Saturday, June 30, 2007

Brooklyn in Brief

ExxonMobil restarted an oil pumping system Thursday in a move to speed up the extraction of millions of gallons of petroleum from a massive decades-old underground oil spill in Brooklyn. Exxon had shut down the pumping in March, causing oil to migrate into a Newton Creek, the waterway separating Brooklyn from Queens. More at Forbes.

Rumor: McDonald's could be bringing Big Macs to Smith Street. A tipster email Curbed that "I heard from a fairly reliable neighborhood source that the Army Navy and Realty shops on the North East corner of Wyckoff and Smith in Boerum Hill will be turned into a...wait for it...McDonalds!" More here.

The Brooklyn Cultural Circuit would like to transform Engine 204, the former firehouse at 299 DeGraw Street that was closed by the city in 2003,into a multi-arts center — the Brooklyn Center for the Arts. More at the Brooklyn Eagle.

Due to the scarcity of prime beef, Peter Luger's appears to have started a new policy, according to Vinoguy on Chowhound. For tables that have an actual reservation, they will serve the entire menu. For those walk ins who don't have a ressie, they WON'T serve the porterhouse -- they will offer some other cut of steak. Anyone eaten at Luger's lately? Chowhound here.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Poor Planning By Brooklyn Heights Real Estate Fraudster

Brooklyn Heights-based financial planner Jennifer Wilkov was a member of a gang of rip-off artists who conned unsuspecting real estate investors out of roughly $40 million, the NY Post reports. Wilkov had worked as an adviser for American Express Financial Advisors in Midtown until 2005, but was also the author of several books, including "Dating Your Money."

Her web site blurb says, "She is one of today's sought-after speakers and trainers on how to build businesses through proper planning, effective networking, and sound marketing strategies that work."

But while her partners pocketed the bulk of the millions, Wilkov only managed to turn a $147,000 profit. Now what kind of financial planning is that?

More here.

Finally -- Trader Joe's Coming to Brooklyn

In April, we heard rumors that Trader Joe's was considering opening shop at One Brooklyn Bridge Park. But the second shoe never fell.

Now, the Brooklyn Eagle has learned that Trader Joe’s will soon be trading in Brooklyn at the corner of Court Street and Atlantic Avenue. The Eagle's Dennis Holt reports that the upscale food market will take all the space within the former Independence Savings Bank building now owned by Two Trees Management.

Why that's a good thing here.

Photo by Hyku on Flickr, Creative Commons license.

Prospect Park Rapist May Have Attacked Women in Queens

NY1 reports that the man who allegedly raped a woman in Prospect Park this month may have attacked other women in Queens. Cops also have come up with his M.O.

"The individual they're looking for attacks young women after they've been with a male. They're either leaving park by themselves, he intimidates them, and says there may be pictures that he would make public,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

See the full story here.

Update: Prospect Park Rape Victim's Boyfriend is a Cop
Rape Reported in Prospect Park

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Get the Scoop on Congestion Pricing, Brooklyn Development on BCAT's Reporter Roundtable

We're expecting a certain amount of fireworks on tonight's (that's Friday night's) Reporter Roundtable on Brooklyn Independent Television. The show will feature moderator Gersh Kuntzman (editor of the Brooklyn Papers), Sarah Ryley of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Tom Tracy of Courier Life Publications and Rich Calder of the NY Post -- a lively mix.

The panel will tear into hot button issues including Mayor Bloomberg’s plan for congestion pricing on traffic in parts of Manhattan (an issue that will affect thousands of Brooklyn commuters); as well as the growing tension between developers and local residents and businesses in neighborhoods such as Coney Island, Downtown Brooklyn, and Red Hook.

The show will premier Friday, June 29 at 9 p.m., with encore presentations all next week. (See web site for schedule.) Catch it on Time Warner channel 56 and Cablevision channel 69, or streamed live at

F Train Rally Today

The Kensington (Brooklyn) blog sends us word of a rally in support of the restoration of express service on Brooklyn's F line today at 2 p.m. at the Church Avenue Station at Church and McDonald Avenue.

Council Members Bill de Blasio, Simcha Felder, and Domenic Recchia will stand with community activists and representatives of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Transportation Alternatives in support of the plan.

An online petition launched by community activist Gary Reilly has generated 2,500 signatures in two weeks.

More at the Kensington (Brooklyn) blog.

'F Train Express' Petition Drive On Track, But MTA Says Changes Could Take a L-O-N-G Time

Photo courtesy of MShades, Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bookmakers Reel as Nathan's Hot Dog Champion Kobayashi Develops Jaw Ailment

It's not only competitive eating fans who are in shock at the news that Nathan's Famous hot dog eating champion Takeru Kobayashi is in so much pain he can barely open his mouth. Kobayashi was expected to battle last year's second-place finisher Joey Chestnut in a hot dog battle of the titans this Fourth of July.

Bookmakers are frantically scrambling to adjust their odds boards. Betting site AcesAce temporarily took down their Nathan's contest board -- which gave roughly even odds to Kobayashi and Chestnut -- after the situation became murky. Oddschecker and Betting Zone also wiped their boards.

On Wednesday the story received yet another twist as the New York Times’s Tokyo bureau passed on the word to the City Room that Mr. Kobayashi (aka 'The Tsunami") received treatment for his jaw problems and intends to catch a flight to the United States on Thursday.

Will the mustard-yellow championship belt go to American Joey Chestnut this time around? Is Kobayashi's career finished? Wanna bet?

Fourth of July Hot Dog Madness In Coney Island Is Just Around the Corner

Photo of hot dog courtesy of Nathan's Famous.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Where to Buy an iPhone in Brooklyn: The List

The excitement is building among techno-hipsters as the big Friday launch of Apple's shiny new iPhone approaches.

For those joining the camp-out, here is the list of all the stores in Brooklyn that will carry Apple's new iPhone, launching Friday. They are all AT&T retail locations (but not all AT&T stores will carry the phones).

This is how it works: The stores will close temporarily at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, and reopen promptly at 6 p.m. According to AT&T, "customers may experience extended wait time on the 29th and throughout that weekend." (This is not the weekend to wander in to pay your cell phone bill.)

Brooklyn iPhone Stores:

211 Montague Street, Court and Montague, 11201 718-875-7940

476 Fulton Street, 11201 718-403-9632

21 Graham Avenue, 11201 718-302-6514

841 Flatbush Avenue, 11201 718-856-0287

453 86th Street, 11209 718-238-8026

5383 Kings Plaza, 11201 718-859-8198

5100 Kings Plaza, (kiosk) k29, 11234 718-338-2128

To see if more locations are added or to find stores carrying the iPhones in other locations, visit Make to to select "iPhone." Not all AT&T stores are selling the new phones.


iPhone Mania -- Hey That's Brooklyn!

Brooklyn in Brief

Domino Plant Likely to Become Landmark -- The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission heard overwhelmingly favorable testimony Tuesday on a proposal to designate the former Domino sugar processing plant in the Williamsburg as a landmark. Cityroom at the New York Times

Belltel Lofts 40 Percent Sold
-- Since sales started last Fall, roughly a hundred buyers have dialed in to buy a place at the former New York Telephone Company building at 101 Willoughby Street: Brownstoner

Public Forum on Brooklyn House of Detention: "Who gives you the right to shove this down our throats?" Brooklyn Eagle

Parks Department Didn't Collect $8.9M in Fees from Concessions: While vendors all over the city fail to pay what they owe on park concessions, the city is going to put the concession for the long-time vendors using Red Hook Park out for competitive bid: Gowanus Lounge

Mermaids on Parade! Couldn't make it out to Coney Island Saturday for the 25th annual Mermaid Parade? Not to worry: New York Magazine was there, and brought back video: New York Magazine

Monday, June 25, 2007

iPhone Mania -- Hey, That's Brooklyn!

The Gizmodo blog brings us the latest "unofficial" iPhone ad showing diverse groups of New Yorkers -- Jews, Arabs, the deaf -- talking about the product's edgy features.

According to a Gizmodo correspondent, the barber shop in the video is the Benoit Barber shop on Park Place and Classon Avenue in Brooklyn, and the Arab guy in the deli is from the same neighborhood.

Nice ad? You betcha. Unofficial? Probably not. According to MediaPost, a casting call for individuals of diverse backgrounds to take part in an identical ad concept, to be filmed in Brooklyn and Manhattan, went out in April.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fourth of July Hot Dog Madness In Coney Island Is Just Around the Corner

Bookmakers Give Japanese Champ and American Contender Even Odds

It's been called a a gluttonfest, a national obsession or just plain bizarre.

Call it what you want, last year 30,000 fanatics crowded into Coney Island to witness the famous
Nathan's hot dog eating contest. On top of that, roughly 1.5 million households tuned in to the contest’s live broadcast on ESPN.

Maximum eater Takeru Kobayashi (known as The Tsunami) took the event for the sixth time, eating 53.75 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes.

The madness continues this July 4 at noon. Bookmakers are giving roughly even odds to Kobayashi and last year's second-place finisher Joey Chestnut.

To help Brooklynites prepare for the big event, McBrooklyn is passing along Nathan's buy-one-get-one-free hot dog coupon. Just print it, cut it out and bring it with you to Nathan's. (You don't have to stuff your face unless you want to.)

The original is on the Nathan's web site right here.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Brooklyn Fund Manager in the Black, But Not Allowed to Take Securities Exam

Brandon Conley is a fund manager who operates out of his Brooklyn home. He and his staff are raising money from outside investors and developing relationships with companies in order to beef up the fund, Mariner Investment Advisers. Mariner gained a tidy 30 percent over the last six months.

So why can't Conley take the Series 7 exam to trade securities?

Because he has to finish school first. That's middle school. Conley is only 14.

See the full story in the Wall Street Journal.

New Charter School in Brooklyn's District 15?

Academically inclined students in Brooklyn often travel far from their neighborhoods in search of decent middle and high schools, and parents say that the recent influx of new families into Brownstone Brooklyn has overcrowded existing schools.

Now, the state has authorized up to 100 new charter schools, and Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn brings us word of a move to start a new charter school in District 15 to be called Brooklyn Prospect Charter School.

District 15 is located west of Prospect Park and includes Sunset Park, Park Slope, Gowanus, Red Hook, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and parts of Brooklyn Heights and other neighborhoods.

The new school would be a combo high- and middle-school, and admission would be by lottery. Interested? Sign the petition by the June 27th deadline.

Photo: "School Bus" by Fluzo, Creative Commons license.

Lunch Is On Us at Brooklyn Bridge Park

A seared tuna platter here, a skirt steak there, and before you know it -- whoops! -- thousands of taxpayer dollars were spent on fancy lunches, courtesy of the as-yet-unbuilt Brooklyn Bridge Park's capital budget, according to an article in Friday's Brooklyn Eagle.

Invoices obtained by the Eagle through the Freedom of Information Act show that insiders like the former president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation and architects from the firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates ordered lunches like seared tuna and slow-roasted pork from expensive Manhattan eateries (Ennju, Union Square Cafe) several times a month while working on the park, courtesy of the park's budget.

But this is small change compared to other expenses that have since 2003 "whittled at least $30 million away from the park’s $153 million capital budget," says the Eagle.

In one invoice, a lawyer billed $79 for two private car services to chauffeur him between 599 Lexington Ave. and the ESDC’s office at 633 Third Avenue. (BTW, this is roughly a distance of .7 mile each way.)

In another example, $9,443 was spent in one day to serve the heads of containerport operator American Stevedoring eviction notices for Pier 5.

Good work if you can get it? Outright fraud? Story here.

More food for thought at Curbed.

Friday, June 22, 2007

'Protect Our Homes in Carroll Gardens' Petition

Concerned Carroll Gardeners and Gownus residents worried about the development of 360 Smith Street -- where a controversial 70-foot-tall Scarano building is proposed at the corner of Smith Street and 2nd Place -- have posted a petition at:

The Coalition to Respectfully Develop will also be collecting signatures by hand at this Sunday's Smith Street Fair.

At a June 6 press conference to protest the proposed building, Carroll Gardens Councilman Bill De Blasio called Scarano a "bad actor" and urged New York State to revoke his architect’s license.

The petition reads in part:

"We the undersigned Carroll Gardens homeowners and residents, are appalled by the 'as of right' ruling which allows owners and developers to erect buildings in our neighborhood with no regard to the impact they will present to our quality of life and the value of our homes."

The group is demanding an immediate moratorium on all buildings and alterations in the neighborhood where the ultimate height of any structure to be built will exceed a height of fifty feet, pending a decision on rezoning and or landmarking in Carroll Gardens.

De Blasio: Scarano 'Bad Actor' and Cheat

Hills & Gardens: Ask Dismissal of Architect: Brooklyn Eagle

Carroll Gardeners Post Online Petition: The Gowanus Lounge

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Brooklyn in Brief

Developers and community groups are criticizing a city plan to reopen the Brooklyn House of Detention, reports the NY Sun. A community meeting is scheduled for tonight.

The former home of the 84th Police Precinct in Brooklyn Heights, which is undergoing a residential conversion, will be called the Stationhouse Apartments, says the Brooklyn Eagle.

Brooklyn Republicans are excited about their new web site:

Greenpoint stinks. Curbed

NewYorkology takes a walk-through of the new exhibition at the Brooklyn Historical Society chronicling the creation of Brooklyn Heights as the first historic district in New York City.

A developer was caught trying to bribe a Department of Buildings inspector. We are simply shocked. Brownstoner

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

$100 Jeans Come to Brooklyn

It was only a matter of time before Lucky Brand Jeans landed on Smith Street.

The hip jeans company -- a division of Liz Claiborne, Inc. along with brands like Juicy Couture, Kate Spade and Mexx -- is on that wave of "upscale retailers" predicted to transform the area frighteningly called BoCoCa (Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens).

Brooklyn is gearing up for a surge in new retail development driven by a growing population and strong housing market, according to Crain's New York Business. "Restaurants and high-end retail will certainly be strong in the next 12 to 24 months in Brooklyn," said J.D. Parker, regional manager at Marcus & Millichap.

He said neighborhoods like Clinton Hill, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Park Slope will see an influx of new restaurants and retail, as new housing goes up in those communities.

The shop will open at Smith and Dean.

Update: Lucky Brand Jeans won't necessarily be the priciest jeans on Smith, says Ariella Cohen, reporter for the Brooklyn Papers. That distinction belongs Watts on Smith at DeGraw Street, where a pair of Paul Smith “Red Ear” men’s jeans can be had for $280. More here.

Photo by MK Metz

"A New (24-Hour) Brooklyn If There Ever Was One..."

"Had all the details and dimensions of all of the development projects under way today in Downtown Brooklyn been fully known in 2004, when the new zoning plan was approved, it might not have been," says Brooklyn Eagle's resident pundit Dennis Holt.

"No one then conceived of 14,000 new housing units, 1.6 million square feet of more retail space or the same space for offices, and 1,553 new hotel rooms."

Downtown Brooklyn will become a 24-hour city, with all the positives and negatives that this brings, Holt says. Whatever happens, "we are talking about between 40,000 and 50,000 people making the new Downtown their home within about a little more than one square mile. That’s a new Brooklyn if there ever was one."

Full story here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Should We Be Surprised? Mayor No Longer a Republican

Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a press release this evening saying, “I have filed papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party. Although my plans for the future haven’t changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our City."

Now that he's no longer a Republican, the question is: will Bloomberg run for the White House?

According to ABC News, Greg Strimple, a Republican strategist in New York said, "If he runs, this guarantees a Republican will be the next president of the United States. The Democrats have to be shaking in their boots."

The CityRoom blog at the New York Times has more.

Video Explains All: Brooklyn's Duffield St. Houses

You missed the tour and didn't have time for the book: Here's an intriguing video that sheds light onto the Duffield Street Underground Railroad controversy.

This 28-minute documentary (by Freddy's Brooklyn Roundhouse) provides an in-depth look at the Duffield Street houses and provides some creditable scholarship that bolsters the claim that they were part of the Underground Railroad.

With context provided by Robert Swan, PhD, and interviews with a variety of Duffield Street homeowners and historians, you may soon question consulting firm AKRF's claim that no evidence exists to link the houses to the hotbed of liberation that existed in the area.

Past posts on this topic here.

Update: Prospect Park Rape Victim's Boyfriend Is a Cop

The NY Post reports that the victim of the brutal rape in Prospect Park early Friday was sitting in a parked car with her boyfriend, off-duty NYPD Officer James Randolphe, when her attacker shined a flashlight into the car.

Randolphe jumped out, but became seperated from the victim after a scuffle, leaving her open for attack. More here.

Rape Reported in Prospect Park

Monday, June 18, 2007

84th Precinct Meeting to Discuss North Brooklyn 'Crime Wave'

Everyone's talking about it. Now, the 84 Precinct Council meeting tomorrow night (Tuesday, June 19) in Dumbo will address the recent "crime wave" in North Brooklyn.

According to the NY Post, the number of murders in North Brooklyn jumped 34 percent in the first half of the year.

In the 84th Precinct (Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Downtown Brooklyn), robbery is up 21 percent, assault increased 12 percent and grand larceny is up 4 percent this year. Meanwhile, crime is down just about everywhere else in New York City.

The meeting will be held at Phoenix House, 50 Jay Street, between Plymouth and Water, 7th floor. Refreshments will be served and transportation will be provided. (Call Community Affairs, 718-875-6850, to arrange transportation within the 84th Precinct.)

Speculation: The Son of Planet PLG blog notes that Brooklyn North features many of the neighborhoods -- Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed Stuy -- that have had "a certain amount of frenzied real estate interest as of late."

Commentary on the Brownstoner blog: Everything boils down to real estate.

Photo (Sunset_Park_91) courtesy of Pro-Zak, Creative Commons license.

Lawsuit to Save 'Duffield Seven' from Downtown Brooklyn Plan

A lawsuit has been filed against the city which aims to save the seven houses on and near Duffield Street that may have been part of the Underground Railroad, amNewYork reports.

These houses are in the footprint of parts of the Downtown Brooklyn Plan, and slated for demolition.

"There is no debate at this point that prominent abolitionists lived at 227 Duffield St.," said Jennifer Levy, a lawyer with South Brooklyn Legal Services, which filed the suit Friday.

In May, City Council members criticized a $500,000 report commissioned by the city’s Economic Development Corporation that found "no conclusive evidence to support claims that seven houses along Duffield and Gold streets in Downtown Brooklyn were involved in Underground Railroad activities."

Councilman Charles Barron blasted city consulting firm/lapdog AKRF for not hiring an archeologist to investigate claims that the homes were connected by tunnels and had other unusual features, such as extra stoves, escape chutes etc.

Underground Railroad Consultants Try to Pull Another Fast One
Atlantic Yards Consultant Bill Up to $4.8 Million

Council: Is $500,000 Underground Railroad Study Bogus?

All previous post on this topic here.

Photo by MK Metz

Sunday, June 17, 2007

'Walking Brooklyn' -- An Adventure Around Every Corner

We just love to trek around Brooklyn neighborhoods on foot. Now, the Between Productions blog brings us news of a new book by Adrienne Onofri called Walking Brooklyn, which Wilderness Press will publish next month.

The book offers 30 walking tours exploring "historical legacies, neighborhood culture, side streets, and waterways." Could be a nice way to explore Brooklyn this summer.

'F Train Express' Petition Drive On Track, But MTA Says Changes Could Take a L-O-N-G Time

Our friends at the Kensington (Brooklyn) blog sent us the news that there are more than 1300 signatures on a petition that asks for the "restoration of express service on the F line to Brooklyn and extension of the V line for local service to Brooklyn." The petition was started by the Brooklyn Streets blog.

A McBrooklyn reader says that an "F Train Express" meeting will be held on June 25, and supporters want to pump up the number of signatures on the petition to help persuade the MTA.

While the MTA may be open to the idea, Brooklyn commuters shouldn't hold their breath. According to an article in the Brooklyn Eagle, the MTA says that any such changes would have to be postponed until work on the F line’s elevated viaduct over the Gowanus Canal (the “Culver Viaduct”) is completed -- in 2012.

The petition is here:

UPDATE: A source says that the general public is NOT invited to the June 25th meeting. "Its an internal MTA thing," they said.

Photo courtesy of MShades, Creative Commons license.

Saturday Night Fireworks Over Brooklyn Waterfront Had Nothing to Do With Brooklyn Bridge Park, Ratner or Paris Hilton

Last night's spectacular fireworks -- shown here from the eastern tip of Orange Street in Brooklyn Heights -- were the big bang at the end of Children's Day NYC at the South Street Seaport. The Brooklyn Philharmonic played a free concert at 8 p.m., followed by Target-sponsored fireworks, which were accompanied by a live performance of Handel’s “Royal Fireworks Music."

Photo by MK Metz

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Effeminate Brooklyn Dog Has Two Daddies

Window display at Perfect Paws pet store in Brooklyn Heights.

Photo by MK Metz

Friday, June 15, 2007

Gonna Be a Long Hot Summer for Drivers in Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge was a parking lot again last Friday due to construction on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, reports the Brooklyn Eagle.

Better get used to it -- two summers of Verrazano Bridge construction lie ahead. MTA officials who were at the Dyker Heights Civic Association meeting on June 12 tried to explain away the traffic jams, but residents said that since June 4, when construction began on the bridge, traffic has been backed up through the Gowanus Expressway.

“In Staten Island, the traffic gets backed up on the toll plaza, not on your lawn. We get traffic on all the tributary streets,” said one resident.

The most "challenging" traffic situation will most likely arise from the four to five weekends in which the lower-level Belt Parkway exits may be closed entirely, the Eagle reports.

More here.

Photo of Verrazano Bridge by Pudstah, Creative Commons license.

New York Needs Release -- Religion Is Laziness

Truck parked on Court Street near Barnes & Noble in Downtown Brooklyn, Friday.

Photo by MK Metz

Rape Reported in Prospect Park

Police are investigating a rape in Prospect Park Friday morning, according to a.m. New York via Gothamist.

The 34-year-old woman was walking with her boyfriend near the ballfields about 1:30 a.m. when a man confronted them,saying he had a gun, according to a.m. New York. The couple ran off but split up and the suspect tracked down the woman and raped her.

More here.

UPDATE: Victim's boyfriend is a cop: here.

UPDATE: Prospect Park rapist may have attacked women in Queens: here.

UPDATE: Olympic athlete from Trinidad arrested in Prospect Park rape: here.

Another Brooklyn Real Estate Record Set -- This Time in Ditmas Park

The Real Deal reports on the sale of a "lovingly restored Victorian house in Ditmas Park," which closed yesterday for $1.9 million, setting a sales record for this neighborhood in central Brooklyn. "It's the highest sale in the neighborhood by far," says broker Mary Kay Gallagher.

More here.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Glimpse Into Another World on Court Street

Walking along the shops and restaurants on Court Street in Cobble Hill, an open door in a nondescript building reveals a glimpse of a production of the Vertical Players Repertory Theater.

Photo by MK Metz

Brooklyn House of Detention Forum Thursday -- Commissioner Horn Will Answer All Your Questions

A reader sent McBrooklyn the announcement that a community forum about the City's plan to reopen the Brooklyn House of Detention (and to supersize it) will be held on Thursday, June 21st at 7 p.m., at the Belarusian Church, 401 Atlantic Avenue (Atlantic and Bond). Commissioner Martin Horn of the Department of Corrections will be the principal speaker.

The "Stakeholders' Group" is hosting this event. The Stakeholders' Group includes the Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association, the Boerum Hill Association, 53 Boerum Place, the Atlantic Avenue LDC, Brooklyn Vision Foundation and the Brooklyn Heights Association.

Previous posts about the Brooklyn House of Detention here.

Photo by MK Metz

DeBlasio: Scarano 'Bad Actor' and Cheat -- And DOB Ignores Self-Certification Shenanigans

At the June 6 press conference to protest the controversial 46-unit, 70-foot-tall Scarano building to occupy the corner of Smith Street and 2nd Place, City Council Member Bill de Blasio pulled no punches. He called Scarano a “bad actor” who “cheats in any way he can” creating “pain and difficulty” for the residents who live around his building sites, according to the Brooklyn Eagle's Hills & Gardens editor, Trudy Whitman.

Oh, and De Blasio called on New York State to revoke Scarano’s architect’s license.

Though Scarano lost the privilege of self-certification last year because of "blatant" violations of code in numerous projects, says Whitman, the Department of Buildings recently “accidentally” approved a set of Williamsburg plans as professionally certified by Scarano -- until upset neighbors pointed the problem out to the DOB. Oops!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

With Hoopla But No Protests, Brooklyn's Astroturfed Cadman Plaza Park Unveiled

The lack of even one protester was a bit odd, considering all of the drama over the installation of synthetic turf in Cadman Plaza Park in
Brooklyn Heights
(technically Downtown Brooklyn).
At one point, the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, New Yorkers for Parks and major veterans groups opposed the syn-turf.

But since its installation, soccer teams and private school groups have been using the field, and the community has given plaudits to the overall design. In addition to the controversial installation of synthetic turf, the $2.9 million reconstruction included new tree and shrub plantings, a refurbished running path, benches and more.

Knowing how to put on a show, Brooklyn Special Events brought in the press, dozens of flags, the Kings County American Legion and a cute bunch of preschool kids for the ribbon-cutting. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Councilman David Yassky (who provided major funding) threw a Frisbee around with a group of kids from Brooklyn Friends School who happened to be celebrating their last day of school at the park.

And nobody said anything about toxic turf issues.

UPDATE: The Brooklyn Eagle reports that Walt Whitman Park (right across the street in front of the Office of Emergency Management) will also be restored with a $2.5 million allocation of federal funds.

'Turf' War Erupts Over So-Called Dust Bowl in Cadman Plaza: New York Sun
Just Say No to Artificial Turf: Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Whose Turf? Cadman Park Controversy: Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Toxic Park in Brooklyn Heights? McBrooklyn
Parks Dept. Refuses to Study Synthetic Turf Health Risks: McBrooklyn

Photos by MK Metz

Atlantic Yards: Uh, Is It Too Late to Stop the Check?

Brooklyn community groups affiliated with Brooklyn Speaks were scheduled to hold a press conference today to call on the City to “Stop Payment” of the $100 million in the City’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget for Forest City Ratner, earmarked for the acquisition of private land for development of Atlantic Yards.

According to a press release from the Fifth Avenue Committee, the groups are asking for "a comprehensive and inclusive governance structure in place to oversee the project as it moves forward." The release mentions Councilmembers David Yassky and Leticia James as sponsors.

According to the New York Post, more than half of Bruce Ratner's $4 billion Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn will be funded by government subsidies.

Photo by MK Metz

Brooklyn Cruise Terminal Voted Number One

The Post reports that Brooklyn's new cruise-ship terminal has been chosen as the nation's best new homeport.

"The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal is a wonderful addition to the cruise industry," said Bill Panoff, publisher and editor-in-chief of Porthole Cruise Magazine, who made the selection.

Unlike many New Yorkers, Panoff called the terminal's location -- Red Hook -- convenient. "And you can't beat the views of downtown Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge," he said.

McBrooklyn recommends that cruise travelers read the Brooklyn Cruise Guide, especially the Directions section. The day we visited, hundreds of confused travelers were on cell phones, trying to explain to their rides just exactly where Red Hook was.

Photos by MK Metz

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Brooklyn Bridge Park Wrap Up: Purchase Building Out, Spitzer Photo Op In

A nice overview of the near future of Brooklyn Bridge Park is provided by Dennis Holt in the Brooklyn Eagle. Holt attended last Thursday's "Sunset Splash" fundraiser where those in the know had a handle on upcoming park happenings.

Among his many observations, Holt says that everyone "was pretty sure that any chances to save the old Purchase Building are now dashed: the building is expected to be demolished sometime in August."

He also says that sometime this summer there will most likely be some type of symbolic groundbreaking, giving Spitzer his first opportunity to be personally associated with a big “splash” of good news.

Holt says that there was even a buzz that "before long, there might even be some news about the housing component of the park plan, which could take any number of forms."

More here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Adams Street, Brooklyn

Bundled plants on Adams Street divider, Brooklyn.

Photo by MK Metz

Atlantic Yards Opposition Blew It, Says Brooklyn Eagle

Emotions got in the way of common sense three years ago when the Atlantic Yards project first surfaced, says Brooklyn Eagle's Dennis Holt, and the "discussion" that should have happened never took place until far too late in the process.

Holt says that if the community had approached the issue and Ratner with “What else are you thinking about?” and not entered into a name-calling contest, things could have turned out differently. "No one now will want to accept responsibility for that great and fatal mistake," Holt says.

More here.

Brooklyn College Art Students Win 'Trashed Art' Lawsuit

Eighteen students whose artwork was, in some cases, trashed during their Brooklyn College Master of Fine Arts thesis show last year have won their First Amendment lawsuit, according to a report in the Brooklyn Eagle.

Their exhibition, titled “Plan B,” opened on May 3, 2006, and was shut down the following day by Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Julius Spiegel, who said it was “inappropriate for families." (Was it the lifelike sculpture of a penis? Or the watercolor depicting gay sexuality...)

The exhibit was set up in the War Memorial Building in Cadman Plaza Park. Spiegel locked the building and workers from Brooklyn College removed artwork, damaging and even losing some of the works.

The full story is here.

Photo by MK Metz

Brooklyn Heights 'Eat 'Em Raw' Attacker ID'd

The mysterious assailant of a Packer dad in Brooklyn Heights has been identified by the Brooklyn Eagle as Brian Land of Pacific Street. The Eagle article also provides eye-witness acounts of this bizarre attack here.

Mysterious Attack in Brooklyn Heights by Man Whose Shirt Reads 'I Eat 'Em Raw'

Photo by MK Metz

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Schermerhorn Car Condo Still Stacks 'Em High

While several of the parking lots on Schermerhorn Street are being developed into residential or mixed use projects, this one at the corner of Schermerhorn and Smith Streets still offers vertical parking.

Photo by MK Metz

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Sunday Wrapup: Atlantic Avenue Artwalk

This weekend's Atlantic Avenue Artwalk drew nice crowds to the galleries, restaurants, shops and studios on and around the avenue.

Smith Street eateries -- like Bar Tabac pictured here -- were packed.

Sunday events included Mac Premo's film screening and Guestbook making on Nevins; the excellent film festival at the Flying Saucer; a Haitian ceremonial flag exhibit and Vicky Ruben reading at Gumbo and Circus Amuk.

Axelle Fine Arts opened its print studio to the public all weekend; the Metaphor Gallery exhibited work by 20+ artists; and Smith Street's pioneer MicroMuseum shone with the yellow chakra show.

Jolie Restaurant was transformed into an entire environment made up of paintings and sculptures by artist Jay Batlle.

The Brooklyn Heights Blog has more about Sunday's happenings at Magnetic Field.

Photos by MK Metz

Enter the Obama Lottery!

Four supporters who make a donation between now and 11:59 pm EDT on Wednesday, June 13, will join Barack Obama for an intimate dinner for five. Make your contribution here and maybe you can chow down with Barak at Bubby's!

Photo of Barack Obama supporters at Atlantic Avenue and Court Street by MK Metz.


Mutant Zombies Blow Up Brooklyn Bridge

Back in January, "I Am Legend," a Will Smith blockbuster, ran ramshod over lower Manhattan, the waterfront and the Brooklyn Bridge. Now the Gothamist blog has clued us in to the video trailer for this celluloid extravaganza, which included hundreds of extras -- like 160 members of the National Guard in full combat gear. (Not to mention the helicopters, the boats and the high-intensity lighting which turned night into day for a week on the Brooklyn side of the Bridge.)

The film's trailer highlights the graphic destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge, among other atrocities like the wiping out of the human race.

But what we like about it best is, as always, the mutant zombies running amuck in a deserted New York City... kind of like TriBeCa in August...


Friday, June 8, 2007

Downtown Brooklyn: 'A Combination TriBeCa, SoHo, and DUMBO'

"The stars are aligned for great success and new development in downtown Brooklyn ... which is finally transforming into a true 24/7 community," says the New York Sun.

Thursday's article by Michael Stoler quotes the president of Muss Development, Joshua Muss, saying: "With the huge number of luxury apartments, including waterfront and 40-story buildings with worldclass views of Manhattan and the harbor coming on line, as well as the ongoing commercial development and redevelopment on virtually every block, Downtown Brooklyn is arguably a combination TriBeCa, SoHo, and DUMBO. It's a hot, hot area."

The Sun says that almost 17,000 people are expected to move to Downtown Brooklyn over the next five years.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Mysterious Attack in Brooklyn Heights by Man Whose Shirt Reads 'I Eat 'Em Raw'

This one mystified even hardened police officers.

A suit-type dad (above, crumpled onto the sidewalk) was blithely walking his two pre-K kids to school on Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights this morning when a buff youngish guy swooped out of nowhere and coldcocked him -- not once, but twice. Pedestrians screamed for the cops and the rapid response of the 84th Precinct was commendable, says everyone involved.

The alleged perp (wearing a blue T-shirt stating "I Eat 'Em Raw") was apprehended on Court Street, cuffed and spirited away in a police car, but no one seems to know why he did it, including the injured dad, who was taken to Long Island College Hospital with facial injuries and breathing problems.

UPDATE: The Brooklyn Eagle ID's the Blue T-Shirt Guy as Brian Land of Pacific Street, and provides eye-witness accounts of the incident.

Photos by MK Metz


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Federal Court Dismisses Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Case

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn reports that the Federal District Court in Brooklyn today ruled that the plaintiffs’ complaint is "insufficient" in the Atlantic Yards eminent domain lawsuit, and dismissed the case.

The ruling is a major blow to opponents of the project, says Crains New York Business. Thirteen residents and businesses in the way of the project have refused to sell to Forest City Ratner Company, who wants to build a huge office, retail and apartment complex, along with an arena.

According to Newsday, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said that "no reasonable juror could conclude that the 'sole purpose' of the project is to confer a private benefit."

The attorney for the plaintiffs
said that they would appeal the ruling.

More at The Gowanus Lounge.

Livingston Street Corridor 'Rises From the Ashes'

It's taken years, the Brooklyn Eagle says, but if all goes according to plan, the "Livingston Corridor" (Livingston and Schermerhorn, and some of State Street and Atlantic Avenue) will soon have 1,559 new housing units, an office building for HIP and maybe three hotels.

Fourteen new townhouses have been built on State Street, and all have been sold, with about 12 more planned. State Renaissance Court complex will include 79 market-rate rentals and 79 affordable rentals on Schermerhorn Street.

The Eagle's Dennis Holt says that even Two Trees Management is surprised at the market interest in 110 Livingston St., the former Board of Education building.

Read the whole story here.

Photos of 110 Livingston (top) and State Renaissance Court by MK Metz.

Please Do Not Pick Our Flowers

Sign on Dean Street in Boerum Hill.

Photo by MK Metz