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, June 10, 2013

Hudson Companies Closes on 626 Flatbush

Well folks, it appears to be happening. 626 has closed, and Hudson's ready to roll.

626 Flatbush.

Le post previous on le subject.

Regarding comments below about the other big apartment projects:

Chetrit's still plodding along on Parkside. Tom Anderson said they were up for another shot at public financing in June for Lincoln Road. I'll drop him a line. Everybody wants these things done yesterday, huh?

Always with the schpilkas! They'll happen when they happen. What, you're gonna get out there and help them throw up some gyp-board?

Seriously though, I've been watching the wheels go around both here and in other parts of Brooklyn very closely. And I'm wondering...what exactly is it that you makes y'all so sure a big tower goes up, and things get clean and tidy and less gangstery? And how does that happen, exactly? I mean, the police ARE paying very close attention, and have been, and a lot of things they've been watching I can't even tell you about because it really could muck things up if word got out. I'm serious...not that we've got Einstein and Holmes on the case, but there are cops out there, believe it or not, so I'm not sure a single building would, by itself, spell the difference.

I think one commenter nailed it when he/she talked about strolling Flatbush. Because of the perception of danger, families don't really shop or hang on the Flabenue, making it LESS safe, and that feeds on itself. Businesses have no need to cater to types of business that doesn't exist, and the cycle continues. Lighting is spotty; supers and biz owners don't shoo away loiterers. Dogs are allowed to terrify people. This stuff ain't rocket science. What I'm saying is if more people WENT there and hung out, fewer knuckleheads would hang there. And if more people hung out, more 911 calls would come in complaining about unacceptable behavior and trash. That's really a big part of what changes - perception. There's other stuff too of course, but that's what I saw happen on Smith Street, long before it became restaurant row. And folks, it was DANGEROUS in 1989. No joke. Then I saw it on 5th Ave. And Vanderbilt. And Dekalb. And Murder, I mean Myrtle. And Franklin...

And I'm looking at this issue as closely as I can for a guy with a family with a full time job. It's fascinating stuff. I keep coming back to the book "There Goes the 'Hood." by Lance Freeman, mostly because it's the only full book I've had a chance to read since, I dunno, Voyage of the Dawn Treader or something, but also because he notes the both micro and macro ways that change happens.

These days I'm watching a slow motion soap opera on my street, and the story is not at all linear. And real people get lost and bruised in the shuffle. There's more white folk on block, to be sure. Has quality of life gotten better? Me and (30 year resident and co-conspirator) Janice were talking last night and the answer is...sorta, not really. And very few people, at the end of the day, give a damn about the big picture.

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes! Several years of noisy construction, followed by a vastly improved cheese selection. It's the American dream come true.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the recent shooters can be buried in the concrete beneath...

peter said...

Any news on 33 Lincoln Road?

MadMommaCarmen said...

Wow. This is gonna change things big time! Still not sure how I feel about it.

Seth said...

I think this is good for Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

While the word gentrification is bandied about quite a bit in our neighborhood, the reality is that there has been very little commercial investment in our community.

We are very under served in some areas (banking is one that comes up quite often) and retailers tend to follow the lead of others. This is a huge financial commitment and others will not be far behind.

I don't want PLG to turn into Park Slope, but some investment is good.

Anonymous said...

Great news!! Better retail, less crime, cleaner streets,
(hopefully) = improved quality of life.

Anonymous said...

FANTASTIC! Finally, a real game changer for PLG. Can't wait to see the trucks roll on in! Now what's happening w that site next to the Q at Prospect Park?

mc said...

I'd like to know what's happening with the former hospital building on Parkside. Any news on completion? Once that's ready, the residential options will increase.

Anonymous said...

Good... Flatbush will be cleaned up. How many of you honestly enjoy an evening stroll down Flatbush ... past the garbage, gang bangers, phone stores...

And yeah anonymous 4:20... the shooters are gonna leave and get buried.

jade said...

This is great news…definitely a game changer for the neighborhood. The police and Bloomberg will have to listen and pay attention to us now, as these developers will not sit idle while their investment go down the drain. The police will have to become more active, and make their presence known. After last weeks’ depressing news-this is fantastic. Don’t get me wrong I don’t want PLG to become Park Slope of even Fort Green, but we could use some new amenities and some descent looking stores. Go PLG!

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Chetrit's still plodding along on Parkside. Tom Anderson said they were up for another shot at public financing in June for Lincoln Road. I'll drop him a line. Everybody wants these things done yesterday, huh?

Always with the schpilkas! They'll happen when they happen. What, you're gonna get out there and help them throw up some gyp-board?

Seriously though, I've been watching the wheels go around both here and in other parts of Brooklyn very closely. And I'm wondering...what exactly is it that you makes y'all so sure a big tower goes up, and things get clean and tidy and less gangstery? And how does that happen, exactly? I mean, the police ARE paying very close attention, and have been, and a lot of things they've been watching I can't even tell you about because it really could muck things up if word got out. I'm serious...not that we've got Einstein and Holmes on the case, but there are cops out there, believe it or not, so I'm not sure a single building would, by itself, spell the difference.

I think one commenter nailed it when he/she talked about strolling Flatbush. Because of the perception of danger, families don't really shop or hang on the Flabenue, making it LESS safe, and that feeds on itself. Businesses have no need to cater to types of business that doesn't exist, and the cycle continues. Lighting is spotty; supers and biz owners don't shoo away loiterers. Dogs are allowed to terrify people. This stuff ain't rocket science. What I'm saying is if more people WENT there and hung out, fewer knuckleheads would hang there. And if more people hung out, more 911 calls would come in complaining about unacceptable behavior and trash. That's really a big part of what changes - perception. There's other stuff too of course, but that's what I saw happen on Smith Street, long before it became restaurant row. And folks, it was DANGEROUS in 1989. No joke. Then I saw it on 5th Ave. And Vanderbilt. And Dekalbe. And Murder, I mean Myrtle. And Franklin...

And I'm looking at this issue as closely as I can for a guy with a family with a full time job. It's fascinating stuff. I keep coming back to the book "There Goes the 'Hood." by Lance Freeman, mostly because it's the only full book I've had a chance to read since, I dunno, Voyage of the Dawn Treader or something, but also because he notes the both micro and macro ways that change happens.

These days I'm watching a slow motion soap opera on my street, and the story is not at all linear. And real people get lost and bruised in the shuffle. There's more white folk on block, to be sure. Has quality of life gotten better? Me and (30 year resident and co-conspirator) Janice were talking last night and the answer is...sorta, not really. And very few people, at the end of the day, give a damn about the big picture.

Seth said...

I see people and families shopping on Flatbush Avenue every day. There is a tremendous amount of foot traffic, which will be an asset when people start investing more in the community.

Anonymous said...

seems pretty clear that this is going to change some fundamental dynamic on Flatbush, particularly since this place is smack in between the two stations. If it's 80/20 housing, you're talking adding 200 market-rate apartments into the heart of the neighborhood. Nothing of that scale has happened in PLG in decades. And presumably, one developer making a play here will inspire Chetrit to go for it as well. The issue with PLG changing, and the pace of its change, has always been a function of density. There just aren't enough people buying fancy houses in the Manor to drive the kinds of services that those same people demand. So this infusion of that demographic is going to push things in that direction. It's also going to ramp up tensions-I've noticed this on my own block outside the HD, where the turnover has been pretty profound. It's mostly young educated couples and families, and there's not an inconsiderable amount of guilt involved at knowing people are part of the historic force that is changing the neighborhood. I've heard stories from neighbors in the apartment buildings of landlords offering to buy them out of their RS leases, or of people who aren't on leases living in fear that building management will force them out if they ask for maintenance. When I moved here, my perception was that white people moving in was something of a novelty or curiosity. Now, it's clear to everyone that it's only going to accelerate, and people are beginning to realize what the stakes are. 626 Flatbush is going to accelerate that in a way similar to the renovation of the Jewish Hospital in Crown Heights--it is absolutely going to drive a change in retail and street life on Flatbush. Especially if this DOT traffic proposal goes through, and the road isn't such a nightmare anymore.

Those of us that stick around will see what happens, anyway. I think there needs to be a balance struck between cheerleading development at all costs and assuming that every change in the neighborhood is going to bring suffering and exploitation to the people that were here before.

It's certainly going to be interesting to watch it all unfold.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Seth: Below Parkside, I see tremendous stop and stroll and window shop. Not so much north of Parkside. Which area has a BID, do you suppose? :)

People north of Parkside are generally going someplace, and often quickly, not to linger. The business folks know exactly what I'm talking about. And those who consider opening shops here know it too. It's not for everyone. And yes, an influx of flush young money-spenders will change that dramatically, if not all at once. Again, the biggest impact will be psychological. Fear breed fear; calm breeds calm. Brie breed drunken goat. And drunken man breeds drunken goat, at least back in God's country.

I agree with the need for pause cautious optimism. Right now, a great deal of illegal activity is taking place to evict tenants and warehouse apartments. Tenant "screening" is happening. Schemes to avoid rent stabilization. All kinds of lies to trick unsuspecting renters into believing they're getting something they're not. Pressure, harassment, you name it.

It's one thing to be hopeful for a brighter day. It's another thing to pull the wool over your own eyes.

Anonymous said...

Why has the push for a BID north of Parkside failed multiple times?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

what push? I know of no "push" other than some blog comments, and attempt to organize a merchant's association (largely still a plan, rather than a functioning body), and many years ago there was FECMA (went down as far as Clarkson) which never had any support from landlords.

There has been no real "push" as far as I know; the BID to the south had a longtime committed leader, who just died last year.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I should rephrase my question, why are landlords north of Parkside not more open to the idea of a BID? If I were a landlord I would be wholeheartedly behind the initial investment in a BID since it can then garner larger rent rolls in the future. I look at the stretch of Tudor style buildings along Flatbush just across from Rutland Road and can't seem to fathom why they sit dormant like that? The owner must have no concept of money!

turk473 said...

Flatbush is not a commercial wasteland by any stretch. As a matter of fact it can rightly be categorized as thriving - for a particular type of consumer. The Lincoln to Parkside swathe is considered the Rodeo Drive of hair and nail salons - people come here from Harlem to beautify themselves. The landlords have no problem getting their spaces rented for that reason and leases can be quite dear. That's why we haven't seen the arrival of new businesses that one might have expected given the influx of newcomers to LG. Other neighborhoods had moribund commercial areas and new ventures could snatch up relatively cheap leases. That's simply not the case here - hence the dearth of artisanal kim chi stores run by Wisconsin natives.

It's coming, of course, but just not as rapidly as in other areas that had this sort of influx.

"And that's realer than real deal Holyfield."

Anonymous said...

You are true about that Turk, but there are still some vacant commercial properties along Flatbush and I never see a white person window shopping along Flatbush Avenue. They either are quickly heading to the Q/B trains or popping into Tugboat or Tip of T.

I really think the issue with Flatbush Avenue is the amount of noise generated by car traffic due to it being a 4 lane expressway. Smith Street is a one lane street, 5th Avenue a two lane street. Nobody wants to dine al fresco next to the Flatbush Expressway!!

theQ said...

Turk's analysis is spot on, and echoes what I've said here in previous long-winded essays. If people want certain kinds of businesses, they either need to open them or make an effort to attract them. They don't magically appear, as some may think. Every retail change-over has a backstory of many years. And each shop, when it's not the result of outside investors plopping down a well-tried slightly changed version of the same thing from elsewhere, each shop is the result of blood, sweat and tears by a ma & pa business person.

The window shopping that white, black or mauve people desire is the result of real work, not kvetching. Sorry to sound bitchy, but I've been hearing the same complaint for 10 years now. We have two super swell coffee shops nearby, a new grocery is opening (don't know how it'll be) there's a sit-down option and a dive bar. And yes, more will come. But it's not like you can't take a five minute bus or train ride and be in the middle of a foodie jamboree.

But Flatbush is NOT thriving. That's where I disagree with Turk. Many shop owners are not keeping up with their rent. And while some shops have loyal clientele and are busy all the time, many are lonely.

Instead of complaining about what's there, though, I wish people would just consider encouraging their favorite places to come open a place here.

Anonymous said...

Q, Turk is not complaining. If anything he seems to recognize there are already functional businesses along Flatbush Avenue serving a subset of the community. In actuality nobody is complaining on this comment thread! Everyone is just making observational comments. Why are you so upset?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Oh yes they are...yes they are. Both here, and many, many times through the years I've written this blog. If you haven't noticed it, you haven't been paying attention.

Sometimes it's blatant. Sometimes it's subtle. I don't mind. It's part of the dialogue.

By the way, I said bitchy. I'm not upset in the least. You'll know when I'm upset.

Anonymous said...

The building will be designed by Roger Marvel Architects. The DOB hasn't approved the application yet.

turk473 said...

I hear you CFB.

But business owners not keeping up with rent and lonely storefronts plague even the most thriving commercial areas from Park Slope to Fort Greene - hence generally high turnover rates across the board.

Overall, I was just making an observation. I always hear people wondering about the lack of new shops and I think they sometimes forget that the landlords aren't hurting for tenants on Flatbush.

I want to be able to order something other than bad chicken tikka masala as much as the next dude.

Meanwhile, I'm going to call it right now because I truly believe it: LG is the most interesting neighborhood in NYC. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I agree with u Turk. Q please don't give up on this neighborhood. I know you have been working tirelessly for over 10 years to effect change but please don't throw in the towel. With patience comes greatness. Try to become the Mahatmi Gandhi for our hood. You can do it and you need to believe in your end goal for the neighborhood. At tomorrow's night DA meeting I really think you should take the lead by example. Hunger strike until we have a month of zero shootings anybody?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

give up? who said anything about giving up? if it didn't change one bit, i'd still be happy.

just the trash and the gangs and i'd be thrilled...

Anonymous said...

um...here's hoping Q doesn't quite follow in Gandhi's footsteps. That movie didn't end so well.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Also, anyone who knows me will tell you that "hunger strike" really isn't my bag.

Anonymous said...

cutting and pasting this comment from Lefferts listserve, just to give a sense of the range of opinions on this project: "$11 million for a parking garage and medical clinic???

This building will have the exact opposite effect that you are looking for. No building owner on Flatbush Avenue will ever again want to bother with renting to a small business, whether a new or existing business if they can sell to a residential developer for this kind of money.

This is about more than just one proposed skyscraper. The zoning on our stretch of Flatbush and Ocean Avenue means any and every building on these blocks is a prime target for developers looking to throw up outlandishly tall buildings that they would NOT be allowed to build in ANY other brownstone neighborhood in Brooklyn, including Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Flatbush and Prospect Park South, Crown Heights, or Bedford Stuyvesant. North of Grand Army Plaza, Flatbush Avenue's zoning does not allow buildings taller than 80 feet. South of Clarkson, Flatbush Avenue's zoning also does not allow buildings taller than 80 feet.

There are many reasons ALL of these neighborhoods chose to implement contextual zoning over the last several years.

Without reasonable height restrictions on development, existing tenants, especially vulnerable low income seniors and disabled people will be forced out by building owners looking to cash out.

Light and air will be blotted out on Flatbush and surrounding residential side streets.

Flatbush Avenue will become a cheap looking mishmash of buildings of wildly differing height and style.

It makes a mockery of our efforts at historic preservation when a developer with deep pockets can throw up anything they want, at any height, in our faces. This tower will be visible throughout most of our historic district as well as in Prospect Park, one of the greatest unspoiled natural oases in the city.

Our children will face the daily hazards of walking under construction cranes for at least the next decade. And all this so a few people can sit in their perches in the sky and look down at the rest of us??

I would like to stress that it is perfectly possible to create the same number of square feet of housing, whether market rate or affordable at a reasonable height - say 6-8 stories. This developer plans to use only 25% of the lot area available to him - that is why the building will be 23 stories and not 6 stories like other existing apartment buildings on Flatbush.

As a community we need to get out in front of this issue before it is too late - i.e. now, given that construction will begin this summer pending zoning approval. Many things - stores, building facades, residents will naturally come and go. A building that is too tall will be that way FOREVER, barring an act of God or terrorism. This is not a mistake that we should make lightly, whatever vague benefits a developer may promise.

Anyone interested in organizing around this issue please email me off list. I've heard the community was able to effectively organize opposition to a similar proposed tower on Lincoln Road. "

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting. Very sobering perspective. I feel like the DJ's equipment just crashed.

I always had some reservations about the slightly crazed height of this project but mentally shelved them to revel in visions of a vastly improved Flatbush.

I'm a zoning ignoramus. Are there no height restrictions between Lincoln and Parkside along Flatbush?

Are there any local analogues to this situation?

turk473 said...

Reposting with my screen name:

Thanks for posting. Very sobering perspective. I feel like the DJ's equipment just crashed.

I always had some reservations about the slightly crazed height of this project but mentally shelved them to revel in visions of a vastly improved Flatbush.

I'm a zoning ignoramus. Are there no height restrictions between Lincoln and Parkside along Flatbush?

Are there any local analogues to this situation?

Anonymous said...

If some people actually create a petition to block this condo development I will create a petition to support it. You can't protect the historic districts over the long term without allowing for tall buildings in other areas of this massive and ever growing city. It also increases toxic suburban sprawl to limit growth in the urban center as long as there is demand to live here.

turk473 said...

If I had to choose right now I would opt to green light the project.

That said, the height questions are legit moving forward.

Anonymous said...

Goodness, it doesn't take 10 years to build this. If you must exaggerate so much and get parents of small children into hysterics to do this then you don't have many real reasons to protest. I am a white woman who window shops on the Flabenue. It gets vibrant and busy just South of our neighborhood and I like the walk. There's a Cookies (kids clothing and gear) and Old Navy and Sears not too far down. Sneaker stores and discount stores along the way. The sneaker store at Church and Flatbush must be on top of getting the latest and coolest if you're into sneaks, because periodically there are long lines of kids waiting for it to open on weekends.

Anonymous said...

Turk, that spot is zoned for buildings that high.

Anonymous said...

it's not going to take anything like ten years, and Hudson has demonstrated with previous projects that they are responsive to community input. The building is going to be set back considerably from Flatbush, as opposed to Patio Gardens, which currently rises 16 stories directly from the sidewalk. This building will, if anything, be less imposing. And the only structure that will be removed is the ugly noncontextual peach-stucco eyesore next to Associated. If it's built as 80/20 housing, that will add a net 50 rent-stabilized apartments to the neighborhood, more than have been built in at once in decades.

Building for density along transit corridors is the best urbanist solution to a whole bunch of environmental and sprawl-based problems. It's a vastly more environmentally sound solution than the (admittedly lovely) low-density bucolic splendor of Lefferts Manor. Which will also become much more valuable as the neighborhood develops, because the historic district isn't going anywhere.

And the fact that this tower will be visible from the park? Well, go to the sheep meadow sometime and complain about Central Park South, where the tallest apartment building in the U.S. is currently selling penthouses to Chinese oligarchs for $100 million a pop. It's wonderful that PLG's historic district has been preserved, but the rest of the city cannot be frozen in amber because of some fuzzy notion of Frederick Law Olmstead's wishes.

And the idea that "the community was able to effectively organize opposition to a similar proposed tower on Lincoln Road" is laughable. The only thing that effectively organized against the Lincoln Road tower being built was the global credit crisis.

My god I sound like Robert Moses. But it's true. I'm looking forward to seeing this thing built.

Anonymous said...

Your children are in greater danger from the gang bangers on Flatbush than any crane.

Nobody goes on Flatbush unless they have to. It is dangerous and threatening.

This project will take nobody's ten years... 2 at max... and I'm very hopeful.

turk473 said...

We've got some sharp quills in this province - thoroughly enjoyable and informative post 8:07 p.m.

"Frozen in amber" - slick!

While Flatbush always makes for riveting copy, the truly slept on stretch in PLG is Rogers Ave. That road has the potential to become a really pleasant commercial area. A bar here, a little restaurant there, an art gallery or two. And guess what? The commercial rents are dirt cheap. Someone needs to toss the dice up there. Feel me?

Don't forget the brand.

PLG: NYC's most fascinating neighborhood. Disseminate the concept far and wide.

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree with Anon 8:07, this whole "don't ruin the skyline from the park" spiel is a little silly -- we live in *New York City*; move to the Great Plains if you want an uninterrupted skyline.

Re: foot traffic/window shopping, I do find myself slowing and checking out storefronts south of Parkside much more than north of it. One of the more welcoming elements to me, though certainly no major retail footprint, are actually the little tiny "stands" that sell everything from cell phone covers to socks to hats and sunglasses. You know what I'm talking about - they seem to only have a few square feet of actual building space, but have displays and boxes spilling onto the sidewalk. Can't tell you how many impulse buys I've made at those over the years...and I can think of at least 5 of those places between Clarkson and Church, and not a single one from Parkside to Maple. I'm sure I'm wrong, there's got to be one in that northern section, but I think that speaks to the retail atmosphere.

ElizabethC said...

Name check: Robert Moses!

Seriously, this whole "white people don't shop on Flatbush"? crazy. I love the little shopping mall off Caton, Trixies, the funky women's clothing stores. and, of course, DD.

Anonymous said...

to the person who said Rodgers Ave is going to be interesting? Yes...you are right; stuff is going to happen there as well.

Anonymous said...

Are you joking about Rogers Avenue? Rogers Avenue is like walking along the German Autobahn. There is no speed limit and its a three lane major highway for all the West Indian and Caribbean drivers to test out if their vehicles can break through the sound barrier.

babs said...

There certainly is a speed limit - like everywhere in NYC, unless posted otherwise, it's 30 mph - some enforcement here would help. Unfortunately, the car contingent has repeatedly shouted down any attempts to improve things here - cameras were voted down a few years ago, and turning it into a two-way street (which has been shown to slow traffic) was also rejected.

However, it's to be hoped that the move of the B44 bus from NY to Rogers when the new SBS is introduced will slow things down (the local B44 will remain on NY Ave) - a dedicated lane and built-out bus bulbs at Empire and Church (not sure about Clarkson, the other area stop planned for the route) should make things less appealing for the race car drivers.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:07 is spot on. This project is a net gain for our neighborhood.

-Paul G.

Anonymous said...

If the PLGNA opposition gets off the ground, the pro-development voices are going to have to make sure we're heard...

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Before y'all get too riled up, there's a couple points to consider.

One, current zoning permits the building. There's nothing you can do about that. If they have their paperwork in order, all the hemming and hawing won't have any effect on this building or the other two major projects in the area.

Second, our politics, media and culture love to define things in as either this or that. There is a way for people to come together and be smart about how development proceeds so everyone gets something.

Third, parsing out the issues is really important. Are you upset about the height of buildings? The market vs. affordable quotient? How it will affect neighborhood home and rent values? Retail options? Or just the very real possibility of change, and change is always mixed with a degree of fear, some founded and some not so much?

This is historically PLGNA's turf. I think it's an excellent place to turn, and Quest has already been exploring this issue at the Community Board. That's the primary place that the government listens from, with PLGNA having a great role to play as well from the grassroots.

babs said...

I don't think that PLGNA has said anything about this project. I also think that there are some significant differences between this and the former proposal for the Lincoln Rd site that bear mentioning:

1. Intended occupancy. The original Lincoln Rd. proposal called for "luxury condominiums;" here, we're looking at a mix of affordable and market rental apartments.

2. Community space. Original Lincoln Rd: None. Flatbush Ave: Yes.

3. The Developer. Original Lincoln Rd.: Henry Herbst, whose only previous experience was working with Shayna Boymelgreen, many of whose projects ended in lawsuits brought by buyers over poor-quality construction (see Newswalk on Dean St). Flatbush Ave: Hudson Companies, an experienced developer of a variety of projects, from luxury condos (Jay Condo in Dumbo) to boutique condos (Third + Bond in Carroll Gardens), to historic renovation (The Knick condos in Bushwick and Cobble Hill Towers on Hicks St), to multiple affordable rental projects, often in conjunction with HPD. They have a reputation for transparency and community accountability. You can read more about them on their website, but I'm happy they've chosen to invest in our neighborhood (here and at 22 Caton).

4. The design. Original Lincoln Rd.: A splashy, all glass tower, supposedly with changing colors - pretty unrealistic, to begin with, and of concern for migrating bird safety. Flatbush Ave.: I haven't seen any renderings yet, and the height is a concern. However, this (like the original Lincoln Rd) is an as-of-right build, so nothing to do about it there. However, given Hudson's responsiveness and approachability, they may be open to community input. This should also be a call to push through a re zoning of the area, so that we don't end up with a canyon of skyscrapers down Flatbush!

I also think that Tom Anderson's plan for the Lincoln Rd. site is a huge improvement over Herbst's fantasy. I hope he is able to get the funds together to complete it.

Do I agree with everything Hudson has ever done? Not at all - I hate that they collaborated with NYU on the destruction of an historic church in the East Village (apart from rubbing salt into the wound by preserving part of the facade as the entrance) replacing it with yet another behemoth of a dorm for more rich kids attending what was founded as an institution for the middle class (but my NYU rant is another topic) and there were some shenanigans involving rent-controlled and -stabilized tenants at what became Cobble Hill Towers, but overall, they're probably the best for PLG.

The Snob said...

The only thing worse would be a citibike hub outside the building.

Just kidding! I'm for this, and I think PLG can handle it. We've seen the rapid development of Crown Heights, let's show that we can learn from it.

babs said...

Maybe replace that MTA "parking" by the Prospect Park subway stop with a citibike hub (if they can get their software act together).

turk473 said...

10:12 a.m.

1. Thanks for specifying that you were referring to the German Autobahn as opposed to the Kosovar Autobahn.

2. West Indian AND Caribbean drivers? Please outline the distinction for us.


I agree that the stretch can often resemble Talladega, but that's not an insurmountable problem, is it? Think positive homie. Rogers has some obvious advantages that you should consider before indulging in an aimless spew.

disco princess said...

To Anonymous at June 12, 2013 at 10:12 AM - "West Indian" and "Caribbean" are the same thing.

The more you know...

disco princess said...

I'm well-aware that in this area major banks are in short supply. Seth, A TD Bank is coming to Bedford Avenue and Sullivan Place. Yay for progress.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't even identify myself as "pro development" but rather pro private property ownership rights. We do have those in this country. It makes sense to landmark and strictly control blocks of uninterrupted 100 year old purely residential blocks. It's extremist and unreasonable to do that to the most dense, busy and longest commercial artery in Brooklyn that is hugely eclectic all up and down its route including yes, highrises.

disco princess said...

To June 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM Re:
"I really think the issue with Flatbush Avenue is the amount of noise generated by car traffic due to it being a 4 lane expressway. Smith Street is a one lane street, 5th Avenue a two lane street. Nobody wants to dine al fresco next to the Flatbush Expressway!!"

The noise from traffic is a given. Flatbush Avenue is a major thoroughfare from the Manhattan Bridge to the Gil Hodges Bridge. A major bus route runs for the majority of the length of Flatbush Avenue. By the way, it only really becomes an expressway south of Kings Plaza.

There is a sidewalk cafe on Flatbush Avenue near Seventh Avenue, so it can be done.

JDB said...

This project is adding new, and likely well constructed, affordable housing to an area that doesn't have a lot of high quality affordable housing. No one is being displaced because of the project.

If people try to completely eliminate new construction it is only going to increase demand for existing housing and increase prices. More people are moving to the nabe so why not put them on Flatbush where there is clearly a need for more and better quality housing and infrastructure to handle it.

As far as the height people will get over it in time. How often during the day does your heart ache and you cry about the Gods forsaking you because Patio Gardens is 10 stories taller than the buildings around it. I would venture a guess that it not too often.

Anonymous said...


anonymous 10:44 says:

I wouldn't even identify myself as "pro development" but rather pro private property ownership rights. We do have those in this country. It makes sense to landmark and strictly control blocks of uninterrupted 100 year old purely residential blocks.

Landmarking is an example of government impinging on private property rights. Thus, it's hard to square the support for landmarking with a claim of being pro-private-property.

The fastest way to clean up the neighborhood and drive out the trouble-makers is through knocking down some of the old real estate and replacing it with some new -- built without any contingencies that permit occupancy by unvetted tenants. Owner-occupancy is probably best.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Oh I get it. Knock down perfectly good buildings and drive out people who lived here and worked here and payed taxes and raised children so you can get rid of a few trouble makers?

Makes perfect sense to me. While you're at it, why not kick them in the ass on their way out?

That's perhaps the most cold-hearted analysis I have ever heard. Not that it doesn't happen...but to go out of your way to suggest it, is mind boggling.

Bob Marvin said...

"It's extremist and unreasonable to do that [landmark]to the most dense, busy and longest commercial artery in Brooklyn.

Has anyone suggested landmarking the Flatbush Ave. commercial strip in our neighborhood? If so I'm not aware of it (and don't think it'd be feasible, or make much sense).

peter said...

Anon @ 12:13- I happen to like the fact that my home is landmarked, because it means nobody on the block has to right to disfigure the appearance of their home's facade. (Not that it stops some people from trying, but it's better than having no rules at all.) And I see it, that increases the value of my home. So I think you can most certainly square landmarking with the interests of private property owners.

To Bob Marvin's comment, I don't think anything on Flatbush is architecturally significant enough to landmark. There is a good argument for landmarking the old Bond Bakery building (aka Phat Albert's) but are there any existing buildings of architectural merit on the stretch from Lincoln to Parkside? If the community wants to see more contextual development, the way to do that is with a zoning change, which would be at least a year-long process but could definitely happen. I imagine there would be a lot of support for doing a rezoning that includes Empire Blvd.

disco princess said...

Re: There is a good argument for landmarking the old Bond Bakery building (aka Phat Albert's)

Speaking of that, has anyone ever tried to make that happen?

Re: The fastest way to clean up the neighborhood and drive out the trouble-makers is through knocking down some of the old real estate and replacing it with some new -- built without any contingencies that permit occupancy by unvetted tenants. Owner-occupancy is probably best.

Are you (anonymous) proposing knocking down existing structures and replacing it with single-family housing? How else are you going to encourage "owner-occupancy"?

Re: This project is adding new, and likely well constructed, affordable housing to an area that doesn't have a lot of high quality affordable housing. - The press release states that only 20% of the apartments will be set aside as "affordable", which still isn't a lot. This is assuming that the developers keep the promise.

Anonymous said...

babs said...
Maybe replace that MTA "parking" by the Prospect Park subway stop with a citibike hub (if they can get their software act together).

Best. Comment. On. This. Thread.

But would people use the bikes?

Anonymous said...

Citibikes next to our subway would be so AWESOME. Of course people would use them! Visitors to
Gardens and Zoo could use them to get to and from, local residents to get to other neighborhoods... How can we get them?

Anonymous said...

Not to mention people would use them to ride through the park.

Anonymous said...

Landmarking --

The sections of NY City that have been landmarked are almost always the sections that were built for affluent New Yorkers. In Brooklyn, Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, for example. Thus, when there's housing stock of some evident architectural merit, perhaps there's a reason to protect it. Of course, if the landmarking works, then it puts the housing out of reach of 95% of New Yorkers.

On the other hand, when non-descript, run-down buildings are razed and replaced by owner-occupied condos, neighborhoods begin to recover.

The heightened appeal of 4th Avenue from Flatbush Ave to at least the Prospect Expressway was driven by the removal of the "tire shops" and other questionable operations that lined the roadway for a few decades.

As some here acknowledge, it takes the arrival of some new housing to assure people that a neighborhood is headed for better times.

The area near Brooklyn Hospital was once a vast slum. When Walter O'Malley wanted to build a new stadium for the Dodgers where Barclays Arena now stands, he went to Robert Moses who was in the process of clearing out the area to get his support for the project. Moses said No.

Under Title I, Moses was making way for Long Island University and all the high-rise housing in that area, which at that time was filled with dilapidated housing and a lot of criminal activity.

DUMBO? What led to the improvement there? Construction of some big residential buildings. The improvements probably required a change in zoning laws. Meanwhile, despite the controversy, Barclays Arena is a hit, and when the residential construction gets underway and the units start to come on the market, the area will see more of what most people what to see, which is an area that offers a better quality of life than before the projects were begun.

So, unless there's real estate worth landmarking, such as a row of brownstones/limestones, then a change that opens the door to new construction is the best bet for urban renewal.

The site of Barclays Arena was an open sore for 50 years because until Ratner came along, no developer was willing to fight an interminable war with both government and citizens to convert the property into something of value.

Anonymous said...

Bob Marvin, you inserted in parentheses "Landmark" as you quoted from my post regarding Flatbush, and that's not at all what I was saying. I was talking about even downzoning and limiting the height and type of buildings on Flatbush as going too far. But that IS what some are proposing nonetheless. There needs to be some places in NYC for goodness' sake to build taller buildings. Luckily the city sees it that way too.

Anonymous said...

It's sad but there are some downsides to landmarking the Phat Albert building. It means condo developers wouldn't be interested or able to buy it. So it would remain Phat Albert Warehouse or an expansion of the liquor warehouse etc etc forever. It would have to take a Target or Whole Foods, a company with a whole lot of money, to create a store there (that doesn't need windows like condos would need) while renovating and retaining the original building.

disco princess said...

Re: Anonymous June 14, 2013 at 11:26 AM: " Barclays Arena is a hit, and when the residential construction gets underway and the units start to come on the market, the area will see more of what most people what to see, which is an area that offers a better quality of life than before the projects were begun."

By the way, what large buildings were constructed in DUMBO? That's now a landmarked district.

The quality of life in the area surrounding Barclays wasn't that bad five to ten years before the area was constructed. If it were, do you think the displaced residents would have fought the eminent domain tooth and nail?

Re: Anonymous at 11:49 am - I would love to see a Whole Foods here!It wouldn't make sense for Target to go into the Phat Albert location because two other locations (Atlantic Center and the Junction) are not that far away.

peter said...

Anon @ 11:26 / 11:43 / 11:49:
I generally agree with you that new construction is desirable, but some of your assertions are way off base:

1. "The sections of NY City that have been landmarked are almost always the sections that were built for affluent New Yorkers.. if the landmarking works, then it puts the housing out of reach of 95% of New Yorkers"
Well, no. Sure, there are landmarked districts like Brooklyn Heights. Then you also have landmarked areas of the Lower East Side, which was most certainly not built for the affluent, or places like Sunnyside Queens or the Grand Concourse which have always been affordable to the middle class. So, if you are trying to say that landmarking turns neighborhoods into exclusive zones for rich people, that is simply not true.

2. "DUMBO? What led to the improvement there? Construction of some big residential buildings. The improvements probably required a change in zoning laws."
Actually, what happened in DUMBO was sort of the same thing that happened in Soho and Williamsburg, which was that developers started converting obsolete warehouse buildings to residential. That was happening in those neighborhoods long before developers started doing ground up construction, and for that matter long before the zoning code was changed to allow to it to happen. At least in those cases, zoning followed actual changes on the ground.

3. It's sad but there are some downsides to landmarking the Phat Albert building. It means condo developers wouldn't be interested or able to buy it. So it would remain Phat Albert Warehouse or an expansion of the liquor warehouse etc etc forever. It would have to take a Target or Whole Foods, a company with a whole lot of money, to create a store there (that doesn't need windows like condos would need) while renovating and retaining the original building.
I agree that landmarking would make it less desirable to condo developers (though it would not necessarily prohibit a new addition on to the existing historic building). But I think there are plenty of potential residential sites in the immediate area, if the zoning (and the market) allowed it. You could find a half dozen great residential tower sites on Empire Blvd if the zoning allowed it -- like the Western Beef site or that godawful Wendy's. I think the Phat Albert building is actually a very good large format retail building and it is not hard to imagine that a retailer like Target or a big supermarket could be interested in it - especially if more residents with money in their pockets move into the neighborhood. That actually seems much more realistic to me than residential on that site. They would need to figure out how to get some parking in there though.

Bob Marvin said...

Sorry Anon. 11:26AM; you had written "It makes sense to LANDMARK [emphasis added] and strictly control blocks of uninterrupted 100 year old purely residential blocks. It's extremist and unreasonable to do that to the most dense, busy and longest commercial artery in Brooklyn" so I thought you were writing about landmarking.