92, gained fame and infamy in the neighborhood three years ago when he
slapped a coat of hot pink paint on the four-story Garfield Place
brownstone where he's lived for almost 50 years.
He put the house up for sale last month because the space is too big for him and his wife.
92. It's time to get rid of it," he said. "It's a lot of money to keep
it up … I'm going to buy a smaller house around the corner."
a retired tailor, said he never meant to get his neighbors' hackles up
with the brilliant hue: He was just trying to replicate the house's
more subdued shade of pink that it wore since the 1960s.
"They sent me the wrong paint," he said. "It was painted this color accidentally."
the bubblegum brownstone has its perks. "It made me a star," Henry
said. "I didn't know paint would get me on every TV station in New York."
asking price for the house is $2.3 million. Henry doesn't remember how
much he paid for it in 1961, but houses on the block at the time were
going for well under $50,000.
About 40 potential buyers have
viewed the brownstone so far – and that doesn't count curiosity seekers
who just wanted a peek inside the most colorful house on the block.
Now that's a tip!
The Pepto Bismol house is the house people either love to love or love to hate. It's been painted that shade of pink since before Park Slope was a historic district. That means its right to be pink is grandfathered in. If someone buys it they will have the choice to keep it pink or return it to its Brownstone grandeur.
Recently I was interviewed by a graduate student from the Netherlands who is studying Fifth Avenue and Park Slope for her thesis in urban planning. She asked me about the pink house and said that everyone she talks to brings it up or has an opinion about it. Many feel quite negatively about it.
I kind of like the Pepto Bismol house for its outsiderness, its expressivity, its wild and open uglinesss.
The building sits grandly on Grand Army Plaza across from the beloved Brooklyn Public Library and diagonal from Prospect Park West. To me it represents the affluence and luxury mentality of this decade's real estate madnes. It is also a gorgeous building as far as I'm concerned and it manages to blend into its surroundings with admirable grace. Indeed, I have fantasized about having a little pied a terre in there for me and only me.
And maybe that will be possible if, as reported in today's New York Times, the prices are being slashed and the glass building remains half full. Here's an excerpt from the Times article:
10 months after the much-publicized — and much-debated — Meier building
opened, most of that stage remains devoid of actors. On the side of the
building facing their terrace, Mr. Vader and Mr. Henderson said, there
is not a single person living on the 9th, 10th, 12th, 14th or 15th
floors. While the developers say half of the building’s 99 units have
been sold, the real estate Web site StreetEasy.com
documents only 25 closings through public records. When the sun falls,
the view from Mel and Bob’s terrace — or, for that matter, from the
storied Grand Army Plaza — is not unlike a Christmas tree stripped of all but a handful of lights.
“You see that there are people there,” Mr. Vader said. “But you don’t see the amount of movement that you would normally see.”
Seventeen Development L.L.C. announced in 2005 that Mr. Meier would
erect one of his elaborate glass and steel sculptures on a $4.75
million parcel in Prospect Heights, it was seen as a test of New York’s
real estate boom. Could the starchitect best known for designing
Manhattan condominiums for the likes of Calvin Klein and Martha Stewart sell $1 million one-bedrooms in a still-gentrifying zone without a reliable public school?
Today, the Meier building — officially, On Prospect Park — is a wall of windows into the real estate bust.
with anemic sales, the developers have slashed prices by as much as 40
percent. They combined units — there were originally 114 — to boost the
percentage sold in order to ease the path to mortgages. But potential
buyers have walked away from at least $20 million worth of contracts.
Amenities: Cozy sun room with hearth, overlooking peach tree. Rainbow fairy staircase realm, favorable flow from room to room, wall-gliding sunlight panels, forehead-cooling marble mantelpieces. AAA hide-and-seek rating. Squirrel antic observation corner. Breakfast with birds. Airy mansard attic fit for future majestic master bedroom or eccentric artist’s playground or use your imagination. Seat 16 for Thanksgiving. Backyard foraging for raspberries in summer.
Old friends of OTBKB are selling their beloved house on Fair Street in Uptown Kingston, where they’ve been very happy the past seven years, making energy retrofits and restoring the plaster walls and ceilings (a much-blogged project, when there was time). It’s a comfy house with a great spirit, and they’d love to place it in good hands.
Here’s the full MLS listing.
They left Park Slope to raise their kids where they could run barefoot in a big back yard, yet still walk to everything (and on the same bluestone sidewalks we have here in Brooklyn—both were sourced from quarries in Ulster County.)
There will be an open house August 2, 2009, 1 pm-3 pm, but if you’re interested, this is a great weekend to get to know Kingston (for a viewing of the house, call realtor Jennifer Lewis Bennett at 845-679-7321, X127 or email email@example.com).
Tomorrow evening, July 25, 4 pm-7 pm, you can mix with local digerati, many of them Brooklyn transplants, at the meet-up of the Kingston Digital Corridor at Keegan Ales, just a few blocks from the house on Fair Street. The Kingston Digital Corridor is a local effort to assist technopreneurs in relocating to Kingston and networking once they get there. No car? No problem. Uptown Kingston can be explored on foot right off the Trailways bus.
Business Week named Kingston One of the top ten Best Places for Artists in America, 2007. The New York Times recently touted Kingston’s real estate deals for weekenders: “The New Country Squires”, The New York Times, July 2,2009. Those with elementary-age children might be interested to know that the public school two blocks from this house recently adopted a Montessori approach to teaching that just got a green light for more funding and rave reviews from parents. The annual Artists’ Soapbox Derby, coming up in August, is a must. The town is going nuts with gardening and other green initiatives. And one of the best things about Kingston is the ease with which you can bop to neighboring towns (Woodstock, Rhinebeck, Bard College, Red Hook, High Falls, Stone Ridge, Rosendale, New Paltz), ski resorts, and boat-launch spots.
Going on right now: a City Council re-zoning hearing about Bloomberg's plan to rezone 20 blocks of the Coney Island
waterfront for high-rise condo towers, apartments and hotels
A city-owned amusement park in one section is also part of the plan.
And guess what? City
officials are reserving the use of eminent domain to acquire the
property if necessary.
Luckily, the beach and the boardwalk will stay the same, as will the Cyclone Roller Coaster and Wonder Wheel, which are protected by landmark status.
The hearing of the City Council's Zoning and Franchises began at 10 this morning. The council will vote on this matter by August 7th.
approved the 850-building Prospect Heights Historic District, the largest
district designated in two decades.
Wow. That is big news.
The Municipal Art Society made a video about
the process of creating the historic district. The act of engaging residents in
the designation process brought the community together and provided a new sense
of neighborhood identity.
Pardon Me For Asking (PMFA) wants everyone to mark their calendars for the meeting at Long Island College Hospital on June 25th at 6 pm of The
Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) for the contextual rezoning
of the Carroll Gardens/ Columbia Waterfront is starting on Thursday,
June 25th, at the Community Board 6 Land Use Committee.
Says PMFA: "This
is great news! This long-awaited rezoning will give this community the
protection it needs from out-of-scale development and will hopefully
preserve the unique character of our historic neighborhood."
The NYC Department of City Planning gave this overview on the re-zoning:
the request of Community Board 6, community and neighborhood groups,
and local elected officials, the Department of City Planning proposes
zoning map amendments for an approximately 86 block area of the Carroll
Gardens and Columbia Street neighborhoods within Community District 6
rezoning area includes the neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens and
Columbia Street. The Carroll Gardens portion of the rezoning area is
generally bounded by Degraw Street, Warren Street and Douglass Street
to the north; Hoyt Street, Bond Street and Smith Street to the east;
3rd Street, 4th Street, 5th Street, Centre Street and Hamilton Avenue
to the south; and Hicks Street to the west. The Columbia Street portion
of the rezoning area consists of approximately 14 blocks bounded by
Warren Street to the north, a line between Columbia Street and Van
Brunt Street to the west, Hicks Street to the east and Woodhull Street
to the south. The areas proposed to be rezoned are zoned entirely R6.
rezoning proposal has been developed after extensive discussion with
the Community Board, elected officials, and neighborhood residents. The
rezoning responds to community concerns about recent out-of-scale
development permitted under the current zoning by mapping contextual
districts with height limits throughout the study area which would
preserve the existing built character while allowing for new
development and modest expansions where appropriate at a height and
scale that is in keeping with the existing context. The rezoning would
support and promote the local, vibrant retail corridors while
protecting the residential character of nearby side streets.
proposed rezoning builds upon the Department’s Carroll Gardens Narrow
Streets Text Amendment which was undertaken at the community’s request
and approved in 2008. That text amendment aimed to limit the size and
configuration of new buildings and enlargements on certain streets with
deep front courtyards which had been defined as wide streets under
existing zoning and therefore permitted a higher density that was out
of scale with the existing built context. The proposed rezoning of the
Carroll Gardens and Columbia Street neighborhoods fulfills the
Department’s commitment to return to the community with a more
comprehensive set of zoning recommendations for the larger area.
Thursday, June 25th at 6 p.m.
Landmarks/Land Use Committee Meeting
Public Hearing on Carroll Gardens/Columbia Street Contextual Rezoning plan (ULURP No. C 090462 ZMK)
and formulation of a recommendation on an application submitted by the
Department of City Planning (ULURP No. C 090462 ZMK) to contextually
rezone Carroll Gardens and a significant portion of the Columbia Street
District neighborhoods to protect the existing built form environments.
Long Island College Hospital, 339 Hicks Street
In a press release from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn about the latest news that Forest City Ratner has decided to replace architect Frank Gehry with Ellerbe Becket on the Atlantic Yards project. Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for the group calls for Governor Paterson to take control of the situation. "Then,
finally, stakeholders and our elected officials can work together with
multiple developers to construct affordable housing and reasonable
density over the Vanderbilt Rail Yards. The community has the plan—the
Unity Plan—and its viability and public benefits are light years ahead
of the zombie project known as Atlantic Yards." Here's an excerpt from that press release:
> With the focus on the arena, the "affordable" housing is barely
still in the picture, with the number of units and income levels
unknown and financing non-existent.
> The world class, one-of-a-kind Frank Gehry arena is now gone.
> The office jobs and their projected revenue are gone, as there are no plans to build the office tower.
> The so-called "urban room," a glorified lobby at the base of the
office tower and entrance to the arena, touted as a great public
amenity will not come to fruition without the office tower and with the
new hangar-like arena design.
> Last week the Independent Budget Office (IBO) testified that the arena would be a money-loser for NYC.
> Purported "blight" would be replaced with the real blight of Ratner's demolished properties and parking lots.
Bruce Ratner has decided to remove Frank Gehry as the architect of the Nets Arena for his Atlantic Yards Project. Instead he has selected Ellerbe Becket, a Kansas City, MO architect, whose design will cost $200 million less than the Gehry project, which was going to cost $1 billion. For in-depth analysis go to Atlantic Yards Report.
Huh? Wha? Really?
So much for honoring the sanctity of one of the greatest bridges in the world. And all for a condo tower. Yeesh.
The Brooklyn Paper reports that the City Council’s land-use committee voted 17–4 to support Walentas’s
request for a rezoning on his Dock Street site so that he could build a
300-unit tower — which includes a public middle school and scores of
units set aside as below-market-rate rentals.
The project is heavily opposed by many DUMBO community members, politicians, celebrities and even David McCullough, the author of "The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge." Opponentts, who have quite passionate in their opposition, claim that the tower will forever ruin views of the bridge which has been called a work of art. Here from the Brooklyn Paper.
Others like the Brooklyn Paper say that the tower will obscure few views of the Brooklyn Bridge.
City Councilmember David Yassky opposed the building of the tower and Borough President Markowitz called for a thinner tower. Here from the Brooklyn Paper:
"The decision to support the project was a rare instance when a
council committee opted not to defer to the wishes of the local member,
in this case, project opponent Yassky.
It would be equally rare if the full Council, which is expected to
vote on the development next week, overturns such an overwhelming
Bruce Ratner refused to testify before the hearing of the NY State Senate Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions about the past, present and future of the Atlantic Yards Project. It was confirmed that the MTA has offered him an even sweeter sweetheart deal and the Empire State Develop Corp will release a modified project plan in the coming months,
which will require a new public hearing on the project and a new
unanimous vote by
the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB) comprised of Governor
Paterson, Assembly Speaker Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm
Here's the press release from Develop Don't Destroy. For comprehensive coverage of the hearing visit the Atlantic Yards Report: http://www.atlanticyardsreport.com/2009/05/senate-hearing-no-tough-questions-for.html
Friday on the beleaguered and indeterminate Atlantic Yards project
proposed by developer Bruce Ratner in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
testify before the committee, which was seeking answers to questions
about the project's past and future viability. Though the developer did
not deign to testify, he did send his flacks Joe DePlasco and Bruce
Bender to orchestrate ongoing disruptions of the Senate hearing by
people claiming to be union construction workers.
key agency heads did testify, including: Marisa Lago, Chair of the
project's lead agency the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC);
Interim MTA Chair Helena Williams; and NYC Economic Development
Corporation President Seth Pinsky.
1. The $800-900 million Barclays Center Arena, with its $400 million in naming rights for Ratner, will be a money-loser for New York City;
2. The sweetheart deal the recently bailed-out MTA gave to Ratner in 2005 is about to get sweeter for the developer and sour for the transit riding and taxpaying public
the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB) comprised of Governor
Paterson, Assembly Speaker Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm
bid, and viable development proposal, from Extell Development Company
in 2005, we would have affordable housing going up over the rail yards
now, rather than an impossible development plan, pie-in-the-sky talk
about a money-losing arena, and a negotiated developer bailout on the
backs of MTA riders and taxpayer,"said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn
spokesman Daniel Goldstein.
and the ESDC continue to blame our opposition for their problems, but
had they listened to us in 2005 they wouldn't be in their self-made
mess. They must learn from history and stop trying to prop up the
zombie Atlantic Yards project. It's a debacle harming the public
interest while draining public resources and energy.”
the day came from George Sweeting of the New York City Independent
Budget Office (IBO), who said that the project's proposed Barclays
Center Arena would be a financial loss for New York City. Since the
IBO's last report in 2005 the City subsidy had more than doubled from
$100 to 205 million. Sweeting said, "This change alone therefore
eclipses the $25 million net positive benefit to the city that we
previously estimated for the arena."
Norman Oder on the Atlantic Yards Report dug deeper:
didn't provide the math, but it's apparently a $66 million loss.) The
bottom line, Sweeting told Perkins, was that all the assumptions about
benefits touted by the city and state officials need to be recalculated
based on current numbers, and they're not available yet. Notably, most
of the gains in tax revenue come from commercial space, and there are
no plans to build an office tower as of now.
shocking is the news from the MTA. Ms. Williams confirmed in her
testimony that a tentative agreement has been reached with Ratner,
pending MTA board approval which will come as a rubberstamp after a
public comment session during their June 24th board meeting. In 2005
the MTA appraised the Vanderbilt Rail Yard at $214.5. Eighteen months
after Atlantic Yards was announced and Ratner anointed the MTA site,
the transit authority issued an RFP which, unsurprisingly due to the
stacked political deck, received only one other bidder. Extell
Development Company outbid Ratner $150 to $50 million. The MTA, which
was just bailed out by taxpayers, forced Ratner to up his bid to $100
million still well below the Extell bid and the appraisal.
MTA justified acceptance of the lowball cash offer because of the
benefit the developer promised to the MTA of a new "state of the art"
rail yard. Of course Extell was offering the same thing, but Ratner
inflated the value of that new yard. Now, the MTA is set to allow
Ratner to build a scaled back version of that promised yard, and,
depending on which rumor pans out, pay only $50 million for the 8-acre
site in the heart of Brooklyn, or require only $20 million at closing
of the deal with the balance to come in "delayed payments."
is not apparent how saving $50 million overall or $80 million up front
puts Ratner over the top in his effort to build the project, those
don't seem to be make or break numbers. So, apparently, its just
another giveaway to Ratner and a fleecing of the public," Goldstein
ESDC's Marisa Lago declared with near certainty that there will be a
modified General Project Plan coming out sometime in the coming months,
which will trigger a new public hearing, a new vote by the ESDC board
and a unanimous vote by the PACB. This would require Governor Paterson
to put his stamp of approval on the project for the first time, which
would be difficult to do considering the state of the economy, budget
cuts, public opposition to the project and changed political
perspectives since it was first approved in 2006.
NYC EDC Presdient Pinsky spent his testimony using outdated financial
data to continue the city's outdated argument for the project and the
New York City Housing Development Corporation testified that they do
not know how many "affordable" housing units the project would include
or when those units would be built.
Forest City Ratner did not bother to come before the Senate Committee,
his partners at the MTA confirmed that the developer has a December 31,
2009 deadline to float the tax-exempt bond for the arena. If that
deadline is not met, Ratner would lose the tax-exempt option costing
him an estimated $150 million, severely jeopardizing the project.
"Could you please pass the word about this Community Board #6
Land Use Committee hearing on a variance request by a developer building on
Garfield Place and Carroll St. (580 Carroll and 25 Garfield between 4th
Ave and 5th Ave – site goes through the block).
"This project has been under way for over three years. The
surrounding homes have suffered damage. The immediate neighborhood has been
overwhelmed by the noise and pollution, the construction vehicle traffic. It
will be an all-glass-front 5 story rental that is overloaded on the Garfield
side to create a garden entrance on Carroll.
" "Now the developer-Sean Ludwick of
25 Sparta LLC- wants to extract more profit and seeks to exceed the density limits
by requesting a variance in order to build 3 townhouses where the garden (his
main selling point) was to exist.
"Park Slope is already being overwhelmed by
developments such as this. The schools are too crowded. The sewers, traffic,
parking etc. are being overtaxed.
"The variance hearing is on Thursday, May 28 at 6 pm at the
Old First Church, 729 Carroll St. at the corner of 7th Ave.
"This is just one opportunity for the people of the
neighborhood to have a say in how much density there will be."
Great news for local environmentalists and community activists: the Toll Brothers may scrap an approved plan to build a huge complex of luxury townhouses and condos on the Gowanus Canal if those dark, murky waters are declared a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
A Superfund site is a special distinction that goes only to the the most toxic and contaminated natural resources in the U.S. Once listed, it also means that the EPA will pour money and ingenuity into the clean up and de-contamination of the canal (a win win for Brooklyn).
I guess I wasn't too far off the mark the other day when I said that the Toll Brothers probably wouldn't be too thrilled by news that the EPA was proposing to put the Gowanus Canal on the list of contaminated sites.
Clearly, views of a Superfund site is not the most appetizing PR for a high-end development project. Just imagine the scenic pictures in the publicity brochures. The clean up of the Gowanus will also spell years of delays for the builders, who have been besieged with complaints from local community groups. Now I'm wondering about Whole Foods and whether they are scapping their long delayed plans to build a mega store at Third Street and Third Avenue. Organic food near a Superfund site.
Here's the quote from a VP at Toll Brothers in the Daily News today:
"I don't think we would go forward with the development if they were to designate this as a Superfund site," said David Von Spreckelsen, a vice president at Toll Brothers, which got city approval last month to build 460 condos and townhouses.
stigma attached to the property by being adjacent to a Superfund site I
don't think is something that you could really overcome," said Von
Who am I?
Are you sure you want to know? The stories I am about to tell are not for the faint of heart. I'm a
Park Slope resident over ten years and I've been selling real estate
about four. I'm "in it," as they say. When I started it was the hottest
of hot markets. That was back when being a real estate agent was sexy
and the topic was like crack. No one could get enough of it. I've been
riding the wave as it's gone from a seller's- market to a relatively
even-market to the buyer's-market we're in now. It's been a wild
journey so far and anything but boring. Real estate is still a hot
topic. People are skittish, holding their breath and waiting for the
bottom. But it's not all doom and gloom. People are looking and
transactions are happening. It's not going at the frenzied pace that it
once did. Now it's more like molasses.
But It’s not all doom and gloom.
There is good news out there. Mortgage interest rates are very low.
Asking prices are more flexible and there is usually room to
negotiate. But people are still collectively holding their breath.
When will we hit bottom? Should I buy? Should I wait? What do I do?
My opinion? Don't wait for that proverbial bottom. When that tipping
point happens, it may be too late. The frenzy will begin again and
buyers will swarm and drive the prices right back up. If you're
hedging your bets and waiting for the bottom, you could be left
behind. No fun!
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. And don't pay attention to asking price.
There’s wiggle room. Sellers may not reduce their asking price because they are anticipating people
will offer less. If they are serious, they’ll negotiate with you.
You’ll need to do a little homework before sealing your deal of the
century. Better yet, work with an agent and have him or her do it for
you. It's what we get paid to do, after all.
In any case, here are some negotiating tips:
1. Find out length of time on the market.
2. What are comparable properties on the market asking?
3. What have comparable properties closed for recently?
4. Have your financing ready (talk to a reputable mortgage broker
– you can be pre-qualified for free after about 15 minutes on the
5. Depending on the info above, be bold. Serious sellers want to
make a deal, so start the conversation!
Don't forget. Park Slope is a desirable place to live and will likely
be for some time to come (you know that already if you live here).
It’s not likely you’ll get 20% off the asking price and there are not
many fire sales out there. That said, there a lot of opportunity and
you might be able to afford something you didn’t think you could. Good
Secret Agent: Notes from the Trenches of Park Slope Real Estate is an exciting new weekly feature on OTBKB. Here's a little tease about our brand new real estate insider/writer who's identity will remain anonymous.
You sure you want to know? The stories I am about to tell are not for the faint of heart.
I’m a Park Slope resident over ten years and I’ve been selling real estate for about four. I’m “in it,” as they say. When I started, it was the hottest of hot markets. That was when being a real estate agent was sexy and the topic was like crack.
No one could get enough of it.
I’ve been riding this wave as its gone from a seller's-market to a relatively
even-market to the buyer’s-market we’re in now.
It’s been a wild journey so far and anything but boring.
Real estate is still a hot topic. People are skittish, holding their
breath and waiting for the bottom. But it’s not all doom and gloom.
People are looking and transactions are happening. It’s not going at
the frenzied pace that it once was. Now it’s more like molasses…
–Stay tuned for more on Monday March 23rd.
Do you need a great office space? This is it. It's a clean, lovely work space that comes with access to a conference room and a small kitchen.
This is a great place to work. I know. I've been here for 7 years.
Come take a look: give me a call (718-288-4290) or drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A while back I mentioned that This Old House, the renovation reality show on PBS, was doing its first New York City renovation project ever. I met the contractor and the owners very briefly at Bar Reis, a Fifth Avenue bar. I even published the address of the house (because it was already on Brownstoner. But the next day the owners told me they were uncomfortable having their address on the Internet. So I removed it.
At my daughter's piano recitall recently, I spoke briefly to the house's owner, Karen Shen. She told me that the episodes are already running on PBS. Her house, a 104-year-old row house in Prospect Heights was designed in the Renaissance
Revival style by architect Axel Hedman
The house is currently under
consideration for designation by the city's Landmarks Preservation
According to the This Old House website:
brownstone and perform a preservation-minded restoration of its
cavernous interior. Karen, Kevin, and family will reside on the house's
first and second stories, as well as part of the garden level, which
will include the main entrance, a spare bedroom, and a mudroom to the
backyard. The rest of the garden unit will become a rental apartment,
as will the third floor, though the couple hopes to reclaim what will
be that floor's two-bedroom unit in about five years, when each of the
kids will likely demand his own bedroom."
Karen blogs about the project on the Old House My House blog. She includes all kinds of interesting details about why certain practical and design decisions were made and what kinds of problems were encountered along the way. One of the posts is about the installation of th cast iron staircase Karen and her husband bought on Brownstoner.com eve before they'd ever seen the house.
iron staircase for sale on Brownstoner's Forum. Several months later,
after we had signed a contract to buy our house and devised a plan to
have a 1st/2nd floor duplex sandwiched by two rental apartments (one
long-term and one short-term), we found ourselves in need of just such
a staircase. Our architect, Susanne Lyn, recommended a few places to
find new, nondescript metal or wood ones. We kept remembering the
vintage one and thought about trying to contact the seller. One
day we saw another post that the staircase was still available! So, we
confirmed with Susanne that it was the correct height (11 ft, the
height of our parlor ceiling), negotiated a great price, and that
weekend, Kevin went to Park Slope to pick up the disassembled staircase
and transport it, step by step, to our house. It is a heavy staircase,
even in pieces.
Mike Hale in his New York Times review wrote that watching the NYC version of the real estate and renovation reality show is an exercise in schadenfreude for jealous New Yorkers, who'd love to live in a house that big and gorgeous:
Renaissance Revival row house on Sterling Place in Prospect Heights,
and cookie-cutter-apartment dwellers will sigh over the massive pier
glass, the carved fretwork and the bird’s-eye maple cabinets. What many
New Yorkers will really do, of course, is put the 40-ish Mr. Costello
(high forehead, hesitant, designs handbags) and Ms. Shen (attractive,
dominant, but what’s with the kelly green skirt?) under the microscope.
How did they get here? This is not my beautiful house — why is it
Check listings for when the show is on.
CasaCara, which covers real estate, architecture, historic preservation and interior design from Brooklyn to Philly, the Hudson Vallley and the North Fork of Long Island took a trip out to the Flatlands neighborhood, once one of several villages that made up the original Dutch settlement of Breukelen.
Some are well-known and open to the public, like the 1699 Old Stone
House at Fifth Avenue and Third Street in Park Slope, but that’s a
reconstruction. Then there’s the 1652 Pieter Claesen Wyckoff house, New York City’s oldest, in Canarsie, and the Lefferts farmstead in Prospect Park, not in its original location
She says, "It's a sunny, cute one bedroom with lots of
windows and charming details. The owners live downstairs and are
wonderful people. Very nice and not at all intrusive.
is $1,750 and the apartment is located on a nice South Slope street. Available as early as February 1st. If
you know of anyone looking . . .
Email me if you are interested and I will forward to my friend: louise_crawford(at)yahoo(dot)com.
From the Develop Don’t Destroy press release:
BROOKLYN, NY— Eleven property owners and tenants have filed a petition asking the Supreme Court of the United States to hear their eminent domain appeal, which was dismissed on February 1 by the Second Circuit Court. The petition provides the Court with an important opportunity to address the appropriate constitutional limits on the government’s power to seize private homes for the benefit of powerful real estate developers like Bruce Ratner.
In 2003 developer Forest City Ratner’s (FCR) CEO Bruce Ratner targeted the plaintiffs’ homes and businesses (and many others) for acquisition and then convinced then Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg to agree to seize the properties and transfer them to Ratner so he could build his proposed 16-skyscraper-and-arena complex known as Atlantic Yards in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Given the mammoth scale and footprint of the project, Atlantic Yards is dependent on the use of eminent domain; it cannot be built unless Ratner succeeds in wresting the properties from the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs filed their original complaint in October 2006. Their suit, Goldstein et al v. Pataki et al, named former Governor Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg, the Empire State Development Corporation, Bruce Ratner and others as defendants. The plaintiffs argued that the use of eminent domain for the Atlantic Yards project violates the United States Constitution because the taking of their property is not primarily for the public’s benefit. While Ratner claims that the project is justified as a public benefit, in fact Ratner is the only who stands to gain and handsomely so from the seizure of plaintiffs’ homes and businesses…
BRemember when they were going to turn the Booklyn House of Detention into a mall or a condos? That’s old news.
Now they’re talking about adding additional housing for 720 inmates and a new addition. More info is available from the Brooklyn Jail Stakeholders Group.
The Brooklyn HOD Community Stakeholders Group has obtained a copy of an RFP issued
by the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) at a pre-proposal
conference held at the Brooklyn
on March 28, 2008. The community was not notified of the RFP or the conference.
According to the RFP, the city intends to engage a firm by the end of July to
design and execute an expansion of the HOD. In what may prove an empty
exercise, the RFP repeats many of the requirements from a previous RFEI which
garnered only one proposal. The Department of Corrections dismissed that proposal,
Gateway, as unacceptable. The design period for this latest RFP extends 2
years, well beyond the terms of DOC Commissioner Horn or Mayor Bloomberg.
From the RFP (emphasis added):
"The purpose of this project is to create additional housing for 720 inmates in twelve
dormitories of sixty beds each; create space within the new addition and
within the first three floors of the existing structure providing programmatic
support and ancillary accommodations for the increased capacity; improve the
existing structure’s deteriorating facade; create continuous ground floor
retail space within the existing jail space along Atlantic Avenue and relocate
displaced jail functions elsewhere on site; and explore the prospect of
incorporating parking within the confines of the site."
Eliot, a reader of OTBKB, a major music aficionado, and a podcaster, who compiles amazing music CDs, joined me for cocktails last night at Sidecar.
“Are you working?” he asked. “Because I’ve got a tip for you.”
I pulled my notebook out of my bag and got ready.
So here’s Eliot’s scoop. The dry cleaner on the south east corner of Fifth Avenue and 1st Street is out and a restaurant is going in.
Eliot did the stealth photography with his handy, dandy miniature camera. Thanks Eliot, it was great to see you last night and it’s great to have a pix of this work permit.
Not only did he give me this tip but he gave me one of his podcasts, a CD full of great music, including new Kathleen Edwards and John Lennon doing a Korvette’s ad.
Craig Hammerman of Community Board 6 (CB6) just emailed to say that the CB6 testimony submitted in response to the Toll Brothers, Inc. proposed development project, also known as 363-365 Bond Street, has been posted on the CB6 website at the Landmarks/Land Use Committee’s homepage, under “Links of Interest.”
The Novo heralds itself as the new park slope (lowercase theirs). For fun, take a look at the video opener on their site. See a slide show of pix of Belleville, the Botanic Gardens, horseback riding in Prospect Park, Sweet Melissa’s and the Tea Lounge:
"Hello Brooklyn please allow us to introduce the New Brooklyn. The energy of 5th and 7th Avenues…"
The music is really annoying.
So why the nose dive? The Bear Stearns’ thing is pretty scary. The Feds jumping in makes everyone even more scared. There are lots of financial jitters out there. Everyone is in suspended animation to see what’s next and the condos are going down in price.
What’s the matter? Don’t buyers know they’re going to have a brand-spanking-new dog run in their backyard?
Walking friends from Lincoln to Second Street, I made a list of what’s out and what’s going in:
Berkeley to Union, east side: Olive Vine/Korean Market/old Zuzu’s Petals spaces are still vacant.
Berkeley to Union west side: Peek-a-Boo Kids is out. Organic frozen yogurt going in.
Union to President, west side: old video store is out. Brown Harris Stevens is going in.
First to Second Streets, east side: Maggie Moo’s is out.
Second to Third, east side: Second Street Cafe is out.
Second to Third, west side: Park Slope Books about to go out; Seventh Avenue books out, Tempo Presto out.
OTBKB saw workers carting the contents of the Maggie Moo’s space into a dumpster parked out front. Maggie Moo’s went out of business last spring and their space on Seventh Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets has been vacant ever since.
Across from PS 321, half the space used to be Who’s on Seventh, a vegetarian restaurant that was in the Slope for years. I believe the owner of the building was the owner of that restaurant. Next door was a news and candy store, who’s owner was the victim of an armed robbery back in the 1990′s.
Both spaces became a larger version of Who’s on Seventh and then an Italian restaurant. It was considered a doomed restaurant space for a few years.
The neighborhood was dubious about Maggie Moo’s from the start. However, school-age kids seemed to like their overly sweet ice cream flavors. The sidewalk in front of the shop became a weekend hangout for local teens, who spilled over from Pino’s Pizzeria.
The original franchisees couldn’t make a go of it and Maggie Moo’s corporate took it over.
Jill Weiskof of New York Magazine emailed me today to say that there’s an article in this week’s New York about Red Hook and the concept of degentrification. Contributing editor Adam Sternbergh examines what happens when gentrification doesn’t follow through as promised, with the prime example being Brooklyn ’s Red Hook. It sounds like one of those New York Magazine exaggerations to me. Whatever. Let the discussion begin. Here’s an excerpt from Sternbergh’s article:
“For the last two years, people in Red Hook have been waiting—some hopefully, some fearfully—for that wave to crash, the hordes to come, the towers to sprout.
Weirdly, though, none of that has happened. In fact, for all the heraldic attention, the neighborhood now seems to be going in reverse. The Pioneer bar has shut down. So has the bistro 360 [I read on Gowanus Lounge that there are signs of life at 360] and, just recently, the live-music venue the Hook.
Buildings put on the market for $2.5 million have stayed empty and unsold. Landlords hoping to get $2,500 a month for a Van Brunt storefront—the rent that Barbara Corcoran was asking—have found no takers. In fact, Corcoran’s spot sat unrented for over two years, until a local business took the space at the cut rate of $1,800 a month. The perception of the neighborhood got bad enough that in August the Post ran a story headlined "Call It ‘Dead’ Hook." Somehow the neighborhood went from "undiscovered paradise" to Dead Hook in just over a year.”
Read more of “The Embers of Gentrification” here.
I got this email from someone named Milind Shah, who is a member of the Brooklyn
Cohousing Group. I know there are people out there interested in co-housing.
"We are attempting to create an innovative new way of community building in Brooklyn through housing.
I thought that many of your readership might be interested in the cohousing project, as well as a free lecture and presentation we are having on October 12 at at 7 p.m. at the Brooklyn Friends Meeting House (110 Schermerhorn Street near Boerum Pl).
Our website has our mission statement and other
The idea of cohousing is not new. It has been around since the 60′s
and is more popular in Europe but there are some cohousing groups in
the US, a few in urban area, which is what we are attempting to do.
The group is looking for 20 – 30 families willing to work towards
building this community. More information on cohousing in general can
be found at http://www.cohousing.org"
Eight businesses along the Coney Island boardwalk have been granted a
reprieve, but the fate of Astroland still hangs in the balance.
Developer Thor Equities says the businesses will be around for the
2008 season, but it’s still not clear what will happen to the fabled
Thor Equities plans to eventually redevelop the entire site, as part of a multi-billion dollar re-development project.
Astroland closed for the season nearly two weeks ago. The sale has no effect on the Cyclone rollercoaster.
This from New York 1:
There have been lots of twists and turns in the battle to keep one of the most unusual houses in the city from being torn down.
Now a judge wants to see the structure for herself before rendering
a decision. Brooklyn reporter Jeanine Ramirez has the latest on the
building known as Broken Angel.
Banging could be heard outside 4 Downing Street as workers helped
get a building known as “Broken Angel” ready for a visit from state
supreme court Judge Silvia Hinds-Raddix. The building is the home of
Arthur and Cynthia Wood and the judge will decide if it’s safe. The
Woods added the top 50 feet or so. The buildings department says it’s a
hazard. The Woods call it a work of art and say they’re being harassed.
"It wasn’t a failure to maintain; the building was maintained. That’s one of their main issues against me,” says Arthur Wood.
Wood has been putting in all new joists, removing debris and
building a temporary staircase. Developer Shaun Andersen is helping
finance the repairs in exchange for half ownership of Broken Angel. He
says he eventually wants to his turn his share into co-ops or
apartments, but wants to keep the building’s character.
"It’s unlike anything else in the world. It’s unique and it’s architecturally and artistically important,” says Andersen.
The building is so unusual, comedian Dave Chappelle featured it in
his 2006 movie "Block Party" and staged a concert out front.
Wood lived in the building for 28 years but was ordered to vacate
after a fire in October. He was arrested when he didn’t. He got support
from local architects and City Councilwoman Letitia James who
represented him in court free of charge, until Wednesday when she
withdrew from the case.
"My client and I, apparently, had a difference of agreement and he
decided to go in a different direction from what was originally agreed
upon,” says James.
James says Woods originally agreed to remove the entire top portion
of Broken Angel. But Now Wood and Andersen want to get a variance to
keep the structure intact. Wood defended himself in court.
Not only is Wood a defendant, he’s also a plaintiff. He’s demanding
a jury trial in a civil case against the Department of Buildings.
He says he was arrested and removed from his home without a warrant.
"Intense emotional stress; illegal gathering of evidence; illegal search and seizure,” says Arthur Wood.
The buildings department maintains it’s protecting public safety
and wants an immediate court order to remove the top part. The fate of
the building is in the hands of the judge.
– Jeanine Ramirez