I'm not going to apologize. I'm just not gonna. In the Q's book, a good April Fool's joke is one that's believable. That's why I wasn't so crazy about last year's post. I preferred the one two year's ago, though a friend wouldn't speak to me for a week after. Look, it costs nothing to mark your Google calendar year's ahead if you're really so against the informal holiday (I'm talking to you J.Z.)
Now it's the 2nd of April, and I guarantee I ain't foolin' ya on this tip. This morning I called David Kramer, master of Hudson Companies, the folks who are planning the 23-story tower for 626 Flatbush Avenue, on a tip (thanks Matt!) that movement was happening. I've gotten to this point where someone puts a phone number in front of me I just call it and see what happens. I was pleasantly surprised to get a call back swiftly from a friendly Alison Novak, a VP at Hudson and the lead on the project, and we spoke at some length about how things were moving forward. And move they most certainly are.
Some folks have asked me whether a company like Hudson has a right to build such a big building. The term is "as of right," and the answer is yes. As in there's no need for any rezoning or community review process. Seems there's a lot of misinformation out there about how these things work. I even recently got an email from someone who was darn certain that the 20 story glass tower planned for Lincoln Road had been stopped due to community protest. By the way, that is not so. First off, that project was perfectly legal and did not need our blessing. What stopped it was the financial meltdown and gun jumping. Would seem to the Q that Hudson is much more in step with the realities of the market than that thing was back then (pictured). By the way, since that tower was three stories shorter than the proposed Hudson building, it should at least give you a sense of scale of what 626 would look like next to the park. So yeah, and I said this to Alison, there will be some people who have a problem with it - mostly folks who don't want to see a building that big from inside the park. Wanna know something else I noticed? 23-stories is exactly the same height as the Ebbets houses. Wanna know something else? Alison and I are both from Iowa. Wanna know something else? She blogged for Brownstoner about a Hudson building Hudson was creating in 2009 at 3rd Street and Bond near trendy "Gowanus." In the mid 1990's, I lived on 3rd near Bond in a derelict old warehouse in area that we JOKINGLY called "The Gowanus Basin." Can't make it up. The times they are a-changin' and stayin the a-same at the same a-time.
So now that I've made a connection over there maybe I'll be able to keep y'all updated as things unfold. Seems there's going to be a two-story commercial building along Flatbush (much as the current "medical center: is now) with the baby skyscraper behind it where the parking lot is now. People have also been asking the Q about the other apartment buildings going up at 100 Parkside and on Lincoln Road and a) whether and b) when they're going to be finished to which I say a) yes and b) heck if I know. It's all happening folks, but if you're waiting on them to open for one reason or another, like say to open your haberdashery, then I would say maybe you should open your first iteration somewhere else, like maybe London, because everything seems to be taking longer than you'd think.
Take the "upscale" grocery opening "soon" at the corner of Lincoln and Flatbush. I walked plum in there today without so much as getting frisked, and they've got the refrigeration cases and everything, and a nice man said it will be probably another month til you can buy any lacinato kale there. He was the third person (landlord Rong Ge included) to use the highly descriptive but incredibly dull name "Wholesome Gourmet Market." Frankly, I find the word "wholesome" a bit grotesque, but I'll withhold judgement til the door's open. I mean, really, nless there are topless dancers or salty sailors telling ribald jokes in their dirty underwear I'm assuming the place will be wholesome enough for me to bring my wee ones with me, and I'm also assuming a general level of cleanliness will be the norm. There was a grocer on 4th Avenue near where Mrs. Q and I used to live called "Grade Fair" and I used to always appreciate their honesty, though it never exactly made me want to go out of my way to shop there.
Midnight already? Arghh...
On balance, I think this company and this project are excellent uses of the space. We need new rentals in the area, and by all accounts this is going to be a nicely made, nicely appointed building. My understanding is that it's all rental, with some set aside as affordable, whatever that means in this day and age. All well and good.
What I find truly remarkable is that after nearly a century of the Flatbush (this is the heart of what was once known as Flatbush after all) remaining virtually intact, this is a major, major change, as were Patio Gardens and the Ebbets Houses before it. Generally, the very buildings, and certainly the height of the neighborhood, have remained unchanged, as have other neighborhoods adjacent to the crown jewel Prospect Park. In fact, Park Slope went as far as to designate nearly all the area on the Park as Landmarked, meaning there will be no 23 story buildings along that side. I understand that it is legal and as-of-right to build big over here, but one would think that if the company wanted to get off on the right foot it might want to ask for a meeting with neighbors just to establish its credentials as someone who is capable of listening to concerns. Sometimes it's not just a matter of rights, but a matter of what is "right." You might even learn to love some of our crankiest residents in the process!
To date, I have every indication that Hudson is a responsible developer and one that is a willing participant in the neighborhoods in which it works. I watched a whole half hour interview with Head Hudson David Kramer, and I was struck by his candor and his bona fides as an advocate for housing subsidies. Folks, before digging in too deep I highly encourage you to view that interview, as odd as the interviewer Michael Stoler is (he's F-A-S-C-I-N-A-T-I-N-G and I want to watch them all now), to get a sense of the person in question before making too many assumptions about what sort of person he is. I'm sure there are many opinions on the project already forming, and I'm not even clear exactly what it'll look like (renderings are a-coming), but the YouTube is a fascinating way see the personal side of the characters that shape the very world we live in.
I look forward to meeting with the guy, and having a substantive conversation about the very real situations that plague and sustain Brooklyn neighborhoods like ours, and to welcoming him and Alison and whomever else to a lunch at Da Hot Pot over Doubles and some form of eye-watering curry.
This is big stuff guys. I hope we can get it right.
The Q at Parkside
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.