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, September 27, 2019

The Boss Is Hiring

doesn't El Jefe mean "the boss?" did i make my first spanglish joke with the headline?

The other location gets some pretty serious rave reviews for its Mexican-Panamanian fusion. Read about owner Onishka Camarena here. Look you can get your computer fixed with my man Abdo next door than saddle over to El Jeffe for some killer nachos.

Speaking of which...were you aware that nachos were invented in 1943? By someone named Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya?

Look it up. S'all true.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Alicia Boyd Takes Neighborhood Hostage: Judge Orders Closed-Door Negotiations

The takeover is complete.

Despite the fact that private citizen Alicia Boyd is neither elected nor appointed to any public office or position, she will now be negotiating with the Department of City Planning, developers and (potentially, if she shows up) Councilperson Laurie Cumbo, on the fate of the neighborhood just east of the beloved Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

To the Q, this is such a stunning and undemocratic turn of events that I fail to understand how any sitting judge would see fit to offer Boyd and her cronies such enormous bargaining power ON OUR BEHALF and without scrutiny. (Story in Brooklyn Eagle)

Check this insanity out. For a crew who spends most of their time decrying a lack of transparency in civic matters, this "private session" crap takes the crumbcake:
Boyd agreed to participate in the settlement talks, which will take place in a private session in the judge’s chambers, and will include lawyers for the entities they are suing. Boyd, Ellis and Hollingsworth are suing City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, the Department of City Planning and its Director Marisa Lago, plus Winston Von Engel, who is the department’s Brooklyn director. The City Planning Commission and the city Buildings Department are also targeted in the suit.

Think about it...the Community Board by law has a role to play in the ULURP (zoning changes) process. Those 50 members of the community represent many walks of life and mindsets. Their job is to deliberate and make recommendations. The elected Borough President weighs in. The duly elected Councilperson decides, follows by a full-Council vote, again consisting of elected officials. Also in the mix are the landowners and developers and the Department of City Planning, beholden to the (elected) Mayor and his housing and job and economic growth initiatives.

And then, there's un-elected, un-expert and un-civil Ms. Alicia Boyd (with Janine Nichols and Nichola Cox and LaShaun Ellis among others). The scorched-earth Boyd continues to pummel all things deliberative and decent, sitting in a room with the powers that be, deciding your fate through supposed "good faith" negotiations. She's entitle to sue, though god knows it's gotten her (and us) nothing. But negotiating on our behalf?

Don't get me wrong. The Q argued for height limits long before Boyd became Queen of Empire Boulevard. Had we negotiated the zoning changes years ago we would not be here today, vainly attacking one building projects at a time. She'll tell you she's a hero, but it's crucial to remember she got us into this mess to begin with.

At bottom, the movement to protect you (the people) had things to say in their latest missive to supporters. Hey, they're entitled to their opinion. And apparently, they're entitled to YOURS too, in a private session in judge's chambers.

 Here's your heroes, and the actual renderings, rather than the hyperbole put forward by Boyd and co. And remember, this isn't even the REALLY big buildings being proposed, the ones that even the garden is pissed about. Though, after Boyd's mistreatment, the BBG wants nothing to do with what otherwise would be a natural ally. I'm betting the Garden will come out okay, albeit with more buildings in the horizon. Democracy and civility however, will continue to take hits on the regular.
photo by Lore Croghan of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Judge Requests Councilwoman’s Laurie Cumbo
Presence at Negotiations

On September 17, 2019 at the oral arguments hearing, Judge Boddie, stated that a win/win could happen if settlement talks were considered and requested Councilwoman majority leader for the City Council, Laurie Cumbo, to attend these talks.  The reason she might be involved is not only was she the deciding vote on this rezoning, but she made public statements on the record that her vote was based upon a “miracle” community benefit agreement, that the City conceded does not exist. 

Negotiations Talks have been scheduled in private in the Judges chambers on
Monday, September 23, 2019 at 2:30 pm.

Motion to Dismiss on this case is still scheduled for
October 7, 2019, at 9:30 am, if the negotiations fall through.
Image above: Janine and Nichola, members of FLAC at Court House hearing.

Oral arguments for the case went on for about an hour and a half and a few things became crystal clear to the community; the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) hearing contained lying testimony both by Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo and the developers under oath.

The most stunning point in the case was when Ms. Boyd who was acting as a prose litigant in this case produced the transcript of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) hearing, where again Cornell’s attorney stated on the record that Cornell owned property and described in detail the work that Cornell was conducting on the land, including environmental clean ups, working with the government entities to get permits and their fear of not getting financing for the project if a TRO was signed.

However, once the lawsuit itself was served on Cornell all of a sudden Cornell  does not own anything! Never had in fact!  When it was pointed out that Cornell's lawyers and representatives stated otherwise at ULURP public hearings and at court hearings, Cornell current attorney, the fifth in this case, stated that the lawyers were not under oath. She was Implying that attorneys, who are officers of the court, are not obligated or don’t have to tell the truth at public hearings!  Of course that answer got a response, not only from the Judge, but from the overflowing crowd of residents who had attended the hearing and were privy first hand to the amount of corruption and lies this rezoning has endured, so far.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Q's Life Hack #1: Nachos in the Bath. Plus, too little childcare

We've noticed the girls' favorite Youtube indie-stars like the phrase "life hack," and we've decided the Q needs to take a stab. In this case, things that we adults can do that bring an element of excitement, style or freedom to the otherwise dreary reality of middle-age. A recurring segment begins.

Q's Life Hack #1: Do you like homemade nachos? Do you enjoy a leisurely hot bath? Why not combine them? After the kids were in bed, and as the Mrs. was reading, I made a plate of delicious nachos, brought it up to the bathroom and enjoyed two of life's simple pleasures, simultaneously.

Life Hack Score: 8 1/2
Nachos in the Bath

Oh, and it appears Lefferts and Crown Heights are "daycare" deserts, according to this report from Scott Stringer, who I just emailed to suggest Life Hack #1. The guy always seemed a bit overworked and could use a little "me" time.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Q Station Makeover

Did Queer-Eye get a-hold of our local subway entrance? Cuz dang it's lookin' good! (it's not much more than a paint job and new light bulbs, but we'll take it!) For 15 years I've fantasized about heading out there at 3am with a buck of paint. You know how it is...every day you see the same dilapidated crapola and you start to feel like crapola. A lesson there perhaps for the power of upkeep and appearances when dealing with city strife.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Marketing the Corner

You've all seen it. You've wondered WTF is that tumor on the head of 715 Flatbush? Two more-incongruous surfaces one cannot imagine. And yet, here we are. What was once Nelson's barbershop and a combination driving school/money order/real estate//fax/email and legal beagle has become 242 Flatbush (the upscale market rate apartment building) and 715 Flatbush the soon-to-be something that nearly everyone has opined will be either a Starbucks or Hungry Ghost or Ramen Place or Red Lobster, depending on your outlook and/or hubris at rumor-mongering.
This rendering makes it look almost passable. You, dear reader, know the ugly truth.
Like many other buildings nearby, including the gorge mansions along Parkside Avenue, 715 Flatbush was designed by the prolific architect Louis Gold. More on his story by Susan De Vries from B-stoner. Given the current zoning, this sort of thing may become much more common along Flatbush Avenue, where some beautiful old buildings could get taller without necessarily coming down altogether. I expect a canyon of 5-7 story new construction, particularly in all the tax-payer and boarded up buildings south of Empire, of which there are still many.

I think it's worth noting that the asking price for the commercial space is not really affordable by many mom-and-pops. The $70/sq/ft/yr means you'll need nearly $100,000 a year to sign a lease. High-end retail, chain stores, maybe restaurants and bars etc. tend to fall into this category. With the location being a commuter goldmine, it's hard to see how this sort of stall could become anything-like the funky hodge-podge currently renting along the Flabenue.

And the apartments? Well, about what you'd expect. At a price considerably higher than my mortgage you could get a rare 3-bedroom that actually looks kinda nice. It'll set you back $3,300 a month, but it does have newness and size, 2 bathrooms and 7 rooms. I can't really tell whether this is a "deal" or not, because there's not a lot that's comparable. If you're in the hunt you could always start here. It's hard to imagine it doesn't shoot up past $4K a month soon, but what the hell do I know. I couldn't afford it even if I wanted it.

l will say that any place with a staircase gets a bump up in my view, even if it goes nowhere. The place is actually quite cheap if this is a Stairway to Heaven, though I suspect it's more of a Stairway to Futon.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

They're Just Bowling Now...

A row of townhouses? Yep. Just swoop in, buy 'em all and put up 7 stories of market-rate bullshit. Hey, people gotta live somewhere. And this side of Flatbush is starting to become as dense as Caledonia, the Q's name for the area south of Parkside between Ocean and, I dunno, East 17th or so. Or as a friend once called it "the canyons." Dense. Not unlike the local community board.

This new one - 160 Clarkson - is just a block from me. Back in the day, like, I dunno, last year, this would've pissed me off. But really, what are we to expect? We have a dumb-as-dirt councilman and near-zero political clout. Plus wackos suing everyone and their mothers if they don't tow the right activist line. Nothing affordable this time, by the way. Not even for middle-incomes.

If it weren't true, I surely couldn't make it up. They say gentrification is about white wealth pouring into a poor neighborhood. And we've all learned how true that is. But in the case of this neck of Flatbush, it's almost an inside job.

Here's what's coming down, for 75 feet and nearly 120 units.

Oh and if that weren't enough, you know the beautiful but neglected two story on the southeast corner of Clarkson and Rogers? Just bought for $20 million. This is one of the first properties I looked at a few years ago when a buddy and I were looking to find a location for a community center. Pretty sure that was the same year that John McCain was the bad guy. How little we knew how much worse it could get.