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.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Turning Point For Errol's Bakery

Update: From reader Josh: I was in Errol's last night getting my curry chicken fix and heard they are going to court today. The landlord raised their rent which they agreed upon then changed their mind and gave them six days to vacate. Sad days.

If true, the below speculation is moot.

Here's what the Q knows so far about the popular Caribbean Bakery at Flatbush/Hawthorne. Their current lease is up. Owners Dorothy and Errol Miller reached out to the local Parkside/Empire merchant's group for legal help at one point to renegotiate. I have no idea whether it's simply a matter of money or if there's more to the story, but your friends at Equality 4 Flatbush have stepped in to organize an event to show community support. Hopefully by then I can get more info on what actually is the sitch. (Feel free to chime in with your intel!) Usually if you stage something like this one would hope to see more detail, but maybe that's confidential? If the Landlord is someone at fault beyond wanting market rate, then I would imagine a legal issue is at stake. I do know that Delroy Wright of the now defunct former merchant's association FEPMA made some noise about this on the local Facebook page, and subsequently reached out to Imani Henry of E4F. One would certainly hope if Errol's is doing fair business that something could be worked out. It's hard to imagine the corner without them. But then it was hard to imagine a 23-story building across the street too.

Anyhow, E4F is an anti-gentrification group and this is their poster for the Dec 17th Show of Support event.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Caton Market to Affordable Housing - Public Hearing Tonight Wed Dec 7

Perhaps you know that Caton Market is to become a large apartment building of below-market apartments? In the years' single most significant effort towards ensuring a neighborhood of income diversity, this project deserves a fast greenlight and public support. I'm sure there will be dissenters. But be sure to do your homework. The City land under the well-meaning but ill-conceived closed-air market at Caton/Flatbush could both serve its current purpose AND house a bunch of people desperate for affordable housing. Want to comment? Tonight's the night.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Kings County Nursery NOT Selling for North of $10 Million

UPDATE: HOLY COW! Joe changed his mind. Thx to commenter Kimplicated, we now know that Joe asked the broker to take down the listing!

Just got our Christmas Tree from Kings County. Sad to hear they're answering the siren call of the Development Gods. At least they'll make a ton of dough. As the Donald would say...SAD. As in actually sad, not sarcastic mean sad.

They're Selling Both Sides of the Street - See Doug E. Lliman

Monday, December 5, 2016

Let's Get That Protected Bike Lane For Goodness Sake

Please sign this well-conceived petition and plan from your friends at TA to create a protected bike lane btw Empire and GAP, not unlike what happens on the "other" side of the park. I can already here the outrage from drivers at CB9. "Now you want we should go back to HORSE AND BUGGY!" they'll say. Progress is progress. Give us the bike lane, for safety, for sanity, for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels. Whatever your reason, let's go. (The Q;s hunch is that this will start a bargaining process that ends in a two-way lane on the BBG side where there's currently a sidewalk.)

-Flatbush Avenue, between Empire Blvd and Grand Army Plaza, is a non-residential strip that is plagued by speeding vehicles because of an excessively wide roadway. This puts people at risk as they walk and bike to Prospect Park, the Prospect Park Zoo, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and more.

--To ensure vehicles do not race above the speed limit, we are requesting traffic calming along this dangerous route by means of slightly narrowing the road with a two-way protected bicycle path.

--For southbound cyclists who wish to ride to Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, and other neighborhoods east of the park, the only safe option currently available from Grand Army Plaza is an unnecessarily long loop through Prospect Park, which also closes late at night. Flatbush Avenue could be used to create a more direct route that brings safety to all road users.

--Some cyclists already ride up and down Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Empire Blvd. However, many do so using the sidewalk because the vehicular speeds pose too much danger. When cyclists are on the sidewalk, it is a safety concern for pedestrians. A two-way protected path would those who walk, those who bike, and those who drive to all have safer passage.

--A protected bike lane was already installed on the affluent western side of Prospect Park. This change yielded reductions in speeding, fewer injuries & crashes, and drastically lowered the number of bikes riding on the sidewalk. The same should now be done for the eastern side of the park.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sunday Stroll, Part Duh. The Remake of a Neighborhood

So much construction! So little time before the next meltdown! Hurry, hurry, fellas. Gotta get in while the gettin's good! A few more shots from within spittin' distance of the Q's abode.

An obvious spot to tear down and build up. Can't see this lowrise and parking lot lasting.

Looks Like The New Building on Bedford Is About To (literally) Swallow Those Old Victorians

More New Apartments on Bedford Where Houses Used to Was

This One's Truly Sad - The Beautiful Old Age Home at 123 Linden About to Be Demolished

During construction of the new apts at 123 Linden, you'll be able to see the nursing home behind it for a change
Since 123 is/was a tremendous asset to the neighborhood, a little more background is in order. Here's a Brownstoner piece on the building by the beloved Montrose Morris. And below a picture of the before, and if you want to know about the 20 (that's right TWENTY) story building to take its place, read on.

I really didn't see this one coming. After speaking to folks at the Nursing Home, sounds like it was a financial necessity.

Just over on the next block towards Flatbush, don't forget this is coming:

I honestly don't think people have the slightest idea what's happening to the neighborhood all around us. This painfully slow process of waking up to the new reality just boggles my mind. I've let it go - sort of. I see that's there's no political will to rezone anything, anywhere, in any of the three community districts close to our homes. But there it is.

One can only hope that the neighborhood doesn't become littered with the below sorts of vacant lots, if and when the money dries up.

Yeeeeehawwwww! Land, land, land and lots of it.

Looks like nearly every new building in the nabe is preparing for a fencing match

They call 'em soft sites. This large lot with the Ideal Supermarket won't survive longterm

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New Apartments Coming to Martense

Story on YIMBY from Rebecca
I'm a big fan of Martense. Anybody who lives there want to comment on what they think of this mercifully reasonably sized building?

Fenimore One Block Downzoning

As discussed here before in detail, here's an article that does a fair job of framing the issue.

Patch on Fenimore

Again at the CB9 General Board Meeting, the misinformers were out to squash a simple, reasoned and well-researched request by a group of your neighbors to protect the integrity of their block, which was inadvertently left off the Historic District demarcations. As their consultant Paul Graziano says, the whole neighborhood is in desperate need of a rezoning. Essentially, per DCP, this means downzoning inner blocks and allowing for the construction of taller, but not TOO tall, buildings along the avenues that would necessarily include affordable housing units due to the passage of the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing law passed this year by the City Council.

Such a reasonable compromise stinks of foul play, say the genius protesters, who so far have managed to keep you or anyone else from voicing their opinion through a fair evaluation in concert with the Planning department. On Fenimore, however, reason prevailed, and modest majority was in favor of co-applying to the City. Is there a fear that the City might change the rules mid-process? Of course not. The application pertains to that block only, and if they ever get around to it (very busy don't you know), I see no reason why a block with deed restrictions shouldn't get downzoned. We should all be so lucky.

Ho hum. A few apples have spoiled the whole barrel, and it's just a matter of time before the wrecking balls come to YOUR block. And Empire? It'll continue to be the gorgeous boulevard of dreams that it is. So many tourists from other neighborhoods come to fast-food hop, from one drive-thru to the next. Perhaps we could convince the City to create a drive-thru Vomitorium, in the neo-classical style? That way you could keep banging burgers all night long without taking a break for digestion.

The South Side of Fenimore Wants Our Help To Downzone and Prevent Teardowns

Sunday, November 27, 2016

a sunday in the life, part I

So many things happening all at once, it's hard to keep track of it all. I'll leave it to others to parse the meaning, the unprecedented and unpresidential meaning of calling into question the legitimacy of the voters - AFTER having won. Trump says millions voted illegally. That's a mindfuck, that, a symbol of the illogical future we're about to endure. The vote was rigged; I won. Wow. Just wow. My blood is boiling over anew. To other things...

I set out today to celebrate the opening of perhaps the most anticipated new shoppe in the nabe in years, maybe decades. A bonafide bookstore, one with a conscience and smarts, co-owned by a local to boot. Rebecca Fitting and her gang of loyal accomplices have done it. They've thrown open their doors at the base of the once infamous and now familiar 626 Flatbush. By hosting both the Maple Street School AND the beloved Greenlight Bookstore, plus leasing a couple dozen considerably below-market rentals within, developer Hudson has struck a balance that may well take some of the sting out of the monstrosity that looms over Lefferts and Park. Personally I'll never forgive the shock to the view from within the park, but future generations will undoubtedly see it as it is as it was and ever shall be. Thus, the Q continues to become one of the old farts who pines for the good ol' days. Though in this case, the old days meant a shitty parking lot and crumbling medical arts building. But they were OURS goddammit! I even parked there once!

the view from inside Greenlight Books, at, what else, 626 Flatbush
 Now that the Q's head is full of zoning info, he can't help but see sites like the Associated as ripe for the picking. Knocking down this "taxpayer," now that prices have reached a premium seems like the most logical next step for the current or future landowner. It's zoned for a nice big residential structure with commercial on the ground floor, after all.

Couldn't help admiring Lily and Blessings and her terrific jazzy brunchness. Dinner's delicious too, and you can even drink vino there now:

Lily and "some other Lady" looking sassy

they were damn good too, and not too loud. Nothing ruins brunch like a saxophone.

Westbury Inn and El Castillo now seem like old friends.

Then I dropped off Lil' Miss Clarkson Flatbed Jr. at a playdate and came back to yet another hurumph about the election, and decided to ride around and document my changing environs.

soon to be demolished on my block

the church, too

a reminder of what you can build on a single narrow lot

recently demolished, still on Clarkson. I've barely started my ride.

This is what you can do with two adjacent lots, and here it comes
Then I started musing on the remarkably diverse new offerings coming at you from a truly lovely cast of neighborhood characters, from wine to desserts to all manner of food and fun, as I rode up and down Rogers and Nostrand, both busting with new bizzes of the last year or so. Like:

Dedicated to health & community

Stellar wine store and hopefully a rebound for Streetsweeper after a fire

went to a bidet party for kids at this place - real nice, on Rogers. Called...Inspire?

okay they've been around awhile. just pluggin' here.

keeps getting better, Gratitude cum PLG Coffee Haus

this place is opening soon and its gonna be AWEsome

Here's Boucan on the inside. Beer & wine natch.

Ahh. Pels. Lovin' it. Been noticing more patrons each time I ride by.

That dance place with the KILLER mural on the gate. Called AbunDance I believe

Taste o' Brooklyn y'alls. Has quite a few fans on the online

Blue Sky Bakery, no?

No "bad hombres" here. Just solid tacos and burritos

new joint? new sign? Love the logo.

Two killer spots, one new one old - Michael Allen and Lindiwe's Ceramics

More to come. Nighty night.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Big New Buildings Coming - Some Affordable Housing Included

The other night at the CB9 ULURP meeting, it became clear that it is very difficult for some folks to grasp how little control they actually have over their own neighborhood. The reason the Q was so adamant about accepting City Planning's accepting of our offer to rezone WITH OUR INPUT AND GUIDANCE is because there actually ISN'T another way. Either they initiate, we initiate, or developers initiate. There's no fourth option that has been shown to work consistently. That's why it's rarely done. You can do your own "study," but it's rarely more effective than merely sitting down with Planning in the first place. Not that it isn't good to create your own plan. But you won't get everything you want either way. Enter Fenimore Street Block Association.

Your neighbors on Fenimore, whose proposal was to downzone the south side of the street Bedford to Rogers took the 3rd option - they acted like developers, designing their own application. Because of existing deed restrictions, they might actually have a shot, because legally it already IS downzoned, just not in the regulations. But if someone wanted to build higher, the neighbors would have to sue to invoke the deed restrictions, and that could be expensive. So why not nip any problems in the bud?

The rest of us in overzoned areas - the vast majority of Lefferts for instance - have no such option. We can try to Landmark, and many are trying. We'll see where that goes. In the meantime, check out these huge new developments planned for just north of (gasp) Empire Boulevard.

Here's what the developer has in mind, from The Real Deal, courtesy of eagle eyed Mike F.

Shifra Hager is looking to rezone properties near the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Crown Heights to pave the way for two buildings with more than 500 residential units under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program. Hager, head of Cornell Realty Management, filed an application with the Department of City Planning that would allow him to build a pair of buildings larger and taller than the current zoning allows. His company’s site at 40 Crown Street, which property records show Hager bought in 2014 for $14.5 million, allows for a seven-story, 70-foot-tall residential building as-of-right. Hager is proposing to rezone the property so that he could build a 16-story, 157-foot-tall mixed-building with about 15,000 square feet of retail.
Look for other developers to follow suit, on Empire no less. Will CB9 have input? Of course. Will it matter, particularly after the way it's been treated by MTOPP? Probably not much.

Vision of the Future - Empanada City

Everyone has their own vision of Utopia. For some, it's a lush green land of hills, vales and verdant meadows. For others, it's a digitized world of robots serving your every need as you toss back bottomless Mai Tais and luxuriate on space-age furniture, high in the air, unencumbered by work or toil. For others, it's a place of never-ending...empanadas.

Welcome to Empanada City, opening soon at 363 Lincoln near Nostrand. We told you about it ages ago, and wondered if the City would ever rise to the east, but now we have word from owner Briant Almonte that it will open its doors, or rather offer you a copy of the keys to the City, soon. As in soon soon, not in-a-while soon. Follow the progress on the Facebook page. And remember the old adage - Carpe Empanda.