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.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Where are the black people?

The Q has seen and posted dozens or renderings of projects in Brooklyn. It really doesn't surprise me that renderings rarely feature people of color, even when the building is going up in a mostly black neighborhood. Is it really that hard to imagine dark skinned people moving into a market rate building? Last I heard black folks were allowed to hold decent paying jobs. Some tech and finance companies even claim they WANT to hire more diversity.

But this one kinda breaks my heart. I mean, it's the PARK for god's sakes. If ever there was a place for an inclusive rendering, this would be it. Oh yeah, I see the vaguely, somewhat light-skinned don't-know-precisely what race they are people. But nobody with dark, full-on African tones?

Maybe the whole Trump nightmare has made me sensitive, but it seems like a real missed opportunity. And what's up with those dorks making their own little path up the rocks? I mean, I'd do that. You'd do that. But do you want to encourage it in a rendering? Sheeesh! Lawyers get ready, there's a suit a'comin'

the new entrances to the Park, off Flatbush Ave

By contrast, the ambitious new Jamaica Bay park project unveiled by Gov Cuomo bothers to put a dark skinned couple front and center:

Oh, and as someone who's spent some time out at Jamaica Bay and wondered WTF, this project is absolutely overdue in my view. Below is the "before" picture, as in "now," although they left out its dominant feature - garbage.

Eve-Lyn Williams - A True Neighborhood Hero

The Q first met Eve-Lyn (pronounced how it looks) Williams 7 years ago. I attended some meetings at 265 Hawthorne to watch her feistily shepherd a wary apartment building through a process to becoming a limited-equity co-op, owned by rent-stabilized tenants, who had to put aside their fears and jump into an arrangement that many longtime renters didn't fully trust.

Congratulations Eve-Lyn. Congratulations 265 and all its OWNER residents. A big victory for the people, and a potential way forward for renters in long-neglected buildings.

The whole story here.

From State Sen Jesse Hamilton's Office. That's Eve-Lyn with the ever-colorful hair

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Ooh Uber Baby, It's A Wild World!

Teaser: Guess whose Community Board just lost its FOURTH chairperson in as many years? See below...

Who knew Uber did brick 'n' mortar? Sure they have schmuckie-yuppie offices in places like Manhattan and Silicon Valley for the middle managers who are so busy playing ping pong and drinking wine off the company tap to realize they' know - corporate middle managers. Seriously if you've recently binged and need a purge just take a gawk at this. This is what you get if you're a network-card-carrying member of Generation Disrupter.

According to the folks polishing the floors, this building on Franklin off the back of the Empire Blvd Checkers will become an Uber office. Given that Uber hires tens of thousands of drivers in the city, one would think you'd need more than a wee weigh station, but there it is (A Wee Weigh is one of my favorite artists, btw). Opening soon. I have no idea what you do at an Uber office, but I bet it costs more when it gets busy.

And now to the juicy bits. The Q sits on the ULURP committee, which last week met to hear about the Central Library's renovation plans, only to have Alicia Boyd and company send out the de rigeur corruption-alert on the info-only session, then shout down an intended conversation about zoning in the community. (Conversation is apparently no longer allowed at meetings - too wordy, not screamy enough.)

Remember how Carmen Martinez was the District Manager for a minute, but then dis-hired because the Demetrius Lawrence-led process didn't meet Boyd's standards? The Board hobbled along for awhile on volunteer work and assistants, and then new chair Musa Moore started the process anew. You'll recall Carmen was long rumored to be party boss Clarence Norman's paramour? Turns out that at last month's meeting as the candidates were being trotted out, Moore tried to place HIS girlfriend into the position - Simone Bennet. Say huh? The Q has nothing against boys and girls gettin' some, but could we please not mix business with pleasure? Actually there's no pleasure to be found on the board. And there's certainly no business getting done. So scratch that.

The whole affair didn't sit well with the Board. At all. And so, yesterday, Chair Musa wrote the following to the Board, and the Q believes you have a right to read it. God willing, another sucker will emerge, only to be swallowed whole by MTOPP, while the neighborhood continues to prepare itself for its final whitewash.

Good evening, I hope everyone is well and enjoying a successful day.  As per the bylaws that govern Brooklyn Community Board 9every April the Chair appoints a nominating committee to identify potential candidates to run for various executive committee positions. 
This month I will appoint members to the committee; however, please be advised that I will not seek re-election as Chair.  Together we have had some great victories and I am proud of what we have accomplished.  Unfortunately we have also had a few unnecessary disagreements most recently the issue surrounding the search committee, who I continue to support.
Working together we were able to stand against the Bedford Union Armory, the Spice Factory, as well as shine the spotlight on the Crown Street shelter.   During the Town Hall organized by CB 9 we were able to bring elected officials, city agencies, and community residents together to discuss quality of life issues.  We were also able to hire staff for the office which had been operating with volunteers from the board.
Together we were also able to bring various informational forums to the community including Public Safety, Youth Job and Career Expo, Health & Social Services, and others.  Many residents expressed their appreciation that for the first time these forums were conducted by this community board.   We were able to solidify our strong relationship with Medgar Evers College, First Baptist Church of Crown Heights, Kings County Hospital, Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Museum, and other great institutions that work closely with CB 9. 
This is what can be done with the right board intact, this community could indeed stand together and rise above the many issues that plague us.  In order to achieve that the board must continue to operate from a "we" mentality and focus on making decisions that will benefit and improve the community not just individuals.
It has been a pleasure serving as Chair but once again I will not seek re-election.  I thank everyone for your  support as well as asking me to reconsider.  My term will officially expire on June 26, 2018.  - Musa Moore, chair, CB9 

Friday, April 13, 2018

On A Slow Week Of News, This'll Rev You Up - LM Echo!

Let's see. President announces we'll bomb a middle eastern country - unilaterally and illegally! Most powerful man in congress to step down! President's "fixer" under investigation has office raided by FBI. Fired head of FBI publishes book calling President a lying, self-obsessed mob boss. President pushes back with the classy rejoinder "slime ball."

And then there's...the Lefferts Manor Echo. Coming at you Trump-free and FREE-free!

Monday, April 9, 2018

IDC Gone? What's A Girl To Do?

Update: Today's Crain's says "former" IDC member Jesse Hamilton's been breaking the law with his campaign headquarters. As a lawyer, he should know bettter.

The Independent Democratic Caucus was sh-sh-shaking in its boots. It decided to rejoin the mainline Dems, rather than have to continue to defend itself against accusations of being turncoats and, worse, Republicans! (the beast whose name should never be uttered, except in reference to Honest Abe).

Anyone who's taken the time to get to know the IDC will know they were never Republicans. (Though they were founded by a Class A jerk). They didn't support Trump. And they did not hand the Republicans the majority. That honor belongs to a series of events that started with the coup of 2008, then the Republicans retaking the Senate in the 2010 Republican wave, and in 2012 more bribes, resignations, defections and utter insanity. I had to read this Wikipedia article three times before it all started to make sense. If you want to place the blame at someone's feet, choose either Bronxian Jeff Klein, the dorky head of the IDC, or maybe the very bizarre State Senator from Borough Park, Simcha Felder, whose continued animosity to consensus and decency, even LITERACY, suggests that if anyone deserves to go down in the upcoming NY Senate election, it's Sneaky Sim Felder, for G#D's sake.

So then I go to see Jesse Hamilton III, our much maligned representative, and it's clear he's been annoyed by all the hubbub, going as far as to call the anti-IDC crowd racist for calling him out. A campaign tactic? Maybe. Given Hamilton's years of dedication to the community, and his fairly reasonable explanation of why he compromised with Republicans to get some real benefits for his constituents, I'm torn. Sure he got a few thousand more bucks and ready access to the gavel as perks. But...well, anyway, don't buy the simplistic versions of the story. It's truly a multi-layered yarn that hopefully has now been resolved. Albany is anything but boring...

And in the meantime, take a look at the challenger to Hamilton. A young, savvy, smart man who grew up right here at Maple and Flatbush. Friends call him Zell, and I suspect he'd be happy to have you call him that, provided you give his candidacy the hard look it deserves.

Zellnor's the Real Deal, A Savvy Up-and-Comer
With Zell across the table, the Q ordered pancakes at Blessings the other day, and while waiting for them to arrive, the Q blabbered away in order to set the stage for Zellnor Myrie's stump speech, which I hoped would be lengthy enough to finish the flapjacks. But he never really launched into campaign mode. Instead, I was treated to funny stories, genuineness and the company of someone eager to leave corporate law scene behind for a stint or career of civil service.

Zell knows his neighborhood. He's comfortable in Flatbush (call it PLG or Lefferts if you like), but he knows the pain people are feeling and espouses common sense solutions. Regain "home rule" for rent laws. Build truly affordable housing. Resist unnecessary development. Provide real opportunities for young people. You know, he's a true and blue progressive Democrat, and these days, that means something.

And while the anti-IDC will come with knuckles bared against Jesse, look for the likes of the machine-oiled Kings County Politics to fight back with petty nonsense like this about Zell, tying him to a guy he worked for 2010-2012 - Fernando Cabrera - and implying that his work there meant he shared Cabrera's more conservative views. I'm sure Zell would have worked for a more progressive guy if he'd gotten the gig. But Zell wasn't Cabrera. Hamilton, on the other hand, IS Hamilton. He's not just working for him. His views, and his choices with the IDC, are all his, for better or worse.

In encourage you to get to know Zell, reach out to his campaign, give him a few bucks, and let the real race begin. Cuz it's all about the primary in this one-party town, where to even drink out of the same water fountain as the Republicans can lose you your job.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Ten Commandments of Moses Fried

  1. Thou Shalt Not Rush To Create Apartment Hotel On Parkside Avenue
  2. Thou Shalt Wait, in fact, About 10 Years From Your First Application Before Getting Permit (see below)
  3. Thou Shalt Illegally Rent To Squatters For Years
  4. Thou Shalt Thumb Thy Nose At Community Opposition
  5. Thou Shalt Claim That As A Religious Man and Holocaust Survivor You Clearly Care About People 
  6. Thou Shalt Involve Your Grandson David Tepper In All Your Business Plans
  7. Thou Shalt Build An Apartment Hotel When What Is Really Needed Is More Of What It Used To Be - Rent Stabilized Housing
  8. Thou Shalt Not Allow Your Apartment Hotel To Become a Brothel As You Have Done Elsewhere, Lest You Risk the Wrath Of Neighbors - Got It?
  9. Thou Shalt Create Tiny Studio Apartments For Your Apartment Hotel
  10. Thou Shalt Rake In As Much As You Can Before Shuffling Off This Mortal Coil

Moses Fried Finally Has His Permit Folks. What was once this a decade ago:

Will now, maybe, sometime, become:

Monday, April 2, 2018

Ah My Beloved Clarkson

The war is over before it began. There will be no new affordable housing on my forlorn rough and tumble block. Just more middle-of-the-road market rate housing. The poorest have been booted, legally or illegally. It's become clear to black and brown families of limited means that their money and leases are no longer good enough. No government agency has snapped into action, no developer has refused the opportunity to make real money off the neighborhood's changing fortunes.

As of today, two vacant lots are seeing signs of life. Clarkson tween Flat and Bed was always wildly eclectic. Beautiful well-kept and gardened Victorians on the south side played sentinel.

Now that the legally wrangling is through
Hooray! Anti-black racism explained through Anti-Semitism. Hooray! Plus poor use or apostrophes! Hooray!
 Across the street things certainly weren't gorgeous. I often called it "the little Appalachia," with fondness of course. But there was nice group of "special" folks living on the right, mostly hanging on the porch like country living, and the house on the left was the rectory for the cinder block pentecostal church even lefter. Mount of Olives, or with sign erosion, Mount of Lives. Hell, they made out like Jesus Bandits when they sold their souls, but still the off-key singing into the wee hours lent a special charm. I hear they moved to Jersey.

It's now becoming the below.

Regarding the south side sitch:

"Marc Jacobowitz’s Bluejay Management picked up a development site in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens from Bushburg Properties for $13.5 million. In 2014, Bushberg, led by Joseph Hoffman, bought three single-family homes at 50-54 Clarkson Avenue for a total of $1.75 million and razed them to make way for a nine-story rental building. The land is currently vacant and Bluejay intends to keep the original plans, which will bring 93 residential across 65,365 square feet, as per the initial DOB plans. In 2012, Bluejay bought another stalled project in Crown Heights, a 63-unit project at 341 Eastern Parkway that was completed in 2014."

Regarding the northern incursion:
Last year, Brookland filed plans to build an eight-story building at 75-77 Clarkson Ave. The proposed tower will be two and a half blocks from Prospect Park between Flatbush and Bedford Avenues. The building will contain 46 apartments and 31,750 s/f of residential space. New York YIMBY speculated that the development will be mostly studios and one-bedrooms since the average size for apartments is 690 s/f. 

As in, not family-sized units. Unless you're a family from Poodlestan.

The deal was announced by Titan Capital, which was the lender in the transaction. The firm said that the sellout for the building is expected to be around $25 million.

Brick by brick, apartment by apartment, family by family, lease by lease, tree by tree, updates intercom by updated intercom, the block becomes something new entirely. Only Irene and her twin sons Randy and Sandy will be able to claim to have witnessed the switch from mostly Jewish to black to mostly white. According R&S, neither the blacks NOR the Jews were particular happy to see THEIR Puerto Rican asses arrive.

Oh, and 60 Clarkson? Check out the no loitering sign and the brand new lobby fixtures! Trust me, that's about as much upscale as you're gonna get out of our favorite slumlord cum credit-check-lord, Barry Hers.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Grateful Historic Districts To Begin Building "Affordable Townhomes" In Greater Lefferts Area

Coming soon, all over. A new proposal is for a couple hundred on and near the old Spice Factory site, instead of market and affordable high-rise.
Imagine you're someone with family take-home pay between $150-$250K. Can you afford to pay $2.5 million for a home near the Park, Garden and public transportation? Probably not without help from a healthy inheritance or selling valuable heirlooms. And for many young professionals, that just doesn't seem fair. Enter SHATON.

The Q recently attended a meeting at the Montauk Club of a coalition of homeowners in Historic Districts, some from our own Lefferts Manor and the PLG HD. The group is called Single-family Home-owners for Affordable Townhomes for Overbuilt Neighborhoods, or SHATON. Their goal is to see that the City ensures that not only high-rise apartment buildings get built. They want to see more attractively appointed two or three story single-family homes too, and they've found innovative ways to make sure that happens.

Bo Mervin, longtime resident of Lefferts Manor, put it this way. "While many of us have seen enormous gains in the price of our homes, and don't get me wrong we're very grateful for NYC's economic health and growth, we feel uncomfortable knowing that the next generation of solidly middle-class professionals won't be able to enjoy the benefits of multi-floor living, massive equity gains, with room for gramma in the basement and a plot of land for gardening. It's the sort of life that lawyers and non-profit executives should be able to afford! It's ghastly how much my house is worth in 2018. And I'm no One Percenter, believe me! Well....maybe now!"

Mervin, along with some of his compatriots in leafy nabes of Park Slope, Ft. Greene and Crown Heights, have identified a number of major investment banks who also see the advantage of creating "affordable" townhomes. Through clever use of 601b(e) NY State funding streams, it is now possible to profitably build modest brownstone replicas and sophisticated townhomes with all the mod-cons and marble countertops that can retail for considerably less than $2 million - and in some lower income neighborhoods, even under a million dollars.

You might have noticed that some of the most vocal opponents of allowing for taller buildings in exchange for rent-stabilized below-market units come from single family home owners. Rather than sit back and watch Victorian after Edwardian home be razed for unsightly apartment buildings, SHAT-ON believes in building more single family homes in popular neighborhoods.

The $950,000 price tag seems a steal. There's one catch though. You need to win the lottery. SHATON estimates between 5 and 10,000 potential homeowners will qualify for loans that will allow them to bid for these spacious gems.

And it all comes at tax-payer expense, leading some housing activists to rethink their alliance with NIMBY groups.

What do you think?