The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A New Low

The Q's heart is heavy today. It's time for soul-searching I guess. As much as I'm certain the neighborhood needs a long-overdue opportunity to strategically plan for the future, I don't have the stomach for the latest batch of invective. I'll let you read the latest outburst to MTOPP's list; sometimes it's just best to let Ms. Boyd say it in her own words. This one put me in a reflective state, particularly since it's readily clear she ain't going anywhere, and the rhetoric is only becoming more incendiary. Imagine if we DID pass the motion to start the planning process? What then? One can only imagine that every meeting, every proposal, every aspect of the study will have to contend with this behavior.

She continues to make what should be a conversation about how to build and protect affordable housing and limit the negative effects of a wildfire of new development into a heated fight over race, gender, class, wealth and even religion. Following on the heels of painting herself as a Gentrification Freedom Fighter (GFF), now there's this diatribe, clearly meant to elicit more anger at everyone on the other side of her argument. Given the number of people of color, religious Jews and yes even respectful white men (and women) involved in the process, this stuff is so unnecessarily incendiary. The suggestion is...oh just read it. You'll see where she's going, and why I'm nearly certain it will be impossible to hold frank and fruitful discussions.

Black Women:  BE SEEN but NOT HEARD!

At the Police Precinct meeting with the community,
 on April 16, 2015, a Black woman stood up
and described an incident that occurred
At the last CB9 ULURP meeting,
where there were [White] board members
calling [Black] women residents “Cunts” and “Fuck You”.

In response Stuart Balberg, [White male],
Precinct Board member
stood up and admonished this woman,
because he felt that stating the curse words
or even describing them with an abbreviated letter
 such as the “F”, was offensive
and goes against the bible.

Now he wasn’t upset about this incident;
that women were being verbally abused by
CB9 board members
 just the reporting of it!

How dare he admonish this woman for describing
abusive behavior being done
towards the black women in this community! 
That is why there is the Precinct meeting
with the community so that we can voice our concerns
and let the Police know what is transpiring. 

But this isn’t the first time Black women in public
have been admonished for speaking their mind,
stating facts or even asking questions.

 At the last CB9 meeting, March 24, 2015. 
Twice during the meeting
 Rabbi Goldstein, CB9 member,
requested that events be circumvented
and postponed because they would either occur
during the Jewish Saturday observance or
the 2 week long Jewish Holiday

In the latter case, a ULURP meeting was trying to be scheduled,
because an immediate response was required by this committee
and the 2 week long holiday, might prevent it from happening.

As a result of this a Black Woman board member stood up
and asked how many Jewish people were on the ULURP committee,
because if the ULURP committee can still have a quorum
(enough members present to have a legal vote)
it should still meet.  The answer was 1.

In response, however, Rabbi Goldstein, CB9 member stood up
and stated that this question was anti-Semitic
and she shouldn’t be asking this type of question etc…

Again it shows that Black women are not allowed to ask questions,
to report issues and to state offensive behaviors being displayed
 because they are seen as anti-Semitic or violating the bible.

Our Community is made up of many diverse ethnic groups,
cultures and religious beliefs,
being respectful is the understanding that everyone has the right
to ask questions and to present facts.
The Board members of these community organizations need to understand
It is their job to hear and not to curtail the voices of the community!

The Black women of this community have a right to stand up
and speak, to voice their opinions, to state the facts
 (no matter how offensive it might be to others),
to ask questions, without White male board members
on these various community organizations admonishing them.
These are the behaviors that are racist and sexist!
We will not be silenced!

We will continue to call out behaviors
That are abusive, divisive, separatist, and racist

Our voices will not be silenced!
We will be SEEN and HEARD!
(718) 703-3086

White male Board members calling Black women "cunts?" Believe me, I would have remembered THAT. The word doesn't even cross my lips - I learned that lesson a long, long time ago - ask my wife! Jake, the rabbi, wouldn't say that. Warren Berke? No way. What other white male members are there? Quest Fanning? What a sweet and gentle soul. Seriously, who are they talking about? I'll give you a "fuck you" here and there. That's been uttered many times on all sides. In NYC it's practically a greeting, especially if you're being disrespected. It's also used as a synonym for "oh, c'mon!"

The baiting of the Jewish community is unconscionable. And not to quibble, but Passover is not TWO WEEKS, especially this year falling as it did on the Sabbath. I mean, seriously? And since when has POSTPONEMENT been a big issue for MTOPP? They've been pushing back, and pushing back, I don't even know how long it's been since the Board even held a vote. Look, you can't say "how many Jews are on the committee - why not just hold the meeting without them?" and expect everyone to say "oh yeah, that's a good point you have there." Fortunately there a lot of Christians and agnostics on the committee, so it's pretty certain a quorum can be reached. Forget the secular Jews. Even if they do celebrate Passover they'll bounce right back on day three. Oy, and thank god there's no Amish or Muslims!

But rather than dig into that fight, I want to suggest another option. Nothing. That's right, nothing. In this one email, Alicia made it clear this can only get uglier, and uglier. She will not allow consensus on ANYthing, and she might just drag us down into a 1990 pre-riot sensibility. Her followers are getting angrier and angrier. The whole City has gone anti-rezoning crazy, as if THAT's the real problem causing rents to rise. Ugh. This is such intense ignorance of how capitalism works, how the City charter works, how the DEVELOPERS work, what as-of-right means, how little the City has in its tool kit to prevent neighborhoods from completely changing complexion and wealth.

But if the "leader" for the opposition to a study stoops to such lows, and considers the Community Board the problem...maybe it's time to remove the "problem" from the conversation. A bunch of members have resigned. Most don't speak up at meetings. There's no sense at all that people realize what's at stake, save maybe a dozen concerned Board members. So...maybe it's time to take one for the team. There's simply no winning, even if we "win."

All I know is, there's a meeting Rebecca F and I are hosting on Monday night, same time as the ULURP, since it was rescheduled, again, at the last possible minute. And for the first time since this whole thing started, I don't seem to care that I won't be there. The well has been poisoned, and even my friends and allies stay mostly silent, unable to counter the strength and volume of a few very, very angry residents. 

I'm going to be at my block's meeting at 40 Clarkson Monday night. We'll be talking crime. You're all invited. Hope to see you there.

I just hope all these negative voices realize that the worst excesses of developers, and the lack of affordable options, will be on their hands. They claim they're fighting for no more unwanted buildings like 626. I wonder how much they'll be able to deliver? Remains to be seen, I suppose.

Bar Coming to Mid-Lefferts on the Flabenue strikes again! From the excellent upstart blog comes news that a saloon will be coming to the previous Compere & Compere tax and accounting shop, that was also a temporary DOT center during the examination of Flatbush traffic patterns. That is, 653 Flatbush. I note the Compere & Compere connection primarily because Wilfrid Compere was involved for many years with FECMA, the merchant's association that predates the Parkside Empire, group that's really come on like gangbusters after years of lackluster merchant organizing. And Flatbushed has the below astounding picture of Flatbush at Hawthorne to give the really, really longview:

And put July 26 on your calendar! The Parkside Empire association is planning its first street fair, a modest chunk in the middle of the Flabenue that will include tons of local vendors and a stage for local musicians. Yeeeeehawww! Will there be horse and carriage rides to celebrate ye olde Flatbush experience per above? How Brooklyn would THAT be?

The effect of 626 Flatbush will most definitely speed the process of commercial turnover. And clearly, the early birds expect to get the worms. Though I'd never describe new movers to the neighborhood as worms!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Psssst. It's gonna be Mexican...

Do you like burritos? Tacos? Beans? Well, have I got a neighborhood for YOU! Nope, not in Mexico. Central Brooklyn! NY!! USA!!! And Oaxaca is its name-o.

From Flatbushed comes news that no, it won't be Japanese, but rather Mexican. Rogers at Sterling. Next to the Inkwell. As we rumored here, they were thinking of going to Flatbush but chose Rogers instead. The inside word is that its cheaper and "up and coming" in a way that Flatbush is thriving, packed and bit chaotic. Its landlords are notoriously "closed" as well, though with all the buildings changing hands and 626 that's all likely to change in a big, big way. New owners will have a very different "aesthetic" when it comes to commerce. This is precisely the thing that many mom & pops have long feared, though the short leases and higher rents have pretty much been a shot across the bow.

The one on Smith St. Wow! And an ATM!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Pinnacle of Propaganda

The Q was trying so hard to ignore her. But this poster really got my goat. (My goat is getting got way too often for my own good these days).When you see it, it's outrageous isn't it? These poor protesters, surrounded by surly cops. So gruesome! So inhumane!!

Pretty much everything about this propaganda schlock is complete bull. So what actually happened? After disrupting the meeting for about 20 minutes, keeping an important government meeting with a serious agenda from taking place, the cops were asked by the chair to have her removed. She refused. With an extraordinary amount of delicacy, they managed to get her out of there. It took about 10 minutes just to remove her without hurting her, since she was basically foaming at the mouth and kicking and flailing. Then the text - she claims a draft was created in secret, when I happen to know for a fact that the draft was collectively written and reviewed by the committee, then the draft was brought before the public, and we went over it line by line to discuss it and hear dissent. Hell, we might have heard more if she hadn't been disrupting the damn meeting.This is one whole year after a near-identical letter to DCP was overwhelmingly voted for. And she claims the point of the draft is to create luxury high rise buildings, when in fact it's a request for DCP to study the neighborhood in RESPONSE to an accelerated level of displacement and real estate development and speculation. The document asks for contextual zoning, maximum affordable housing requirements, height limits and a look at all possible unwanted outcomes and consider remedies where appropriate. It's all much to sane and reasonable for Ms. Boyd, who's real objective, it seems, is for status quo. She has no rationale vision of her own. And so, in order to be super clear, let me give it it's own paragraph:

The whole point of doing a study is to minimize the insane explosion of ill-conceived luxury (market) housing at the expense of affordable housing and to create decent sized buildings that don't dwarf what's around them. Clear enough? And while we're at it, maybe we can look at the effect of 30+ new projects already going up, with many more to follow.

Meanwhile Alicia deserves an Oscar for her memorable performance as aggrieved citizen number one. She's admitted that it's all a show, overheard laughing to a friend about how she really turns it on for the public. Meanwhile, half the Community Board she so reviles is up for reappointment or not. One would hope that good people are retained and dead-weight let go - without regard to political orientation or allegiance, so that the board could continue (yes, I said continue) to reflect the diversity of the neighborhood. A few dedicated souls are trying to right the ship and one can only hope they're allowed to continue in the right direction. Let them keep at it. A number of folks have already turned in their resignations or chosen not to reapply. It could be yet another fresh crop of faces by May. I obviously crave the mayhem or I would have joined the exodus. I'm still asking questions, being curious, being amused. I never intended to get this close to the action. But it's sure entertaining - no cable subscription required. I'll know in a week or two whether I'm back on or not. Don't hold your breath...I know I won't. I need all the brain cells I have left!

I still have faith that a lot of folks really DO have the needs of the citizenry at heart, and are working to create a better future. But it's hard to feel that way, when everyone's talking over each other. Fear, anger, disappointment...they're powerful intoxicants. And you should never try to assume reasonableness in a roomful of drunks.

I.M. Pastry Opening on Nostrand

Been looking forward to this one (read here)!  I've always been more of a Cupcake Cowboy than a Muffin Man. Be one of the first 33 people to show up on Friday after 8 am and get a free mini cupcake! I'm guessing however that if you're number 34 you won't be shown the door. Score!

And you KNOW the Q approves of the pun in their name. Sweet, indeed.

Roomies for Toomey's

MikeF at Brooklynian has his antenna out. Here's his latest

Looks like the old Toomey's diner at the corner of Empire and Rogers is about to be sold again. The zoning is R5 with an overlay of C1-3, so look for a buyer who can build a fairly squat building of up to 9,000 buildable square feet. The lots not that big. It's all about whether you can make a profit of course. Look at that crazy tiny triangle lot on Washington Avenue next to the S train if you need proof.

Note, the lot hasn't sold yet, but these lines from the prospectus say it all about the neighborhood's current advantages. At $3.2 million for the land, the price has increased threefold in two years. And as the Q's refrain goes, it is highly unlikely that any means-tested units will be built. 

•Rising rents, one of the highest rent increases in any neighborhood in Brooklyn. 
•The property is located two blocks from the Sterling St [2,5] train station. - See more at:

Monday, April 13, 2015

Building Right Next To 626 Flatbush? $14 Million Later, Jonas Owns It.

15 Crooke & 620 Flatbush, from Real Deal

The Q's discussed Jonas Equities before, a relative newcomer to the scene that seems willing to pay crazy prices for rent stabilized apartments - like 620 Flatbush, the building that not incidentally happens to lease to local Ital destination sensation Scoops. Jonas also scooped up 15 Crooke Ave over in Caledonia for about the same , and for that price Real Deal calls it $265,000 per apartment. 15 Crooke, for you northerners, is over by the Parade Ground, and the Q is confident that all of Caledonia will one day fetch a pretty penny. Maybe that one day is...tomorrow?

Think about it. Were it coops or condos, 15 Crooke would be $265,000 per apartment. But they're NOT coops or condos. They're stabilized apartments, perhaps fetching (currently) on average $1,000 a month, in Brooklyn's densest sub-neighborhood (Caledonia) that until oh so recently wasn't on any investor's map. All this money! I mean, the math don't figure. I know something is happening here, but I'm simply not clue in enough to understand it. Yes, yes, they'll force or buy out as many tenants as they can. We've seen that strategy many times before. But will another buyer actually top $15 million bucks for either of these modest sized buildings? On what valuation is this sort of price warranted? And remember, this is the same company that bought longtime slumlord hellhole 115 Ocean Avenue for TWENTY SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS, or $290,000 per apartment. Hey, it's on the park, but...what the HELL GIVES?

Are we witnessing the influx of "sheltered money" from someplace else, or has the whole world gone absolutely mad and started buying hamburgers for fifty bucks without batting a french fry? Actually, an article in the Old Gray Lady about how hedge fund Blackstone has accumulated an enormous portfolio of real estate seems well-timed to provide one possible answer. With the world's deepest pockets putting their largesse into big ticket houses, buildings etc. one wonders whether it's all a Ponzi Scheme in process. God knows we've been through it before, and Big Finance has short memories. Musical chairs, and the last one with their pants down loses. Actually, that's not how musical chairs is played, nor in my opinion should it be. Pants stay on. Mixed metaphor, sorry.

All the details of the above from Real Deal.

Parkside Plaza: Your Time Has Come

The poster says it all. For a trip down memory lane, to the moment when it all began, almost exactly 4 years ago, read here.

The Artful Rogers

Lest you think it's another April Fool's joke, here's the proof at Sterling and Rogers:

thx Thomas B for the pic

Blue Sky Bakery has been confirmed. Japanese restaurant...anyone got the 411?