up for grabs. The candidates are Diana A. Johnson, a State Supreme Court justice, and ShawnDya L. Simpson, a Civil Court judge and a former Brooklyn assistant district attorney.

According to the NY Times, "a number of reform clubs and African-American political leaders have backed Justice Johnson, while Judge Simpson has the support of the Brooklyn Democratic leader, Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez. Either woman would, if elected, become Brooklyn’s first black surrogate. The Surrogate’s Courts handle wills, adoptions and estates."

City Council member Mathieu Eugene, a Brooklyn Democrat, faces a special election to fill the unexpired term of his predecessor, who moved on to higher offices.

The Brooklyn Eagle has a roundup of the judicial candidates. Be sure to check it out here. Make sure to read the "Maybe You Heard..." sections about each candidate.

Photo credit: CORD. Please visit web site here.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Why Are All Those Buildings on Bond Street for Sale?

Lisanne at the Found in Brooklyn blog received a "courtesy call" from the dry cleaner located on the corner of Bond and 2nd Streets Saturday. (Click on photo for enlargement.)

They said that "she should come and get her clothes" because they were relocating. Lisanne writes that she had heard that the businesses on that block were operating on six month leases because they are located where Toll Brothers is slated to (someday) build condos.

According to Lisanne, almost every building on Bond Street between 2nd & 3rd Streets is for sale. Lisanne's question: "It seems although the time table is slow as far as rezoning (supposively 2 years as told to me by Bill DeBlasio himself) and cleanup (3 years up the line MAYBE) all this other stuff is happening far in advance. How come?"

Rebuilding the Bus Stop at Brooklyn Borough Hall

The bus stop at Borough Hall has been rebuilt, but we haven't heard about the individual traumas of the five persons hit by the driver who smashed through the original bus stop.

Rest assured their lives have not been easy since that time.

- Update:Car Smashes into Bus Shelter, Brooklyn Borough Hall
- Car Through Bus Shelter on Cadman Plaza/ Brooklyn Borough Hall

Photo by MK Metz

Professor Solomon Finds All

Amateur Professor Solomon, a "findologist" and author of the book How To Find Lost Objects, has also written a history of Coney Island. The 152-page illustrated book is available for free download from the Professor's site or in paperback from Amazon for $10.

(If all else fails try this link here.)

Klezmatics! Develope Don't Destroy Brooklyn -- Thursday

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn is curating a special fundraising and awareness concert on Thursday, November 8th at the Brooklyn Lyceum featuring the Grammy award-winning musical group, The Klezmatics.

The Klezmatics, Kakande, and Demolition String Band
Thursday, November 8th, Doors @ 7pm
Brooklyn Lyceum
227 4th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 857-4816
$20 in advance, $25 at the door
For online tickets, visit

Celebrate Vonnegut in Dumbo

On November 10th, at 7 p.m., join the Monuments at 208 in Dumbo and spend the evening celebrating and remembering the vision of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. with a selection of music, art, and film inspired by Himself. Mr. Vonnegut died after a fall on April 11th, 2007.

Monuments was formed shortly after songwriter/guitarist Gabriel Berezin met drummer Mike Cook in the days following Sept 11th, 2001. Gabe was ten minutes late for his day job when the first plane crashed through his office window on the 97th floor of the World Trade Center killing his co-workers inside.

The Periodic Label: Monuments Journal
(Thanks to StarsOverWashington)