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 25, 2019

High Flyers


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Shirley Chisholm To Keep an Eye on The Q at Parkside

Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous have been chosen as the designers of the Shirley Chisholm memorial to be constructed at our (yes OUR) entrance to the Park. I've written a lot of micro-stories over the years, and let me tell you, this ain't one of them. Big. Transformative. I mean, imagine all the tourists who will eat at OUR McDonalds?

Seriously this is great news, and of the five finalists this was the clear best choice. Read all about it in the Old Gray Lady.

Amanda Williams

Olalekan Jeyifous

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Poor Barry Hers, Landlord. So Misunderstood.

Barry Hers, poor guy, just can't catch a break.

After milking the City for years running a piss-poor excuse for a homeless shelter for desparate families, and treating his longtime rent-stabilized tenants with disdain, he's now decided to issue a press release designed to portray him as an honest slumlord, sorry landlord, trying his best to help the good people of 60 Clarkson and others of his shoddy buildings. All of which he is working diligently to harass everyone out of so he can up rents to market rate.

Read the whole story up to 2015 here from Nathan Tempey. And recent updates to evict tenants here from Patch's Kathleen Culliton.

Below, you can read his (obviously self-penned) press release. Can't make this shit up. Or apparently, you CAN make this shit up.

Real estate professional Barry Hers reveals details of his multi-million dollar renovation project in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens area of Flatbush, Brooklyn.
New York, NY, USA (PRUnderground) February 11th, 2019
With decades of real estate experience in New York City, Barry Hers reveals the story behind the building at 60 Clarkson Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, a residential neighborhood in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn, which the property expert renovated and entered into New York’s Emergency Assistance Rental Program in response to concerns surrounding growing homelessness in the city.

“In 1995 I purchased the building at 60 Clarkson Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, a residential neighborhood in the Flatbush area of the borough of Brooklyn, explains Hers, whose office is located on 52nd Street in Borough Park, in the southwestern part of the same New York City borough.
At the time, the property was run down and subject to over 1,500 Department of Housing Preservation and Development violations, plus a further 100 or more general building code breaches, according to Hers.

Under New York City’s Housing Maintenance Code, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development issues such violations when conditions in rental properties are deemed to violate the appropriate maintenance codes or multiple dwelling laws. “Violations are readily issued but only closed again once any and all problems have been rectified, as observed and verified by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development,” Hers reveals.

Accordingly, having purchased the building, Hers and his firm worked tirelessly, and at significant expense, to clear the outstanding violations, renovating the property and transforming it into what he refers to as ‘an appealing, working-class environment’ in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. “My firm and I transformed 60 Clarkson Avenue from a building full of crime and drugs into an appealing, working-class environment in Flatbush’s Prospect Lefferts Gardens,” says the real estate professional.

Barry Hers estimates that he poured in excess of 10 million dollars into renovations and maintenance at the address. “Shortly after that, New York City found itself in the throes of a shortage of shelters for the homeless,” he points out, adding that since the beginning of his decades-long career in real estate, he’s continuously maintained a desire to help the homeless and less fortunate wherever possible.

“I offered to help and dedicated the building, which I’d put my own money, blood, and sweat into renovating, to the cause, known as the Emergency Rental Assistance Program,” Hers reveals.
The program, initiated by Rudy Giuliani and favored by then-mayor Michael Bloomberg, saw properties such as Hers’ building at 60 Clarkson Avenue become so-called ‘cluster sites,’ a form of shelter for homeless and less fortunate families and individuals living in New York City.

Years later, however, when a newly-appointed subsequent administration took over the city and its programs, huge cuts were made surrounding funding for the homeless and disadvantaged. “This made it almost impossible for me to continue my efforts at 60 Clarkson Avenue,” explains Hers, “and it soon came to a point where my firm and I were being choked, having housed hundreds of families for over three years, and losing millions of dollars in the process for simply wanting to help the city. ” Despite the city initially agreeing to new, aggressively cut rates, even these vastly reduced sums remained unpaid, according to Hers, leaving him, he says, unable to continue working with the authorities.

“The city,” he adds, “was technically making everyone at 60 Clarkson Avenue homeless once again, which as a family man, I simply couldn’t bear the thought of, while simultaneously painting a picture to the media whereby which I was evicting innocent homeless people, when in reality that was not true at all.”
Instead, says Barry Hers, it was the city and its new administration which were putting countless families and individuals at risk of homelessness by refusing to pay for vital shelter ,expecting Mr. Hers and his firm to continue their efforts at a significant, multi-million dollar loss, borrowing from banks to cover heat, property taxes, maintenance and water.”

“After legal proceedings were brought against me by the legal aids, ” he explains, “the court was able to see through this and ruled in my favor by granting me the right to house new tenants. As such, and with the ruling in my favor,” he adds, wrapping up, “I’ve been forced to reevaluate the rent-stabilized nature of operations at 60 Clarkson Avenue in order to begin recouping my losses.”

As of today, the city still owes him 19 million dollars in unpaid expenses, which he is currently counter claiming, having housed over 350 homeless families at the address since 2015 despite receiving no financial compensation throughout this period, not to mention the toll this has taken on Mr. Hers emotionally.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Finally A T-Shirt For Those For Whom the Q Is Their Hometrain

Guess who has two thumbs and LOVES this shirt?

Neighborhood do-gooder Seth Kaplan has outdone himself. With these t-shirts (the first of many, he says) our fair corner of the City will have its own line of fashion.


How do you get one? Send an email request to:

Sizes S-XXL for Men and Women ($20) and XS-XL for children ($20).

Of course, my personal favorite is the one above. But if you use the Prospect Park station never fear. You can have one of your own, sporting not just one but THREE lines.

And last but not leash, the cat lover in your life deserves a Catbush shirt, with this clever artwork:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Rats In the Fridge? For Real??

Jesus some landlords don't know the meaning of subtlety when it comes to tenant harassment.

You know you've seen those bright-eyed travellers walking with rolling suitcases, looking a little confused and bleary from a night out in the Big Apple. AirBnBers. They're everywhere. Our neighborhood is chock full of relatively inexpensive hostels, many of them quite nice and spacious if I do say so myself.

But despite the relative bargains, it's still more lucrative for a landlord to rent out a place for $100 a night than to service rent-regulated tenants, folks and families who have every right to demand a decent apartment at whatever rate is allowed, many for less than $1000 a month with little threat of a substantial rent increase. Rats in the fridge, for christ's sake. What's heads in beds?

And so today we join the Gothamist's Elizabeth Kim in shaming the Miram Shasho's of the world, who create a living hell for current tenants at 599, 607 and 611 Flatbush, while advertising fabulous "paradise" apartments to travellers.

Regardless of what you think of AirBnb, the whole idea is for people to rent our THEIR houses and THEIR apartments to make some extra cash. Making a business practice out of it for multi-dwelling apartment owners deprives New Yorkers of a place to live.

We should all be on the lookout for this stuff and call it in. It's illegal, and it's degrading.

Call 311. It's easy, and the City ain't into this any more than the Q is.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Flatbush: It's Your Turn To Get Schooled

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. It's quite possible you've seen more of her work than any other artist than Shepard Fairey. You've seen these all around NYC, but now they're here. Truly remarkable. Get to know the artist at the terrific profile below.

Clear as glass.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Echo: Rest In Peace, Ben

The man who was always there. Always. Seriously. A man who dressed well, wore a hat well, and always offered his hand. Special edition of the Echo, for you and yours.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Empanada City's Manifest Destiny

A closed edge fried sandwich? You bet.
Who among you has yet to visit Empanada City? Co-mayors Jessica and Brian Almonte have grown tourism to the festive Puerto Rican meets Dominican to the point that they've sent envoys to the Wick of Bush to found an outpost.

Since it's always good news when local merchants do well, the Q salutes the fair City of Empanada and wishes it well as it charters a new town in the Northwest Territory.

Full story from The Bushwick Daily's Rachel Baron to read more on the brilliant municipality at 363 Lincoln Road. And yes, they do deliver.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Klosings and Korners - And A New Veterinarian

As the neighborhood's transformation continues in stride, changes abound that once would have garnered speculation and concern. Now, they seem inevitable, unsurprising, a near-constant churn of economic reality.

Take the closing of Bargain Hunters at the SE corner of Flatbush/Clarkson. Is anyone really surprised by this one? This has always been my go-to for household goods, though I'm now enamoured of the ma & pa discount store across the street next to the Tower Appliance store, another surprise hit for those of you willing to shop local for everything from refrigerators to laptops. Folks have been speculating about residential tower at the below site, but the workers told neighbors it'll be a grocery store. Before you guess Union Market or some such, consider that the green-grocer at the other end of the block (Flatbush/Lenox) just closed after 20-30 years.

BUT WAIT. Just today, up goes a sign with that familiar jingle jingle price of 99 cents. (So much for those $10 artisinal organic chocolate bars with so much salt you can't taste the goddam sugar!)

Ah. The soothing sounds of the very phrase - ninety nine cents.

Sad news for fans of African-origin religious curios and icons and candles and spells, as the quintessential NYC Botanica Ferreile at the corner of Chester and the Flabenue is soon to shutter. Stores like this service serious and casual practitioners of such religions as Voudun and Santeria, the remarkable mixtures of anima spiritual traditions and the idolatry of Catholicism forced upon slaves by missionaries. That these religions survived is a testament to the power of magic (my word) in the lives of billions around the world. I loved looking in, but I'll admit my stubborn agnosticism kept me from wandering inside, because despite my disbelief, I'm still a bit spooked by this stuff. I'm a boringly modern human, which means I'm a post-Hegelian mess, forever doomed to be a walking talking contradiction of non-belief and superstition.

And then of course there's THIS korner. Who amongst you has not gasped in horror? Granted, no one will die because of this hideous tumor atop this grand old korner apartment building, but damn, this is perhaps the worst job of building enlargement I have ever seen. A too-small helmet on an old centurion. Sheesh.

Oh. And a new veterinarian. There is no logical tie-in here...just noting a place to bring your pets for a tune-up. Flatbush below Woodruff.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Summer Jobs - It's All About the Hamiltons

Nothing better for teenagers than good honest work, no? Kept me in line. Sort of. Then I was able to buy my own LPs, microphones and Smirnoff Vodka to go with my Big Gulp of Mt. Dew (purchased with the help of a fake Pratt Institute ID - "cuz I'm from NYC and we don't drive, Mr. Iowa liquor store proprietor.")

Be on top of the summer work thang by going to

Monday, April 1, 2019

City Council Approves CB9 Rezoning Plan

It took awhile, but we've now officially planned for the future!

Thanks to solid leadership from Community Board 9 and input from all constituents of our fair district, plans have been made to limit building density and height, while achieving goals for priority affordable housing for CB9 residents. Everyone got something they were looking for; and a long envisioned goal of creating a seamless neighborhood from Eastern Parkway down to Clarkson and beyond means that everything from the subsidized athletic and cultural amenities of the Brooklyn Bedford Armory to the lovely tree-lined blocks of Montgomery, Lincoln Road and the newly re-envisioned green spaces and commercial storefronts of Empire Boulevard will be enjoyed for generations to come.

Neighborhood leaders recognized back in 2013-14 that big changes and pressures were coming to the area. CB9, under longtime chair Jake Goldstein, voted to enter into a planning process with the City to determine what the neighborhood would need in order to handle large numbers of new market rate rentals, intense gentrification, and the inevitable upward pressure on prices. Infrastructure from schools to roads to sewers needed to be addressed and recommendations were accepted by the City, and 5-years of budgets have been approved to make enormous investments.

Great thanks are due the irascible but always straight-shooting Pearl Miles, who managed to work with local stakeholders and chairpeople to keep the process on track and on time. And thanks to MTOPP and other activist groups for coming to the table in good faith, accepting compromises on a height of 10-12 stories along Empire Boulevard for affordable and market rate housing (plus the gorgeous new public housing facility at Rogers and Empire). Thanks to Ms. Boyd in particular for not suing anyone frivolously or lying about neighbors' ulterior motives or throwing tantrums and organizing protests outside people's homes.

Perhaps most satisfying for many local residents was the downzoning of nearly 30 inner bocks, preserving for at least another generation the historic nature of the 100+ year-old neighborhood.

Nice Work Lefferts!!!

(okay, so it's the first of April and the above is a bit of fanciful speculation on how things COULD have gone. But for those of you who've lost sight of how close we were, before all hell broke out at CB9, please find below the Q's revisions to the original PASSED resolution to City Planning that should have closed any loopholes to what Planning initially said was one of the best articulations of a neighborhood's needs it had ever seen. The City's ultimate deciders were pleased to enter into a conversation about how best to achieve the twin goals of growth and stability. The table was set. Then we pulled out the tablecloth and all the dishes broke into a million pieces.

Community Board 9
890 Nostrand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225

Resolution from Community Board 9
Calling Upon the NYC Dept of City Planning
To Immediately Begin A Study of Community District 9, Brooklyn
Focusing on the Specific Issues Raised at the Listening Forum Held On March 17th 2014

Whereas Community District 9 is comprised of the distinct neighborhoods of South Crown Heights, northern parts of Flatbush, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, and Wingate, and is bordered by the historic landmarks of Prospect Park and Eastern Parkway; and

Whereas Community District 9 boasts such prestigious cultural institutions as the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Brooklyn Public Library; and such notable medical institutions as Kings County Hospital Center, a number one Trauma Center; SUNY Health Science Center, Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center; and the educational institution Medgar Evers College of the State University of NY; and

Whereas Community District 9 is a unique blend of people of extraordinarily diverse heritage; American, AFRICAN, Caribbean, European, Asian and Hispanic descent; and families have thrived in Community District 9 for generations living along our tree lined streets and enjoying the beauty and nuances of the neighborhoods; and

Whereas the existing zoning designations and prevailing land uses does not provide nor address all of the needs of the community; and

Whereas Community Board 9 held a forum at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Monday, March 17th 2014 and in subsequent meetings in the community where residents of the community expressed various concerns; a summary of which is as follows:

1) Preserve the existing character of the neighborhood
              - Prevent/limit out of context (i.e. high-rise) development in the R7-1 zoned ALL areas of the district
              - Make provision for incremental expansion of homes in R2 and R4 districts

2) Adjust current zoning designations to conform to prevailing uses and densities
              - Residential zoning designations mapped in Community District 9 often do not match the type of housing that exists

3) Create opportunities for affordable housing development
              - Make every provision to protect residents from displacement (e.g. anti-harassment areas/measures)

4) Increase residential and retail density along transit and commercial corridors
              - Allow contextual mixed-use developments along commercial corrdiors including Empire Boulevard

4) Consider the appropriate blocks and lots on which modest increased residential density can be accommodated, provided that adequate restrictions on height are observed - six stories or 70 feet should be the maximum throughout the district - and all efforts are made to maximize affordable housing options while staying within these height limits.

5) Ensure that new development does not overwhelm existing infrastructure
              - Address parking shortages in congested areas
              - Address the need for improved sewer and water capacity
              - Address the need for adequate schools
              - Address the need for adequate transportation, both public transit and vehicular traffic

Be it Therefore Resolved that NYC community Board 9, Brooklyn, calls upon the NYC Department of City Planning to immediately begin a study of this district to address the issues raised in the foregoing summary; and

Be It Further Resolved that Community Board 9 calls on the Department of City Planning to implement a text change for the institution of special height and setback regulations in R701 areas in Community District 9, pursuant to the Quality Housing Program; and

Be It Further Resolved that Community Board 9 stands ready to work with the Department of City Planning to spearhead public hearings to gather additional input from the community as we seek to address the critical concerns express by the constituency.

Adopted this 9th day of December, 2014
Community Board 9, Brooklyn