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, September 27, 2014

This Just In! Drawings From "Flatbush Trees" Can Be Yours For a Donation!!


We're at $4,300 with just days to go before the deadline of September 30! If you gave already...thank you! (Please suh, may I have some moh?) If you haven't, you gotta give now! Because...

The first five people to give $200 or more get one of these FANTASTIC drawings by the artist David Eppley. He's like way, way, way on his way up (he gets shows all over the place and commissions up the wazzoo), and the gifts that you'll get, suitable for framing, are pictured here, all titled "Studies for Crowd Control," in pen, ink and paper at 9x12 size. $200 to own a piece of history! On the IOBY site, the donors are listed in the order in which they come - we'll contact the winners presently!

The video will tell you more about the project to resurrect those dilapidated sheet metal trees at the intersection of Empire/Flatbush/Ocean.

I don't ask for much in return for whatever entertainment you may derive from this dorky blog. Can I count on you to help, even a wee bit? I thought so!!

Oh, and if you don't mind, could you send a link of this to everyone you know, and who ever lived around here? It would be great if there were a worldwide aspect to this campaign. Because folks, Flatbush is a neighborhood with an extraordinary history, full of extraordinary people, and its coolest days are behind it, ahead of it, and all around it. I know that's more than 100%, but hey, so's Flatbush. It's alive, it's you, it's me. It's NYC to a capital NYC. It's America as it could be. Except for the street trash...but we're working on that!

tim "theQ" thomas


  • Jane R.
  • Joanie and Bill Schaffer
  • Mark D.
  • Greer & Jonah
  • in c.
  • Leon H.
  • Anonymous
  • Joseph D. Borrero
  • Jeff Gross
  • Anonymous
  • Ingrid
  • Barbara Ann Rogers
  • Mary S.
  • Pavani T.
  • Liena Zagare
  • Roberta W.
  • Mary Miller
  • Rina Kleege
  • Barrie Koegel
  • JoshG
  • Saulnier Family
  • Arthur G.
  • Jackie And Stan M.
  • Skobie
  • Adrienne R.
  • A. B.
  • Marie Spinney
  • BG
  • wendy c.
  • Kimplicated
  • MicheleCetera Architect
  • Anonymous
  • Jenna Cardinale
  • Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte
  • Barbara Ann Rogers
  • William Stover
  • Anonymous
  • Andrew Woodward
  • Daniel Kristjansson
  • Jeanne Gerrity
  • Anonymous
  • Heimbach S.
  • Gayle Price
  • Anonymous
  • Natalie Beall
  • Julia and Hannah's mom
  • Anonymous
  • Paige B.
  • Cheryl,Sealey4
  • Anonymous
  • Sara Keenan
  • Miles Farmer
  • Liz Munch
  • Ryann & Chris I
  • Lou
  • Gerard Middleton
  • Diana L.
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Jeffery Welch
  • Elona P.
  • Stephen Warner
  • Bob Marvin
  • Henry
  • Gary
  • David W
  • The Hellman-Shamos Family
  • Anonymous
  • Agnieszka T.
  • Distant friend of the hood
  • Barbara R.
  • Anonymous
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  • Suzanne Cooke
  • George Plimpton
Total Funding Needed: $9,880

Thursday, September 25, 2014

PPEN Reclaims High Ground

Been looking for some statement from the good folks at the Prospect Park East Network, the group who really transformed this sleepy neighborhood seemingly overnight and organized the reasonable and legal response to what it saw as an overgrown injustice growing from the ground at 626. Little did the Q know all those months ago that he'd learn so much about the way the City and State do business, and the way people REALLY feel about what's transpiring. It's been an intense year of larnin.' The Edumucation of Mr. FlatBed.

Tonight, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what went down this week, and looking up at the stars in the middle of nowhere as I am right now, no moon in the sky, shooting stars abound, the Milky Way as plain as the chill in your bones in mountain air, I'm reminded that this is actually not my people's holiday, this New Year, but for today I'm an honorary member of the Tribe, sneaking out of the City for last weekend of r'n'r and apple pickin due to the holiday at the Public Schools. What a luxury. It is a New Year. Things feel different. There's unfinished business, and there's a lot left to learn, listen and engage.

To put it simply, it's clear that one way or another, people's voices will be heard, whether they "win" or "lose." For that, we can begin this new year with gratitude for the human spirit, feisty, loving and always looking for a better alternative. It's never too late to get it a little more right.

From PPEN:

Prospect Park East Network is a group of residents from PLG.We came together out of the need to protect our community from the effects of the luxury development that has penetrated our neighborhood.
The most glaring of these projects has been the development of the 23 story luxury tower at 626 Flatbush Ave. that is being built by Hudson companies. We are very much aware of the racial, economic and class overtones and undertones of such a building and have never sought to hide these facts. As a matter of fact, these ideas have always been at the forefront of our mantra.
We are unwilling to allow any misguided accusations to lead us from our primary purpose which is to band together as one in an effort to maintain the beauty, diversity and uniqueness of our community.
We cannot afford to be confused or distracted by those who have defined us based on their own fears and limitations. To do this would be to play right into the hands of those who do not have our best interest. As we destroy each other with unfounded accusations, we weaken our strength as a community. The developers and the powers that be look forward to such a blundering mistake. It allows them to strategize even further for their own benefit as we fight each other.
It is real simple; there is a 23 story luxury tower going up before our very eyes. By the very definition of the term "luxury" in the grand scheme of today's developers, most of us in this community will be excluded from the grand opening in the "community center" and most of us will be excluded from any schools that may be provided by Hudson companies.
And how many of us will qualify for the 250 apartments of which only 50 are slated as affordable units and of course the affordable is questionable.
Again, Prospect Park East Network  is a group of sincerely concerned residents who do not wish to exclude any of the members of our community who are willing to work along with us to provide the best living conditions for all. In the words of the late great Ruby Dee "we are in this thing together"


Red Tail Hawk Is Back

Thanks to Rob B. for this confirmation that our red-tailed friend has returned to the top of 160 Parkside, probably a fave roost for breeding. Soon he'll have an even taller lookout over towards Flatbush and Chester. (Dang, thought I'd make it through a whole post without mentioning nabe change.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

71st Looking For Suspect

From Vinnie at the 71st Precinct:

Last night at approximately 9PM one male in his 20's was shot one time in his left knee. He was removed to KCH for treatment. The 71st  Precinct believes the  motive to be gang related. The 71 Detective Unit is looking for one male suspect named Kriston Hedge please see attached photo. Anyone who knows his location or has information please call the 71 Detective Unit at 718-735-0501. Suspect should be considered armed and dangerous.

This kid is apparently just 18 years old. I'd go into how sad this makes me, but I'm too tired and I've been down this road before. G'night.

Bluebird Does the Trick

On another note, Bluebird Cafe quietly opened last week at 504 Flatbush, cross from the beloved Phat Albert Gym, where Albert works off the pounds while watching reruns of the Cosby show. By the time I visited on Monday, they'd worked out some kinks but it was generally chill in that way that a place that's still working out some kinks can be. Owner Jim Mamary was struggling to get the backyard grill working at opening time, so we waited a bit for our hot dogs (we had four children and three adults...thus, we were grateful for the grilled hot dogs on the menu and the large space and picnic table out back to lessen the blow to other diners). But the salads were nice, fresh, a good departure from LPT fare. The bar is destined to be a destination, much more adult than LPT and bigger than the bar on its restaurant side. Btw, a waiter told us that LPT would likely be around til next summer. But hey, time is just different in the restaurant biz.

Look, the place is great, a welcome addition, not terribly alarming or overpriced or too this or that. The front "community space" is dynamite; a great place to hold a meeting with drinks or watch the big game. The dining room is attractive and cozy. The food seems decent and will likely only get better. The staff was super friendly and eager for the place to be a success. On a scale from one to two it gets a two, the Q's highest rating.

You see, the Q isn't a big "restaurant guy," but it seems like a particularly fickle business, this restauranteuring. Places come, they go, menus change, staff changes, trends come and go, places become hot then they're not. I just can't keep up. It's like indie rock. Either you go down the rabbit whole and never quite get a grasp, or you do like me and order the cheeseburger. If it's good, you're good. If it's bad, well, it's still pretty good and maybe the fries were fine. Then, if you're in the mood for salad, then you get the salad. If it's good you go to your companion "hey, this salad is pretty good," and they say "yes, but I don't like the artichoke" and then you say "hey, can I have your artichoke?" and she says "okay, can I have some of your fries?" then you look at the check and say "gee, each thing seemed reasonably priced so why is this more than $100?" but then you remember that you ALWAYS think that, and it's always around $100 and you go home and pay the sitter $100 and wonder why you didn't just heat up some leftover rice and beans from the Dominican place, because it's really damn delicious next day and it costs $200 less.

I'm looking forward to many happy returns, and I wish Jim and the whole crew a heaping helping of good vibes and cold hard cash.

A Garden With a View of the Q

Normally they have oysters; not that Monday

A good place to break up with your boyfriend? Try it out and see!

If You Want To Know How Things Got Outa Hand...

Alls you gotta do is look at the gameplan. Below is what was handed out to the MTOPP folks before the meeting.

I gotta say I'm impressed. The Republican Party could use these tactics to nudge their governmental obstruction up a notch.

Alicia Boyd: Proud Townhome Owner, Anti-Gentrification Activist

Alicia Boyd and I agree on a lot of things. I've got problems with massive, indiscriminate, City-sponsored people-hemorrhaging gentrification. I don't like the class and race implications either. I don't like racial segregation. But...I'm for rezoning, proper planning, height limits, building new affordable units whatever way we can, extracting all the best for the neighborhood while recognizing that SOMEone has to pay for it. And I'm 100% sure we can get it right when it comes to absurd "poor doors" and unfair credit checks. Get to work electeds! That's your job.

It's a matter of a difference of opinion. But last night wasn't about opinions. It was about drawing out the anti-gentrification forces, people who feel marginalized and fearful and angry, and, I must point out, not just a few utter nutjobs. It's a "movement," and right now they're rebels without a cause, looking for somewhere to place their anger. A public meeting is a great place to do it. The cops can't keep you out, and the press often comes. The elected officials send reps or show up. (No one from Mathieu Eugene's office...I think there was a Christening in Canarsie they had to attend).

And here's one I don't hear a lot. I also think that others deserve a chance to live a life near Prospect Park and the Garden. It's pretty sweet, y'all. Saying no to new residential is basically saying "I got mine, forget about you." And it also means that any hope of new housing for the displaced won't...oh god, here I am forward, Q. You've heard this tune too many times.

MTOPP successfully shut down the Community Board last night. But she can't shut down the Q. No one but me even spoke up in CB9's defense - all the hard work we'd put in to get City Planning to listen and consider our concerns. It was the weakest showing of supposed "leaders" I have ever seen. Karim Camara and reps from every major official, from the Mayor on down, were there and they were absolutely floored, speechless. The guy from Yvette Clarke's followed me out to the parking lot with eyes wide saying "how could you let this happen? this was INSANE!" I told him L'shanah Tova and rode home.

Speaking of homes, have I got a GREAT AIRBnB for you! On Sterling Street! At the home of MTOPP's glorious leader, Alicia Boyd, the firebrand who brought down the Community Board last night. The champion of the dispossessed, the crusader for no new development, has good reason to fear the jackhammers and loss of parking spaces (MTOPP - Movement TO Protect Parking). She makes a pretty penny renting out space in her lovely townhome on Sterling.

Last night people I was amused to read her AirBnB listing, but by this morning it had been taken down. However, you should be able to get in the backdoor by googling "Alicia Boyd" and Airbnb together. The page is still cached on the internets.

BUT, just in case you were curious, I've cut and pasted the public listing. So much to say here...I particularly love her promoting Barkley's (sic" Center. Oh, and the line "I have a great respect for other people's beliefs and behaviors." Hmmm.

My place has it all!!! 

From the Five trains stations Q, B, 2, 5, & S, to cultural institutions which include the Park, Garden, Museum, Zoo, Lake House, Farmers Market, Summer Concerts etc..., to restaurants serving real ethnic cuisine (Italian, India, Caribbean, Mexican, West Indian etc...) at neighborhood prices!, to living in a private house on a beautiful tree line block!

In a tenement city, Townhouse living is a rare and wonder adventure that you can only appreciate by experiencing it. 

So read on....

My Limestone Town House is what has made Brooklyn so famous. The New York Times (March 8, 2013) said this about Lefferts Garden; “…. full of prewar apartments and brownstone and limestone town houses. The proximity to the park, the architecture and the relatively easy access to Manhattan, on the 2, 5, B and Q trains, are among the assets… ‘They (residents) like the sense of community, friendliness of the neighbors, and the mom-and-pop shops that come along with it.’”

This turn of the last century Limestone townhouse, located in Leffart's Gardens, has all the trimmings of elegance, style and comfort. You will find no glass and steel here! There are original parquet floors, with area rugs and large sofas for comfort. All the woodwork is original, haven been done by hand, by laborers, long since past.

There are large crystals, all over the house, reflecting both natural and artificial light to bring not only the beauty of the earth into this house but to help keep the energy clear and tranquil.

This is the house you want to come back to after a long day in the noisy city. Here you take off your shoes and relax. You can feel the healing energy in the environment and can image yourself truly at home! To maximize the natural lighting this house gets from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, are large bay windows, with Italian curtains to add elegance and charm to the warmth created by the woodwork and floors. 

There is a large elegant dining area, with a table that can sit up to 12 people, just in case you want to have a more formal function.*
There is a working fireplace* to add another element of warmth and comfort on those really cold nights. In the summer, the backyard boasts a jacuzzi* built into the deck, surrounded by flowers. 

Want to barbeque?* No problem! There is also a built in barbeque pit for those late night barbeques or just to sit outside on a chilly evening and get warmed by the fire. I do have a cat, but she spends most of her time outside, except in very cold weather. She is fully house broken, and doesn't go on furniture, beds, chairs or couches, thus there aren't any hairs in these settings and she and is very quiet. There is no cat litter in my home, because she goes outside, so there is no odor of cats or cat litter. 

Just a few steps away from my home are several major cultural institutions. Prospect Park, Prospect Park Zoo, The Carousel and the Botanical Gardens are a block away. And right up the hill is the Brooklyn Public Library, The Brooklyn Museum, Grand Army Plaza and on Saturdays, The Farmers Market!

It is also two stops away (three minutes) from Barkley's Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, (who are now in 2nd place!), the Long Island Railroad and four stops (ten minutes) away from Manhattan.
Mass transit is a plus. There is the B, Q and S to C trains on one side and the 2, 5 trains on the other, along with a host of bus service.

My block really embodies the reason why people love Brooklyn. We get great sun, because almost all our homes are two story private houses. We have a strong Block Association, and our neighbors have been described as Down South Hospitality People.

It truly is a lovely block, with friendly neighbors, lovely homes and of course beautiful gardens. It really is one of the main reasons our block won the contest!

When you walked down the street don't be surprised if someone says hi to you and really means it. We are truly a loving community.
Parking is a plus because on one side there are private driveways, which means there are always ample parking space available on the street.

Brooklyn Town Houses are truly the gem of New York City.
Our streets are intimate, sunny and friendly and yet just minutes away from all the action!

*Require additional fees for use

I am a Reiki Master, Developmentalist, Educator, Writer and I run a Non-for profit organization. I work inside my home as an alternative health practitioner. I'm quiet, tranquil and easy to get along with. I have a very sunny disposition and I love to enjoy life. I'm a Taurus Sun, with a Rising Cancer, so I enjoy an elegant environment, but one that is also cosy and inviting. 

I enjoy traveling and meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds. 

I believe in the idea of oneness and I always fine myself in the expression of others. 

I have a very deep sense of myself as a spiritual person, and at the same time I have a great respect for other people's beliefs and behaviors.

I love New York City and believe that Brooklyn truly is the best place to live, if you have to reside in an Urban area in America. We have such a diverse array of people, cultures and activities and we are growing in leaps and bounds. All over Brooklyn there are cafes, lounges, bars and cultural institutions just popping up. And all of these places can be both culturally and spiritually uplifting to the human spirit and I love it all! 

From the free concerts in Prospect Park, to the Eclectic Art Exhibits at the Brooklyn Museum, to the jazz cafes on Flatbush Ave. It is all here in Brooklyn!

In fact, in the summer I find it hard to leave, because everything seems to come to us, so why go anywhere else? And a lot of it is free! In fact the hardest problem I have is choosing which event to go to! Now that we have the New Stadium - Barclay Stadium, I can't wait to see what free goodies we will be exposed to from that Venue.
My favorite thing to do is to go to the Prospect Park, get some some sun, eat a sandwich from the local bodega (Hispanic store) and read a book!

I enjoy international travel and by far my favorite place is Italy, not only because the people are really warm and friendly but the food is absolutely to die for! They really embody the joy and importance of eating healthy and simple. And boy do they like to eat and socialize!
My favorite place to visit spiritually is Bali, for they have encompassed the idea of incorporating a strong sense of spiritual awareness into their daily lives. This is a culture that smiles and so do I!

I also am a gardener. I love to play music in the summer, so that I can sing to my plants as I water them. As a Taurian, I love the Spring, so I always make a great effort to create a wonderful spring garden. It is how I make my contribution to my block, neighborhood and mother nature, by providing beauty into the world of concrete sidewalks and skyscrapers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Correct That. The Motion Didn't Pass

Just like Truman vs Dewey, a lot of folks are going to wake up tomorrow to find that their hard fought victory was an illusion. The Community Board's have a clever rule that's designed to keep members from hiding behind abstentions. Tonight's vote had too many abstentions to count, though the ays won it 16-9. It goes like this:

Tabulating Votes
Whenever any act is authorized to be done or any determination or decision made by any community board, the act, determination or decision of the majority of the members present entitled to vote during the presence of a quorum, shall be held to be the act, determination or decision of such board. When a vote is taken, all Board members who are present and entitled to vote must either vote or abstain. No member may be marked "present but not voting." Absentee ballots, proxies and telephone votes are not permitted. In order for a motion to pass, a majority (more than half) of the members present who are entitled to vote must vote in the affirmative. That means there must be more "yes" votes than the total of "no" votes and abstentions combined in order for a motion to carry. The use of a two-thirds or other "super-majority" vote to approve any action is not permitted, unless specifically required by law. (See Appendix E on Conflicts of Interest for an explanation of when Board members are not entitled to vote.)

Wow. That Was Weird.

So here's what I learned tonight.

If you show up at a meeting with enough people armed with misinformation, then you start yelling and tossing insults at speakers, and keep it up for an hour and half, you will eventually get your way.

Here's how I know that the majority of people siding with the hysterical Alicia Boyd have no idea what they're talking about. They listened to the more reasonable voices in the community making the case for rezoning, and if they heard the right catchphrases they applauded enthusiastically. By the time poor Pearl Miles, the district manager, finally had a chance to read the100% benign resolution that she had drafted last spring to City Planning, before which she had "been served" by Alicia with papers for a lawsuit for...for...doing her job I guess, and yours truly was called a KKK'er and a scumbag, despite not having been given the chance to speak my three minutes, and the police had made empty threats about escorting people out if they didn't let the speakers speak, and the clinically insane Geoffrey Davis overtaken by some unearthly spirit wouldn't sit down and incited the crowd to near riot...this folks, below, is the document that nearly shut down CB9 tonight and ultimately led them to turn their back on the only fair shake this neighborhood has of a decent plan to save it from outsized development and create affordable housing...

In the end, a gutless CB9 actually entertained, and passed, a motion to rescind the above. Good luck ever getting ANY rezoning now. The elected leaders and folks from Planning were stunned. Read the above. Read it closely. Because I guarantee that most MTOPP members have no idea what it means.

Folks, never in my life have I seen so many people tantrum so hard against their own self interest. (Maybe low-income working folks voting Republican). The only people who won tonight are the homeowners of Sterling Street, who will now rest easier knowing that they fought hard to be sure no one, poor or otherwise, will ever live on Empire Boulevard.

Postcript: Actually it's worse than that. They basically assured that we will be ignored, once again, and that landowners and developers will do whatever they want, because they've got the dollars, the lawyers, and the politicians they need to get the job done.

Forgive them Lord. For they know not what they do. Oh, and they're blindly following a lunatic.

Much props to Suki, Cheryl, Brenda and Celeste for their noble performances. The joke? People actually AGREED with you. Then pressed ahead with their nonsense.

Maple Street Garden Fights For Its Life

Cops from the 71st Came To Slow Things Down: pic Ali Jacobs

Man, oh man, oh man. You've got to be on your toes these days. Even if your toes are deep in flower beds.

The stealthy crew behind the beautiful Maple Street Community Garden, tween Rogers and Nostrand, received an unwelcome visitor yesterday...the Makhani brothers, Michael and Joseph. The two have been accused of all sorts of wrongdoing through their career, mostly involving unsuspecting buyers and sellers of real estate. Hey, it's a tricky business, and if you have the upper hand, you can extract some serious dough if you're in the know. How about the fact that one of their companies is named HPD, inc.? Can you believe the huevos on these guys, to name their company in a way designed to deceive?

So yesterday, the brothers claimed they owned the property and reportedly said "You'll leave when the backhoes get here." Nice manners! Today they came back with a truck, and started tearing apart the garden beds. The Maple Street Gardeners called the cops, who came and asked to see proof that the Makhanis owned the land.  They produced a photocopy of some paperwork, which the police said was not sufficient. The group, on the other hand, produced endorsements from Councilmember Eugene and Borough Prez Eric Adams.

After much huffing and puffing, the Makhanis pulled their truck out of our garden, empty.  As one cop said, "This will have to be settled in court." 

Know a good property lawyer that's willing to work pro bono? Email Cameron of the
At the most, the Q figures these shysters bought the property at auction. At worst, they're lying stinking thieves deadset on turning a quick profit on the vacant lot. A little notice would have been nice. Maybe a smile?
Just look at these characters:
When men come out to do yardwork with their shirts tucked, you best know they mean business.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Why You Must Come To the CB9 Meeting This Tuesday

The Deets. To sign up to speak for up to three minutes, you must call or email the district office by noon on Tuesday.
Date: September 23rd, 2014
Time: 7:00pm
Venue: Medgar Evers College, Edison O Jackson Auditorium
Address: 1638 Bedford Avenue, corner of Crown Street
Phone: 1-718-778-9279

'Twill be quite a show, imagines the Q. After a summer of protests and community meetings the Community Board meets on Tuesday with its first new chairman in a couple decades. There'll be our local firebrand Alicia deadset on destroying the Board's reputation and insisting it's in the pocket of the Borough President. A minion of her followers will be ready to pounce; a whole host of social issues seem to be wrapped up in a simple letter (resolution) sent to City Planning last spring asking to update zoning to reflect community preferences, i.e. lower heights and affordable housing for displaced residents, and increased opportunities for economic development - you know, commerce and jobs and the like. Sound innocent enough? Think again. It's not sitting as pretty with some as you'd have thunk.

For those who were there last March when the decision was made to send a letter to City Planning asking for a rezoning, the Q was one of the voices adamantly opposed to slowing things down, sending it back to committee for further discussion. Why? Because we'd already had multiple meetings on the issue over a year, including district-wide listening sessions, and the concerns had been heard, and developers were already taking advantage of outdated zoning to build against the wishes of many. We had to get going; the process takes awhile. Just look at what's happening all around the borough, people were saying. And after all, it was the letter that needed to be written in order to set in motion the REST of the process, the hard part - determining WHERE to study and HOW best to manage the City's goals of increased housing stock, new affordable units, more jobs, and growth along transit corridors - frankly the only growth that makes sense, given the world's over-reliance on cars to commute. (And, let's face it, in this City cars spend an awful lot of fossil fuel just looking for places to park and idling during alternate side parking. Makes me almost as mad as diesel Fresh Direct trucks...what a middle finger to the environment that is. Clean, tasy, organic, local food sent by a gas guzzling smog spewer? Gag me.)

So de facto, we were going to look at Empire all along...and Nostrand, Flatbush, Ocean, New York Ave and anywhere else that needed a review. A lot of folks mentioned Empire throughout the process, complaining that such a low-grade commercial zoning (C8) ought be left to areas not so close to public transportation and the beautiful Park and Garden. Think about it... how dumb is it to have fast food places with drive-thru, and grocery stores with giant parking lots, on such a perfectly located piece of ground? It wasn't the BP, or the Mayor, or City Planning leading the charge. Any idiot could tell you that Empire was a potential place to build if you're gonna build affordable units, and by extension, market rate units. Not to piss anyone off...but because people deserve a decent place to live, whether market or subsidized. And hey, you live here! Isn't it awesomely situated? Why not share the love? We prefer Big Macs to new neighbors and housing the displaced? (Well, I guess it depends on your level of hunger, but you know what I mean. And don't give me that yarn about how low income folks need McDonalds. It's patronizing to suggest that just because someone's poor they can't cook healthily and on a shoestring. Besides, there's plenty of fast food around to make up for a space hog on the Boulevard. Ever seen the menu at the Chinese joints? Way more food for the buck and the big corporate dollar-suckers.)

As for the process, once approved by CB9 and Planning, the expensive and lengthy environmental review would happen, and Planning would make recommendations. What could one expect, given Planning's and the Mayor's prior successes and mistakes? Calls for MORE affordable housing for each development built, maybe 30%. Or 20-30-50, with the 30 being middle-income. The 20, 30 etc would be stabilized. NEW units stabilized. And we would look for height restrictions - real ones - in exchange for greater density. I know this is possible because it's happened elsewhere, even just north of hear in West Crown Heights last year. (WeCro? Ugh.)

Btw, the term "affordable housing" is now being hissed at. Do people even know what it is? I'm not talking about the "middle income" housing that's being balked at with Ratner Center. We're talking about affordable to people making UP to 50% of Area Median Income (AMI) of about $45,000. That means, if you make more than $22,500 you're TOO RICH to qualify. Even at 626 Flatbush, that's the breakdown. Hiss all you want, unless you're the one lucky enough to win the CB9 preferenced lottery.

Do we all realize what an enormous opportunity that is for someone who doesn't want to be priced out of this nabe now, or even in two or three years? Priceless, I'd say. And remember, the only kind of affordable housing that anyone is building anymore (except for special needs populations thru non-profits) is being built by private developers through incentives like low-cost financing and tax breaks. The City stopped building projects decades ago. This is it folks. These are the cards that have been dealt. Do we play them, or do we fold and go home, screwing everyone who doesn't own their home? Look around the room sometime at these community meetings. It's predominantly homeowners, whom I would argue have way more conflicting concerns than the Borough President.

This is the first all-liberal administration and Council in decades. And, I might add, the first liberal administration since the real estate and Wall Street run-ups of the '90s and '00s. Where once you couldn't beg developers to build, now you can extract affordable units in places like Crown Heights and (gasp) East New York. If you are following the news and the political process, you know all this, and you've probably come to some conclusions on how best to manage the new normal. Maybe you think the Mayor is a sell-out? Well, he's doing EXACTLY what he campaigned on. There are no surprises here. If you voted for him thinking he was going to do something MORE liberal and less about building more and denser, you made a bad bet.

But some came late to the zoning party, and they are on a scorch and burn mission to stop the process dead in its tracks. and are insisting on a no-new-development strategy and/or unachievable visions for low-rise non-residential landscapes on Empire, ones that no one is going to pay for let alone entertain, pretty much disabling any attempt to manage a housing crisis through the use of governmental innovation. And if you imagine Empire as a row of small ma and pa shops and leisurely strolling folk on  beautifully landscaped broad sidewalks...well who the hell is going to be the customer base? Commerce along Empire is doing just fine. There is absolutely no incentive for any landlord to do anything other than what they're doing right now. You want McDonald's to sell to a ma and pa green grocer and a local ethnic restauranteur? Be serious. This is Ronald McDonald here, and he's no clown when it comes to profits.

MTOPP has also pissed off every elected official and accused everyone who even breathes the phrase "affordable housing" as an enemy to the people, and to people of color in particular. That claim is an insult to intelligence. You can't house people who have been displaced if you don't offer up any new housing. Right now the current housing stock is becoming less affordable by the day. Is it somehow gonna grow new units because the community says no to rezoning?

If you're looking for conspiracies, a better bet would be the strangely aligned incentive of certain Sterling homeowners and their current quality of life. But as I've said before, people have mixed motives, and some hide them beneath deep layers of denial. I'm not crass enough to point fingers and demonize people. As you can see, I like a good fight as the next civic-minded dude. My hats off to good warriors, but I'm calling bullshit when I see it.

Somewhere down the line, Alicia Boyd and MTOPP decided that a great conspiracy was afoot to build giant high-rises along Empire, specifically Empire. She lives on Sterling. It's natural to think that she might be forced to endure a massive building IN HER BACKYARD, much like folks on Chester Court and Flatbush and Ocean near 626 are enduring right now. Lord knows she's not special in having to put up with construction in this borough. Or, at this point, just imagining it. It can't be fun. And it's always scary to imagine the future, especially when you see the rest of the borough changing so radically so quickly.

But then there's the issue of race and class, which I was told I am not qualified to discuss, because I am a racist who can't see his racism, and therefore irrelevant to the conversation. This, in a scathing personal email from Ms. Boyd. Fine. I'm not qualified. In which case, ignore everything I've said. 

The real nemesis here, if I may be so bold, is not Eric Adams, City Planning, Laurie Cumbo, Mathieu Eugene, Tim Thomas, Pearl Miles, Jake Goldstein, Mike Cetera, half of CB9 or any of the others who have been called out by Alicia for sleeping with the enemy. Nor does the blame lie with Alicia herself or anyone else with a bullhorn and a bone to pick. Capitalism and racism have always been bedfellows in this country. And they are wreaking havoc right now on low income black neighborhoods. And none of us who've escaped, not through grit but by birth, the scourge of generational poverty can sandpaper our hands thoroughly enough to exfoliate the dirt. It's all blood money. Your house, Alicia's, mine. The taxman, the tax cheat, the landlord, the cigarette seller, the check-casher, the non-voter, the look-the-other-way-er, the miser, the right-winger, the banker, the drug dealer, the therapist, even the teachers bless-their-heart teaching the system to yet another generation of eager cadets. So before casting stones, one might want to look at one's own glass house. Is the glass house half full or half empty? Well, at least it has a nice garden and good bones and is "dripping" with period details (ew...reminds me of Helter Skelter). And hopefully, it would seem by the drawings of the future Empire w/out people, no new neighbors. A brick Shangri La wrapped in limestone. Blood money, the lot of it. So what you gonna do? More landscaping and a prayer?

I'm expecting that Tuesday will involve much earthy rhetoric, and I hope some sane and reasonable voices will come to offer different perspectives than the one currently carrying the loudest message. It should be possible to have a thoughtful conversation about how to house the hundreds, probably thousands, of residents being priced out. Looking at my Gentrification Steam-punk Timepiece, we have mere hours before the full-blown forces of gentrification come to the avenues. But if we can't figure out a way to be a PART of this great experiment called New York City, if we can't put aside our own (self) satisfaction for at least an honest conversation...we're faring way worse than I imagined.

Here's what the Q believes. We were late rezoning Flatbush - we didn't stay on top of the issue when it became malignant in 2007 then oddly into remission (recession), and now we must move to keep the Flabenue from becoming a canyon along the park. And here's where we should be working WITH the powers that be. Build. Create jobs. Improve schools, amenities and services. Don't fuck over our neighbors in the process. Recognize cultural difference, don't exploit it or condemn it. Use whatever tools are at our disposal to keep people in their homes and work to create better housing laws and curbs on despicable landlords. Recognize that (as I learned Friday) there's been a 20% jump in homelessness in six months. Recognize that right now everyone and their aunt wants to live here, but who's to say it's gonna last? Booms aren't booms unless there are busts before and after. And so, the WAY WE PLAN NOW IS GONNA MATTER. BIG TIME.

If nothing comes of rezoning and the brute force of propaganda rules the day, I won't be surprised. But whatever your thoughts, please come out and share them. I already know what one person's gonna say; I'd like to hear some others.

Ebbets Field Flannels

In Seattle. Pic: Kendall C.
Vintage baseball jerseys, or pajamas for 1720 Bedford Avenue?

See You At the March - 11:30 am Start - CPW

O No! SoCro Goes So NoCro on Fra So of EPW.

Translation: The rebirth of Franklin Avenue north of Eastern Parkway West (EPW - nice, right?) has meant sky-high rents in both residential and commercial spaces. So, naturally, the trend moves south of EP to the less yuppified SoCro. Now, I know all these terms are absurd. They ALL are. I guess since shorthand is no  longer a requirement for today's secretarial pool, I think we're all looking for more modern time-savers, in this oh so hectic world. Such busy lives! Answering email! Getting coffee! Taking care of THE KIDS! (um, you always had to take care of the kids. that one is not new y'all). Working!! (yep, always had to do that too). Church! (wait, most of us took that one out). Doing chores! (now you're just whining).

I'm ready for Carroll Gardens to become CarGa, Boerum Hill BoHi and Bedford-Stuyvesant Bed-Stuy. Actually, it's already called that, so let's shorten it a bit more to just BeSt. I've already predicted that East New York become ENY (pronouced eenie) and Mill Basin MilBa. Sheepshead Bay? SheBa of course. Brighton Beach? BriBe. It's my blog. I can do this all night...

First up in the new biz department, a place sure to keep waistlines bulging and the species procreating called Butter and Scotch. Basically you can get shitfaced and then shove your pie hole full of pie. And therefore, my prediction? Huge hit. The gals already have a big following and they seem to have that quirky Brooklyn sense of humor thing down. They're calling it Brooklyn's First Artisanal Dessert and Craft Cocktail Bar.

Founded by Keavy of Kumquat Cupcakery and Allison of First Prize Pies, Butter & Scotch will have an emphasis on seasonal ingredients and the interplay between the bar and pastry kitchen, Butter & Scotch will be exciting, welcoming, and most of all, fun! They plan to open in October or so, but in the meantime you can find them at Smorgasburg market every weekend.

Names that didn't make the cut: Bourbon 'n' Buns; Plastered Pastries; Liquor the Batter

But then SoCro already has the delightful bakery down, in Lady Charles. Karen Charles has been eliciting oohs and ahhs and mmmmm it's positively sinfuls for a year now. Up 241 Rogers at Carroll, the joint is spiffy and colorful, next to an attractive wedding apparel joint called Pantora (below the below), run by a (gasp) 24 year old entrepreneur named Andrea Pitter.

Andrea Pitter of Pantora (pic by CC Woodby)
And longtime fave from above the Parkway and one of the early gentry entries along now-fully bourgie Franklin Avenue OWL AND THISTLE has moved to SoCro (no really, I promise I'll stop). Rents meant you can't run a store like this, with it's curated knick-knacks under the subtitle "General Store" and expect to make a profit on six or eight grand a month in rent.

Oh, and there's a bar opening on 225 Rogers by a dude named Chris Buckley. This joint anticipates the large apartment. building going up where the church used to was.

So much commerce. So many calories. So much alcohol. So many marriages. So little time.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Great New Restaurant Opens On OUR Franklin Avenue


All this talk about Empire Blvd lately has me once again lamenting how that pesky six-lane junk heap of a rue manages to keep Leffertsonians from considering Southern Crown Heights as part of their 'hood. Tivolians and Ebbetsinians have no trouble bouncing down to Flatbush for vittles and fixin's, but the reverse? Not so much. Now you have a reason to venture northward. A new restaurant and healing center called Mountain just opened at 903 Franklin Ave next to the Associated and across from Tivoli Towers.

co-owner and acupuncturist Justine Lynch 'n' kids

Organic and local fresh ingredients? Check. Veteran creative chef? Check, in Tom McCauley from the pre-trendy Miracle Grill. State of the art acupuncture and new-agey health herbs and goodies? Check, with acclaimed healer Justine Lynch as your guide. Tasty gluten free options? Check. Specially pressed healing juices? Check. There's even a relaxing meditation and yoga space in the back. This place screams 2014 louder than Time Square on New Year's Eve. Of 2013. At midnight. You get the idea.

But here's the thing. It's GOOD. Good food, good medicine. Actually, good food IS good medicine, so there's nothing odd about the pairing. Unless you're worried you'll get needles in your soup instead of noodles. Which ain't gonna happen. These people are professionals after all.

I'm looking at the menu right now and saliva is running onto my keyboard. Lavender and Maldon Salt Crusted Pork Loin? Verdure Curry w Local Grains? Tonifying Chicken Soup w local greens and grains, Chinese herbs and pastured chicken? Morning frittata or spelt quinoa muffins  and Mountain's own granola? Coffee, espresso and fresh herbed teas? It's like Sun in Bloom but with meat, y'all. And ancient Chinese healing.

Do yourself a favor. Do like Mohammed and go to (the) Mountain and see and eat for yourself. Do it before the whole world finds out what an awesome joint it is, and how delicious are the freshly made cold pressed healing juices. I dare you. Go.

It might be the oddest location for a state of the art statement of nowness, but then, nothing around here is anything less than odd. And thank G*d for that.

Bluebird Cafe - Open Tonight

So says a commenter. Seems worthy of a post however. "Bluebird cooking from 5 tonight...take these wilted greens and make them fly. All my life. I was only waiting for a cafe on the 'Bush"

Not In My Black Yard

The Q counted 140 people at one point
The Q's hat's off to MTOPP's Alicia Boyd for really knowing how to rile up a crowd. She was on fire tonight at a community forum on capital D Displacement. She actually managed to upstage everyone on the bill, heavy hitters like Charles Barron and neighborhood activists like Tom Angotti and recently elected district leader Geoffry Davis and a nabe activist named Rob Roberinson on the original invitation email, but that's not right. Geoffrey's name was misspelled too. And she neglected in the email or on the flyer to mention the name of the church at 267 Fenimore, only the address. Small things, little insensitivities, started to add up in my mind. And that's what got me thinking...

It's not that Alicia isn't right on a number of points. She is, and she articulates them passionately. She does sometimes put words in people's mouths and insists on pounding home certain incorrect facts, but almost anyone trying to make a point does that. (Just look at politicians - that's how they get and stay elected.) Her analysis of the how and why of the white takeover of Brooklyn is persuasive. MTOPP's alternative community plan for low-rise ma & pa commercial businesses along a beautifully re-landscaped Empire Blvd sounds positively idyllic. A long single story row of ethnic cafes. That was one phrase I particularly liked.

Then I started to put it all together.

It's not just that she's sitting on a gold mine in her nearly two million dollar town home complaining about potential high rises in her (actual) back yard. It's not that the "alternative" community plan seems highly supportive of her own quality of life and those who own. It's not that she quite often sounds like she's using the poor (I'm sorry, did I misspeak? using the plight of the poor) in the neighborhood to suggest that building LESS apartments is somehow going to save their rentals (which I'm sorry but it ain't). It's not that one detects a hint of guilt that she, like many of us, have personally profited off the racism that undervalued the neighborhood for years and is finally blossoming into outsized equity gains.

It's that she seems to believe that EVERYone is in on it. She thinks the borough president is a liar and cheat. The developers are all greedy and racist. The Community Board is a bunch of "lawyers and architects" and other professionals (no, say it isn't so!) and therefore not to be trusted, because they were appointed by the liars in the first place (there are tons of clergy on the board by the way, who might bristle at the idea they're in bed with Adams and Developers). City Planners are a bunch of sycophantic nitwits following marching orders. The Mayor is a fraud and his plan for affordable housing is a lie whipped up to please developers. Mathieu Eugene, Laurie Cumbo and every elected official who WASN'T there gets verbally pistol whipped. And she saves special relish for her new sworn enemy Pearl Miles, district manager at CB9. Clearly, as a City employee who DOESN'T EVEN LIVE IN THE DISTRICT!!! she deserves a special place in her Hall of Shame for having the audacity to suggest that Empire Boulevard get some apartment buildings to help the City solve its housing shortage. Based on (guess what?) members of the community saying they wanted more apartment buildings and affordable apartments in particular (yeah I was there, she wasn't). Basically it appears that everyone who has been working on issues in the neighborhood heretofore was and is in the pockets of the big greedy developers. (I know I am. How about you? I signed my pact with them in blood, and I've been lavished with gifts and vacations ever since. David Kramer helped get my kid into nursery school!)

I'm beginning to think that Alicia doesn't like anybody who isn't poor and oppressed. And I'm beginning to wonder if she even likes them. Because there's absolutely no love in her message. There's no compassion. There's not even a betrayal of concern that she might be damaging the reputations of people who actually care about the neighborhood and want to make a difference. People, mind you, who have been working on these issues a hell of a lot longer than she has.

Not everyone was wowed by her performance, by the way. A few snarked privately that the pep rally was woefully short on facts about how limiting housing supply in the face of rampant abuses by landlords was going to help those very people being displaced. She was best, and I'd love to see more of it, when she tries to educate and organize those who need to know their rights and stand up loud and strong for them. Including those of us with knowledge and contacts who have sat by and observed for way to long. Kudos to that.

If you go to an Alicia Boyd sponsored event, be warned. You will hear a lot of talk and it might even sound or even BE convincing. That is, she does manage to be right on a number of points. But regardless of where you stand on any of these issues, think about whether this a discussion or whether you, as someone with a brain and a question, are being asked to leave both at the door and surrender to the preacher. I saw a lot of people nodding their heads as if hearing the Gospel. But as I left I realized that there was no room in that hall tonight for anything but The Truth. Everyone's a liar.  Except her.

Oh, and thanks to Pastor Maxine Nixon and the United Methodist Church for their donation of community space. See that's not so hard.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Who Knew? Did You?

How is it that the Q, of all people, is last to know that the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is opening a new restaurant? Yellow Magnolia. A proper sit-down-and-talk-about-nothing-of-consequence restaurant! I love, love, love the current cafe; will it still be there? I would be heartbroken, because I've been consuming its Chunky Chicken Salad since I moved to the borough 26 years ago. (Wait, is that why I'm a FWF? Hidden calories!) And those sub-continental guys! They've been there forever, and working their butts off. I'll hold off the tears til I hear for certain...I wrote to their press office today.

Okay, I just got the official word. Longtime cafe operators Charles Sally Charles are out. Time for a last visit before the end of an era? I'm astounded about how melancholy I just got.

But this is like big big news to those of us within spitting distance. Er, walking distance. Spitting is prohibited in the Botanics.

From le website de BBG:

Coming in Fall 2014!

Named for the remarkable flower developed by Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Yellow Magnolia Café is a project of Brooklyn chef Rob Newton (owner of Nightingale 9, Wilma Jean, and Smith Canteen), who will oversee the seasonal menus and overall creative vision of the Garden’s food service starting in fall 2014. Newton’s focus on regional foods from small farms and purveyors is in keeping with BBG’s longstanding interest in sustainable practices. The new, vegetable-focused restaurant is committed to offering the freshest local and organic ingredients possible, with a changing menu sourced from local farmers' markets and the Garden itself.

Visitors will have the option of dining in a brand-new interior space (Yellow Magnolia Café) or ordering from a convenient outdoor kiosk (Yellow Magnolia Canteen). The family-friendly restaurant will be open Tuesday to Sunday, offering such treats as Brooklyn-grown lettuces and greenmarket vegetables, barley risotto, and fried-chicken sandwiches. 

Yellow Magnolia Café is slated to open in late October—watch this page for updates!

Let's Put a Lie To That One Right Now

If someone tells you that Empire Boulevard, or Lefferts Gardens, is the densest part of Brooklyn, does your BS alarm go off? Mine too. It's plain to me that if you want dense, you'd be hard pressed to find a better sardine packing than over in Caledonia and along Ocean Ave south of the Park. And in fact, that's what the map shows:

The census tract of Caledonia, my goofy term for the area boxed by Ocean, Caton, Parade Ground and the Park, has over 6,000 people in it. That's quite remarkable actually, given that none of the buildings top six stories, and it's like 16 short blocks in all. You'll see from the map that density does, in most cases, follow the train lines. Ocean Ave roughly tracks the B and Q, and gets its share of passengers along Prospect Park and down past me (Clarkson/Woodruff) and then heading down south, all the way to dense areas in Brighton Beach. While Ebbets Field and Tivoli Towers may seem high - and they are - they're on fairly large tracts of land and surrounded by low-rise. Remember this map next time you hear that this or that is the densest part of Brooklyn. The numbers are the numbers, and unless you're calling all of Central Brooklyn a neighborhood, you gotta imagine that increased density will, or should, be carried equally along public transportation routes. And Central Brooklyn, for better or worse, has lots of trains.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Bit of Perspective

Finally, some reasonable description of what's happening in the neighborhood over zoning. Zoning. Just the zoning part. The zoning.  From Crain's reporter Andrew J. Hawkins:

On the day after Labor Day in the historically Caribbean neighborhood of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens in central Brooklyn, the thumping bass and steel drums of the annual West Indian Day Parade gave way to a different urban soundtrack: jackhammers and nail guns.

At 626 Flatbush Ave., yellow-vested construction workers scrambled around the five-story frame of what will eventually become a 23-story luxury residential tower. Less than two blocks away, at 33 Lincoln Road, work continued on a nine-story apartment building. And farther east, at 651 New York Ave., builders were laying the foundation for a 40-unit condo development that will feature private elevators and large, open terraces.

All told, at least 10 new luxury towers are going up in the residential section of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Meanwhile, the city is mulling the rezoning of Empire Boulevard, a one-mile stretch of low-rise warehouses and storage units, to foster construction of affordable housing.

The neighborhood has a population density that is among the highest in the borough. No wonder some residents are crying "Enough already!" in a clash that could make the rezoning an important test case for the mayor's push for more housing, as well as one likely to deepen divisions within the community.
When it comes to private development, more seems inevitable. Back in May, The New York Times declared Prospect-Lefferts Gardens to have arrived "on the map." Some real estate brokers compare the area to the Park Slope of 20 years ago.

"It's the real thing," said Evan Duby, a broker at Douglas Elliman.
Meanwhile, with a new mayor in office—one determined to build 80,000 units of affordable housing during the next decade—attention is shifting northward to Empire Boulevard, where Prospect-Lefferts Gardens meets Crown Heights. Zoned for commercial use, the boulevard is home to giant storage and warehouse businesses, auto shops and a handful of fast-food joints. In April, the local community board asked the City Planning Department for a zoning study of the neighborhood, with a particular focus on Empire Boulevard. Since then, the department has held a half-dozen meetings with residents.

No doubt at all

"Empire needs to be developed; there's no doubt about that," said F. Richard Hurley, a local lawyer and president of the Crown Heights Community Council.
What many community members hope to see built is not luxury housing but the apartments that they can afford to live in. Under Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan, developers wanting to take advantage of new zoning must set aside between 20% and 50% of the apartments they build as affordable, but local leaders like Mr. Hurley warn that City Hall needs to tread cautiously. He notes that skepticism about the city's definition of "affordable" runs deep in the community.

"They always throw 'affordable housing' in there, but it's not affordable to anyone who lives here, only to those coming from Manhattan," he said. "De Blasio is shoving it down our throats, whether we like it or not."

Some residents are already starting to push back. A town-hall meeting in early August hosted by Borough President Eric Adams saw a barrage of criticism from opponents of a possible rezoning. A spokesman for the City Planning Department said the agency is still studying the matter.

One group, calling itself the Movement to Protect the People, claims that Mr. Adams and his supporters want to rezone Empire Boulevard to turn it "into a tourist attraction and make tons of money off the community." Among other things, critics note that Prospect-Lefferts Gardens is already one of Brooklyn's most densely packed neighborhoods, with as many as 61,000 people per square mile—nearly twice the boroughwide average—according to recent Census data.

On the upside

Some business owners take a different view. The say they'd welcome taller buildings and more people in the area, reckoning it would help bring more customers through their doors.

"I don't think it would hurt," said Carlos Rivera, who manages Advantage Wholesale Supply. "Not at all."

Bob Lucas of Firestone Complete Auto Care agrees. "Not one iota," he said when asked how a crop of residential towers springing up around his business might affect life along Empire Boulevard. Even some residents who unsuccessfully sued to block residential construction elsewhere in the neighborhood are OK with rezoning Empire Boulevard for added density—just as long as it doesn't take the form of the type of steel-and-glass towers they've come to loathe.

"Nobody wants buildings out of context with the neighborhood," said Leah Margulies, who as a member of the group Prospect Park East Network has tried to block the 23-story tower at 626 Flatbush Ave. "But I don't personally have a problem with greater density."

Sound Familiar?

Last week the Q wrote about the aptly named SHAMCO, owner of many of the large apartment buildings in the neighborhood. A number of you reached out to me with horror stories. To give you a better sense of what it looks like to be used as a Middle-Renter (my term) in the process of raising rents on stabilized apartments to the point of making them market rate, read on:

I live in a Shamco building -1 St Paul's Court.

They are AWFUL.
I worked with the very shady Allotta apartments on flatbush who misrepresented the price of the apartment (originally told me it would be $1600 and then lowered it to $1400 but kept the cash difference of the deposit, first months rent and fee and told me I was still getting a deal so shut up).
I've gotten harassing phone calls from Shamco management; they've held my checks to charge me late fees; I've had water leaks and mold since day 1. They just keep doing superficial repairs. There's mice that run across my floor and I kill one 2-inch cockroach every day. They allow for open drug dealing and our stairways are filled with urine they leave the sidewalk filthy. The trash overflows and it's never cleaned. The hallways are covered in gang graffiti and cigarette burns. I wanted to be one of those new tenants who stays for more than 2 years but i can't be here any longer. They successfully ran me out of here to raise the rent - I'm leaving in November.

Blow the Shofar!

Just over week before the High Holidays, and a local rabbi is making a pitch for you to celebrate with him at the Maple Street School. The disappointed hard-of-hearing chauffeur might not partake, but perhaps you and your family could be interested in free services and a horn blast in the Park? September 25 at 5:30 by the Lincoln Road Playground, then 6:30 for services right there at 21 Lincoln Road. Contact Mordechai (Mordy) for more info.