Monday, April 30, 2007

Trader Joe's Coming to Brooklyn Bridge Park?

Racked (published by Curbed) is spreading the word that Trader Joe's is in negotiation with One Brooklyn Bridge Park. Racked speculates: "Since the subway's quite a walk, this could mean a huge parking lot is in the works as well. A chain grocer like Trader Joe's would have quite an impact on neighboring merchants. But would any true Brooklynite choose TJ's hummus over Sahadi's?"

UPDATE: An insider told McBrooklyn that Trader Joe's is "not denying" this report. More to come.

Past Brooklyn bridge Park postings here.

Photo by Hyku on Flickr, Creative Commons license.

Judge Phillips, Nearly Plucked Dry, May Be Released from Involuntary Incarceration Soon

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle continues its excellent coverage of the sorry matter of retired judge John Phillips, who has been "languishing in a Bronx nursing home for two years while a battery of attorneys wrangle over his mismanaged estate."

At a hearing Friday, according to the Eagle, state Supreme Court Justice Michael Pesce gave his tentative approval of plans for Phillips to move into Castle Senior Living, an assisted living facility on Prospect Park West in Park Slope, Brooklyn — pending approval from Phillips’ niece and personal guardian, Symphanie Moss.

In the six-plus years since the guardianship proceeding was begun by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, Phillips’ $10 million estate has all but vanished beneath a mountain of paperwork — the victim of court-appointed attorneys who’ve sold nearly all of Phillips’ real estate holdings with hardly a sign of any of the proceeds, says the Eagle.

The most recent property guardian, Taylor, was held in contempt by state Supreme Court Justice Michael Pesce — the result of funds she paid to herself without the court’s permission.

The Brooklyn Eagle's story is here.

Previous story here.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Another Eerie Atlantic Yards Occurrence: 'Ratner Curse'?

The Brooklynian message board connects us to Raul Rothblatt's photos of weird white stuff covering cars, the ground, people and debris Saturday at the Dean and Flatbush gas station, in the Atlantic Yards footprint. While it looks like snow, it appears to be some kind of flame retardant, shot at high velocity from jets installed in the ceiling. But why they went off seemed to puzzle the Fire Department along with everyone else.

First the Ward Bakery parapet, now this. Could it be connected to the Ratner Curse?

Officials Knew Greenpoint Oil Spill Would Take 20+ Years (Maybe Never) to Clean

CBS2 brings us the news, via this video posted on YouTube (thanks to Gowanus Lounge), that officials have known for a long time that it could take 20 years -- if ever -- to clean up the worst oil spill in U.S. history, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Apparently, Exxon Mobile (which spilled the oil in the first place) said back in '81 that it would be possible to clean up only five percent, to at maximum fifty percent, of the still-spreading underground plume.

But just how dangerous is it? A poster on Gowanus Lounge refutes (or disagrees with) many of the points made by CBS2. One good point: Greenpoint appears a have a lower cancer rate than many other Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Downtown Brooklyn.

On the other hand, this poster seems to have an awful lot of inside information -- such as the address of the cancer survivor interviewed in the news clip, which was not mentioned in the video.

I'm not saying that this poster has anything to do with Exxon Mobile, I'm just sayin' ...

Jehovah's Witnesses Getting Outa Dodge?

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is selling six Brooklyn Heights properties, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported this week. Three of the buildings — 169 , 283 and 161 Columbia Heights — are being sold as a group; the other three — 165 Columbia Heights, 105 Willow Street and 34 Orange Street — are available individually.

And, according to the SkyscraperPage, the JWs have abandoned their plans to build a Watchtower complex at 85 Jay Street in Dumbo: "The Watchtower Society has decided not to build the complex, instead continuing the gradual transfer of its facilities to upstate New York."

UPDATE: According to the Brooklyn Eagle's May 2nd paper, not yet online, the Jehovah's Witnesses deny the Skyscraper story, saying they have NOT abandoned Dumbo. More later.

UPDATE UPDATE: The Eagle story is online
: Richard Devine, a spokesperson for the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses), denied there was any truth to the rumor. Story here.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Spring in the Heights

Tulip bulbs were planted in Cadman Plaza Park by Brooklyn Friends School students this past winter, and now they have erupted into glorious, exhilarating blooms.

Photo by MK Metz.

Good Help Was Easy to Find in Brooklyn Heights Saturday

Cadman Plaza Park was inundated with yellow-shirted helpers Saturday as part of a Chinese Christian Herald Crusade march across the Brooklyn Bridge. Hundreds of marchers gathered on a narrow strip of pavement in the middle of the park by the War Memorial (all that is currently open to the public) to hear music and chow down on traditional favorites.

The vast majority of Cadman Plaza Park is still fenced off -- the north oval was recently hydro-seeded (see story here), and the southern field is still fenced off after being converted to synthetic turf. (Several stories here.)

Photo by MK Metz

Atlantic Yards Demolition Suspended After Ward Bakery Parapet Collapse

WNYC reports that demolition work has been suspended on the Atlantic Yards project. Friday's decision from developer Forest City Ratner came after a partial collapse of the Ward Bakery's roof parapet on Thursday. Workers were removing asbestos, and readying the building for demolition.

In related news,
an all-day workshop to create a community-driven development plan for Brooklyn's Vanderbilt Yards took place today at Hanson Place United Methodist Church. More details at the Develop Don't Destroy Web site.

Previous post on collapse here.

Photo of the Ward Bakery after the roof parapet collapse by MK Metz.

Friday, April 27, 2007

FOBs in Brooklyn Heights

The Brooklyn Eagle reports: "Residents of Garden Place in Brooklyn Heights were all aflutter Thursday evening when around 6:45 p.m., a line of black SUVs and Lincolns pulled on to the picturesque brownstone block, led by a smaller black Prius. Riding in the hybrid vehicle was none other than former President Bill Clinton, who ducked into the basement door of actor Gabriel Byrne’s four-story home."

What was happening? It was a $4,500-a-head fundraiser for his wife’s presidential campaign, says the Eagle. More details (and photos) here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ward Bakery Rains Down on Cars Below as Ratner Prepares for Demolition

The entire northern parapet of the Ward Bakery Building collapsed onto the street, sidewalk and parked cars below while developer Forest City Ratner was "allegedly undertaking asbestos abatement on the building preliminary to a scheduled June demolition of the building for its 'Atlantic Yards' project," says Develop Don't Destroy.

More pictures on Curbed.

New Starbucks at Polytechnic/ MetroTech

A new -- and welcome -- Starbucks has opened up on Jay Street at Polytechnic University, right near the entrance to MetroTech Plaza. While you would expect Poly students to be jamming the place, the majority of morning customers were wearing suits.

Photo by MK Metz.

Book Vending Turns Nasty on Joralemon

Vending books is a nasty, even dangerous business in Downtown Brooklyn. This woman was selling reading matter on Joralemon Street east of Court Street this afternoon when another woman working at a nearby book table dissed her, then bit her. On top of that, the offender pocketed some cash from her boss' table. (Her boss happened to be the ex-husband of the victim...) Cops made the chomper return the money to her boss, then chased her away. They advised the victim to apply peroxide to the wound.

Photo by Brooklyn photojournalist MK Metz.

Blue/ Green Slime Invades What Remains of Cadman Plaza Park

A thick layer of blue/ green slime was shot from a high-powered hose all over what remains of the only natural dirt in Brooklyn Heights (uh, Downtown Brooklyn) Thursday -- the north end of Cadman Plaza Park. That's the part not covered in synthetic turf, which is still fenced off from the public.

It turns out that the slime is actually grass seed, suspended in a bluish gel and paper mulch. As the sign explains, the seeds should sprout in about two weeks.

A Parks Department employee said that the "hydro-seeding" is quite expensive, and he hoped that park-goers didn't knock down the fence and run on the turf before the seeds got established.

The 800-odd kids from a nearby private school who use the park as their daily playground/ gym/ sports field will have nowhere to run until the fences are removed from both sections of Cadman Plaza Park -- the now synthetic field to the south, and the newly seeded blue/ green oval to the north.

See previous Cadman Plaza Park stories here.

Photos by Brooklyn photojournalist MK Metz.

KeySpan/ National Grid Merger: Another Snag

Newsday reports that Long Island Power Authority chairman Kevin Law demanded today that Brooklyn-based KeySpan Corp. present "in writing" a detailed plan for investigating and cleaning up old, toxic gas-plant sites before LIPA votes on a lucrative service agreement for KeySpan and its prospective owner, National Grid.

This unexpected move adds to the "rising chorus of calls for KeySpan to take action on the manufactured natural gas plants and gas storage sites, which have languished for decades under prior owners and which KeySpan acquired in 1998," Newsday says. LIPA has decided to delay a vote on the National Grid agreement.

See full story here.

See previous postings (with other possible merger complications) here.

Photo of the KeySpan logo, taken at company headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn, by photojournalist MK Metz.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pace Student Throws Cinder Blocks Off St. George Dorms

A Pace University student was arrested this morning after throwing cinder blocks off the roof of the St. George Hotel, almost smashing one through the window of a delivery truck and shocking onlookers. The Brooklyn Eagle has the exclusive on this story.

When police and fire officers showed up, according to the Eagle, they immediately taped off the entrance to the hotel and subway arcade and told shopkeepers to stay in their stores. Shortly afterward, "Jason" was led off in handcuffs past onlookers, as one officer remarked, “There’s a lot of pissed-off people out here.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Joke or No Joke? Deck Over BQE to Connect Cobble Hill, Columbia Street District

The Post broke this rather unbelievable story: As part of his plan to create space for housing, Mayor Bloomberg is proposing "the biggest coverup in city history."

The mayor said his administration would consider constructing decks over rail yards, rail lines and congested highways -- including the sunken stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway bordering Hicks Street, dividing "Carroll Gardens West" (the Columbia Street District, mistakenly called Carroll Gardens in the illustration above) from Cobble Hill in Brooklyn.

"A platform could be constructed over the below-grade section of the BQE to create nine new blocks of housing reconnecting two neighborhoods," said a mayoral panel, according to the Post.

This would reconnect the Columbia Street District once again to Mother Brooklyn, leading, we suspect, to skyrocketing property values. But rather than nine new blocks of housing, we would like to suggest a nine-block swath of greenery: a new public park with all the amenities.

Smith Nearly Sold Out

According to the Smith's luxe + pop web site, most of the apartments in the yet-to-be completed building at the corner of Atlantic and Smith are sold out. Only four at the top (including one with a prime view of the jail across the street, going for $1,110,000) are left as of today.

Previous postings on the Smith here.

Photo by Brooklyn photojournalist MK Metz

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Cadman Plaza Park Opened -- But Not by Parks Department

Fire, Police, EMS Tear Down the Wall!

While groups of fun-loving locals have been climbing the sagging chain-link perma-barrier surrounding Cadman Plaza Park -- fenced off from the playing public by the Parks Dept. after installing artificial turf last year -- it took the combined efforts of the Fire Department, Police and EMS to "tear down the wall" this afternoon.

As families played baseball and young men kicked soccer balls on the new synthetic turf, a jogger trying to get into shape for summer overextended himself and collapsed. (Was this the "toxic" turf's first victim?)

Help was summoned and fire engines, police cars and two ambulances circled around -- and around -- the park, perplexed to find no official entrance. Eventually, wire cutters were pulled out and before you could say "Bob's my uncle" a grand new entrance was created.

The unfortunate jogger was taken to LICH and the multitudes of sun-loving ball players didn't have to climb out over the fence on the way home -- thanks to our uniformed services.

UPDATE: The Parks Department resealed the fence Monday -- but that didn't stop fun-seekers from climbing over the sagging section again to enjoy the grounds this week... Word is the park won't open officially until mid-May.

Photos by Brooklyn photojournalist MK Metz.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

State Street Townhouses Nearly Sold Out?

Of the 14 brand new State Street Townhouses — phase I of a three-phase development by HS Development Partners LLC in Boerum Hill — only one remained unsold as of April 13, according to a report in the Brooklyn Eagle.

The one remaining unit, a four-story with three or four bedrooms, is also the model unit and was part of last year’s Brooklyn Design Show -- and is considered "very desirable."

Photo by Brooklyn photojournalist MK Metz

Brooklyn Mourns Virginia Tech Shootings

Flags fly half-mast at Brooklyn Borough Hall to pay respect to those killed in Virginia.

Photo by Brooklyn photojournalist MK Metz

Bunch of Properties in Desirable Areas for Sale

A portfolio of nine residential buildings in two of Brooklyn’s most sought-after neighborhoods — Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope — is on the market through Eastern Consolidated, the Brooklyn Eagle reports. The addresses of the nine buildings are as follows:

• In Brooklyn Heights — 100 Clark St., and 182, 186 and 188 State St.

• In Park Slope — 217 and 129 St. John’s Place, 43 Prospect Place, 9 St. Mark’s Ave., and 888 Carroll St.

The firm has seen "a great deal of interest from the investment community,” according to the Eagle.

UPDATE: The Brooklyn Heights Blog has a lively discussion going about just when 100 Clark Street will actually fall all the way down...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Horseman is Down

The building housing Horseman Antiques, at 351 Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill is up for sale. Its listing in the Prudential Douglas Elliman web site reads, "Extremely Rare Loft Building In Boerum Hill. A Development Explosion In Downtown Brooklyn Promises To Get Certainly The Most Experienced Investors Excited In This Fabulous Find. This Loft Building Is Delivered Vacant. Ready To Become The Newest Stylish Condo Or Upscale Department Store. It's That Versitile (sic). Great Location. Near Everything. R7a/Db With C2-4 Overlay Zoning. Opportunity Knocking Loudly At Your Door." A mere $8,000,000 and it's yours.

UPDATE: Here it is July 2009 and the building has not sold. Not only that -- the For Sale signs are gone and Horseman is still in business.

Photo by MK Metz

No Restraining Order for Ratner Demolitions

Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Joan Madden has declined to issue a Temporary Restraining Order to block Forest City Ratner's demolition of buildings within the Atlantic Yards footprint, reports Gowanus Lounge. A hearing on the challenge to the state’s environmental review and approval of the project, as well as a motion for a preliminary injunction, will be heard in court on May 3rd. See here for more.

The Mystery of the Fenced-Off Atlantic Avenue BP

The Brooklyn Eagle has dug up a lot of dirt on the closed and fenced-off BP gas station at 236 Atlantic Avenue and Boerum Place in Boerum Hill. Locals are wondering what is to come -- more residential or mixed-use development?

Reading a bit like a mystery novel, the Eagle has uncovered a variety of clues: Dept. of Buildings applications, a stop-work order, a possible change of ownership, and a mysterious lack of contact with Community Board 2 or any of the usual persons of interest.

Stay tuned! (Full story here.)

What Does KeySpan/ National Grid Merger Mean for Brooklyn?

Long Islanders seem to be expressing themselves much more than Brooklynites about the soon-to-be-accomplished KeySpan/ National Grid merger. Do the Islanders have more of a beef?

At a public info session in Smithtown Friday Long Islanders expressed "a mix of concern and optimism" about Long Island Power Authority's proposed service agreements with National Grid and KeySpan, reports Newsday. Long Island residents want National Grid to overhaul the region's "antiquated" power plants, Newsday says.

A representative for Assemblyman Marc Alessi said he was concerned Long Islanders were signing on to "subpar service for their hard-earned money" given National Grid's much criticized service record in the Northeast. So what does that mean for Brooklyn?

(History: The Long Island Lighting Co. (LILCO) merged with Brooklyn Union Gas in 1998 to form KeySpan.)

Previous stories about the KeySpan/ National Grid merger here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Surveyors at Work on Brooklyn Bridge Park Entrances

Surveyors were at work this morning at the foot of Old Fulton Street (Fulton Ferry Landing), and (a McBrooklyn source tells us) also at the corner of Hicks and Joralemon Streets.

As it stands now, the major automobile-type entrances to Brooklyn Bridge Park will be in Dumbo at Old Fulton Street, and at Atlantic Avenue. According to the Brooklyn Bridge Park FEIS, the southwest sidewalk at the Old Fulton Street Ferry Landing will be widened. If approved by the New York City Department of Transportation, Joralemon Street would be closed to vehicular traffic at Furman Street but would remain open for pedestrians.

Photo courtesy of Brooklyn photojournalist MK Metz.

Whale Nearly Wanders into Gowanus Canal

Marine biologists were trying to help a young whale that lost its way in the river off Red Hook today, says WNBC. Apparently, it nearly wandered into the Gowanus Canal -- flush with extra pollutants after the recent heavy rains, according to the Gowanus Lounge.

The animal, a baleen whale about 15 feet long, was cruising around Gowanus Bay, the outlet from the Canal. People who see the whale outside of the Gowanus Bay are asked to call 631-369-9829, 24/7.

UPDATE: The unfortunate whale died two days after swimming into Gowanus Bay. See Brooklyn Eagle story here.

Toxic Park in Brooklyn Heights?

The Brooklyn Heights Blog reports on an article published in today's Brooklyn Daily Eagle about the tiny pellets in the fake grass that the City is rolling out into hundreds of parks, including Cadman Plaza Park. It turns out that the pellets, made from recycled tires, could be toxic to humans and pets:

"The city recently announced plans to carpet nearly 100 more fields with synthetic turf, made springy by a bed of rubber pellets spread beneath their surface. The problem is the lack of conclusive studies on the safety of the pellets, which stick to bloody scrapes and sweaty skin and find their way into socks, said one local professor calling for a moratorium on synthetic turf until more research is conducted. 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, according to City College psychology professor William Crain ...

See here for the full story.

Previous articles on this topic here.

Photo of youth playing football on the new synthetic turf in the still unopened Cadman Park (after sneaking under the fence) by MK Metz, Brooklyn photojournalist.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dumbo Landmark Meeting

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is holding a "public informational meeting" on designating Dumbo as a landmark-protected neighborhood. The meeting will be held on Thurday, April 19 at 10 a.m. at 1 Centre Street, 9th Floor North.

The Dumbo Neighborhood Association sent an email to The Gowanus Lounge saying: "Elected officials who support us--including David Yassky, Sam Cooper from Joan Millman's office and Rob Perris of Community Board 2--will be there."

Photo of Dumbo by photojournalist MK Metz

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Where to Eat Saturday Night in the Heights?

Chowhound asks, where do you eat on a Saturday night in Brooklyn Heights? Correspondent Peter gives his take:

"In my opinion, the only places in Brooklyn Heights proper that are worth eating at for a 'nice Saturday night out' are:

-- Henry's End
-- Noodle Pudding (Italian, no reservations, cash only)
-- Petite Marche (new French place)
-- Queen (kinda sleepy old school Italian but very good)"

Peter adds: Way South Heights / Cobble Hill-- cross over Atlantic and go to Hibino, the very new Japanese place on Henry and Pacific; Way North Heights -- cross over Front St. and go to Five Front; Best bet: Noodle Pudding.

What do you think? Anything else worth adding to the list?

Photo by EverydayLife, Creative Commons license.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Another Tragic Death on Brooklyn Streets

Yet another tragic pedestrian death took place this afternoon, this time on Tillary Street at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. Witnesses said that a man in his late thirties or forties tried to make it across the street but tripped over his own sneakers. He was hit by a dark gray Accord headed for the bridge.

The impact knocked the pedestrian's shoes off his feet; the front bumper of the Accord was ripped off and the left front of the car was smashed in. The driver of the Accord, a young man who seemed very shaken by the event, said that he had the right of way. Officer Smyth of the 84th Precinct said that the pedestrian "stepped in front of the car." A witness said, "He hit him. The guy flew, and he was down. They tried to do CPR on him." A Long Island College Hospital ambulance took the pedestrian to LICH.

Traffic to the bridge was snarled for hours as the scene was investigated. The pedestrian's shoes and parts of the car remained on the street.

The driver of the Accord.

UPDATE here.

Photos by Brooklyn photojournalist MK Metz.

Rally Against Demolition for Parking Sunday

This Sunday, Assemblyman Hakeem Jefferies, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, State Senator Eric Adams, Council Member Letitia James and Council Member David Yassky will address the Rally Against Demolition for Parking organized by BrooklynSpeaks.

According to BrooklynSpeaks, the Rally is being held to call on the state and the city to rethink their plan to permit Forest City Ratner to demolish two entire city blocks to create “temporary” parking lots for over 1600 cars. The lots will remain for 15 - 20 years, until something is eventually built on top of them.

The parking lots will occupy approximately 7 acres of the Atlantic Yards site – an area twice the size of Union Square Park, BrooklynSpeaks notes.

“Once you demolish buildings, you can’t go back,” said Deb Howard, Executive Director of the Pratt Area Council.

Rally to take place at the Layfayette Presbyterian Church on South Oxford Street and Lafayette Street at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 15.

Photo by iboy_daniel, creative commons license.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What Were Those Potted Palms Doing on Montague Street Thursday Afternoon?

Pedestrians gamely walked a gauntlet of potted palms on the eastern end of Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights today. What was up? According to the Brooklyn Eagle, the Brooklyn office of Massey Knakal Realty Services was celebrating $1 billion in Brooklyn sales in four years with a little reception.

The reception also honored Timothy King, a senior partner, and Brian Leary, the Brooklyn office’s current managing partner, as well as the accomplishments of the rest of the Massey Knakal Brooklyn staff.

“The Brooklyn office, in four short years, has dominated the commercial real estate market in Brooklyn,” said King. To read how they did it, go here.

Photo by Brooklyn photojournalist MK Metz.

Deadly Pet Food Still on Shelves

Contaminated pet food is still being sold at some stores, U.S. health officials warned Thursday. Reuters reports that the Food and Drug Administration said it had inspected about 400 stores nationwide and still found some dog and cat food products affected by last month's recall by Canada-based pet food maker Menu Foods Income Fund and other manufacturers.

"FDA believes most companies have removed the recalled product; however, some have not," the agency said in a statement. See here for more.

Photo courtesy of T. Keller, Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Artsy Affordable Housing Near BAM?

The city will collect proposals for a 150-unit complex, dance theater, and retail space in Brooklyn, near BAM by May 4, Housing commissioner Shaun Donovan said at the Center for Architecture Monday night, according to NY Magazine's Daily Intelligencer. Architect Markus Dochantschi of StudioMDA, part of the runner-up team for the Bronx project, told Daily Intelligencer that he and his group will submit to the Brooklyn competition

Queer Eye's Ted Allen Buys Clinton Hill Brownstone

$1.7 Million Yields Five Bedrooms, 3,600-square-feet, Brownstoner 'House of the Day'

The Big Time Listings blog is all over this celebrity real estate exclusive: Ted Allen -- nationally known as one of the five cast members of Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” -- and his partner, interior designer Barry Rice, have paid $1.7 million for a brownstone at 241 Washington Avenue in Clinton Hill.

According to BTL, Allen sold his five-room, 2,258-square-foot condo loft in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood for $2.75 million. The Brownstoner blog listed the building last year as its "House of the Day."

'Something Very Broken in New York City ...'

After a rash of tragic deaths on city streets, the City Council Transportation Committee held a hearing today to investigate pedestrian safety. Karla Qunitero, Deputy Director of Planning at Transportation Alternatives, testified that more than 10,000 pedestrians are injured on city streets each year, and more than 150 are killed. Transportation Alternatives is asking the city to adopt a comprehensive Pedestrian Safety Action Plan. (The text of her testimony and the Action Plan may be found here.)

This excellent video from Nickdigital features an interview with Aaron Naperstek of Transportation Alternatives regarding the recent death of a four-year-old boy on 3rd Avenue and Baltic in Brooklyn -- and the Department of Transportation's broken promises. "Something is very broken in the New York City bureaucracy," Naperstek says.

Going Postal In Brooklyn 11218

This famous five-minute video -- viewed more than 30,000 times on YouTube -- shows a VERY irate Kensington Post Office customer. He's so irate that the cops are called in. While he does appear a bit unbalanced, many note that the poor service at the Kensington branch will do that to you.

Video by pngnyc.

Meet the Neighbors

The lux Smith, at 75 Smith Street and Atlantic Avenue, is still in construction (with the prerequisite inflated rat standing guard). Developed by Boymelgreen and designed by award-winning Meltzer/Mandi Architects, its web site touts the neighborhood's many upscale amenities -- "Furnish your home at Rico;" "Drink wine at Bacchus;" "Have a mixed drink at Apartment 138..." But one neighbor the site doesn't mention is the "Brooklyn Detention Complex," right across Smith Street. As noted here, the old Brooklyn House of Detention will not only be reopening, but doubling in size and adding retail. Curious McBrooklynites want to know: Will the Smith's penthouse "spacious outdoor terraces" overlook The Yard?

Previous posts on this topic here.
Photos by MK Metz, Brooklyn photojournalist.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Crazy Naked Brooklyn Law Student Bares All...

The Brooklyn legal community had a hard time ignoring Adriana Dominguez, a Brooklyn Law School student, who appeared naked in a Playboy TV series that is all over the Internet. She managed to score an interview with the Daily News today as well -- not bad for a third year law student.

The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog Question of the Day: "If Dominguez passes the bar, New York’s Committee on Character and Fitness will have to decide whether to grant her admission. If you sat on the committee, would you?"

The votes are pouring in. They range from the tolerant: "This has ZERO to do with her qualifications to be an attorney;" to the judgmental: "Which firm would hire her when there are 100 other law students with her qualifications who didn’t do porn?" See them all here.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Do Not Pass Go ...

Now that the word is out that the Brooklyn House of Detention (oops, we mean the the Brooklyn Detention Complex) will not only be reopening, but doubling in size, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle asks: "Should a jail exist in today’s Downtown Brooklyn and in today’s Downtown residential communities?"

The Eagle's Dennis Holt (who is said to know where Brooklyn's bodies are buried) begins his "Brooklyn Broadside" with this thought: "The obvious answer is, of course not. It makes no more sense today than a jail would at the World Trade Center site, at Hudson Yards or at the Javits Convention Center." More here.

See previous post about the Brooklyn House of Detention here.

Photo of the Brooklyn House of Detention courtesy of MK Metz.

Greenpoint is Oh So Toxic -- See the Video Here

Gawker brings to our attention this VBS-TV video about just how terribly toxic Greenpoint actually is. In Gawker's words: "Not that that's news, exactly, but we do like their implication that anyone buying one of those lovely million-dollar lofts springing up in the neighborhood is just asking for a great big case of cancer. They've got the obligatory quote from the hardened longtime Greenpoint resident, who tells the camera, 'If I had that type of money I would be so out of here it wouldn't even be funny.' "

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Q: What Do These Groups Have in Common?

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, Inc.
Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, Inc. (representing 41 community organizations)
NY Public Interest Research Group, Inc.
Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID)
Sierra Club, Inc.
Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association, Inc.
The Brooklyn Bear’s Gardens, Inc.
Bergen Street-Prospect Heights Block Association, Inc.
Boerum Hill Association, Inc.
Brooklyn Vision Foundation, Inc.
Carlton Avenue Association, Inc.
Carroll Street Block Association (5th and 6th Ave), Inc.
Crown Heights North Association, Inc.
Dean Street Block Association, Inc. (4th to 5th Ave)
East Pacific Block Association, Inc.
Fort Greene Association, Inc.
Fort Greene Park Conservancy, Inc.
Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus
Park Slope Neighbors, Inc.
Park Place-Underhill Avenue Block Association
Prospect Heights Action Coalition
Prospect Place of Brooklyn Block Association, Inc.
Society for Clinton Hill, Inc.
South Oxford Street Block Association
South Portland Avenue Block Association, Inc.
Zen Environmental Studies Institute, Ltd.

A: On Thursday, these twenty-six co-petitioners filed another Atlantic Yards lawsuit -- to annul the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and approval of Forest City Ratner's "Atlantic Yards"project. The suit alleges that former Governor Pataki's Empire State Development Corporation's FEIS was fatally flawed.

The group seeks a "fresh look from Governor Spitzer..."

According to a press release issued Thursday, New York City Councilwoman Letitia James said, "The preliminary injunction sought by this lawsuit would postpone demolition while protecting my community and constituents for intimidating and premature destruction. Once the buildings are torn down they cannot be put back..."

UPDATE: The Brooklyn Eagle provides many more details, including this: there are six more lawsuits ongoing against the megaproject.

Photo of Atlantic Yards courtesy of MK Metz, Brooklyn photojournalist

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Second Attempt to Buy Starrett City Rejected

The state's housing chief rejected Clipper Equities' second attempt to buy Starrett City in Brooklyn, according to NY1. Housing Commissioner Deborah Van Amerongen said the developer's proposal does not protect the residents.

The original $1.3 billion plan to purchase Starrett City came under fire from advocates concerned over losing affordable housing in the neighborhood. Story here.

Judge Phillip's Funds Running Low...

The long-running saga of the highway robbery of Judge John Phillips, confined against his will (and with no medical justification) in a nursing home in the Bronx, has been excellently chronicled by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle's Charles Sweeney in a series of articles detailing (in a suitably neutral tone) the unbelievably corrupt moves aimed at him by Brooklyn's "legal" system.

The latest article details the deterioration of the judge's physical health and mental state, after being restricted from having any visitors (including family) without the permission of a court-appointed watchdog.

When the judge was first incarcerated, his estate made up of Brooklyn real estate was worth $10 million. After a couple of years of (let's call it) "mismanagement," plus the failure to report the sale of his buildings and the failure to pay income taxes, and the improper and illegal writing of hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal checks from the judge's account (and the "disappearance" of $300,000), guess what? The judge is broke!

The Eagle reports: "In a matter of four-plus years, almost all of Phillips’ buildings have been sold at auction. Despite this, the former judge now finds himself broke, a virtual prisoner in a nursing home where he’s still restricted from receiving visitors without the approval of his current property guardian."

The whole affair is a chilling reminder that this could happen to anyone -- especially in Brooklyn.

Photo courtesy of Katielip's Photostream, Creative Commons license.

Friday, April 6, 2007

$100 Sanitation Tickets City's Cash Cow?

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports that residents of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights are getting mighty burnt about $100 tickets being dumped on them by the Sanitation Department. The department brought in $20.3 million the last fiscal year for sanitation and recycling violations, says the Eagle.

“The city is using this as an opportunity to generate funds, but they’re picking on the wrong people,” said Theresa Maresca, 60, a Bay Ridge resident.

Maresca said she picks up litter on her block on a daily basis. But with a 24-hour diner and a school in close proximity, the deluge of litter is impossible to keep up with, especially since the city removed the trash receptacle from her corner last year.

The Eagle reports that Councilman Vincent Gentile’s office gets 15–20 calls a week from residents who have received litter tickets with angry comments like, “We’re not the city’s ATM machine."

See the Eagle story here.

Photo courtesy of William.Ward's Photostream, Creative Commons license

KeySpan, National Grid Merger One Step Closer

National Grid, a British utility, has agreed to give pay raises to its 3,210 unionized employees across upstate New York in return for union support of the company's contested merger with Brooklyn-based KeySpan Corp., reports the AP via Newsday.

As recently as two months ago, union officials had criticized the KeySpan deal in testimony to state regulators, according to this report.

See here for previous posts about the KeySpan/ National Grid merger.

Transformer Blows on Atlantic

An underground transformer blew at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Clinton Street shortly before noon today, shooting flames into the air. Numerous emergency response vehicles responded, including fire, ambulances and Con Ed vans. Atlantic between Court and Clinton was closed, snarling traffic attempting to get to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. An emergency worker at the scene said that no one was hurt. A new transformer was delivered about 3 p.m.

Photos by MKMetz

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Real Estate Roller Coaster

From, an animation of U.S. home prices (adjusted for inflation) plotted as a roller coaster.

Thanks to Curbed.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Parks Dept. Refuses to Study Synthetic Turf Health Risks

The city’s Parks Dept. has refused a request to study possible health risks from synthetic turf fields currently installed at 73 locations and planned for another 40 athletic fields, reports Metro.

It seems that William Crain, a developmental psychologist at CUNY, collected a handful of rubber pellets from a synthetic turf field in Riverside Park and sent it to Rutgers University for a toxicology test a year ago.

The rubber comes from recycled tires, and Crain’s toxicology test showed levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and the highly carcinogenic benzo(a)pyrene far above safety standards set by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Metro reports.

If this was found in dirt, Crain said, the state would declare the fields contaminated.

Brooklyn Heights residents have long protested the installation of synthetic turf in Cadman Plaza Park, for environmental and other reasons. (See the series of stories published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle here, and here and here and here.)

Photo of the non-Astroturfed portion of Cadman Park by MK Metz.

BBPark Units Go For $$$

Curbed reports that sales have began at One Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the verdict is: expensive. A tipster reports, "$650 to $1200 a foot. And not even the prime located units. Three beds start at about $1.8mm ..."

Image courtesy of Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy.

What Should We Name the Brooklyn House of Detention Hotel?

"The Brooklyn Clink?"

The Correction Department's plan to add retail space to the Brooklyn House of Detention at 275 Atlantic Avenue prompted BP Marty Markowitz to suggest a unique tenant: a boutique hotel. "If it's designed in such a way that the guests feel totally comfortable," he said, "why not?" (See the entire NY Times article here, or here.)

Posters to the Brownstoner just love the suggestion, predicting it will become THE hipster place in Brooklyn. "Shoplifting should not be a problem," notes one correspondent.

UPDATE: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle details how the jail will double in size. See here.

Photo of side gate of Brooklyn House of Detention by MK Metz.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Middle Class Disappearing in NYC?

The middle class is fast becoming an endangered species in New York City, the NY Post reports. Almost all those polled - 92 percent - said it's harder for families today to work their way into the middle class, which the survey found requires an income between $75,000 and $135,000! The city's median family income is reported as $49,374 (the median household income for Brooklyn in 2000 was $32,135 and for the city was $38,293, according to other sources).

Monday, April 2, 2007

Two Trees General Store

The New York Observer announces Big News In Dumbo: David Walentas' Two Trees Management will soon open Two Trees Real Estate, the firm's first general walk-in real-estate sales office. The office will broker listings in Two Trees' developments as well as in other projects.

"There were so many calls to the main Two Trees office for listings in Dumbo that this just made sense," Asher Abehsera, Two Trees' vice president of sales and marketing, told The Real Estate on Tuesday afternoon. More here.

Thanks to DumboNYC.