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.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

New Food Column - Snobnobbin'

Frequent Q commenter The Snob has volunteered to share his culinary expertise in a column I'm calling Snobbnobbin', at least until I hear from the masked man himself that the name is simply too annoying, in which case I may call it Schwartz Shorts. 

First up, a joint I'm sure you've seen in your travels...but how many have wandered in? Snob did, more than once I suspect, and filed this report:

Opus 1
1227 Nostrand Avenue

Prospect Lefferts is not exactly a prime place for proper pastry. Respect to Tip of the Tongue for finally bringing serious croissants and pains a choclat, but beyond Lincoln Road, the best specimen you'll find is more likely to be larded with spicy beef or herring. These are the fine, flaky patties -- pates -- you'll find at Immaculee Bakery II on Nostrand. The Haitian bakeshop (their original location is down the road at Linden) has much more on offer than just bread. Start with the pate, a quintessential Haitian street food, and understand just what sets cuisine kreyol apart from the rest of the islands. A square of folded dough, rich with buttery layers, cushions a dollop of spicy meat filling. At just a dollar, it's likely the best flavor bargain in the ever less affordable NYC. "Just one?" you'll be asked when you order a single... and it's a good question. But beyond street eats, Immaculee dishes out more substantial fare, and it's a good place to dip into Haitian food. The steam table (and when you see a crummy restaurant grade in a storefront like this, it's always because of the steam table) is piping hot and stocked with a varied menu. There's griot, the roasted-then-fried pork dish made bright with snappy, vinegary shredded carrot and cabbage pikliz atop. Some fish in sauce. Black rice with pigeon peas and mushrooms. And most unique of all, legume, the Haitian vegetable mash that's akin to Indian saag in texture, and not exactly vegetarian -- there's usually some pig or crab frolicking in the green. Vegetables and herbs -- parsley and thyme anoint most dishes -- give Haitian food a Franco-African feel that's at some remove from the neighborhood's usual jerk and curry. Don't be intimidated by the language barrier, the customer is always right here, even when he's mixing the pwa nwa with the wrong riz. Most foods can be ordered by the dollar ("$5 of griot, please"). Just don't forget that pikliz!

Friday, May 30, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Temporary Restraining Order Issued Against 626 Flatbush

Please note: the below should not be construed as conflating the protest with the judge's decision. The judge is looking at the merits of the suit, and while the protests are being watched closely by locals, politicians and the media, the judge is expected to rule on the merits of the case. The TRO basically says that by laying the foundation, there is imminent potential environmental harm to those cited in the lawsuit, i.e., the neighborhood. And thus, the fact that the defendant did or didn't conduct necessary reviews needs to be considered before Hudson can continue construction.

In what appears to be a temporary victory for David against Goliath, or maybe little David against big David (Kramer), a judge this afternoon issued a temporary restraining order against Hudson Companies to stop pouring concrete til the judge rules, maybe two weeks hence. It would appear that Hudson was strangely eager to move things along, as they even started to line up the trucks before the legal starting time of 7am.

Not long after 6am, neighbors heard the trucks a-comin' and alerted various folks in PPEN and the recently formed MTOPP. or (Coalition Moratorium To Protection of Prospect Park (no I don't understand that org's word order either, nor the letters used for the acronym), and a small but feisty group formed to try to block the trucks from entering. At least one person, Alicia Boyd of CMPPP, or rather MTOPP, also of the Sterling Street Block Association, was arrested. According to a trusted source, by later this afternoon, David Kramer of Hudson had showed up in court with a lawyer who actually made the odd choice to question the NY State Supreme Court judge's legal authority to issue a TRO. Well, the judge HAD that authority, and was more than happy to show Hudson how it works.

Speaking of barristers, another lawyer, representing PPEN said it was quite possibly the first time in Brooklyn that a judge stopped a building from being built as of right, simply because a local community had come out against the project. And so...two weeks from now, we'll look for a ruling as to whether Hudson violated key provisions of its agreement with the State to use government-backed loans for construction.

Stay tuned. The intrigue is intriguing..

BONUS: A press release from Legal Services NYC to fill you in on details:

May 30th, 2014, Brooklyn, NY—Justice Peter Moulton this afternoon ordered that the developers of a 23-story residential tower in Prospect Lefferts Gardens stop laying the foundation of the building pending his decision on a lawsuit filed by residents and community groups. The judge issued a temporary restraining order against Hudson Companies and Lettire Construction company after opponents of the tower argued that it violated state environmental laws.

“Our clients are pleased that the judge has recognized the potential this tower has to cause irreparable harm to the surrounding community,” said Rachel Hannaford, Senior Staff Attorney at Legal Services NYC’s Brooklyn program, which represents the petitioners alongside law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP. “We understand a TRO of this nature is rare and that its effect will be immediate and powerful.”

David B. Bassett, Partner at WilmerHale, adds, “Our clients hope this decision will encourage Hudson to listen to their concerns, and be open to a more socially and environmentally responsible alternative.”

Residents and community groups in Brooklyn’s Prospect Lefferts Gardens neighborhood filed suit in December, asking that the development of the residential tower in their low-rise, mixed income neighborhood be halted. The lawsuit against the New York State Housing Finance Agency, Hudson Companies Incorporated (a private real estate development company), and other defendants contends that more than $72 million in public funds were approved for the development without the proper environmental impact study required by state law.

Community residents and organizations have formed a coalition to fight the development of the high rise luxury tower. The Prospect Park East Network (PPEN) is not opposed to new construction, but does ask that the development be contextual and respectful of the existing architecture and environment in the neighborhood. Petitioners also include the Flatbush Development Corporation, the Flatbush Tenant Coalition, the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association (PLGNA), and six individual community residents.

While the area has always been mixed-income, the addition of the tower would change the rental market so that long-time residents living on fixed incomes would not be able to afford to stay. The new residents who would occupy the luxury tower would impact the nature of local businesses which have long served the economically and ethnically diverse community. Low-income tenants and businesses would be priced out of the neighborhood.


Practically next door to 626 Flatbush lies 17 Chester Court, on the cute Tudor style cul-de-sac known as Chester Court. Less than a year ago, another of these houses went on sale for less than a million bucks. But according to hype-blog BK to the Fullest, this one just went for $1.5 million. Is it because of the wild decorating of the previous owners? Or is it the smell of upscale change for the neighborhood? Or the fact that Chester's on its way to historic district status? Or all three?

FWIW, that kid who writes BK seems like a real snot-nose to me, creating his own universe of panicked buyers. He simultaneously pokes fun at sky-high prices while hawking his services to worried-they'll-miss-out brownstone buyers. He reminds me of those know-it-all record store guys who snicker at your lack of knowledge about the core cannon of not-very-popular music, then sells you a 10-record box set of European noise that you listen to once and use as a shim for an old dresser. I mean, I'm one to talk, snot coming out my nose and all as well. But for some reason, lots of folks love watching a slow moving accident in progress, like the wild run up in real estate prices. There's no small amount of schadenfreude going round, of course, since most folks won't be able to afford a house in Brooklyn anymore, and it'll be fun to watch the rich get duped into overspending. But hey, folks did that in 2008, and now they're starting to look smart again. And some, rumor has it, are ready to sell their way out of the nabe, out of fear and loathing.

Breaking News: Concrete Evidence

Here come the trucks

And out come the handcuffs
The big rigs were there, ready with tons of mixed concrete to pour into the foundation of 626 Flatbush, the 23-story monster tower going up overlooking Prospect Park. A few brave neighbors tried to block the trucks with their bodies, and at least a couple were arrested, according to reports. (by reports, I mean a couple people sent me emails, including Mrs. Q. What, you think this is CNN over here?)

It's quite an impressive sight, seeing viscous cement goo poured over rebar to make a strong enough foundation for a building of that size. Granted, this process is done to mammoth proportions all over the Big Apple. But I honestly never expected to see such an enormous enterprise right here in Lefferts.

To those wondering about the lawsuit, well, since Hudson is charging ahead with building, the judge will now undoubtedly see it's the time for a ruling. Apparently, said barrister was awaiting an "imminent crisis" to the community in order to rule whether the company had dotted its i's and crossed its t's on the way to getting nearly $100 million in government backed funds.

I know there will be those of you who don't understand the despair and disgust being exhibited by the protesters, who see the building as too tall and too symbolic of takeover by forces outside the 'hood. But I do hope you'll admire their tenacity and fortitude. I for one am super proud to know that when folks feel the spirit of protest, they act on it. God bless America.

Gratefully, Gratitude Cafe Opens This Weekend

After many months of hard work, Rich and Annalisa are opening their homespun cafe on Rogers at Midwood.I took a peek in a couple days ago, and it's super sweet, with even a nice play area for the little ones.

Address is 499 Rogers Ave, corner of Midwood Street. Saturday they're open from 8am-5pm and Sunday 9am-3pm (maybe later if they're super busy).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Youth Resource Guide, From Your Councilperson (to the North)

Go here for the full package.

Our Councilperson, Mathieu Eugene of the 40th District, doesn't have a website, after seven years in office. (Here's what's been under construction for three years.) His Facebook page has no resources on it, 41 likes, and a calendar from 2011. He's the chair of Youth Services at the City Council, as he likes to remind us, because he cares about the future of our young people. He sent out an email, yes on the internets, reminding kids to sign up for the City's Department of Summer Youth Programs application. Are there even any kids on his email list? Do kids even USE email anymore? Nicely done, sir! Ahead of the curve again!

District 35, much of Crown Heights and Clinton Hill and Ft. Greene and Bed-Stuy, are represented by MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts) founder Laurie Cumbo. Thoughtful, funny and passionate, she's a go-getter, who believes in herself and the power to change things that need changing. She, like many other local leaders, has identified programs for youth as a priority, particularly those that can help guide a generation of kids "left out" of the hunt for social and economic success. (That's socio-lingo for brown kids get shafted, and sometimes a lift here and there along the way is crucial to avoid the negative spiral into a life of second or third class citizenship.)

Can you believe we even have to SAY this thing about skin tone in 2014? Wouldn't the elder civil rights leaders of the '60s be stunned if they were here to see how poorly we've done? Look around I wrong to suggest that by a thousand little daggers the world is stacked against the average dark-skinned kid in America? We treat young black men like dangerous animals, jail them on minor offenses, and leave them there to harden and lose heart. We harass them, and cross the street, avoid their eyes, and shun their participation and labor. We expect them to behave like Barack Obamas at all times, though we permit white kids to rove the streets in long-haired packs and playfully tag it "adolescence." We insist the bright poor black boys attend "no excuses" schools, where they're taught to tow the line, not dream, play and make art. The more averagely intelligent black kids? They go to schools no white parent would dream of enrolling in. And when their mothers are single, we blame them for having the kids in the first place, and barely offer the real assistance they need. Cuts in housing subsidies, crappy or costly day-care, rare paid maternity leave. You're on your own sister...the dude that did it likely fits the description above, and the cycle continues, and the rest of us just pray your son doesn't stab us randomly on the street someday.

As to that, do we even acknowledge how wildly rare black-on-white crime is? That's what we're really afraid of, isn't it? It's crazy rare, in a City that we're told suffers from racial violence. Even the criminals generally know to stay away from the white folks, lest they attract the attention of cops all too eager to cite probable-cause and move in for the jugular. No offense, but the traffic dragnet down at Church and Flatbush is outrageously racially profiled by its location alone. See any checkpoints on Henry Street, and Clinton, Hicks and Court, notorious race tracks? Thought not.

Next time you see Laurie Cumbo, thank her for continuing to reach out in meaningful ways to young people. 

As to Eugene? His most recent act as Chair of Youth Services was to honor the boy who was hit in the eye during a dreadful shooting last month. Here's what he says in his press release:

“Gama Droiville is an inspiration to all of us.  Despite having been dealt great hardship so suddenly at such a young age, Gama has demonstrated incredible strength, compassion and resiliency.  Gama has an inner calmness and wisdom beyond his years that I firmly believe will lead to him achieving many great things in life.  As the Chairman of the Youth Services Committee, and a longtime advocate for our youth, I recognize Gama Droiville as someone whose heroic qualities make him an exemplary role model for all young people who may feel that life’s challenges are too great to overcome.”  

That's right. While Laurie was compiling priceless information for young people, and reaching them over multiple platforms and in person, ME was honoring a kid for getting shot in the face. No offense, Gama, we love you. But this is not a productive use of the Councilman's mandate, the faith placed in him by a minority of voters in the primary (let's remember he did not reach the 50% threshold during the Dem primary).

It's true though. If we could ALL get shot in the eye and react with an inner calmness, this world would be a much better place.

Stabbing At P-Park Station

You might see a stabbing shown on various (grisly) websites devoted to crime in NYC. It took place Wednesday morning at 2am-ish. Vinnie from the 71st tells me that two guys started an altercation that began on the Q train north of here, going south. When they got to the station, the stabbing occurred, then they fled. So technically it's the 71st, but one could argue we were merely the "lucky" recipients of the action.

The Q's always keeping an eye on the numbers. But lately we've been pleasantly surprised by the infrequency of major incidents - last year was a different story. Be careful out there, and remember that if you see something serious going down, it's really your duty to report it - don't assume someone else in "on it." What "serious" means to you might differ from person to person, but the 911 calls are not like timeouts in a football game. You can make as many as necessary, and you don't have to be 100% correct in your assessment. If you see illegal activity, including drug selling, please call 911, despite what you think is the right use of that number. Resources are deployed based on the number of 911 calls. There are plenty of operators, and you can remain anonymous if you want. Regardless of your views on the police, they are way less effective without information and help from the public. I've been told time and again that relatively minor offenses lead to bigger, badder stuff, and is often indicative of a potentially volatile situation lurking under the surface. It's true that the cops can go overboard at times, but they're actually BETTER at dealing with situations when they know what they're getting into. So again, more info the better, in real time.

Welcome Home to Heights Park

You dinnint. No you dinnint, Doug. WTF?

In an attempt to rename yours and my neighborhood (I guess Lefferts and PLG are too tainted by jerk), these POS (piece of sh#$) townhouses on Hawthorne have been "rebranded" the dumbass name Heights Park. True, we're up over 100 feet from sea level, leaving us fairly safe during the next 40 day 40 night rainstorm or hurricane, which is not out of the question. ["Gardens," which is also a ridiculous name but I've learned to live with it since it's marked on the buses (we were originally named in 1968 for the Botanic Garden, singular).]

I honestly spit out my morning Joe when I read that.

Doug. Really? You dinnint? Din you?

Curb cuts and all. Oh go eff yourself. Start your own neighborhood. See if the Q cares!*

*Oh yes, the Q cares. He cares a whole bunch.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Shelley of Playkids Shares the 411 on Food

From Shelly Kramer came this great comment, worthy of its own special post:

As someone who eats from restaurants on Flatbush Ave nearly every day here's my go to list.

Jamaican Pride Bakery: Pumpkin Vegetable Soup (Friday Only). My husband is a big fan of their beef patties & meat loaf (seasoned beef in a more bread like dough, they don't have it regularly)

Blessings Herbs & Coffee: Egg, Avocado & Tomato Sandwich. Any/All salads

Errol's Caribbean Bakery: Veggie Patty, Callaloo (with or without Salt Fish) with Ground Provisions (I usually ask them to take off the oil)

Tugboat: Simple Sally Sandwich

Jus Fishy: Salmon Burger with Sweet Potato Fries (served with grilled pineapple, onions, & tomato). Also have a great seamed fish & veggie sides.

Scoops: BBQ Chunk with whichever grain they have for the day & veggie side they're serving. They also have great soup.

De Hot Pot: Doubles, but my new favorite is their Vegetable Roti (Pumpkin, Potato & Chickpea Chana)

Tip of the Tongue: 3 Bean Chili, Chicken Salad on a Croissant, Spinach & Chickpea Salad

Family Pizza: Slice

Golden Krust: Stew Chicken or Ox-Tail, rice & peas (ox-tail gravy on rice & peas) with steamed cabbage,

Out of the neighborhood, but deliver here: Ghandi Indian, A.M. Thai

I've found via eating a lot of Caribbean food over the last nine years, in this neighborhood, the Trini places season their food more consistently than the Jamaican restaurants. So if you're a person who wants your food to taste the same each time I'd stick to Scoops, De Hot Pot or Jus Fishy. If you like a more peppery flavor Errol's is your my husband (native Yardie) says "they're heavy handed with the pepper"

Warning: Adorable Kitten Pictures Below

There are cat people, there are dog people. Cat people see kittens and turn to smoochy mush. Dog people see kittens and say "meh." Dog people on the other hand see a drooly poopy big-testicled whelp and their hearts pump double-time. Me? I see the drooly poopy big-testicled needy yapping whelp. And I see their poop everywhere, and I don't think nice thoughts when I see it.

It must be in the DNA.

So here, just 8 weeks old and ready for adoption, are some cute orphan kittens from down the block in dire need of your undying love:

Go here to adopt, and please support the Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition (not to be confused with Animal Collective, and if you got that gag, you spend too much time reading online 'zines.)

Six Days On the Road and I'm Gonna Make It Home Tonight

Escovitch. Don't Deny Yourself. Done right, it's delicious.

Two fantastic versions of that song, one by Dave Dudley and the other by the Flying Burrito Brothers, vie for best on my list of 1,000 greatest tunes of all time. The tune and changes and words are exactly the same, but the meaning of the songs seems completely different. That's an amazing accomplishment, really. I know that sort of lyrical costume change happens sometimes in the world of American Standards, as per Jonathan Schwartz's WNYC radio program, but then you have to listen to HIM, which means your day is pretty much ruined. Sorry Jonathan, but I just can't stomach the sound of your saliva amplified as it is through that shock-mounted Neumann microphone.

Has it really been six days since I posted? The Q has busied himself at work and play, and I've hardly missed it. Perhaps the blogging has lost its luster. On a related note, there's been something I've been meaning to ask you for some time, and now's as good as any. Do you eat a lot? I mean, of course you eat some, and I'm not asking whether you eat too much, but do you sample the various foods of the nabe with relish? Or rather, since relish doesn't go well with everything, do you buy food at local counters on a regular basis?

It occurs to me that what the Q needs, besides an editor, is someone to share their subjective opinions about neighborhood nosheries so that folks can hopefully become a bit more adventurous in their culinary experimentation. Me, I'm a coop shopper and daddy of poorly trained little ones, and the kids are remarkably unadventurous in their leanings, so I really don't eat out enough to make a dent in the remarkably diverse nearby offerings. (I know, I know, it's not a neighborhood of Restaurants with a capital "R," but c'mon now, every third or fourth business out of 100's serves food, and you've got to be a royal snob or have allergies to certain Caribbean spices if you can't find a decent, strange or genuinely genuine morsel of deliciousness out there.

The Yelp is a disaster, and not to be trusted, though I'm a fan of the writing of certain snotty reviews. The other sites have barely enough votes to lend a hand, and are geared towards the gourmet. Local shops might get a review that serves as a pretentious thumbs-up, as in "I wandered into this filthy hole-in-a-wall and found the proceedings charming in a third-world sort of way. The food was "interesting" and I hope to stop in again next time I'm here on Safari." But c'mon, man, you live and eat here. You're a native.

If someone wants to be the Ruth Reichl of the Q, please identify yourself and I'll give you the keys to the kingdom. In the meantime...

What's your favorite local eatery? Please share frothily!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Can't Get Enough...Of That Funky Stuff

Kool and the Gang may very well have been talking about shoes. My Funky Shoes is open for business, on the 'Bush between Fenimore and Rutland, and I'm here to testify that it's one fine specimen of Brooklyn boutique. The Boss Lady is Janeen "JoJo" Bannister, and she's set the bar high for craaaaazy shoes. There'll even be kooky kids shoes soon enough.

I stopped in today and JoJo and her son were busy with customers, so things are clearly off to a good start. Stop in and wish them well, and check out the funky inventory. And if you need a video presentation, here 'tis:

Slim Jim's To Open By July

Okay, it won't be called that. But it's also not gonna be called DJ Oyster either, a name that was panned on this here blog when it first became public. I like Slim Jim's, after it's location across from Phat Albert's and the name of its proprietor Jim Mamary. But hey, I'm not footing the bill. That stretch of the Flabenue does need a little good clean fun. And owner Mamary confirmed that he plans to open by the end of June. (The Q has noted that proprietor's are often ambitious in the calendars, so take it with a grain of gourmet sel de mar.

Let her rip, Jim. I know a lot of folks who are looking for your new joint to rock our socks off.

So How Important Is This Diversity In Public Schools Thing Anyway?

Be honest. Part of the reason you want your kid to go to public school is that you paid your taxes and you don't want or can't spend $40,000 to go to a private academy. But let's be honest about something else...some schools in this City are getting better, and the options are greater, in part, because more and more folks with resources are joining the system. This is the unintended but bright consequence of soaring private education prices. (This is not yet happening at state colleges, but perhaps that will change too if enough folks start demanding a low-cost option for the absolutely essential baccalaureate degree.)

With the influx of more affluent parents comes a HUGE opportunity. But for it all to work, we HAVE to demand economic and racial diversity. TRUE diversity. Not the kind where you as a white person walk into a room and say "that's nice, there's a few people of color here." The numbers gotta be equal or close to equal. People of color yes, but also people of meager means. That's why so many public schools are creating "set asides," not for race (which would be illegal), but for free or reduced lunch, the system's de facto indicator of low-income.

We have got to stick together and insist that separate is not equal. We tried busing, but the backlash was intense, and led to more and more flight of whites to independent school districts outside the inner cities, once again depriving schools of true diversity. And don't misunderstand me...I firmly believe the benefits are two-way. We can raise our kids to respect each other if we allow them to study and play together from the earliest ages. I've personally seen how we often segregate ourselves on the playground, in nursery's a matter of "comfort level," and it's a real thing. But at the public schools we have a chance to turn over the reins a bit, and trust that the best teachers will take care of our kids equally, and allow every kid to blossom according to their minds and deeds, not their circumstance.

Sound hippy-dippy? Bullshit. It's real. It's possible. It's here. Check out this organization, NYC Appleseed, and read more about the problem and solutions that are working. This is our time, parents. We can look back on our lives and say "well, at least my kid got a good education," or we can say "my family was part of a bold experiment to remake society." Are they really incompatible? Will your child really not learn to read and write and 'rithmetic in a public elementary school? Do you really think your kid's gonna get mugged every day for their milk money on the way to school? Are you really concerned that low income parents and kids will adversely affect your children? I believe it starts by educating ourselves to the realities of diversity in education. Come on out to this thang, sponsored by Brad Lander, in the increasingly UNdiverse neighborhood of Park Slope.

End of sermon. Back to flyers and new business alerts.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ocean Avenue Hero

There's another Shaun White. OUR Shaun White, and there's no question WHICH Shaun White I would want to be around in an emergency.

Shaun helped an old lady escape from a fire at 465 Ocean Ave early this morning, just below Caton (yep, that's in the Q's catchment area). You can read the whole story, as related by Trevor Kapp and Aidan Gardiner of the Daily News.

From the piece:

FLATBUSH — A good Samaritan hoisted a disabled woman onto his shoulders and carried her from a burning apartment Tuesday, witnesses and the FDNY said.

Shaun White saw Aloma Malcolm's grandson struggling to get her down a fire escape from her fourth-floor home at 465 Ocean Ave. in Flatbush as thick black smoke billowed from windows behind her at 6:25 a.m. "I ran over and started climbing up the fire escape," said White, 41, a building superintendent who works across the street.

"They were on the third floor. I saw he was struggling and I said, 'Gimme her.' I threw her around my left shoulder and brought her down to the landing. It happened so fast. The fire was blazing. It was chaos. All I was thinking was get them out."

Malcolm, 69, who uses a wheelchair, complained that her throat hurt and was taken to Maimonides Medical Center in serious but stable condition, relatives and fire officials said. Three other people received minor injuries but refused medical attention at the scene, a fire spokesman said.

Shaun, you get the Q's first ever Super Hero award. Color me impressed!

Community Board Meeting Tonight May 20

The agenda is below. Not a lot of fireworks planned for the public session, but in the business session nominations happen tonight for the Board leadership. In the Q's opinion, the election this year (in June) should be quite interesting, with challengers going up against longtime executive committee members in every position. The Exec sets the agenda each week, and the chair assigns committee chairs. So a change would be significant to the Board's work. Stay tuned...

Lefferts House Tour - June 1 - Sell Your Ol' Crapola!

Clarkson gets some love on the tour, yo!

Each year for decades now, the Lefferts Manor Association hosts the PLG House Tour, where-at you get to peak into your neighbors homes and ooh and ahh and snicker and snark. Add to that the numerous stoop sales that take place, and you've got yourself a recipe for good clean fun and musty old board games. All the details are here: Lefferts Manor Dot Org. And you can purchase $20 advance tickets here.

Anyone can join the stoop bazaar. From the LMA mothership comes this request: 

JOIN the stoop and tag sales 12:00 – 5:00, Sunday, June 1st  during the Prospect Lefferts Gardens House & Garden Tour Day. The Maple II Block Association is helping to organize stoop and tag sales that day all over the neighborhood. So far we know of a few Streets that will hold sales.

  • Maple Street between Bedford & Rogers
  • Rutland Road between Flatbush & Bedford
  • Midwood Street between Bedford & Rogers
  • Sterling Street between Rogers and Nostrand
  • Check out the Maple II Block Association table on 151 Maple St. All proceeds go toward founding of block events and projects.\
For more info on House tours see

Monday, May 19, 2014

Not a Bad Taco, Paco

You know that punch-you-in-the-gut Chinese-run Tex-Mex place on Flatbush just down from Clarkson on the east side? Chances are good that one hungry night you decided to give it a try, and after just a few bites swore never to dip south of the border riding that culinary caballo again. (You probably finished your food though, in a fit of catch-22). Well, it recently shut and re-opened with new owners who just happen to also own the cute taco cart on Church Avenue next to that upscale grocer at East 17th, not far from the Q/B stop, called El Dorado. I've had decent tacos there a time or two, and so I was looking forward to trying this new hole-in-the-wall. And you know what? It was pretty good. These El Doradans have the advantage of being actually FROM Mexico. It's not going to win any awards, but if you want a decent taco at a good price, you're going to walk away satisfied.

While there I glanced across the street to note this enticing looking shop's grand opening:

Imagine my utter disappointment when I read the relatively fine print below the giant name. I was thinking record store, you know, maybe a place for DJ's to mingle and talk shop. Then I looked at my calendar and remembered it wasn't 1983. More to the point, what mom & pop shop sells footwears AND housewares? I'll tell you who - TRAX. Weird combo, like selling mattresses and potato chips. Love that sign though.

Then at 766 yet another owner-owned Pharmacy is ready to open. These days, the Q and family go to Lincoln Pharmacy at 723 and frankly I've never been happier, having been deprogrammed from the cult of Duane Reade. Do I miss the long waits and impersonal service? Hell no. But I gotta say I think we may have a few too many of these independent drug stores along the 'Bush for this new entry to have a chance. But I do get why there are so many. If you build a solid clientele, it can be quite lucrative, especially as your customers age and embark on heavy-duty til-you-die drug regimens. Ever wonder why there's a Duane Reade or Walgreens or CVS everywhere you look? Bingo. We Americans eat prescriptions like popcorn.

Speaking of popcorn, gonna make me some and call it a night.

PS 375 - Behind the Curtain

It has become clear to this blogger that PS375, the Jackie Robinson School, a/k/a the school that most Lefferts and Caledonian families are zoned for, is problematic. Possibly, even corrupt. The principal, assistant principal, and the superintendent of the District are all culpable in keeping the school from changing with the times. And by times, I don't just mean being open to integration, i.e. welcoming newcomers to the school, or heaven forbid, holding an open house or school tour. I mean that one-by-one Brooklyn elementary schools are recognizing that they must create an internet/social media presence and actually market themselves and whatever strengths they have so that choosy parents - the ones most likely to help bring positive change - attend and get involved. (I know I'm stepping into a landmine here, but screw it. This school has sucked for long enough and it's time someone called them out. I look forward to being proven wrong, but I'm not hopeful.)

Without going into details (I've forwarded what I've learned to higher-ups - we'll see if they respond), this school will require the persistent demands of local parents to convince the DOE that the status quo is not acceptable. For decades now, parents have sent their public school kids out of zone and, mostly, out of district. Finally two District 17 schools are beginning to break down the segregated monolith that characterizes the backward local District 17. Both PS705 and PS770 (practically out in Brownsville for chrisakes - but dang good according to parents) are experiencing a diversity heretofore not found in the district. Also, the Caton School is being seen as a bright spot for its warm environment and high marks for school vibe, as well as a super strong dual language focus. A reviewer at InsideSchools noted the way the principal brings math into the everyday in an effective manner. So it's not all doom and gloom. And if you've discovered other diamonds in the rough, by all means let us know!

Here on the Q, a post criticizing Superintendent Buffie Simmons led to an outrageous outpouring of disparaging remarks and scores of alleged misdeeds, though the personal stuff I would just as soon disregard. Shortly after I posted that piece, I got a call from the DOE about an investigation over Simmons' behavior and the outcry on the Q. I also received a bogus letter from an attorney, suggesting that I must immediately take down the comments and provide said attorney with the names and/or IP addresses of commenters. Having a semblance of respect for the 1st Amendment the Q of course refused, and the "attorney" claimed to be "suing Google for that info, so I might as well turn it over." I called Buff's bluff, and never heard from them again.

Enough is enough. Even though parents of older children have gone elsewhere, I think it's time to stand together as a community and demand the ouster of the administration at Jackie Robinson and the reconsideration of the performance of Superintendent Simmons. What set me off? The ridiculous survey results from PS375, which you can peruse here: Survey results - PS375. The overwhelmingly positive response from teachers who unanimously recommend the school is firm proof of a longtime rumor that teachers were intimidated into giving positive results.

If there are bold parents out there prepared to go the distance so that future generations of children can reap the benefit of an improved school that serves ALL folks in the neighborhood, please email me. I can't lead the effort, I'm just too overbooked, but I'm more than happy to offer my unconditional support and access to the contacts I've collected. PS92 will be seeing a change in leadership, probably next year. So another short-term option would be changing the zoning map, which sends some parents three times farther away to their zoned school.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

More Madness From 60 Clarkson

A pair of scissors, a stabbing, drawn guns, a death. Details here.
pic by mahsa saeidi

Most blocks in the 'hood have 'em. That one building that you wish you could wish away. Ours is 60. 60 Clarkson. The world's worst slumlord, making money off of homeless people's misery, and treating the few actual lease-holders like dirt. Any wonder the cops are there every other day? You can read my post about the building here, and read more and listen to the building's wretched story on WNYC here.

Tonight, a story is emerging that a dude stabbed a woman, then the cops came, then they found him, then they shot him dead. I'm not the Blogger of Record, so don't expect that story to hold up in court. But that would appear to be the gist of it. Once again I had the pleasure of being escorted to my house by an officer from the 70th. Oh, and something about a fire in a kitchen. Related? Who knows. I leave it to the better equipped and the less tired.

Is the Q outraged? I've been on a low simmer about that building for years. Many of us on the block have tried to get involved, but the easiest way to shut this guy down is to...shut him down. Stop giving him thousands a month per apartment to run it as a homeless shelter. Just stop. NYC DHS, are you effing paying ANY attention here? I'm sending the link to this post, like all the others, directly to you.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Tipping of the Hat

More News From the North...

The text from this marketing piece makes me wanna retch. But hey, an apartment building is better than an empty lot, which is what this parcel was not so long ago.

That's right folks! They'll be tipping their hat to you old-timers and those who've recently, um, left. "And a good day to you, Madame! Nice day for a stroll along the Parkway. May I say that your frock looks fetching? May I show you a picture of my counter-tops? Yes, yes, imported. Well, I best be off or I'll be late for bridge. "Brooklyn Bridge" of course! Ta-ta!"

Local Activist Vivia Morgan And Wingate Park

Councilmember Mathieu Eugene (left) Friends of Wingate Park's Vivia Morgan (center) and Soumia Chraibi, a member of the Councilman's staff.

Kenton Kirby of Caribbean Life wrote a nice piece on Vivia Morgan, the tireless crusader for a better neighborhood. Vivia has taken her three-year old "Friends of Wingate Park" and turned it into a little powerhouse for good. She also happens to be a member of a group called "100 Black Construction Workers," and part of LIUNA - Laborers International Union of North America. She's run as a fringe candidate for national office. She had the great line "tax pot not people" from her libertarian-tinged campaign. She's as true a Brooklyn original as they come.

As to this Wingate Park: why should you as a Leffertsian Flatbusher care? Well, it's just to your east on the other side of NY Avenue, just north of the hospitals, has a popular playground, a jogging track and field, workout equipment. It's a huge amenity for the neighborhood, and Morgan and friends recognize that and try to beautify and strengthen it. If you're the sort of person who sees your neighborhood more broadly than just the local train stop and dry cleaners, you'll see that this Park is crucial to the well-being of local families and kids. For the past few years they've run an awesome free concert series - MLC Concerts, with the likes of George Clinton and Ohio Players and Toni Braxton and my all-time fave rapper Rakim (okay, so I'm dating myself, big deal).

In the Q's opinion, the world is a better place because people like Vivia Morgan make it their business to identify special things and work hard to keep them special. And hey, I don't smoke the cheeba-cheeb, but I'll be damned if keeping it illegal is making the world a better place. So hell yeah, legalize, regulate and tax the #$(* out of it! Right on, sister!

Here's an excerpt from the CL story by Kenton Kirby:

Friends of Wingate Park, a volunteer non-profit organization in Flatbush, Brooklyn formed in 2011 primarily to engage Brooklyn youth in activities aimed at maintaining a healthy physical environment, is today in the vanguard of the citywide effort to stem gun- and gang-violence.
Friends of Wingate Park targets youth and families of Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Brownsville, East New York, Bedford Stuyvesant and Canarsie in the effort to create a “One Brooklyn” identity, according to Jamaican-born Vivia Morgan, the group’s founder and president. 

Friends of Wingate Park builds community activism by “bringing neighbors together in an effort to drive out negative influences and create positive, free, fun, healthy programs for the community at large, so as to build a stronger Brooklyn,” Morgan told Caribbean Life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Only six days left...

This seems like a pretty good deal, though I don't know what a Margarita goes for these days. Mango Seed's a great place, though I would encourage them to drop the price on a few things. A glass of wine, for instance, is way over-priced. Still, it's one of the best bets in the 'hood!

Street Closings and No Parkings

There will be two events in the confines of the 71 Precinct on May 18, 2014.
Lag Bomer and the Brooklyn 1/2 Marathon. Please read the following advisories.

On Saturday, May 17, 2014 the Annual Brooklyn 1/2 Marathon will affect traffic in the following areas and times.

No Parking on the following blocks(from 5/16, 2014 at 930 PM to 5/17/2014, 1200 PM)
Ocean Avenue       Empire to Parkside
Parkside                  Ocean to Coney Island Ave.
Flatbush                   Gap to Empire

Heavy Traffic delays and street closures
(from 5/16, 2014 at 930 PM to 5/17/2014, 1200 PM)
Eastern Parkway
Ocean Avenue
Parkside Avenue

On Sunday, May 18, 2014 the Lubavitch Community will be celebrating Lag Bomer. This holiday is a joyful occasion and when it falls on a Sunday it becomes a special celebration with a large parade on Eastern Parkway. To allow for the Lag Bomer street parade and festival there will be no parking on the following streets from midnight, Sunday May 18, 2014 till times posted.

No Parking on following blocks
  • Kingston Winthrop to Rutland till 8AM
  • Kingston Empire to Eastern till 6PM
  • Albany    Eastern to President till 3PM
  • Eastern Parkway Albany to Brooklyn both service lanes  3 till 3PM
Street Fair
  • East New York Albany to Brooklyn till 9PM
  • Kingston Lefferts to Maple till 9PM
Traffic Delays (6Am to 3PM) 
  • Eastern Parkway
  • Empire Blvd
  • Nostrand Ave
  • New York Ave
  • Troy Ave

The Flowers of Ocean - Planting Day June 7

The Flowers of Ocean, besides being the phrase I'm using for my upcoming EDM outfit, are a-coming. Amy Musick and Paul G. are part of the team that brought you tons of tree guards on Ocean from Lincoln Empire to Parkside. Wow. What a major achievement. Now this "Day of Planting" event on June 7th...all invited. Boy Howdy!

Art Show on Rogers This Weekend

Check it out. Cool looking stuff by James Denmark at Dorsey Art Gallery.

For those unfamiliar with the important legacy of Lawrence Dorsey, I append this article about his passing:

Down the block from the cozy, green and black, brick-bordered framing store and art gallery he opened up in Prospect Lefferts Gardens as the Vietnam War raged, stands Lawrence P. Dorsey’s parting gift to his community — a new street sign unveiled last week, co-naming the corner, “Lawrence P. Dorsey Way.”

Relatives, residents, merchants, members of Community Board 9, elected officials, and internationally-famous artists crammed the concrete outside Dorsey’s Art Gallery — sandwiched between a house of worship and a mom-and-pop print store at Rogers Avenue and Fenimore Street — to hail the beloved community fixture whose simple shop, established in the early ’70s, showcased works by some of the nation’s greatest African-American artists, and inspired the art collections of such notables as Bill Cosby and Roberta Flack.

Art luminaries and Dorsey exhibitors James Brown, Ann Tanksley, Teddy Gunn, Emmett Wigglesworth and Otto Neals were among the 150-strong crowd, which attended a church service first, and later cheered as the sign was hoisted to honor the art patron, whose zest for life and art was sought alike by neighborhood folk and such celebrated artists as print maker Elizabeth Catlett, and the late painter and illustrator Tom Feelings, who also exhibited there.

Dorsey’s gallery was the pride and joy of the neighborhood, according to Neals, a sculptor, painter, printmaker and carver who has helped run the store as a member of the Dorsey Art Club since its namesake passed away in 2007 at the age of 88.

“People just loved Lawrence, anytime you came by, he was here, and you could have some wine, cheese and talk about art,” said the artist, whose work has been commissioned by the Prospect Park Alliance and the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation while gracing the private collections of, among others, Harry Belafonte and Oprah Winfrey.

Neals, who created a bust of Dorsey for the occasion, was among a group of artists who marked the event with a commemorative presentation aptly named, the “Street Renaming Exhibition.”
Dorsey will be remembered for his humble spirit, he added.
“Lawrence didn’t show off a lot, but he knew his stuff and he went along in a quiet way.”

Now, that spirit will live on — along Lawrence P. Dorsey Way. - Shavana Abruzzo

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

TONIGHT: Pre-K and K Summit - at Play Kids

For those of you still up in the air about public schools for your young 'uns, please join me and Pam Wheaton, managing editor from for a discussion about options, choices, frustrations and strategies. Some of you may have read my series of posts (google "q's school tool") on District 17 schools. And yeah, it's pretty slim pickings. Most parents I've met choose to find other schools in other districts than their zoned school around here, usually Jackie Robinson, which has yet to show an interest in joining the current century. My oldest has been at PS705 for pre-K, which is in our district, so I know that school fairly well from the inside and am happy to share. If you have a kid at a school you like, PLEASE join us and tell us about it. In fact, anyone with knowledge or interest please feel free to come and we promise a lively evening.

Shelley is once again being super-sweet for offering to host at Play Kids, 676 Flatbush. (It's actually hard to imagine what we did before her and Carl set up shoppe). So:

Lefferts Pre-K/Kindergarten Summit
676 Flatbush (at Westbury Court)

Feel free to email me with questions or topics to cover.

Great G-word Article

Super fascinating read about the G-word. Some of you have expressed being sick of the topic, though given the importance of people's dwellings to their sense of security and well-being, I find this to be the most important Human-American story of our times - how to welcome change and economic vitality while not losing our Human-American-ness. Note the mention of the phrase "Lefferts Gardens" near the end. That helps qualify the piece for inclusion on the Q.

 Gothamist Piece by Tyler Kelly

Rent Stabilization has a somewhat checkered history in this City. No element of the system is more bizarre than the "buying out" of longtime renters. Say you're renting a two-bedroom for $600 a month, and the law is gonna keep rent low for a long time to come. Seemingly out of nowhere someone offers you $10,000, or more, in cash, to vamoose. Do you take it? The smart money says No Effin Way, Jose. But what if you're on a sinking ship, financially? Maybe you need that money for a family member's emergency. Maybe you got fired and the unemployment or disability checks aren't enough. Maybe you're not sophisticated in such matters, or think it's easy to find another rent stabilized place. At a certain point, a landlord can make it so crappy for you that you just give up, depressed and disheartened. We've seen it again and again...a building hits the "tipping point," and in a couple years goes from affordable to unaffordable. One man's bargain is another's fortune.

Last time this City went through such an intense period of demand outstripping supply, prices outstripping incomes, the City took up the call. Housing projects. Rent laws. Then we started begging people to stay, with coop conversions and Mitchell Lama and more. And now, it's de Blasio's turn to bat. Will he strike out or hit a double? History will judge.

Oh. And Coop City of 1966! I used to have nightmares about that place. Such a fascinating town along the Hutch. A killer documentary could be made about it. Has it been?

News From the North

Just the other side of Empire Boulevard, things are hopping. You've heard of the takeover of Tivoli Towers. You've heard the coming of Walgreens taking over for the old laundromat. You've seen the raucous opening of Checkers. You've noted the coming of the TD Bank on Bedford. You heard how the Feds busted up the infamous gang Six Tre Outlaw Gangsta Disciples Folk Nation of the Ebbets Apartments (NOT a housing project, we're reminded repeatedly).  You've heard of the battle for the restoration of the Bedford-Union Armory. You saw the Sea Crest Linen site get sold for residential development. You've smelled the Spice Factory on lower Franklin, and heard about the coming the spiritual holistic health restaurant Mountain coming to the old Chinese Food place next to the Associated on same. You've seen a new developer tear down a century-old church (St. Ignatius) on Rogers at Carroll to make way for a new apartment building. Stuff is coming to the southside of EP and Bedford, and Bedford at Empire. Breath is baited.

What more you ask? Just last night I met a guy named Chris Buckley who's opening up a Tavern at Rogers and Union to be called "The Branch Office." 225 Rogers to be exact (see site below - not Bambi, the place next door). I like the name Bambi, though one hopes the end of the movie is not a harbinger. Such a poetic thing that ending!

Buckley owns another newcomer friendly joint in the Stuy

Probably a good business move, this Branch Office, seeing the dearth of such joints south of Eastern Parkway. The church wouldn't have brought a lot of biz but the new apartment building a block away undoubtedly will. Though I do recall an article about alcoholism and priests. I suspect, however, that kind of drinking happens in the rectory, alone, late at night. Poetic, yes?

And that long moribund apartment building near the Jackie Robinson elementary school, stalled since 2008ish, has sprung back to life. On Sullivan I believe. Not really very poetic, but serviceable.

Clearly they waited til just the right time to get this one open

What else. Oh yeah, riding by it the TD Bank (a Canadian corp don't ya know, eh?) went up so quickly once they started I'd say they have it down to a science. The sign's up. I bet they're operational by Fall. Folks say we needed a financial institution near North Lefferts. And God said, Let There Be Bank!

TD Bank. Say it three times fast, and it sounds like a strip joint.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Crackin Down

I've seen more cop-stops of cars and Dollar Vans in the last month than I've seen in 10 years. There is absolutely a major directive going on right now, coming from de Blasio and Bratton. I've even heard reports of citizens getting jaywalking tickets. No joke! DOT is going to repaint the new line markers in June.'s the official advice:

And let me just add that I LOVE NYC crossing guards. They're amazing, and most are super friendly. Every day that I ride my bike past Prospect Heights High School to drop off my kid at pre-K, that wonderful lady keeps an eye out for traffic and gives both of us big smile and good morning. The crossing guard at our school is equally charming. (I recall Albert Brooks once being a glum crossing guard in a movie where he and the Mrs. "drop out" of the rat race and buy an RV and set out on adventure. Soon into their trek, his wife lost their whole nest egg gambling, and he went into an employment office and asked for a job in the six-figure range. Or something like that. I think the movie was called "The Guy Who Dropped Out Of The Rat Race and Bought an RV and Then His Wife Lost Their Money Because She Had a Gambling Problem That She Didn't Know About Because She'd Never Gambled Before")

Friday, May 9, 2014

Long Live the Parkside Empire!

The Flabenue needs your support as it seeks to organize and better meet your needs. Take a minute to fill out their survey? It takes but a few moments, but its results could last a lifetime.


The full name of the merchant's association, which just started last year btw after years of inept leadership as something called FEPMA, is now PARKSIDE EMPIRE | FLATBUSH AVENUE MERCHANTS ASSOCIATION. No need for an acronym. P.E.F.A.M.A. isn't any better than FEPMA, which before that was called FECMA, since at one time it went down to Clarkson. Flatbush up to Parkside from Beverly is and has been a BID for many, many years, and that's why it's so much cleaner. The BID hires a dude to clean, and there's a greater sense of unity and pride. One can hope that one day our "main street" gives us pride, and that we can think of it more as all of ours. Desmond and Shelley and crew are doing their best to create trust and comradery. Kudos for their ongoing efforts.

Now. About that vertical line that's used in the name - EMPIRE | FLATBUSH. You may have always known this, but I only just learned that you can get a vertical line by pressing shift and then the forward slash key on the QWERTY keyboard. There it is. Right in front of me the whole time.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hot Enough For Ya?

Til May 15th, you have a chance to buy a month of yoga for $50. At the new Bikram in the Beer Supply building on Lefferts at Washington/Flatbush. Beer and Bikram - perfect together?

Leaving Keys In Car - Bad

From Vinnie:

The 71 Precinct in the last few weeks has seen vehicles stolen on a few occasions by a very easy method. Residents are leaving their keys in their cars as they either unpack or walk people to their doors. Thieves are jumping in taking off with the car. Please remove your keys and take them with you whenever you leave your car no matter how quick you are going to be.

DOT To Repaint Flabenue Lanes in June

Thanks to Alex Ely's persistence, we now know that DOT is going to get back out there and repaint the travel lanes that disappeared soon after they started working. A rendering of the intended outcome below. Note that swift lane changes will be discouraged, and all drivers with long hair MUST wear caps. Please shower before entering your vehicle. And pedestrians - absolutely NO RUNNING.

More Party Action at D Avenue

Pronounce it De Avenue and you'll be even hipper than you are now. From Sammy Be and Rafie Mama - all bets are off this Sunday. It's gonna be good and you're gonna be there. Will the Q be there? Sundays lately have been reserved for repeat viewings of certain key scenes from Disney's blockbuster "Frozen," replete with serious choreography by a 5 year old. I'm not sick of "Let It Go" yet, but I'm getting close. Here's to my daughter and I tiring of it at the same time.

Housewarming Sundays at D Avenue
673 Flatbush Ave b/t Hawthorne & Winthrop St., BK
Sunday, May 11, 2014
8PM - 12AM
DJs: Sammy Be & Rafie Mama

Phoenix Rising at Gastro Pub

For those hankering for a single malt, craft beer and steak frites, your wait will be over by mid-summer. The bar/restaurant at Midwood/Flatbush is chiseling out windows as I write this. FYI, Chad from Tugboat is one of the partners in this venture, with Kalkin Narvilas from Franklin Ave's Cent'Anni. So we already know they can pull these things off.

Read more about the joint here.

And yes, as noted in a comment below, the plan for a beer pub next to the beer distributor on Lefferts, has been foiled. Right now it appears they're simply building out the beverage store, which seems a bit silly since they had plenty of space. Anyone who knows the owner there want to inquire and see what the heck's happening?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Zoinks! Another Big Plot Gobbled Up

from DNA Info

There goes Sea Crest Linen...

Rachel Holliday Smith at DNA Info kicks it into high gear, reporting this time on a big new development in our midst. The Q hasn't time today to spend on this one, but from Smith's article:

CROWN HEIGHTS — A former commercial laundry facility near the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Medgar Evers College has been sold to a real estate company with experience in multimillion-dollar development projects in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Cornell Realty Management bought 46 Crown St. on March 27 for $14.5 million, according to public records. The lot contains three one-story buildings and a smokestack on the eastern half of a city block split by the Franklin Avenue Shuttle. 

The buildings once housed Sea Crest Linen, a commercial laundering company also known as Central Laundry Service Corp. The 38,000-square-foot site has been used by various laundry companies since at least 1935, according to building records.

Monday, May 5, 2014

I.M. Pastry Coming to Nostrand

A boutique pastry outfit will soon bring its pleasing aroma to Nostrand near Midwood, care of partners Tiffany Washington and Jo-Laine Duke-Collins. Tiffany started I.M. Pastry in 2009, naming it after her grandma Ilene Miriam. She teamed up with Duke-Collins in 2010, and they've had a great run as a catering concern. Now it's time to open a shoppe, and boy howdy are we glad they're coming to Lefferts' east end, at 1131 Nostrand Avenue. There'll be comfy seating, wi-fi and good coffee. Classes on cake decorating? Check. Teaching kids to make cake pops and cookies? Check. Carrot tartare and minced pork with wilted greens and spiced balsamic beet compote, prepared tableside? I'm thinking not. That might give this blogger a nose bleed.

Look for an opening this summer. In keeping with the trend towards inviting community help in financing some nuts and bolts, here's their Kickstarter Campaign:

Tivoli Towers: A Primer On Your Tall Neighbor To the North

You've undoubtedly seen it. The tallest building to break the skyline in this part of town is not Patio Gardens or even Ebbets Field houses. It's Tivoli Towers, at Crown and Franklin. For many Leffertsians, the building is a mystery. It's always been intended as affordable housing, first as part of the legendary Mitchell Lama program (yes, you really can get into one if you're willing to be patient and vigilant). The building has become "private" via the purchase by developer Laurence Gluck in 2010, who intends to take it all market, though older tenants have been given increased Section 8 voucher payments to stay in their apartments. (Note: new Section 8 is almost gone. No program has taken its place, so at this point the vouchers are part of a dying program).

Honestly now, the whole point of Gluck's purchase was not to be some sort of loss leader. No, the point was to buy the building for a relative song (under $10 million in 2010) at the nadir of the housing market. Such good timing will undoubtedly pay off. And as apartments leave the various programs, Gluck will continue to make improvements that will eventually ensure market rate apartments cost just that.

Right now, Tivoli is part of a City-wide initiative to move subsidized housing residents into smaller apartments, if they are "over housed." I encourage you to read the DNA Info piece, which highlights how the determination has been made. Essentially, if you're getting subsidies, you can't hang on to an apartment that's bigger than you need. So you're being moved. (Not kicked out, as some folks claim. But still it's extremely disruptive).

I encourage you to read the following articles to get a better sense of what's going on there. And if you live in Tivoli or have experience there, I'd love to hear from you in the comments section.

Rachel Holliday Smith's DNA Info piece.

Tivoli Towers from NY Times in 2010

A teaser from Rachel's article:

Federally-subsidized tenants at a Crown Heights high rise are fighting a plan to force them to move into smaller units, enlisting help from elected officials who are trying to convince the city to let them stay where they are.

Tenants receiving enhanced Section 8 housing subsidies at Tivoli Towers, a 300-unit building on Crown Street and Franklin Avenue, began receiving letters from the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development at the beginning of the year warning them that they were “over-housed” — or living in apartments that were considered too large for their needs under a new set of guidelines released last year. The letters gave the tenants 30 days to appeal the order, or prepare to move.

And finally, if you want to know what developer Laurence Gluck looks and sounds like when he's talking shop, here he is:


It occurs to me that plenty of you haven't experienced David Kramer of Hudson (developer of 626 Flatbush) talk about his past (quite interesting actually, given his current projects). I encourage everyone to give a listen. I hear a lot of demonizing about these guys, but truth be told they're people, and they play in a different universe than you and me, where their decisions are often made on simple rational market analyses. I'm done trying to convince you one way or another whether that's appropriate when it comes to people's homes. Give a listen, so you can put a person to the issue.