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.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Hey Flatbush: Your Assembly Woman Says You Don't Want Congestion Pricing

Given that the vast majority of people in Rodneyse Bichotte's 42nd Assembly District do NOT commute to Manhattan by car, the Q is perplexed why she would be grandstanding against the common sense measure to ease traffic and raise revenues for public transportation.

Read all about her faulty logic here.

And for God's sake reach out to her office and let her know you support Democrat priorities made urgent by shoddy leadership through the past decades. Is she generally against Green New Deal basics? It would be good to know before the next election rolls around, no?

Bichotte quoted in the article, showing a shocking disregard for facts.

constituents. Right now, we’re not in favor of congestion pricing in its form as it is today. But we are certainly for fixing the issue of our roads and streets being overpopulated and fixing the subway. Subways need to be fixed! We need to find ways, alternative funding. The “millionaire’s tax.” That’s one way we can go about funding our broken subway system. You have to understand, everyone, the outer boroughs have been ignored for a very long time. OK? Low-income people of color have been dealing with our public systems for many many years, 30, 40 years. Completely ignored. We on the state level have been funding the MTA with billions and billions of dollars in capital. Fares have been increased. In my district, we had workers’ jobs taken away. Subway station workers have been closed down. My constituents are asking, “If we are increasing the fares, where is it going? How come we’ve been yelling for years — 30, 40 years to fund our MTA — and nothing has been done?” And now, people are looking to tax people who are mostly vulnerable. So there’s a lot of issues. Again, we all want the same thing. We want to move New York City more efficiently and expediently, but not at the cost of our working families.”

Just curious. Do an informal poll. How many people you know drive into Manhattan for work? We all wany higher taxes for the rich. They're not mutually exclusive.


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

From Toomey's to Tuborg


Been here more than a decade and chances are you ate at Toomey's, if not often. An old school greasy spoon, it really hit the spot in the days before Blessings and Gratitude (if you get those references, you've probably been here for more than a year at least. K-Dog anyone? Blue Roost?)

Seems it's become a Public House, perhaps a Beer Garden (there is space to do so, what with the old parking lot.) A Roxie Bird alerted Eff Book that a liquor license is in the works and sure enough here tis, The Smoking Gun. Or rather the Tilted Glass.

Anatoly Dubinsky is on the application, and he just happens to be an owner of Franklin Park up north of Eastern Parkway, a pub that on a nice day looks like the below, similar dimensions and all.


I know, I know, I know. Don't even say it (or do, it's a free comment section.) I'll leave it at this. Nightlife along Empire Blvd is probably a reasonable use of the commercial zoning, along with (obviously) crematoriums, storage marts and live poultry places. You know, classic C8 businesses that are allowed. Including craft beer gardens that serve Shiner Bock on the low end to entice recent immigrants from the University of Texas at Austin.

The Q would prefer to see not-too-high housing for low to moderate incomes. Safe to say, though, that a place like this will put upward pressure on rents and developers, not that they needed a lot of help.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Building's Too Damn High - Cumbo Agrees

In the end, it's the Council Member's vote that counts. And rather than wait til further along the process, Laurie Cumbo followed up yesterday's scoping meeting on 960 Franklin with a clear statement of vision. She's not going to nix the rezoning outright; but she's going to stand by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Now, will that be their shadow study, the developer's, or some outside group's? We don't know. If I had to gamble now, I'll bet we get a 25-story building, not nearly 40.

But it's great to see the Member's direct involvement. Even if this is all political theater, it's the kind of theater we need right about now.

From Laurie:

 Whether it’s an 80-story tower on Flatbush Avenue or a private equity firm purchasing an entire portfolio of historic buildings in Bed-Stuy, real estate development pressure in my district seems to increase by the day, threatening to transform our neighborhoods into a cookie-cutter luxury product unrecognizable to longtime Brooklyn residents and familiar only to those living in Anytown, USA. Market-rate apartments are priced far above what most community residents can pay and sometimes even the so-called “affordable” housing has rents over $2,000 a month. And all of this new development has a cumulative impact, placing increasing stress on our infrastructure – our schools, our parks, our subways, our roads, our sewage lines, and everything else. The current pattern of real estate investment and development in Central Brooklyn is clearly not serving our existing communities in an inclusive and holistic way.

           At first impression, a project that proposes “50 percent affordable housing” and touts 100% union labor and union financing sounds like a much-needed improvement. And while these commitments to good jobs with livable wages both during and post-construction cannot be overlooked, we are also faced with Downtown Brooklyn-sized towers overshadowing the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park, shattering all precedent for height and scale.

           This proposal, developed with zero community consultation or input, may need a full reset, not just tinkering around the edges. But for now, I’ll go through point by point on my numerous areas of deep concern.

Height and Shadows
           The large soon-to-be vacant “Spice Factory” does indeed represent an opportunity to bring much needed truly affordable housing to Crown Heights. But that should not give a developer carte blanche to propose 40-story downtown-style glass towers in the middle of this community.

           While there is some precedent in Tivoli Towers and the Ebbets Field apartments for building larger towers to bring affordable housing to this part of Crown Heights, the 960 Franklin proposal would rise far above even these buildings.

           Indeed, there is no precedent for zoning higher than R8 anywhere outside Downtown Brooklyn. In December, I approved a rezoning just north of this site to R8X, allowing 17 stories roughly in line with the surrounding zoning and bringing an extra nearly 100 units of deeply affordable housing beyond the developer’s MIH at an included non-profit development site. Comparing this proposal to that one is apples and oranges. To even consider a development of this size and scale outside of Downtown Brooklyn, the public benefits would have to be massive and the site uniquely appropriate.

           This location immediately to the east of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s conservatory greenhouses may actually be an inappropriate location for a development of this size.

           Let me be perfectly clear – I will not support any proposal that would substantively harm the operations of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The garden’s conservatory greenhouses and nursery are a jewel of Brooklyn – a jewel that needs to be preserved.

           The EIS should go beyond the CEQR standards by analyzing shadows in every month of the year and studying the potential impacts on the specific collections of the garden and the operations of its nursery.

Density and Impacts on Local Infrastructure
           Height and shadow are not my only concern – there is also the issue of the overall density of the project and the proposed addition of over 3,000 new residents to the neighborhood in an additional 1,500 apartments. According to Census Data, this would increase the population in a quarter mile radius of the site (roughly bounded by the Botanic Garden, Union Street, Rogers Avenue, and Lefferts Avenue) by over 20%. Indeed, this project is so large that the EAS flags potentially significant impacts on schools, libraries, child care, transportation, and many other areas.

           With a project of this size, we need to take a careful look at potential impacts on transit service in particular – our subways and buses – to make sure we do what we need to improve transit access including potential ADA improvements at the adjacent subway stations.  

           The prospect of adding such a massive new development without comprehensive consideration for its integration into the fabric of the neighborhood is of great concern. The developer should be proactive in proposing measures to address these impacts and not simply wait for the environmental review to identify the bare minimum thresholds.

Residential Affordability and Residential Displacement
           The murky status of the legal commitment to affordability beyond MIH is also a real concern. The scoping materials state that an HPD regulatory agreement will be negotiated and executed, but at what point in the process will this happen? Since it is not part of the zoning like MIH, is it truly guaranteed? Will it be permanent? None of that is clear.

Cumulative Impacts
           Unbelievably, none of the materials that are the subject of this hearing include the Franklin Avenue rezoning approved in December 2018 just to the north of this site. The maps and all narrative descriptions show the prior R6A zoning extending up Franklin Avenue. Of course, the projected impacts of the R8X development with a total of over 500 units must be taken into account cumulatively with the impacts of development at the 960 Franklin site.

Alternative Development Scenarios
           As currently proposed, there appears to be no firm guarantee that the developer will arrive at an agreement for HPD financing for the extra 20% of income-restricted units or be compelled to use the Special Permit that would enable the specific proposed design.

           The application should be transparent with all possible outcomes including an R9D development scenario without the Special Permit – which would be a bulkier, squatter alternative, and a development without extra affordable housing above MIH.
           For this location in particular, it is crucially important to understand all potential bulk scenarios and their impact on the shadows on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

           The proposed rezoning would also include part of the MTA’s Franklin Avenue Shuttle rail beds, adding nearly 130,000 square feet of development rights to this parcel. With the MTA searching for potential revenues, it is not unfeasible that the MTA would seek to sell and transfer these development rights in the future and this scenario should be fully analyzed in the EIS.

Conclusion
           In conclusion, Crown Heights Brooklyn deserves development that addresses our needs for affordable housing, community services, and infrastructure; fits the character and context of our historic community; and respects our institutions like the Botanic Garden. I urge the developers to drop this “take it or leave it” posture and work towards a more viable proposal and I look forward to hearing public input from my constituents on this project.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Rah Rah Ramen

Junior Felix - One Half of the Founding Duo, Heads East
That didn't take long. Not but a few months after Glady's opened a big ol' joint on Rogers at Lincoln, it's gonna take a right turn at rice and peas, on the way to rice noodles and saki, ultimately veering east from the West Indies. From NY Eater comes this update on founder/chef Junior Felix and new partner William Garfield:

The restaurant, at 453 Rogers Ave. at Lincoln Road, will get a new to-be-announced name and draw more from Garfield’s experience in Portland, Maine. While there, Garfield worked at Japanese restaurants under Masa Miyake — an esteemed chef who has a tasting menu restaurant on Eater’s essentials list and was a James Beard Award nominee in 2015.
Garfield left the partnership in Portland in 2014 and soon after started working at Glady’s.
Now, he and Felix will be collaborating in PLG for a menu centered around non-traditional versions of ramen with a chicken broth base. Think oxtail ramen or a vegetarian broth with smoked onions, cooked with the smoker that has become a signature of the restaurant. Felix will also make use of the smoker for pork loin, chicken, and seasonal vegetables, which will go into the ramen and be sold on their own. Plus, comfort food like buns, burgers, fried chicken, and wings, as well as Japanese and Jamaican curries, will be on deck.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Man, That's Cold - No Homebound 2,5 at Winthrop

No roll out. Just here it is...a massive headache for you, dear subway rider. And the way they list the time frame - March to July? Like, every single day all the time???

Cold. Real cold.



Plight the Flower

So apparently 39 stories right next door has finally rankled folks over at the BBG. They'll be addressing the need to protect the garden from the monster growing at the old Spice Factory site.

To sign the petition go here. And good luck BBG. You're gonna need it, and a well done shadow study.
Stand with Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Opposing Zoning Changes
Dear BBG Member,

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s plant collections are under serious threat from a proposed massive building complex including two 39-story towers just 150 feet from the Garden.

The Garden is strongly advocating that current land-use zoning must remain—zoning that was designed to protect our conservatories, greenhouses, and nurseries where plants are grown for the entire 52 acres of BBG.

Outsized towers of this height would block hours of sunlight to these spaces and cause lasting damage to BBG, a world-renowned treasure whose plant collections have been serving the community and fostering generations of environmental stewards for over 100 years.

We are calling on our members and supporters to help us speak out against rezoning with our elected officials. Join us in signing a petition to City officials to oppose this rezoning and to protect the integrity and the beauty of the Garden!
SIGN THE PETITION NOW
Join Brooklyn Botanic Garden in protecting this vital community asset at the Public Scoping Meeting on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at the New York City Department of City Planning. As a valued member of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I ask that you join us at this hearing to show your solidarity and stand with us against these zoning changes.

You can also to contact the chairs of the City Council's Committee on Land Use and the Council's Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, the District 35 Council Member (the proposed project is in Council District 35), your own City Council Member, the Brooklyn Borough President, and the Mayor.

If you have further questions, please email membership@bbg.org. Thank you for your ongoing membership support and for helping BBG protect its sunlight.

Sincerely,
Scot Medbury, BBG President 
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BROOKLYN BOTANIC GARDEN
1000 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Beyond Pathetic

With all the craziness going on in the world. With all the fear and dislocation going on among his constituents. With all the economic and tenant issues, and transportation and legal and just showing up in the neighborhood to hear what constituents want and need, this is Council Person Mathieu Eugene's latest.

Laughable, if it weren't so galling. What the eff does this have to do with his district? No disrespect to Yeon Hwan Park of course.

COUNCIL MEMBER MATHIEU EUGENE AND SPEAKER COREY JOHNSON TO HONOR GRANDMASTER YEON HWAN PARK FOR HIS ACHIEVEMENTS IN TAEKWONDO

(New York, NY) - Council Member Mathieu Eugene, in collaboration with New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, will present a proclamation to Taekwondo Grandmaster Yeon Hwan Park at the City Council Stated Meeting.

Council Member Eugene, himself a master of martial arts, will honor Grandmaster Yeon Hwan Park for his extraordinary achievements in Taekwondo as a coach, teacher, and mentor, and for his leadership as the President of the U.S Taekwondo Leaders Union.  

After moving to the United States in the 1980s, Grandmaster Park became the head coach of the U.S Olympic team. In 1988, he led his team to the Olympics in Seoul, where, competing as a demonstration sport, they won four gold medals, two silver medals and three bronze medals, and shocked the Korean athletes who had dominated the sport for decades.

In more recent years, Grandmaster Park has served as president of the New York State Taekwondo Association, secretary-general of the U.S. Taekwondo Union, vice president of the U.S. Taekwondo Union, and the author or coauthor of more than a dozen books on the martial art. He is currently president of the U.S. Taekwondo Leaders Union (USTLU) and an Overseas Advisory Committee member of the Kukkiwon World Taekwondo Headquarters

Mr. Park will be accept the proclamation surrounded by 22 of his students and instructors from his training school

“Today, we are honoring a man who is one of the greatest authorities on Taekwondo in the world,” said Council Member Eugene. “Grandmaster Park is a ninth-degree black belt who was the undefeated Korean national champion from 1971 to 1975. He led the United States Olympic Team to nine medals – including four gold medals – in the 1988 Games in Seoul not long after having moved to the United States, ending a decades-long dominance by the Koreans in the sport. It was primarily through Grand Master Park’s persuasion that the International Olympic Committee decided Taekwondo should become fully recognized as an Olympic sport. Grand Master Park embodies the power of Taekwondo to positively transform the lives of people. He has mentored thousands of people through his education and instruction and has proven that Taekwondo is much more than a sport that teaches people a discipline of hand-to-hand combat. It is an honor to join Speaker Corey Johnson to present him with a proclamation today as the New York City Council recognizes his great achievements.”  

                                                                        ###  

WHO:       Council Member Mathieu Eugene, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Taekwondo Grandmaster Yeon Hwan Park
WHAT:    Honoring Taekwondo Grandmaster Yeon Hwan Park

WHERE:  Stated Meeting
                  New York City Council Chambers  
                  City Hall

WHEN:    Thursday, February 28, 2019
                  1pm    

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Wanna Make Some Noise About the Spice Factory Skyscraper?

The Q's been getting an unusual number of requests on what to do about the alarmingly tall project being proposed for the Franklin Ave Spice Factory site, one of many super big projects going up north of Empire (and soon ON Empire). This surprises me a bit, since I've been opining on this stuff for literally years now. But if this is what it takes to get people motivated, well then here we go.

The most recent info about how you, dear citizen, can get involved came in from CB9's office just a minute ago. There are a few things you can do.


  • Reach out the Botanic Garden's president Scott Medbury and tell him how you feel about towers next to the garden. Call 718-623-7200. No, you won't get through to him. Just ask for his office and leave a polite but firm message. Enough people do that, he'll know he has public support for shorter buildings.
  • Go to the ULURP meeting on the topic - Wednesday March 6 2019 - at 1185 Carroll Street (see below)
  • Prepare a statement for the Scoping Hearing (see below)
  • Send me a note that you'd like to be part of a CONSTRUCTIVE conversation with your neighborhood organization PLGNA. Hopefully we can set up a meeting soon to discuss ways to combat overdevelopment.
  • Don't use MTOPP or FLAC or any other Boyd related orgs to register your complaints, lest you associate your opinions with those most despised by the council person, other elected officials, the Garden and anyone with a sense of decency. We need constructive dialogue.



  • But here on National Michael Cohen Day, I just wanna say again...the train left the station a long time ago, and we'll be playing catch-up for years. Especially if we don't find a way to work WITH the City, not just saying no-no-no and screaming and yelling all the time. No partner likes to be treated that way. Dig?




Let this email serve as notice that the ULURP Committee Meeting, Public Hearing re: 960 Franklin Avenue Rezoning has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 06, 2019, at 7PM, to be located at Crown Gardens Community Room - 1185 Carroll Street, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11225, directly across from the Brooklyn CB9 office; please standby for an agenda.

Furthermore, a public scoping hearing for 960 Franklin Avenue has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 12th at 1:00 PM at the NYCDCP, City Planning Commission Hearing Room, 120 Broadway, Concourse Level, New York, NY.

Draft Scope of Work, Environmental Assessment Statement and scoping notice can be viewed and downloaded here: https://nycdcp.box.com/s/6thn5t6bqsqluou1qkxwwood7613q2me

The scoping notice and materials can also be found on the Dept of City Planning's website here: https://www1.nyc.gov/…/pl…/applicants/scoping-documents.page

Please contact our office should you have further inquiries. Thank you.

Unella Rhone-Perry
ULURP/Land Use Committee Chair
Brooklyn Community Board 9

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Snow Got You Thinking Summer Camp?

For those not in-the-know, Trailblazers is a kickin' summer camp that's been around about 1000 years and does programs throughout the seasons. This looks like a good one, right in the neighborhood, as is the headquarters. Click for more info and to register.


Have you ever wished you could have summer camp all year long? Get one step closer to your dreams through the Prospect-Lefferts Garden Neighborhood Association's day of summer camp fun!

Produced in collaboration with Trail Blazer Camps, this event will help warm up your winter with some of your favorite summer camp activities.

Our winter camp will include camp songs, parachute games, team-building activities, an obstacle course, nature themed art projects, and more! We will also have nut-free trail mix and hot cocoa for all attendees.

For questions about this event, please contact registration@trailblazers.org or check out our Facebook invite here. We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Here It Comes - The Spice Factory Rises

So unnecessary. So predictable.

Months and years of combat against the City by local citizens led by AB (MTOPP in particular) has yielded nothing in the way of protections against outsized development. The Community Board has taken the stance of "No Negotiating With Terrorists," as if City Planners and "more housing" advocates didn't have a leg to stand on. They do. In fact, the City IS the leg. And Boyd and company have misplayed their hand so horribly as to leave us with projects like the new Spice Factory development that, barring unforeseen economic catastrophe, will look something like this:

Read all about it
Roughly in line height-wise with Tivoli towers and some of the other new developments being planned, this part of southern Crown Heights is quickly being transformed into a massive new rental neighborhood. Which, of course, it always WAS going to be. Once these buildings are built (and despite what you'll hear to the contrary, they will pretty much sail through with promises of hundreds of units of new means-tested i.e. "affordable" housing), new precedents will have been set for the area.

And then, as they always do, Empire(s) will fall. (Activists Get Nothing)

And to think, when the Q first started looking at the issue, Eric Adams and co. were hoping to work with City Planning to cap buildings at 10-12 stories. Now, by alienating the City and allowing "spot rezonings" to go through one-by-one, I'd say the neighborhood that was won't be anymore.

Is it the end of the world? Of course not. Was it an enormous missed opportunity to partner with the City in deciding how and where this stuff should go? Hell yeah.