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.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Buffie Simmons Out as District 17 Superintendent

In some very good news for local parents, longtime District 17 Superintendent Buffie Simmons has been "promoted" to Central DoE. You may use the word promoted as a synonym for whatever you think is apt. She will no longer be making decisions that affect your and your children's lives.

In other D17 news, a new principal has been named for PS375, also known as the Jackie Robinson school, just north of Empire Blvd. Schwanna Ellman is off to a good start according to teachers. Let's hope that positive change is in the offing. If any of you are interested in asking her to join a meeting in the neighborhood, let me know. Maybe set something up at Play Kids?

Thanks to all for lending your voice and encouragement ever since longtime principal Marion Wilson was also, promoted, and a couple mediocre replacements named, by, you guessed it, Buffie Simmons. Catch ya on the flip, B.S.

Development In Our Neighborhood Chugging Like A College Frat Boay

Leave it to dogged reporter Rachel Holliday-Smith to put together a comprehensive list of new buildings 'round here. Be sure to click on the article though to see some great photos and the whole story. It's hardly worth noting at this point where the Q stands on the issue. A zoning study, which was to have begun presently after community comment, is on hold while some members of the neighborhood seem to think that a revised zoning resolution would somehow stop the onslaught or limit its size or its effect on community displacement. Fiddling while Rome burns? Perhaps fanning flames while home churns? I'll note that a bunch of these projects are happening right near me, and where they are in context, I'm resigned to the changes. I wish more folks were realistic when it comes to the City's growth, and would be willing to discuss thoroughly with Planning how best to accommodate it, deal with the City services needed to absorb it, extract maximum affordable units and plazas, and lessen its other more negative effects on the community. And rather than fight their neighbors, fight the practices of unscrupulous landlords using race and class as a weapon against longtime residents. THAT, I would hope, is something we could ALL agree on, and work for.

You may want to note that at 626 Flatbush, 40-50% of AMI would mean families of 4 making roughly 33K to 41K. Though it should be noted that not many of these apartments would be comfortable fits at that price. Couples would fare better, and combined incomes of $25K would be truly affordable - using the standard ration to gross income. Apartments would come in under $1,000, as low as $700 or so. Not perfect...but save supportive housing, I don't know that we could do much better right now. AND supportive and full affordable buildings are possible through City and State funding. To get that going, you need buy-in from electeds. Who it might be nice to work WITH rather than against. Oh God, there I go again...

267 Rogers Ave.
Construction is underway on a five-story, 112,000-square-foot residential building on this large lot near Carroll Street, where St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church stood from 1920 until earlier this year, when it was razed to make way for the new project, according to property records. Renderings of the project show a geometric, grey facade with square windows accented with bright blue and yellow paneling.
995 Washington Ave.
Work has begun on a four-story residential building set on this vacant sliver of land between Washington Avenue and the Franklin Avenue shuttle. The triangular lot sold for just under $77,000 in 2009, but in spring of this year, it was turnd over to “Washington Ave Dev LLC” for almost $330,000, public records show. Plans for the new 3,300-square-foot, triangle-shaped building were approved this summer by the Department of Buildings, according to records. Though a Bond New York listing asking $2.5 million has been removed since it was posted online in July, a sign on the property said the site is still for sale.
626 Flatbush Ave.
After facing multiple legal challenges to build this 23-story, mixed-use residential tower, construction of the Hudson Companies project is well underway. When completed, the building will have 227,000 square feet of space, almost all of which will be residential, according to plans filed with the Department of Buildings. Eighty percent of the building’s 254 units will be market-rate, according to the company, with the rest set aside for tenants earning 40 to 50 percent of the Area Median Income.
 About ten stories have been constructed already at 626 Flatbush Ave. in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, which will ultimately be 23 stories tall, according to building plans. About ten stories have been constructed already at 626 Flatbush Ave. in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, which will ultimately be 23 stories tall, according to building plans.View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith
31 Lincoln Rd.
This L-shaped, eight-story building has been in the works since 2012 when Anderson and Associates, the developer behind the project, first filed plans for the 75,000-square-foot, mixed-use residential property. Construction is now well underway at the site, which is located between Flatbush Avenue, Lincoln Road and the tracks of the B, Q and shuttle trains. The Prospect Park train station on Lincoln Road is located directly next to one of the building’s two entrances. When complete, the property will have 87 units, almost 5,000 square feet of commercial space and 68 indoor parking spots, according to plans.
651 New York Ave.
This project by HELLOLiving will bring a six-story residential building with 40 “luxury” units to New York Avenue between Fenimore and Hawthorne streets, according to building plans and the company’s website. The company broke ground on the project this summer and construction is ongoing at the site. When complete, the 30,000-square-foot building will have indoor parking spaces, a gym and private elevator access directly into each units, the company said.
329 Sterling St.
Construction of a six-story residential building on this lot located directly next to a city playground on Sterling Street between Nostrand and New York avenues is underway, with I-beams set around the footprint of the building’s foundation. When complete, the building will have roughly 20,000 square feet of residential space, according to plans filed by “Jacquelyn 327, LLC,” the building’s owner. A rendering of the project posted on construction fencing shows a stone and brick facade with large glass windows and six small terraces.
Planned New Construction:
834 Nostrand Ave.
Currently a two-story commercial building with a T-Mobile on the first floor, Helm Equities bought this lot on the southwest corner of Nostrand Avenue and Eastern Parkway in 2008 for $2.4 million and plans to turn it into a seven-story, mixed use project, according to property records. The firm filed plans with the Department of Buildings on Sept. 30 to demolish the structure and build a 29-unit, 33,500-square-foot building in its place, two-thirds of which will be residential space. The plans were first reported by the real estate blog New York YIMBY. It’s unclear when construction will begin; the Buildings Department rejected the construction application on Oct. 3 due to “incomplete drawings.” Helm Equities did not answer inquiries made about the project.
111 Clarkson Ave.
A Victorian home once described as a “fantastical three-story concoction,” by the New York Times and “the Haunted House of Clarkson” by local blogger Tim Thomas was razed earlier this year, to be replaced by two buildings on the same lot with a total of 50 residential units, said developer Seth Brown ofAspen Equities. One building at 520 Parkside Ave. will be seven stories tall with 22 residential units, according to property records, while the adjoining, now-vacant lot at 111 Clarkson Ave. will become an eight-story, 28-unit residential building. The lots are currently surrounded by construction fencing and Brown said work will being “in the next few months.”
149 Clarkson Ave.
After a single-family home was demolished here earlier this year, the Department of Buildings approved plans for a new, five-story residential building with 10 units, property records show. The owner who filed the plans, “149 Clarkson Ave. LLC,” bought the property for $660,000 in October of 2013, records show. Construction fencing surrounds the now-vacant lot, but no work on the new building has begun.
50-54 Clarkson Ave.
Three single-family homes were demolished earlier this year to make room for an eight-story, 27,000-square-foot residential project, according to plans filed in January by Bushberg Properties. The three homes had been bought in late 2012 and early 2013 by “Prospect View LLC” for a total of $1.75 million, according to property records. The plans for the new, 48-unit residential complex are under review by the Department of Buildings.
Future Development Sites:
371 Lincoln Rd.
Last October, this 2,000-square-foot vacant lot on Lincoln Road near Nostrand Avenue sold for $100,000, according to property records. Less than six months later, the lot sold for $255,000. Now, it’s on the market for $849,000, according to a listing from TerraCRG, the brokerage firm in charge of the sale. The lot is zoned to accommodate a residential building of up to six stories, according to the Department of City Planning. TerraCRG has architectural plans for the lot that call for four floor-through units and a duplex penthouse, a spokeswoman said, though those plans have not been filed yet with the Department Buildings.
1550 Bedford Ave.
In a previous life, this large lot on the southeast corner of Bedford Avenue and Eastern Parkway was a Gulf gas station. But after the service station was razed in the beginning of the year, the 19,000-square-foot lot was put on the market for an undisclosed price by the realty firm Massey Knakal. Currently, the lot is still up for sale, said Michael Amirkhanian, Director of Sales at Massey Knakal, but he said there has been “a great deal of interest from traditional retail developers, as well as hotel interest.” The lot is zoned for commercial development only according to the Department of City Planning.
1 Sullivan Pl.
This vacant chunk of land on the corner of Washington Avenue a block east of Prospect Park was put up for sale for $5 million earlier this month by a developer who is looking for the right buyer — but plans to build on the land himself if one doesn’t come along, said Jonathan Berman, VP at Ariel Properties, who is handling the sale. The developer, “Sullivan Garden LLC,” already has plans for an eight-story, 20,000-square-foot residential building on the site, according to Department of Buildings records filed in late September. The plans for the lot were first reported by the real estate blog Buzz Buzz Home.
931 Carroll St.
This one-story brick structure has sold to a “veteran developer” who will “likely do a rental development” there, according to Amirkhanian, who oversaw the March deal that included the sale of a nearby laundry facility at 46 Crown St. (see below). Both buildings had once been owned by the laundry company Central Laundry Service Corporation, previously known as Sea Crest Linen, according to property records. Central Laundry sold the building to “931 Carroll LLC,” for $2.5 million, according to a deed filed on March 27. The site can accommodate a building of up to about 53,000 square feet, according to a listing by Massey Knakal that asked $10 million for the property. Currently, no building permits have yet been filed on the property.
46 Crown St.
This 38,000-square-foot former commercial laundry facility near Medgar Evers College had been used by Sea Crest Linen, later renamed Central Laundry Service Corp., since at least 1935, according to building records. In March, Cornell Realty Management bought the 38,000-square-foot site for $14.5 million, according to public records, but it’s unclear what the company plans to do with it. No building plans have been filed at the location, though the site is zoned to accommodate a residential building of up to seven stories. An inquiry made about the site to Cornell Realty — which has a history of multimillion-dollar development projects in Brooklyn and Manhattan — was not returned.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

LMA's "Echo" Out Now (Four Shot)

I'm ceaselessly amazed at what an extraordinarily high-quality paper comes out of humble Lefferts Manor each quarter. Milford Prewitt and gang always provide a stellar product at a super price. Zip. That's right folks. For the price of a breath of air you can help yourself to a heaping helping of neighborhood news. Click here or see below. Where on earth else could you get a steady diet of Lefferts tidbits for free? Beats me.

(Damn. As I wrote that about 8 shots rang out on, I think, Lenox. Better throw on some pants. Not you, me.)

(Okay, there were four shot, tons of police. Anything you know will be more than I do. Please Share.)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Erv's Open Tonight


If y'all are in need of a cocktail, you could do worse than stop by Erv's tonight, the mini-bar on Beekman. Specialty drinks are their specialty, but I'll bet they'll make you an old-fashioned if you ask nicely in Old English. (Old English on tap?)

From 6pm. Cash only tonight, but cards coming in the next few days...

That's Erv's. Beekman Place just off Flatbush, next to the laundromat. So now you can get sloshed as your soiled shirts are sloshing in suds. Wait, that sounds like a tag line...

Erv's. Where You're Sure To Get Sloshed While Sloshing Your Soiled Shirts in Suds!

Have a couple Old-fashions and try saying THAT five times fast...

The Best Trick or Treating In NYC Happens Right Here

Trick or treating in Lefferts Manor is the best. The cops keep it safe, the neighborhood stocks up on candy, you see lots of familiar faces...if you got kids, there's no need to go nowhere else. See you there! I'll be the one dressed as a middle-aged dad.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Q Runs Express This Weekend

I'm too tired to look it up and properly post it. Consider yourself forewarned though. The Q goes express Kings Highway to Prospect Park, Manhattan bound, all weekend.

Nighty night.

Open House For Lefferts Food Coop!

I am SO impressed that Karen Oh and company got this thing off the ground. And now, on October 26 from 10-4, you can come take a sneak peak at the progress they've made on the Lefferts Community Food Coop at 324 Empire Boulevard.

How can I say it any other way? This is an astounding accomplishment. A bunch of volunteers create an alternative cooperative source for healthy food. Knowing the Park Slope Food Coop and its history, I can assure you this is a major achievement.

Hats off y'all! See you on Sunday the 26th...


For those of you who regularly find yourself above Empire on Washington, you've undoubtedly seen the development site that is being built at 995 Washington. It's a tiny little triangular piece of land that I used to joke would be perfect for a squatter with a teepee.

But in this day and age, it's actually a $2.5 million plot worthy of the following:

This style of architecture I like to call "21st Century Magna-Tile" design, a post-post-post-modern school that is alternately referred to as the Movement, or ACM for short. For more information, go to Wikipedia. However, for more information on this particular topic, just ask anyone hanging out at the Subway sandwich shop.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Honest Mistakes vs. Pupu Platters

I wish I could say I'm done posting about the whole Lefferts rezoning thang. But I can't keep it to myself. The dung flinging just won't let up. And the lies are thicker than bugs on the bumper of an 18-wheeler driving through the Bayou.

First, the honest mistake. In his rush to get some good looking color maps of zoning in our district out to us, Ben the CB9 intern made a pretty big goof in labeling the areas of C8-2 as C2-8. Then just the other day a certain "zoning expert" brought in to talk to neighbors took a look and figured heck, that means a FAR of 10 and you could build hotels as high as the sky! Panic ensued in the "reply all" world, and the Q sent around a note to confirm that no, in fact, you cannot build a 60 story hotel on Empire Boulevard. What fool developer would try such a thing I have no idea. But then rationality has been in short supply lately, so who the eff knows.

It's C8-2, and absolutely a hotel could be built on Empire Blvd, though it would be a modest affair. Is that something MTOPP wants? Well, at the rate they're going, that's probably what they'll get, and I heard some pretty reliable whispers that exactly that is in the works. Does the Q care? Not much. It's a nice spot to visit, what with the Park and Garden and museum and all, and you'd probably get a decent restaurant out of it. Not a lot of hotels around here, considering how many people live in the area, so it could be a nice investment for someone. And technically, it wouldn't add to the density, would it? However, it WOULD probably impact some AirBnB hosts around here, so you might expect a protest or two in the hotel bar from time to time. All in a good night's sleep...

Here're the REAL zoning maps, even if they are dustier and less colorful than Ben's:

Oh, and then Suki Cheong, purportedly of PPEN but more and more sounding like Alicia, sends an "open letter" to the Community Board, using a list of emails she's grabbed probably by hijacking them from a CB9 "top secret" missive to the Board about, I dunno, parking for the meeting or something. Her letter was disowned by PPEN's steering committee later in the day, since PPEN is working on a statement of their own. Both Suki and AB have taken to sending direct messages to the 45 or so CB members aimed at influencing their votes and hearts. Which I suppose is legal and all, maybe, but in my time on the Board I can't ever remember someone hijacking the list to lobby the Board directly. Usually people come out to the meetings and speak their piece in the allotted time, and since it's our job to listen we usually do. And they don't usually shout down other speakers or serve up lawsuits to the one truly full-time paid employee, the DM, for transcribing the results of a share session into a letter to City Planning, as she was asked to do. For Suki's part, she practically helped write the resolution in the first place. She was there the night of the vote and congratulated me afterward. Sure they were pushing for a "text change" about Flatbush and Ocean specifically, but we already knew the answer from Planning was no, and this was our best shot at changing zoning around here.

 I could go on and on about what normal folks usually don't do, but let's just say that these two have really gotten under a lot of our craws. Mine? You bet. Not just for writing, but for slamming our reputations every chance they get. Because votes have not gone their way, rather than moving to the next phase and reasserting their views in a rational and respectful manner, they (and I'm sad to say even a few of the Board members) are convinced that we must UNsend a letter to City Planning that was already sent, and received positively, asking for a zoning study. The letter (or resolution if you must refer to it, since it was in fact voted upon and put in formal language, voted FOR by wide majority openly and after considerable discussion) was always intended and received as a starting point for a discussion about where build-able residential and commercial could happen in the neighborhood, and gauge the appetite for certain kinds of housing, including 80/20 or 50/30/20, and of course potential height limits, and maybe up, down or side-zoning various areas to conform with modern, more nuanced zones than the ones set in place some 60 years ago. In other words, if you've actually been paying attention and not listening to the demagogues and fear-mongers, you'd know that what we SHOULD be doing right now is talking in open forums with City Planning present, listening to diverse experts and speakers (keyword "diverse") about what our community could and maybe should look like in 20 years or so. (And by the way I've met these planners and they're basically Brooklynites like you and me so don't go picturing Montgomery Burns). But no, no...that's not what's happening, and I'm ashamed to say the disorganized and poorly led Board is not making it any easier by acting slowly and unpersuassively. These ARE volunteers after all, and not all are born for the gig. But, and this is a big butt, they are not bought and sold by Eric Adams or the development industry. They're for the most part bright, committed neighbors who've lived here for, on average, probably 40 years - many from the time they were born. I can guarantee the vast majority don't want outsized luxury buildings crowding out our way of life, and they most certainly DO want to see more means-tested affordable housing built, and they generally recognize that every change to a community has benefits and liabilities. But they generally ALSO recognize that change has been and is now all around us, and that a zoning study can do little more than address some of the potential pitfalls, and plan for growth in a way that's a little less haphazard. Too pedestrian and boring for you? I've got 5 letters and an address on Sterling Street to refer you to.

I'm pretty fed up watching neighbors of mine impugn the good names of folks on the Board without the decency of getting to know who they are. I mean, I'm seriously stunned that a decent human being could live with herself after some of her 23 (and counting) emails to her battered followers, but then, she's on a mission from God and facts and reputations are hardly worthy of comment in a slash and burn campaign. Folks, I'm not exaggerating. At some point I'll need to print all 23 (and counting) and you'll see how far afield the screeds have gotten.

Don't get me wrong. As an opinionated blogger (is there any other kind?) I expect to take some hits. It's part of the deal, and I'm putting myself out there to be egged on occasion. And politicians, well, they just have to suck it up. They signed up for the job and the First Amendment is one of the things they're sworn to uphold. They're gonna get slammed, and sometimes even libeled, but that's the gig. Sorry Eric and Laurie, but you only THOUGHT you won last November! The real fight will continue til the end of your term(s). Saundra Thomas, are you out there? Maybe it's better for your sanity that you lost after all!

I'll end with this. Richard Bearak, he of land use policy at the BP's office, has put it in a way I hadn't thought of before - perhaps it'll be useful to some of you other zoning newbies too. The current zoning map shows the POTENTIAL for residential units (roughly, of course). Why potential? Because many of these areas on the map are not built out fully.

When a building like 626 Flatbush comes along, it is allowed to build the maximum number of units, at a certain height, because that's what's cooked into the map. If we want to have ANY say at all about how this potential for growth will play out, we have to do a Zoning Study. If we don't, we get no say, and you'll probably read about one after another "surprise" building that ruins your whole breakfast.

Neighborhood Legend Passes: Carole Schaffer

Carole Schaffer, longtime neighborhood do-gooder and Lefferts champion, died last night. The announcement, below, comes from funeral director Amy Cunningham, also of the nabe. Feel free to email her with questions.

I'm writing to tell you some very sad news. Carole Schaffer, the wonderful woman who put together the fabulous Lefferts Manor house tour for SO MANY years died yesterday at New York Presbyterian hospital. While death was not expected, Carole had been on-and-off ailing for a several years. Her husband Arthur is now at home at 72 Midwood Street.
The funeral service, then burial graveside service, are planned for this Sunday (October 19) at eleven a.m. in a chapel at Green-Wood Cemetery (guards at gates at Fifth Avenue and 25th Street will give you directions). John Musco (who lives on Rutland Road) will preside as he is a deacon at Grace Episcopal...Amy Cunningham will be the funeral director. Please come! 

Carole will be impossible to replace. She did so much for the neighborhood and was open to everybody.  A truly lovely, committed and hard-working lady. She loved this neighborhood so much and knew every inch of it.