The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Friday, October 31, 2014

New Biz Alert

That joint next to the Subway that used to be Purple Berry for a minute? Gonna be a taqueria, run by owners who run some other taco joints in hot-to-trot nabes of BK. This from a full-grown man in Halloween garb who was most likely trick-or-treating for himself (claimed to have a pail for his "child"), but I know him to be an honest chap just the same. Hopefully they'll serve my favorite - Chihuahua Tacos.

Do you know the place Gueros, just off Franklin? Apparently it's those guys...

Interesting Twist On Lefferts Home Razing

272 Hawthorne
From Rebecca and Brownstoner comes news that a developer has purchased an old wood-frame house with a wide lot and is planning on building two side-by-side row houses in its place - presumably two-family townhouses.

Yet another standalone Victorian in Prospect Lefferts Gardens is going to bite the dust, but instead of the usual multi-family apartment building, two new townhouses will rise in its place. Demolition applications were filed in early August to knock down the existing house, a two-and-a-half story single family wood frame with a turret at 272 Hawthorne Street.
The Q finds this fascinating, even bewildering. Why? the rush to build apartment buildings, it would seem that someone has done the math and determined they can make as much or more money building smaller dwellings that could be presumably be owned rather than rented.

Thinking like this can burn you of course, if things head south. By paying more than a million bucks for the house and property, then paying to have it demolished, then paying to have houses rise in its place, you're counting on selling the finished homes for...well, a lot. Unless you build super-duper cheap (which I wouldn't put it past someone), you'd have to sell these for close to $2 million to clean up. Help me out real estate experts...ain't I right? At LEAST $1.5...

Needless to say, it ain't affordable housing. I suspect this home will go from housing many low-income tenants to housing fewer super high-income tenants. Or, more accurately, super high-net-worth tenants. And so it goes.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Start Starchin' Them White Collars

Thanks David Colon for his always spot on reporting in Brokelyn. The below is his.
146 Fenimore Street
Do you live here? Sorry. via Google Street View
Real estate speculation! Sometimes it takes the form of horrible arson. Oftentimes, it takes much more banal, but somehow more unappealing-sounding forms, like this article in Real Estate Weekly about Pittsburgh-based HLC Equity buying a building in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Why are they doing it, and what’s their plan? Funny you should ask!
Farber said he saw 146 Fenimore Street as the ideal first investment in Brooklyn because of its proximity to several subway lines and the neighborhood’s untapped, fast-growing potential…convincing Farber that Prospect Lefferts Gardens is on the cusp of a major influx of white-collar residents.
Most of the building’s units are rent-stabilized, and HLC plans to slowly renovate the entire building.
“We could probably sell it at a profit right now,” Farber said. “But we want to hold on to it.”
Well, sucks to be you, rent-stabilized residents who we’re sure won’t be harassed in any way by your out-of-town landlords betting on “more white-collar residents.” Just to be sure though, don’t forget that you’ve got rights when it comes to improvements, and your rent in general.

Made with Love?

I'm sitting here reading how Alicia Boyd wants you to write in her name for State Senate. And I'm eating some Mary's Gone Crackers, which are organic, gluten-free, wheat-free, non-gmo, whole-grain. vegan, kosher, no trans-fat and peanut/nut free. The tag line is "conscious eating." They taste...well, let's just say it ain't Doritos Cool Ranch...

Then, after all that zeitgeist jargon it says "Made With Love." I've eaten a number of products lately that claim to be "Made With Love." This got me thinking...who's regulating this whole love ingredient thing?

What kind of love? Spousal? Familial? Carnal? Digestive? And more to the point...what percentage of my daily USDA recommended requirements for love are packed into each serving?

I'm sure in Europe they have this sort of packaging issue worked out. We need to get Congress to hold hearings on the love labeling thing. I ate a whole package of these tasteless crackers and I'm STILL feeling lonely.

Interview with New District 17 Superintendent

Parents...start your engines.

Rachel Holliday Smith interviewed new District 17 Superintendent Clarence Ellis. If you're at all interested in improving the schools around here, please reach out to him and voice your concerns.

And a brawl has broken out over at Jackie Robinson PS375, wherein the new principal wants to shake things up and hold teachers accountable but the old guard is fighting back, trying to get the old mediocre principal reinstated. Word is that there's a bit of an African-American/Caribbean-American divide among the parent body over the issue. Seems that's been an issue for some time...stay tuned.

Ballgreen on Lenox? What the Heck is a Ballgreen?

At 186 Lenox they were going to build this back in 2008:

Now comes this pic from an eagle-eyed reader:

Coming Winter 2015. That's pretty dang ambitious, unless they really mean Winter 2016. Which begs the question...doesn't winter straddle two years anyway? Most of it's in the latter year...

Anyhoo, whad'y'all think? I'm over there a fair bit, near Rogers. Seems like a reasonable place and height...and what's with the creepy guys up on the roof?

Parkside Plaza Project: Reaching For a New Goal

If you're like me, you were planning on donating to the Parkside project right near the end of their campaign to be a "hero." Well, they aimed low and hit the mark pretty quickly. As a fundraiser I know how hard it is to hit the sweet spot! Anyhow, if you were planning to give, please consider a gift to their "real" goal. Explanation below, written last week:

It's October 21, and barely two weeks after going public with the campaign, we reached our initial fundraising goal!

Because of how deep and how wide the support for our fundraiser is running, we've decided to try to raise a bit more. We know there are neighbors who still want to give, and we know there are businesses who still want to contribute. So we've decided to keep the fundraiser open through Thanksgiving, and to try to raise a further $5000.

What will the extra money go to? Well, our original budget was very austere. We were going to try to maintain a plaza on about one-third the money that comparable plazas spend elsewhere in the city. For example, we planned to limit our selection of plants for the plaza to species we knew we could get for free … which we knew would mean smaller trees and fewer flowers. And we planned to end the summer of 2015 with nothing at all in the bank … even though we know our maintenance costs won't disappear come autumn.

We know this new goal is ambitious, but we're confident we can make it. (And even if we fall short, rest assured that you'll see a plaza next spring.) In the meantime, how can you help? Mention it to your next-door neighbors, mention it to your dog-walking pals. Mention it to the guy who cuts your hair, or to the woman who runs your favorite store. Post it on Facebook and say, "Hey, check out the amazing thing that I'm helping build!" And thank you for all of your help!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chester Court Will Remain...Chester Court

No matter how you feel about 626 Flatbush, dang you gotta admit it's going up lickety split. And you also gotta admit that until you saw it there, you really couldn't imagine what it would feel like. It's just past half as tall as it's gonna get. Man oh manischewitz. Just yesterday someone wrote to tell me that while they knew it was gonna be big, they're only now realizing what a game-changer it is. Yep.

But while things in this town never stay the same for long, you can bet that one cul-de-sac half-block called Chester Court will have at least a fair chace at remaining just as it is for another 100 years. That's right...the hard work is paying off for the folks in those pretty Mock Tudors. The hearing has been set to have the block landmarked, notes Rebecca at Brownstoner.

Congrats y'all. Your neighbors admire your pluck and vigor, and most of all, your unity.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lincoln Road: Booze to Bikes

First off...the Community Board meeting was forced to shut down early. Officials at Medgar Evers were not amused by the rowdy makeshift demonstration that erupted when the auditorium we were in became filled to capacity, and some eager attendees were shut out due to fire code. Democracy was being denied! Where were all these people the last few years that I've sat through poorly attended dull meetings? I guess we should be grateful for all the new fans! Next time, check out Stubhub guys.

The meeting was adjourned til Monday night, November 3, when we can move into the larger auditorium, and enjoy the same disrespectful dialogue. Tonight was just getting going! But, I did get a tidbit worth the price of admission, and I can't bear to keep it to myself.

Jim Mamary of Lincoln Park Tavern and Bluebird Cafe fame was there to ask for a renewal of his liquor license. He happened to let fly that he's closing LPT at the end of December, due to an enormous increase in rent demanded by Rong Ge. Bargaining tactic? Looked to me like he was just plain fed up and ready to put his time and effort into his other nook, which seems to be coming along, though without the bra' high five vibe at other newcomer Midwood Flats, where Brits and Germans are well represented on the taps. Then you got Erv's, with its tiny suave Beekman Place attitude and fine single malt Scotch, south-of-the-border Siembra Azul tequila...throw in Lincoln Park Tavern PBR's and Georgi vodka (til New Year's anyway) and end up at D'Avenue for Jamaican rum and you've got yourself a pub crawl. Then stumble into ParksideZ for zee digestif (pint of Daz?) and now it's a globe trotting recipe for serious next-day porcelain worship.

$16,000. Jim let fly that's what landlady Rong Ge wants every month for LPT. Hard to get there selling nachos. Wonder if Rong's got another sucker up her sleeve? And god help ToTT. I'd be bummed to lose those guys, so I hope she lays off 'em. As for LPT - would Mamary really re-up his license at $10K for just two more months of fiesta? Hmmm. I'm really digging those itals. Speaking of which... Scoops! Ital food that you MUST try before the 23-story tower, which is already MASSIVE at 14, falls on it.

Now...what might fill the hole where there once were burritos and bourbon? Bikes, of course. Word came that Citibike, the gateway drug to actual bike ownership and a Citibank ATM card, is expanding, and that Lincoln Road is on the map of next stops - just barely! From this map, it's hard to imagine the Q at Parkside gets on there. Which it should, by gum!! Go here and suggest it!

District 17 - Meet Your New Super

I understand that Rachel from DNAInfo has conducted an interview with him. And I'll be sure to link to that as soon as it comes out. In the meantime, after a few years under the baton of Buffie Simmons, I give you - Clarence Ellis, your new Superintendent for the long suffering District 17 of the NYC Department of Education (yours and mine). Picture and bio fresh off the internets:

Bow Tie. Sign of Good Things to Come?

Clarence Ellis has served the students of the NYC Department of Education for the past 28 years. He has served in the following positions: Sixth Grade Teacher, Staff Developer, Dean, Assistant Principal, Principal, Local Instructional Superintendent, Senior Director of Youth Development, and Deputy Network Leader. Clarence is presently supporting 300 schools citywide in Cluster One as an Executive Director of Student Services on the Deputy Cluster Leader line.

His responsibilities include: Youth Development, Safety, Suspensions, Attendance Management, Facilities/School Construction, Summer School Coordination, and 311 Escalation Liaison. During the last several years, Clarence has helped develop programs that have provided essential services to students in need (SIMBA – Safe In My Brother’s Arms & ASET – All Sisters Evolving Together), bolstered student achievement, reduced violence, and encouraged staff support creatively. Clarence has a B.S in Finance/Economics from Long Island University, an M.S. in Special Education from Brooklyn College, and a P.D. in Education Leadership from Brooklyn College.

Community Board Agenda For Tonight: A Zone Defense

When tonight's Community Board Agenda (scheduled for 7pm at Medgar Evers, all invited) was set and released last week, it turned a few heads. Last month's meeting had but one agenda item - discussing the Zoning Study that had been requested by CB9 last March in a resolution that passed and then narrowly remained in place after a rescind vote (that's two votes for those keeping track). If you want to read more about the whole back and forth and back and forth and back, you need only scan the last couple months posts right here on the Q and you'll see that it's taken up considerable 0's and 1's of Blogger's cloud storage. It's big stuff, this rezoning of a neighborhood. It only happens, oh, like never. So, I've made it a priority to make it my business to be near the center of the conversation (much to some people's dismay I'm sure).
Last month's Community Board 9 meeting

The big question on many-a-mind: why no zoning conversation on THIS month's agenda? Well, for one, zoning is not the only thing the CB is charged with doing. We're part of a budgeting process that allows us some say-so on how the City's money is spent. Oh, yes, it's largely advisory. But do you think, say, that revamped Parkside Playground just sprang from Mathieu Eugene's loins? (ewww) Of course not. It was long a priority of the Community District to revamp its decrepit parks and play spaces. We'll be voting on Capital and Expense requests to the City tonight. And recommending the approval of some liquor licenses.

Reason two, who wants to invite another fracas? MTOPP, the group adamantly opposed to residential development on two blocks of Empire Boulevard screamed and yelled and generally shut down last month's meeting. Word has reached the Q that last night MTOPP held another strategy meeting to "get what we want" at tonight's meeting. What do they want exactly? Hard to say. It keeps changing. But Alicia hates hates hates Pearl Miles, District Manager. And has nothing nice to say about yours truly or anyone on the Executive Committee. She's alienated all the elected officials and bureaucrats, save one ego-fueled currently elected Democratic Assembly District Leader named Geoffrey Davis, who by the way once stalked another currently elected Democratic Assembly District Leader from a neighboring neighborhood, then his girlfriend, Renee Collymore. (You can't make this shit up. These are the people we get when we're sleeping through Election Day.)

At the end of this post I attach tonight's agenda. And while MTOPP claims to be prepared to "speak out" tonight, they're actually not allowed and will (supposedly) be escorted out if they disrupt the meeting. Because the issue is not on the agenda, there is no requirement to let them speak to a "general" complaint. This rule is intended to keep CB meetings from being gripe sessions. You're supposed to bring your concerns to the District Manager, who in turn works with the Committee Chairs to put your issue on the appropriate committee's agenda. Then after hearing what you have to say, the committee (say, Public Safety, my current assignment) makes a recommendation. If the recommendation is to discuss or vote at the next meeting, then your issue gets on the full CB meeting agenda. Same as it works in Congress and half a million other democratic institutions.

Most of us who work hard, in a volunteer capacity, to do the business of the district are getting pretty tired of being called corrupt and having our precious time wasted by jerks who think they can hijack a process to get what they want. I think it's fair to say that we're all willing to listen to MTOPP's concerns when presented in a respectful manner. Many of those concerns are shared by those of us who care deeply about how real estate development proceeds in the area. But giving in to the loudest voice is not serving the community. It's giving in to bullies. And the Q don't play that game. He's happy to push right back.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

REMINDER - TODAY: Open House For Lefferts Food Coop!

I am SO impressed that Karen Oh and company got this thing off the ground. And now, on October 26 from 10-4, you can come take a sneak peak at the progress they've made on the Lefferts Community Food Coop at 324 Empire Boulevard.

How can I say it any other way? This is an astounding accomplishment. A bunch of volunteers create an alternative cooperative source for healthy food. Knowing the Park Slope Food Coop and its history, I can assure you this is a major achievement.

Hats off y'all! See you on Sunday the 26th...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Great Essay on Disappearance of Black Bed-Stuy

From the Daily News, a moving memorial from Brooklyn College professor Ron Howell. I was particularly struck by the measured tone, choice anecdotes and the timeliness to our own Leffertsian story. Below, reprinted without permission, though I guess I'm publicly asking for it now, Mr. Zuckerman and Mr. Howell. Lemme know, 'kay?

The legendary urban planner Robert Moses once said he'd like to - quite literally - rip America's ghettos and their residents from the map. "The first prescription for slum dwellers in the ghettos of the big cities is total, immediate, uncompromising surgical removal," he wrote in his 1970 book "Public Works: A Dangerous Trade."

At the top of his list of tumors was Bedford-Stuyvesant.

"I have recently seriously proposed a workable, uncompromising plan, involving at the start 160,000 people, to raze the central Brooklyn slums [and] move residents" to the Rockaway peninsula in Queens, he wrote. Wow.

Sadly for him, happily for my family of Bed-Stuy natives, Moses's idea went nowhere, and he died leaving behind the public perception presented in Robert Caro's classic book, "The Power Broker," of a man contemptuous of blacks, and all those without political clout.

But recent economic trends have been doing what Moses could not do. The 2010 Census showed a 700% increase over the previous decade (astounding even in these gentrifying times) in the number of whites moving into Bedford-Stuyvesant. Travel to the corner of MacDonough St. and Lewis Ave, and you'd have to bet that the trend has only accelerated since. The neighborhood's brownstones are being renovated at a rabbit's pace. And as part of the process, thousands of blacks are being priced out of the neighborhood they once proudly called their own, seeking more affordable spaces in the more eastern parts of Brooklyn, like Canarsie or Brownsville; or the Poconos, Georgia or the Carolinas.

An increase in the black population of the Rockaways suggests some Bed-Stuy blacks may even be moving to where Moses originally wanted them to go. I and countless others of darker hue who called Bed-Stuy theirs have been lamenting of late, sighing in exasperation - because it has diverged too much from the humble place we once knew, and because it is now just too damn expensive.

And it's not just the disrespect of a person's heritage that causes the seething in the chest, but also the seeming impunity with which real estate forces have their way with Bed-Stuy and other black neighborhoods over the course of modern history.

One thing that those of us who feel this way about Bed-Stuy have agreed upon of late is this: The gentrification war waged by realtors and their silent backers in politics and at the banks is over. The natives have lost. "Bed-Stuy, do or die," we used to say. And oh yes, it is dying.

As we pick up the pieces, we must ask: Along the way, as the story of the disappearing blacks of Bed-Stuy runs its course, can we not work together and try to ensure that some of the things so special to those of us still living and caring are respected?

It is right and proper to bemoan the death of a place that once loomed so large in our minds. For we in Bed-Stuy survived through a northern version of the pre-civil rights era, when murders or rapes didn't warrant coverage in the local newspapers unless a white person was the victim.

I grew up there, in that heart of the Republic of Brooklyn, in the 1950s and 60s, and Bed-Stuy was our place where American Dreams come true. More than any other locality in the country, it was an early meeting point of Great Migration blacks from the South and of immigrants from the Caribbean. Back then - before the post-1965 explosion in Caribbean immigration - we second-, third-, and four-generation blacks were not conscious of natal differences between us. We spoke Brooklyn. We played on Little League teams, and we went from street to street challenging others to stickball games, without the topic of ancestry from the South or the West Indies ever coming up.

Yes, there was a down side. Back in that day, cops did not see Bed-Stuy as we residents did, as a place worthy of respect and dedicated protection. My grandfather, Bertram L. Baker, in whose Jefferson Ave. home I was raised, was the state assemblyman for Bed-Stuy from 1949 to 1970 (he was the first black person elected to any office in Brooklyn). And in the mid-1960s, he achieved what was then a significant distinction, as he was chosen to be majority whip of the Assembly Democrats.

I recall distinctly, as a teenager, walking behind two white police officers, one of whom looked at my grandfather's car and license plate, with its number 5, and said, "Must be somebody's chauffeur." Now the insults of yesterday are expressed in backdoor actions of the monied class seeking to monetize buildings and, in the process, send the chauffeurs fleeing to other quarters.

And so, you see, this gentrification scenario is provoking a righteous anger, having to do with the thousands of black longtime tenants in Bed-Stuy who have been seeing their rents rising beyond their capacity to pay; and, worst of all, they are continually being hit with schemes of greedy new landlords using any means to get them out of the buildings.

Richard Flateau, raised in Bed-Stuy and now the owner of Flateau Realty Corporation, notes that many of the renters in the neighborhood live in brownstone houses with fewer than six units, which means they don't have rent stabilization protections. What's more, says Flateau, who is also is chair of the Economic Development Committee of Community Board 3 that covers Bed-Stuy, such renters are especially in trouble when such a property changes hands.

The new owner merely tells them to leave. And this has been going on frequently in Bed-Stuy, as investors purchase homes as bundles, much like the subprime packagers of earlier in the century. "It's basically about people who have more money," he said. And in this land of income inequality that has as much to do with race as anything else, where money talks and the person without it walks, Bed-Stuy's is placing get-out-of-here mats outside the apartments of those who once felt so welcome.

Two weeks ago, I received an email from Serene White, a former Brooklynite who is now a nursing student in Alabama. She wanted to tell me about her 94-year-old grandmother Willie Mae Greene, who White says is being harassed by the new landlords of her building at 952 St. Marks Avenue. White says the new owners are wrongly asserting that the grandmother hasn't paid rent in two years, and they have changed the lock on the doors, among other things. The grandmother has been staying with relatives, and the landlord's actions are clearly an effort to get the elderly tenant out so they can rent to a higher-paying new tenant, White said.

Lo and behold, the very recent morning that I began writing this article, I received an email from Public Advocate Letitia James. It was about the "worst landlords" of the city. I plugged in Greene's address and sure enough one of the "worst" was the owner of 952 St. Marks Ave., which has hundreds of violations. I sent an email to the woman listed as the head of the ownership group, a Karen Pasek, head officer of 952 St. Marks Avenue HDFC, but have so far not received a reply. (The attorneys for Greene say they have not yet received the family's permission to speak publicly on their behalf.)

Betty Staton, a former family court judge who is now president of Legal Services' Brooklyn programs, said that rising property values are leading landlords to offer tenants cash to vacate their apartments, perhaps a few thousand dollars. "If you're poor, it may seem like a lot," she told me. "But it's a small amount of money compared to the valuable asset they have (the apartment). They may move to a new location, where the rent is more than two or three times it was at where they left."

It is critical that elected officials and others do what they can to out and, yes, punish abusive landlords, as well as protect renters who, without help, will be forced to leave Brooklyn, the land they have loved for so long. One of the sadder moments of recent months for me was coming out of a café that opened recently on the east side of Throop Avenue between Jefferson Ave. and Hancock St. As I exited, on my way to visit my mother, who is homebound on Jefferson Ave., I stopped to chat with a group of black men, senior citizens all, sitting on folding chairs on the sidewalk opposite the café. "Can I ask you a question?" one of them said.

"Sure," I answered.

"How much was that coffee?"

I was for the moment stunned that the new place had been opened for months and, despite being coffee drinkers and despite gathering regularly right near the entrance, they had not had the opportunity to ask anyone about the price.
I confess that I could not bring myself to tell the truth.

"Two dollars," I said. They were stunned. Why, they wondered, would a working person go there when they could stop at a bodega owned by an Arab or Latino and pay 75 cents? We spoke some about their homes, and about the people they knew who once lived in Bed-Stuy but could no long afford it. Quietly, below the surface, there sat a truth that all of us in our hearts recognized: that in perhaps two years they would all be gone also, living in the South or wherever they felt, emotionally and financially, at peace.

Truth be revealed, regarding these men and other Bed-Stuy renters headed for the back door, I harbor similar feelings as many do about the Native Americans who once roamed the broken land of hills and slopes that would be called Breukelen. Yes, they were overcome. But this phenomenon is happening before us now and we must each, those who care, find a way of responding to it, with concern for the powerless, with respect for the past.

Howell is an associate professor of journalism at Brooklyn College.

The Q's "Wheel Appreciation Day"

yet another extraordinary use

Walking back from the Office Depot with three (3) large office chairs in big boxes planted on my hand truck, passing zooming cars and bikes, a man in a wheelchair, a lady with a walker and a large garbage container being easily managed down the sidewalk by a smallish super...I was once again moved to express my gratitude to the wheel.

It is hard to imagine an invention more crucial. It's almost if, in defiance of the time-honored cliche, the wheel keeps reinventing itself every day.

Here's to the wheel. May we all roll through this life with just a wee less effort. (Don't even get me STARTED about the lever...)

Readings on Rogers

This is Brooklyn. Brooklyn, NYC. Capital of the Arts. It's easy to forget sometimes that you're living, maybe even sitting on the subway, among some of the most creative, accomplished and forward-thinking musicians, authors, poets, painters, dancers, performers, choreographers, burlesque artists, actors, performance artists, multi-media thing-makers, graphic novelists, sculptors, filmmakers and plumbers on the planet. (Yes, I still wholeheartedly recommend the gruff, hilarious and generally unflappable Mark of Mark's Plumbing. Just as with a barber, it's good to develop a relationship with a plumber.)

With that in mind, the Q recommends you come out next week to support PLG Arts and its reading series, featuring celebrated locally sourced authors Martha Southgate and Darcey Steinke. Come out to the Inkwell Cafe at 408 Rogers next Thursday at 7:30, grab a drink, and settle in for some serious good use of the English language.

Live Blogging the Ebola Situation

Who needs me when you've got the muscle of every news outlet in the free world?

Short version: Ebola comes to NYC. Panic and Hysteria to start presently.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

More Pop-Up Yummy From Sallie Ann's

Thank goodness for other news! Shari and Doug really know how to treat the tummy. Deliciousness is their middle, maiden and married name. So, if you're hankering for some old home goodness, stop by the patio of the Maple Street School either Saturday or Sunday for some serious chow and fixin's.

This weekend Shari and Doug's 2nd SALLIE ANN'S Pop-Up restaurant eatery goes live on the Maple Street School patio. This time it's for two days —Saturday, October 25th and Sunday, October 26th, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. It's the weekend before Halloween, in concurrence with Prospect Park's Halloween festivities. (As before—informal, no seats, though there's the curb at the subway entrance and the nearby park.)
Old-Fashioned meatloaf sandwich
(w/ aioli or spicy Korean BBQ drizzle)

Heirloom tomato tart

Kimcheese (grilled cheese w/ homemade kimchi)
(homage Sara Jenkins Extra Bar)
(trust us—it's delightful)
Mashed root vegetables (butternut squash, potatoes, parsnips)

Beet salad w/ parsley, edamame, shallots, and goat cheese 

Ginger apple cider

Pumpkin muffins

And, yes, we're still looking for a physical space in Flatbush Lefferts Gardens! It will happen soon!

A Lazy Post

I really hope you have something better to do than read the latest nonsense from MTOPP, written in some vague sort of iambic pentameter. But say you're in the waiting room at the dentist and all the subscription magazines are about goes:

Dear Members
This is the email that Karim was upset about.
That he referred to during our meeting with him last night.
Please review it.
There was no mention of anybody being corrupt.
Nor did I associate him with anyone else.
He's upset,
because it indicates that he was going to support
us in our efforts.
And why would he be upset about that!
We are his constituency, he is suppose to represent us.
So what is so terribly wrong about this email
that he mentioned it again last night,
along with lies about what it said!
What would it mean if a representative were to support our efforts!
Well who gains from the rezoning of our community!
The developers!
Didn't Pro Angotti, said
City Planning is in the pockets of the Developers!
This is common knowledge!
Even our attorney talked about how the Developers buy
influence with the local politicians to get their way.
And if they support our efforts, then they don't support
the developers efforts! Conflict of Interest!
Or more locally known as CORRUPTION!
(718) 703-3086

Sent: Wednesday, August 06, 2014 8:01 AM
Subject: Results of meeting with Assembly Karim Camara (Good News!)

Good Morning Neighbor
Good News!  We met with Assembly Karim Camara
and he is on board with supporting our efforts
He recognized that regardless of his own personal views,
he represents us and will support our goals.
He will first go back and talk to Eric Adams (after Monday, I'm sure he is listening)
and let him know we don't want Empire Blvd changed from a commercial to residential.
However, we do want to do Contextual Zoning on Empire Blvd,
creating height limits and other restrictions to create a Blvd that is upscale, airy, light etc...
He will also approach the Mayor's office and seek a meeting between us and them.
To engage in talks about how to preserve this affordable community
and supporting the local tenants in the community from displacement etc....
He will also help us get marching and sound permits for our March and Rally
That will take place on Sunday, August 24 at 2 pm.
There will be two starting points for this March!
1. Leffarts Ave and Flatbush Ave.
2. Washington Ave and Sullivan Place.
Both these groups will merge at the Corner of Empire Blvd and Washington Ave
and then march down to Empire Blvd and Rogers Ave.
This will be a peaceful demonstration!
And all of our publication will depict that sentiment.
In return he is requesting two things from us.
1. 500-1000 letters addressed to the Mayor about our concerns.
a. It should contain, years in the community
b. A renter or home owner
c. Address, and name.
d. cc to all local representatives
2. 2000-3000 petitions signed
Remember Community Bd 9 will be resuming business on Tuesday, Sept 23, 2014
We need to be ready to get the changes that we want!
As you can see we have a lot of work ahead of us.
But no one has said to me that this is a done deal,
the way they said about 626 Flatbush, when MTOPP
entered into the fight and why because it isn't!
We can stop this right now!
While it is still in the communities hands!
(718) 703-3086

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Conclusion About MTOPP

And so, with two "new development" posts in the last two days, the Q hopes to have painted a fairly full picture of the enormous change happening all around us, not tomorrow, but right now. If my hunch is right, it's about half what is actually being planned but not announced. I just noted, on a walk near my house, the enormous number of projects on Clarkson to my east. No 23-story towers; just high-end market rate building after building. It doesn't take a genius to see where the neighborhood is heading. I never would have dreamed it'd go down like this, and that so many people would be pushed out so quickly. A building owner need only do the math, and then a mere matter of will and tactics to white-fy a building. Okay, upscale. But if you happen to be black, you can be pardoned for the conflation of the two.

And so, I'm once again led to the question: what on earth could be gained by stopping a zoning study? Curbing the march of gentrification? That's a joke, right? That would be like stopping a moving bus with paper bag.

No, the only two blocks that seem to REALLY be affected by any of this MTOPP crap are on Empire, between Prospect Park and Rogers. This is a fact - pretty much everywhere else that's not landmarked or protected by super-low zoning will (I said WILL) receive an enormous increase in density. The zoning allows it. It allows it now. Or as Richard Bearak, zoning czar at the BP's office likes remind me, there's a great deal of "potential units" cooked into the current zoning.

And now we're told that hotels may be coming to Empire. They could be built "as of right." Fine. If MTOPP doesn't want residential built on Empire, let's give them hotels. In fact, that would provide for a lot more jobs than Self-Storage facilities. Where, I'm told, a couple employees is all you need to run the whole damn operation. At least a hotel hires dozens of folks. And the tourists buy stuff locally. All in all, isn't that what MTOPP should be supporting? Economic activity for local residents? It is the Movement To Protect the People after all. I'm assuming then that it is not the movement to protect any single resident's right to rent out space (hmm, kinda like a hotel) to foreigners (hmm, like tourists) and refinance his/her house every time gentrification once again spikes his/her home value through the roof and into his/her lovely garden and then have the gall to accuse others of taking money at the expense of the little people. Hey, if you own a home right now you'd be tempted to pull out some of that sweet equity yourself, wouldn't you? I recall one commie acquaintance calling it "blood equity." Stuck with me for years. Didn't stop me from refinancing though...I mean, c'mon, wouldn't you? At least I have the respect for your intelligence to admit it.

The MTOPP fight, as currently defined, is not really about low-income people of color or saving a neighborhood from gentrification. It's about preserving the quality of life for people right next to those couple blocks of Empire. That's NIMBYism at its very worst. Scaring the pants off of people, tarring and feathering decent people with calls of corruption and racism, all in the name of what exactly? Keeping Empire Boulevard as it is? Or more likely, keeping those two blocks of Empire commercial and therefore uninhabitable? To think of the tiny piece of real estate that has now taken up so many people's headspace. It's like they're living rent-free in my brain. Which, by the way, is zoned R2-E, which stands for Ready To Explode.

Now they say they want to rewrite the CB9 resolution. Which I include again below, asking that you please show me the "smoking gun" that would prevent us from moving forward with City Planning. Those of us who've actually discussed this process rationally with the powers that be know that nothing in the resolution is fact or binding. Everything is open to interpretation, conversation, changes. Just as it would be if you rewrote it. Except now we've wasted weeks, and it will probably drag on for months, or at least until Planning gives up on us and moves on to, I dunno, Bensonhurst.

So why, some have asked, is CB9 not willing to rewrite it? Well, if they'd get off their ass and call some ULURP committee meetings, maybe they would. Or maybe they wouldn't. Majority rules, you know? And no one I've spoken to wants Alicia Boyd in the room, dictating terms and making threats. That's probably why Dwayne's been reluctant to engage at all. Heck next week's CB9 meeting doesn't even have the issue on the agenda. Probably wants to get a reasonable and event-free meeting under his belt, new chairman and all, and after last month's disaster who can blame him? The new ULURP chairman is Ben Edwards. Ben is the president of the Lefferts Manor Association. Good guy, though hardly known for aggressive leadership. Is he right for the gig? I guess time will tell. At this point, I hardly care. Sorry, Ben, not to be more supportive. By the way, when are you going to call a meeting? See you soon...

Frankly if the whole process implodes, once again, we'll get what we deserve. Nothing. And the neighborhood will be redefined and reimagined by others - those "greedy" developers we hear so much about. Developers who, by their very nature and role in society, are in one business - maximizing profits through building. And they WILL maximize profits. And we WILL live with whatever results that brings. Greed? You could call it that. I would call it "the system in which we live." Hardly specific to Lefferts, or Brooklyn, or New York, or everywhere else in the world but the Park Slope Food Coop. And even THEY'VE been making some pretty suspect upgrades to the shopping scanners and the furniture on which they rest. Greedy hippies...

Will we have opportunities to say what we want where and how high and with how many affordable units? Will we develop relationships with City officials that show we're mature enough, and civil enough, to put some of our most Backyard Wishes aside to share in the City's growth, housing AND quality of life goals? Are we willing to sit down to discuss schools, transportation, sanitation, roads, parking, traffic, public safety, public spaces and all the rest, in the spirit of cooperation? 

Oh, and one last thing. You know those lovely houses and apartment buildings that are the very fabric of this place called Lefferts? Know how they got built? Know who financed the building of them? Know who came in, not terribly long after Brooklyn merged into NYC, and took advantage of people's desire to live near the Park and near the Museum and Garden, and the nearby public transportation? Those very precious homes on precious tree-lined blocks, some of them built to specs exactly like their next door neighbors house or apartment, rowhouses don't you know, just dripping with period details?

Yep. Greedy developers. Doing what they do. Remaking the landscape, whether in 1914 or 2014.

The offensive resolution, for your perusing pleasure. Be forewarned's pretty terrifying stuff, not for the weak of heart. You might want to read it with the lights on and with a friend - a friend you TRUST.

Rounding Out the Development Picture

Thanks to Mike F (Known online as whynot?) over at Brooklynian for offering up a fuller picture of what's going on in the nabe development-wise. Most of the below descriptions are through to find the latest updates. Mike hosts all manner of conversations on many neighborhoods, but he's shown particular expertise in Crown Heights, which for me feels very much related to the uptick in activity down here. Which is to say, builders are not particularly concerned about the arbitrary cutoffs of micronabes like Lefferts. It's a big picture thing, and the key is proximity to cultural institutions, transportation, upscale amenities, the Park etc.

From Brooklynian:

1. The long closed, former movie theater at Bedford and Lincoln will be torn down and construction on a large apartment building will begin. It is not yet known whether it will be condos or rentals:

2. The long vacant, large lot located on Sterling, between Washington and Classon will be built on:

3. The 1000 Dean St project (located between Classon and Franklin) might provide a permanent home to the Brooklyn Flea. An associated food court and beer hall will be opened nearby:

4. The building being constructed at the highly visible corner of Franklin and Eastern Parkway will be substantially completed:

5. The Court Officers Academy, located in the St. Theresa Complex on Classon, will open and house students:

6. Construction on a large residential development will begin on St. Marks, between Classon and Franklin.

7. The enormous, decrepit complex of buildings at Franklin, Bergen and Dean has been listed for sale. I don't expect demolition to happen until late 2014 though...

8. A church and community hall located on Rogers at Crown St. will be torn down to make way for 165 apartments.

9. The big Parking garage on St. John's near shuttle tracks is to become a really big apartment building

10. Formerly the home to Hot dog and Pepsi combos for $1.99, and Gulf gasoline, the corner of EP and Bedford is believed to be in the process of becoming a Marriott hotel.

11. The former site of Sea Crest Laundry, 46 Crown St at Franklin Avenue.
Brooklynian is WAY AHEAD of the real estate press on this one, because the company only recently ceased operations.

12. The repurposing of the Armory at Union and Bedford

13. The repopulating of Tivoli Towers: 

14. A large site at Carroll and the Shuttle tracks is presently listed for sale, and will likely become a high rise that provides nice views of the Botanical Garden and Prospect Park:

15. Although it is still in operation, and I have no information about it being for sale, I have decided to add the "The Spice Factory on Franklin near Empire" to this list:

16. The massive car wash and gas station at the corner of EP and Bedford. - See more at:

Here's the Big 16 links I am presently watching, complete with some dated commentary. To get the latest commentary and news on each development, follow the link.

I'll be posting this index thread around the web over the next few weeks....

1. The long closed, former movie theater at Bedford and Lincoln will be torn down and construction on a large apartment building will begin. It is not yet known whether it will be condos or rentals:

2. The long vacant, large lot located on Sterling, between Washington and Classon will be built on:
- See more at:
Here's the Big 16 links I am presently watching, complete with some dated commentary. To get the latest commentary and news on each development, follow the link.

I'll be posting this index thread around the web over the next few weeks....

1. The long closed, former movie theater at Bedford and Lincoln will be torn down and construction on a large apartment building will begin. It is not yet known whether it will be condos or rentals:

2. The long vacant, large lot located on Sterling, between Washington and Classon will be built on:

3. The 1000 Dean St project (located between Classon and Franklin) might provide a permanent home to the Brooklyn Flea. An associated food court and beer hall will be opened nearby:

4. The building being constructed at the highly visible corner of Franklin and Eastern Parkway will be substansially completed:

5. The Court Officers Academy, located in the St. Theresa Complex on Classon, will open and house students:

6. Construction on a large residential development will begin on St. Marks, between Classon and Franklin.

7. The enormous, decrepit complex of buildings at Franklin, Bergen and Dean has been listed for sale. I don't expect demolition to happen until late 2014 though...

8. A church and community hall located on Rogers at Crown St. will be torn down to make way for 165 apartments.

9. The big Parking garage on St. John's near shuttle tracks is to become a really big apartment building

10. Formerly the home to Hot dog and Pepsi combos for $1.99, and Gulf gasoline, the corner of EP and Bedford is believed to be in the process of becoming a Marriott hotel.

11. The former site of Sea Crest Laundry, 46 Crown St at Franklin Avenue.
Brooklynian is WAY AHEAD of the real estate press on this one, because the company only recently ceased operations.

12. The repurposing of the Armory at Union and Bedford

13. The repopulating of Tivoli Towers: 

14. A large site at Carroll and the Shuttle tracks is presently listed for sale, and will likely become a high rise that provides nice views of the Botanical Garden and Prospect Park:

15. Although it is still in operation, and I have no information about it being for sale, I have decided to add the "The Spice Factory on Franklin near Empire" to this list:

16. The massive car wash and gas station at the corner of EP and Bedford.
- See more at:
Here's the Big 16 links I am presently watching, complete with some dated commentary. To get the latest commentary and news on each development, follow the link.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Buffie Simmons Out as District 17 Superintendent

In some very good news for local parents, longtime District 17 Superintendent Buffie Simmons has been "promoted" to Central DoE. You may use the word promoted as a synonym for whatever you think is apt. She will no longer be making decisions that affect your and your children's lives.

In other D17 news, a new principal has been named for PS375, also known as the Jackie Robinson school, just north of Empire Blvd. Schwanna Ellman is off to a good start according to teachers. Let's hope that positive change is in the offing. If any of you are interested in asking her to join a meeting in the neighborhood, let me know. Maybe set something up at Play Kids?

Thanks to all for lending your voice and encouragement ever since longtime principal Marion Wilson was also, promoted, and a couple mediocre replacements named, by, you guessed it, Buffie Simmons. Catch ya on the flip, B.S.

Development In Our Neighborhood Chugging Like A College Frat Boy

Leave it to dogged reporter Rachel Holliday-Smith to put together a comprehensive list of new buildings 'round here. Be sure to click on the article though to see some great photos and the whole story. It's hardly worth noting at this point where the Q stands on the issue. A zoning study, which was to have begun presently after community comment, is on hold while some members of the neighborhood seem to think that a revised zoning resolution would somehow stop the onslaught or limit its size or its effect on community displacement. Fiddling while Rome burns? Perhaps fanning flames while home churns? I'll note that a bunch of these projects are happening right near me, and where they are in context, I'm resigned to the changes. I wish more folks were realistic when it comes to the City's growth, and would be willing to discuss thoroughly with Planning how best to accommodate it, deal with the City services needed to absorb it, extract maximum affordable units and plazas, and lessen its other more negative effects on the community. And rather than fight their neighbors, fight the practices of unscrupulous landlords using race and class as a weapon against longtime residents. THAT, I would hope, is something we could ALL agree on, and work for.

You may want to note that at 626 Flatbush, 40-50% of AMI would mean families of 4 making roughly 33K to 41K. Though it should be noted that not many of these apartments would be comfortable fits at that price. Couples would fare better, and combined incomes of $25K would be truly affordable - using the standard ration to gross income. Apartments would come in under $1,000, as low as $700 or so. Not perfect...but save supportive housing, I don't know that we could do much better right now. AND supportive and full affordable buildings are possible through City and State funding. To get that going, you need buy-in from electeds. Who it might be nice to work WITH rather than against. Oh God, there I go again...

267 Rogers Ave.
Construction is underway on a five-story, 112,000-square-foot residential building on this large lot near Carroll Street, where St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church stood from 1920 until earlier this year, when it was razed to make way for the new project, according to property records. Renderings of the project show a geometric, grey facade with square windows accented with bright blue and yellow paneling.
995 Washington Ave.
Work has begun on a four-story residential building set on this vacant sliver of land between Washington Avenue and the Franklin Avenue shuttle. The triangular lot sold for just under $77,000 in 2009, but in spring of this year, it was turnd over to “Washington Ave Dev LLC” for almost $330,000, public records show. Plans for the new 3,300-square-foot, triangle-shaped building were approved this summer by the Department of Buildings, according to records. Though a Bond New York listing asking $2.5 million has been removed since it was posted online in July, a sign on the property said the site is still for sale.
626 Flatbush Ave.
After facing multiple legal challenges to build this 23-story, mixed-use residential tower, construction of the Hudson Companies project is well underway. When completed, the building will have 227,000 square feet of space, almost all of which will be residential, according to plans filed with the Department of Buildings. Eighty percent of the building’s 254 units will be market-rate, according to the company, with the rest set aside for tenants earning 40 to 50 percent of the Area Median Income.
 About ten stories have been constructed already at 626 Flatbush Ave. in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, which will ultimately be 23 stories tall, according to building plans. About ten stories have been constructed already at 626 Flatbush Ave. in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, which will ultimately be 23 stories tall, according to building plans.View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith
31 Lincoln Rd.
This L-shaped, eight-story building has been in the works since 2012 when Anderson and Associates, the developer behind the project, first filed plans for the 75,000-square-foot, mixed-use residential property. Construction is now well underway at the site, which is located between Flatbush Avenue, Lincoln Road and the tracks of the B, Q and shuttle trains. The Prospect Park train station on Lincoln Road is located directly next to one of the building’s two entrances. When complete, the property will have 87 units, almost 5,000 square feet of commercial space and 68 indoor parking spots, according to plans.
651 New York Ave.
This project by HELLOLiving will bring a six-story residential building with 40 “luxury” units to New York Avenue between Fenimore and Hawthorne streets, according to building plans and the company’s website. The company broke ground on the project this summer and construction is ongoing at the site. When complete, the 30,000-square-foot building will have indoor parking spaces, a gym and private elevator access directly into each units, the company said.
329 Sterling St.
Construction of a six-story residential building on this lot located directly next to a city playground on Sterling Street between Nostrand and New York avenues is underway, with I-beams set around the footprint of the building’s foundation. When complete, the building will have roughly 20,000 square feet of residential space, according to plans filed by “Jacquelyn 327, LLC,” the building’s owner. A rendering of the project posted on construction fencing shows a stone and brick facade with large glass windows and six small terraces.
Planned New Construction:
834 Nostrand Ave.
Currently a two-story commercial building with a T-Mobile on the first floor, Helm Equities bought this lot on the southwest corner of Nostrand Avenue and Eastern Parkway in 2008 for $2.4 million and plans to turn it into a seven-story, mixed use project, according to property records. The firm filed plans with the Department of Buildings on Sept. 30 to demolish the structure and build a 29-unit, 33,500-square-foot building in its place, two-thirds of which will be residential space. The plans were first reported by the real estate blog New York YIMBY. It’s unclear when construction will begin; the Buildings Department rejected the construction application on Oct. 3 due to “incomplete drawings.” Helm Equities did not answer inquiries made about the project.
111 Clarkson Ave.
A Victorian home once described as a “fantastical three-story concoction,” by the New York Times and “the Haunted House of Clarkson” by local blogger Tim Thomas was razed earlier this year, to be replaced by two buildings on the same lot with a total of 50 residential units, said developer Seth Brown ofAspen Equities. One building at 520 Parkside Ave. will be seven stories tall with 22 residential units, according to property records, while the adjoining, now-vacant lot at 111 Clarkson Ave. will become an eight-story, 28-unit residential building. The lots are currently surrounded by construction fencing and Brown said work will being “in the next few months.”
149 Clarkson Ave.
After a single-family home was demolished here earlier this year, the Department of Buildings approved plans for a new, five-story residential building with 10 units, property records show. The owner who filed the plans, “149 Clarkson Ave. LLC,” bought the property for $660,000 in October of 2013, records show. Construction fencing surrounds the now-vacant lot, but no work on the new building has begun.
50-54 Clarkson Ave.
Three single-family homes were demolished earlier this year to make room for an eight-story, 27,000-square-foot residential project, according to plans filed in January by Bushberg Properties. The three homes had been bought in late 2012 and early 2013 by “Prospect View LLC” for a total of $1.75 million, according to property records. The plans for the new, 48-unit residential complex are under review by the Department of Buildings.
Future Development Sites:
371 Lincoln Rd.
Last October, this 2,000-square-foot vacant lot on Lincoln Road near Nostrand Avenue sold for $100,000, according to property records. Less than six months later, the lot sold for $255,000. Now, it’s on the market for $849,000, according to a listing from TerraCRG, the brokerage firm in charge of the sale. The lot is zoned to accommodate a residential building of up to six stories, according to the Department of City Planning. TerraCRG has architectural plans for the lot that call for four floor-through units and a duplex penthouse, a spokeswoman said, though those plans have not been filed yet with the Department Buildings.
1550 Bedford Ave.
In a previous life, this large lot on the southeast corner of Bedford Avenue and Eastern Parkway was a Gulf gas station. But after the service station was razed in the beginning of the year, the 19,000-square-foot lot was put on the market for an undisclosed price by the realty firm Massey Knakal. Currently, the lot is still up for sale, said Michael Amirkhanian, Director of Sales at Massey Knakal, but he said there has been “a great deal of interest from traditional retail developers, as well as hotel interest.” The lot is zoned for commercial development only according to the Department of City Planning.
1 Sullivan Pl.
This vacant chunk of land on the corner of Washington Avenue a block east of Prospect Park was put up for sale for $5 million earlier this month by a developer who is looking for the right buyer — but plans to build on the land himself if one doesn’t come along, said Jonathan Berman, VP at Ariel Properties, who is handling the sale. The developer, “Sullivan Garden LLC,” already has plans for an eight-story, 20,000-square-foot residential building on the site, according to Department of Buildings records filed in late September. The plans for the lot were first reported by the real estate blog Buzz Buzz Home.
931 Carroll St.
This one-story brick structure has sold to a “veteran developer” who will “likely do a rental development” there, according to Amirkhanian, who oversaw the March deal that included the sale of a nearby laundry facility at 46 Crown St. (see below). Both buildings had once been owned by the laundry company Central Laundry Service Corporation, previously known as Sea Crest Linen, according to property records. Central Laundry sold the building to “931 Carroll LLC,” for $2.5 million, according to a deed filed on March 27. The site can accommodate a building of up to about 53,000 square feet, according to a listing by Massey Knakal that asked $10 million for the property. Currently, no building permits have yet been filed on the property.
46 Crown St.
This 38,000-square-foot former commercial laundry facility near Medgar Evers College had been used by Sea Crest Linen, later renamed Central Laundry Service Corp., since at least 1935, according to building records. In March, Cornell Realty Management bought the 38,000-square-foot site for $14.5 million, according to public records, but it’s unclear what the company plans to do with it. No building plans have been filed at the location, though the site is zoned to accommodate a residential building of up to seven stories. An inquiry made about the site to Cornell Realty — which has a history of multimillion-dollar development projects in Brooklyn and Manhattan — was not returned.