Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In My Brooklyn Backyard: Lunar Eclipse

Total Lunar Eclipse
This is what I saw standing in my Brooklyn backyard on Tuesday December 21st, 2010 at 3:17 in the morning EST.
 Latitude: 40.66208540915283  Longitude: -73.9831714332103

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Park Slope Section of Brooklyn on Eve of Important Movement.

Another IMBY W.W.W. Train of Thought Leaves the Station.

link: The Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide, February 3rd, 1917 

Park Slope Property a Specialty  

The author of this editorial article, Charles Edward Rickerson was in "Real Estate and Insurance" according to Empire State Notables, but I think he was essentially a well known Brooklyn broker operating in The Slope with an office at 227 Flatbush Avenue.  The New York Times has about a half dozen paragraphs in their archives records listing his recent property sales.  link    The Real Estate Record has many, many, more listings where he leased prominent area townhouses. 

I found this great hand written letter he had sent to then Brooklyn Borough President (1940-1961) John Cashmore, offering up the idea of using Ft. Greene Park as a possible site for a new Brooklyn Dodgers' stadium.  If you recall, in 1957 Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley was threatening to move the team if they didn't get a new ballpark. 

January 4th, 1957   Mr. Rickerson does the math selling Ft. Greene Park to Borough Pres. Cashmore. Link

Why not build a downtown Brooklyn Ballpark?

New York politicians reacted as effectively as possible to the threat of losing their team.  A meeting that included the city’s mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr., Brooklyn’s Borough President Cashmore, the New York City’s Construction Coordinator, and the Dodgers’ owner Walter O'Malley was held to investigate how to acquire the land just to the east of the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues in downtown Brooklyn for a new ballpark. O’Malley indicated that the Dodgers’ had $6 million available to purchase land and build a new ballpark.  

Of course we all know how this story turned out... We lost out to Los Angeles, and the honorable Robert Ferdinand Wagner II was elected to a third term, but hey, he got us fluoridated drinking water and the Mets.

History is funny.  

Priceless memo below. Draw your own parallels.

February 6, 1957
Internal memo from Walter
O'Malley  Link

Take a look at this 1957 Dodgers Autographed Baseball,
  Virtual Tour


Friday, December 17, 2010

My Latest Real Estate Porn Site Addiction

Architectural Voyeurs!

Columbia University Libraries Digital Collection has scanned 54 years worth of easily accessible NYC real estate related ramblings from the weekly gossip publication Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide.

I can't tell you how much time I've spent online, but it certainly was well worth shaving my palms.

...Of Mixed Structural Character
"South of Ninth street the structural character of Eighth avenue is extremely varied all the way to its end at Twentieth street or Greenwood Cemetery. The buildings comprise flats with stores, old fashioned brick and frame two and three-story dwellings, old brownstone fronts that have seen better days and what not."-from Varying Phases of Eighth Avenue, Brooklyn.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

391 14th Street Development Site Changes Hands.

As Is Post Demo:  391 14th Street is located within the proposed Park Slope Historic District expansion area.



Still Building in the South Slope. 

How about this. Looks like 391 14th Street, LLC  has sold this site with approved plans for a 5 story, 5 dwelling unit building to  391 14th St. Realty, LLC for the sum of $950,000.  The deed was recorded on ACRIS 12/14/10.

The new architect of record will be CHRISTOPHER T. MENZIUSO of the firm GRASSO-MENZIUSO ARCHITECTS.  Anyone know of them?

DOB Building info.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wall Street Journal Discovers Park Slope South

We appropriated this entire article for your free reading pleasure.

Attractions Multiply in the South Slope

Amy Sussman for The Wall Street Journal.

A YMCA sports complex opened last year in the Park Slope Armory in Brooklyn's South Slope neighborhood.

Brooklyn's trendsetters have flocked to Park Slope from the beginning of the borough's renaissance into an up-and-coming haven for young families and urban hipsters.

As the area grew in popularity, so did its real-estate prices. While much of that was driven by the northern part of the neighborhood, residents say the southern end of the section is well on its way to catching up.

Amy Sussman for The Wall Street Journal

New restaurants are moving into the South Slope. Thistle Hill Tavern, a gastro-pub, opened in October

Dubbed the South Slope, the area's boundaries are loosely defined as Ninth Street to Prospect Avenue and Fourth Avenue to Prospect Park West, which borders the 585-acre park.

"With a mix of housing options and an added slew of amenities that continue to pop up, the South Slope has just become more accessible," says Dennis McCarthy, a broker with Corcoran Group who lives and works in the area.

While real estate prices in Park Slope as a whole have increased, there are more affordable options in the South Slope due to the mix of housing stock in the area, Mr. McCarthy says.

Multi-million-dollar brownstones and carriage houses mix with older cooperative buildings and new boutique condominiums that continue to be built.

For instance, a 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment on 16th Street near Fifth Avenue is on the market for $649,000. A few blocks down, a $1.5 million three-story brick townhouse with seven rooms is for sale.

"There's something for everyone here," says Simon Feil, an actor who lives in the area with his wife and 3-month-old baby. He says the couple moved to the South Slope from Manhattan 2½ years ago because they "got priced out of the city."

Earlier this year, the YMCA opened a 144,000-square-foot recreation arena at the historic Park Slope Armory on 15th Street, a multipurpose athletic and educational center with a basketball court and track that underwent a $16.2 million renovation. In addition, eight classrooms were built apart from the recreation area for youth and family fitness classes, and other after-school, summer camp and community programs.

It's like a backyard for the community, says Sharon Tepper, a mother of two and owner of Brownstone Nannies Inc., a child-care referral service. As many as 80 strollers can be lined up at the armory on any given day, says Ms. Tepper, who moved to the South Slope in 2001 from downtown Manhattan.

Amy Sussman for The Wall Street Journal
Thistle Hill Tavern

"You don't even need to make a play date anymore—you just go to the armory and the whole neighborhood is there," she says.

Other amenities are on their way: The 103-year-old Park Slope Library, which closed in October 2009 for renovations to improve accessibility, is set to reopen next year. Meanwhile, construction continues on the lot of the old William Butler School for a new school for the area.

Priced out of the North Slope, new restaurants are moving south. Thistle Hill Tavern, a gastro-pub run by neighborhood residents David Massoni and chef Rebecca Weitzman, opened in October. Similarly, locals Peter Sclafani and his wife, Kristen Hallett, have been steadily expanding their mini-restaurant empire. They opened Provini, a European café and wine bar, last year, joining their nearby Italian restaurants, Bar Toto and Bar Tano.

"Restaurants aren't leading indicators—they're following indicators," says Michael Cairl, president of the Park Slope Civic Council, a volunteer neighborhood association.

"There's very little commercial space on the northern end for any price and entrepreneurs are going where they can find reasonably priced space."

Amid the development and revitalization of the neighborhood, Mr. Cairl says it's up to the residents to make sure Park Slope "preserves its existing character."

For that reason, Mr. Cairl is leading the Civic Council's efforts to expand part of the neighborhood's existing historic district designation to include eight square blocks between Seventh and 15th streets between Seventh and Eighth avenues.

"We don't want huge developments in the neighborhood or buildings that look out of place," he says. "Landmark designation will preserve Park Slope for future generations and allow the city and community to consider the amount of density the neighborhood could support."

The group was successful in 2003 and 2005 in lobbying the city to restrict construction of new buildings to 55 feet on the side streets and 70 feet on Fifth and Seventh avenues.

The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to make a decision on the area's historic district expansion in 2011.

Write to Shelly Banjo at shelly.banjo@wsj.com

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

From Cracking Coal to Cracked Wheat Salad: Whole Foods on the Gowanus Canal.

Green Light for Whole Foods Market 201_?

The Gowanus Canal extended outward to Fourth Avenue.  You can click on the photos to enlarge.  Notice the coal yards and baseball stadium across the street.

By 1951, a block long section of the Canal had been filled in.




2010 Google Earth View

That little brown cube positioned on the corner of Third Street and Third Avenue  is the landmarked New York and Long Island Coignet  Stone Company building.

Related Posts:1924 Aerial Photo Tour of the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Rim Jacked in the Slope.

Photo Denton Taylor

19th Street between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West.  Neighbors say they have come across this scene at least 4 times in the last few months. This past Spring thieves hit 16th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues leaving the vehicle similarly stranded on four plastic milk crates.

Friday, November 05, 2010

K.O. for South Slope's O.T.B. Horsey Set Landmark

South Slope's Clubhouse Closed
Historic 493-495 5th Avenue and 12th Street.  Looks like removing the stench of 30 years worth of remorse required a total gut right back down to the floor joists.

OTB Bankruptcy   nydaily news link:
Mayor Bloomberg is right to fight Gov. Paterson's plan to stick city with OTB debts

How landlords can win big betting on OTB to lose.
The Real Deal

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Stalled Site 400 15th Street Sold. Construction permits renewed.

400 15th Street.  There are currently 708 stalled sites in NYC, 326 in Brooklyn alone.  LINK 

Rendering: Corporate Design of America

Short Sale?
Good news for Fifteenth Street... It appears that the construction-troubled,  stalled out 2004 condominium  development located at 400 15th Street has been sold.  According to ACRIS, a deed in lieu of foreclosure was filed between the developer 400 15th Street LLC, their bank Capital One Bank N.A.,  and the new buyer, Fox Reality Properties LLC back in July.  The transfer documents indicates an amount of $3,831,159.61
(A Deed in lieu of foreclosure is a deed instrument in which a mortgagor (i.e. the borrower) conveys all interest in a real property to the mortgagee (i.e. the lender) to satisfy a loan that is in default and avoid foreclosure proceedings.)

The building was originally listed back in April 2009 by Maximillion Realty, Inc. for $5,599,000.

The new owner, Sarantos Plagianos,  has hired the architect Cherico King, AIA of the firm KCC Architects, PLLC to complete the mothballed job.  Applications have been filed and permits renewed.   They will be replacing the original architect of record Robert J. Palermo of the firm Corporate Design of America, P.C.  It will be interesting to see if there is any reworking of the original design.  As the building stands now, it is nothing more than a two story cinder block shell on a poured foundation.  No new DOB paperwork has been posted on the construction fence yet.

Existing approved plans call for  18 dwelling units within a 5 story, 53' tall structure.    Fifteen off street /basement parking spaces are planned (4,200sft).  There is no rear yard setback.


"Despite unyielding community and elected officials’ opposition through three months of Board of Standards and Appeals hearings, Tuesday June 20, 2006, the BSA voted unanimously to grant the financial hardship appeals of two South Slope/Greenwood Hts. properties, 400 15th St. and 639 Sixth Ave.
The Board also unanimously rejected both properties’ BZY (foundation substantially complete) applications.

The developer/owner of the property, Gennady Borokhovich, managing member of 400 15th St. LLC is now able to continue building under the properties’ previous R6 zoning, which was changed to R6B on November 16, 2005." -From the South Slope Comunity Web Page Archives.

This job is not subject to the Department's Development Challenge Process
It appears that the approved plans can be transferred, but does anyone know if there is a statute of limitations for their grandfathered R6 zoning variance issued by the BSA? 

400 15th St. Disaster Area:  One of my favorite photos from the IMBY Archives... Collateral damage to 396 15th St.

Hey Fox Realty,  Please be a good neighbor and introduce yourself to the many adjoining property owners on 16th Street who have been waiting patiently for the last 6 years for their rear yards to be repaired...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Demolition of the Hamilton Avenue Department of Sanitation Marine Transfer Station

Solid Waste Management at The Mouth of the Gowanus Canal,  Brooklyn, NY


What's going on here?  Demolition of the existing decommissioned Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer Station continues prior to the construction of a future, state of the art,  containerized waste  facility designed to process 4,290 tons per day (rising to 5,280 tons per day during emergency conditions) of municipal solid household garbage.

After 53 years of operations, Staten Island's Fresh Kills Landfill closed in 2001.   It was then that NYC began using expensive, privately owned, land-based trucking companies to transport our garbage to new landfill sites farther and farther away.     In the future, at least for the next 20 years, long haul trucks are out, barges and trains are back in.

The conversion of the Hamilton Avenue MTS is one of four proposed waste management facilities identified as part of NYC's Solid Waste Management Plan - NYC Department of Sanitation long term waste export program. All solid waste transfer and containerized activities will take place within the fully enclosed building.  The new facility is designed for the transfer of solid waste from collection vehicles into sealed and leak proof containers for export by barge and rail.  All solid waste transfer and containerization activities occur within a fully enclosed, negatively pressurized, air scrubbed, building.   The facility is authorized to operate 24 hours a day, Monday through Saturday; closed Sunday,  except for public emergency.

Prepare for Garbage Daze
The site is accessible from  truck routes including the Gowanus Expressway, Prospect Expressway, Hamilton Avenue, Third Avenue, Fourth Avenue, 20th Street, and Prospect Avenue. The facility is designed to accommodate 36 low sulfur burning collection vehicles per hour. A maximum of 5 trucks are anticipated to have to queue on the entrance ramp at any given time. The ramp will be able to accommodate up to 10 trucks at a time.

In addition to the construction of a new facility building, the city proposes to dredge the adjacent waterway to allow for barge operations, bulkhead reconstruction, and to remove the existing over-water ramp and platform.


imbyblogspot's Gowanus Canal Superfund Site photoset imbyblogspot's Gowanus Canal Superfund Site photoset

Local Truck Routes and Through Truck Routes with numbered exits surrounding Hamilton Avenue MTS facility.   Take note Twentieth Street residents.

Food for thought... Related Links:

Municipal Waste Management:Focusing on Replacing Trash Trucks with Sealed Rail Containers, Improving Air Quality and Reducing Truck Traffic on Hudson River Crossings.

Nathan Kensinger Photography: Gowanus: Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer Station 

About Sunset Park Material Recycling.

Freshkills Park Blog 

"Here Comes the Garbage Barge!" Red Nose Studio

Thursday, October 28, 2010

South Slope's Ajami Organic Hooka Lounge Goes Up in Smoke

This place really had no hope of ever succeeding on so many levels. link

I don't think City Councilman Vincent Gentile's proposed legislation to extend the current city wide ban on indoor smoking to include hookah bars, had anything to do with Ajami's closing.

South Slope Double Rainbow

A rainbow!
Looking East as the sun sets over our shoulder, the corner of Windsor Place and Seventh Avenue in the South Slope.

photo by Aaron Brashear
Scientists beleive they know how rainbows are formed...
But do they reeeeeeealy know.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lia's Ices Closed

Lia's Ices and Gelato on 16th Street
In the past, they tried to make it through the off season by selling soup.   The space is just steps from the F Train subway entrance and across the street from Farrell's Bar and Grill.  Any ideas as to what the neighborhood needs?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

7th Avenue Retail: Lactation out, Cyclery in.

718 Cyclery, Inc. to open new South Slope storefront "collaborative-build"  bike retail and workshop space at 461 7th Avenue.  Opening day November 12th, 2010.
The previous tenant, Boing!, the two year old breastfeeding outpost and babywearing sling sanctuary, has closed. Their other  mother store, Boing Boing is still in business though.

One of a Kind, Hands on Passion.
The wizard of 718 Cyclery is Joseph Nocella,  a LEED Accredited, Registered Architect who works for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in New York City. He also teaches at Pratt.

Below,  Joe explains his idea of the collaboratively built bike.

"In addition to the bike itself, you are learning how to put it together/maintain it.  It will be 100% unique, no one else on the planet will have the same bike.   Dollar-for-dollar, component-for-component, the bike you build with us will be a better bike than one pulled off the rack at a store or dropped in an online shopping cart."

Feel the Love

You can check out 718 Cyclery's 5 Star reviews on Yelp!.

Make an appointment for a consultation here. LINK

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hail Park Slope South Apocalypse

9:15pm @16th Street, Park Slope South
Micro-F'ing Storm Burst Reported, again.

Stroboscopic lightening bolts... Extremely wet rain... Violent wind gusts up to 500rpm... Hailstones the size of a angry toddler's fist... Bugaboo Frogs falling from the sky...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

NYC Department of Buildings Enhances Violations

Editor's note: The entire IMBY staff has returned from UPSTATE, emerging from it's silken chrysalis, (unpaid summer vacation)  now transformed,  ready and willing to report as usual to our 9 loyal world wide web subscribers.

The NYC Department of Buildings has enhanced its online Building Information System (BIS) to make your Environmental Control Board violation information more accessible to enquiring minds.

Now when you visit a "Property Profile Overview" page for a particular address, let's say 824 Friel Place in Brooklyn, and click on "Violations-ECB (DOB)" you are directed to a new, much more information packed "ECB Query by Location" page.

You will be able to view an entire summarized list of all ECB violations issued to the property, DOB Violation status, respondent info, ECB Hearing Status, Violation dates, Infraction Codes as well as any ECB penalties due.  Clicking on the highlighted "Infraction Code" above  the violation type will automatically download a PDF containing a "Penalty Schedule for ECB Violations".

A new guide at the bottom of the page defines terms, severity levels by class, and violation and hearing status terms.  Fun Times.

So, from the example above, it looks like 824 Friel Place has 24 open-non compliance building violations. The respondent, JUST HOMES LLC, has defaulted on all 24 hearing dates and now shows a total penalty due of $151,500.00.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Park Slope Jewish Center breaks ground.

Landmark 1927 Park Slope Jewish Center 
1314 Eighth Ave. @ 14th Street

Brewer & Hauptman Architects

Garden Expansion

"This project explores options for the expansion of this historic Brooklyn synagogue onto an adjacent vacant site. The program includes a new accessible entrance with a spacious lobby and support spaces and a future social hall. The study proposes a new design for the original steep front steps to provide a more gracious and comfortable entrance." From the Brawer& Hauptman Architects' web site.   link

You can make a donation to their Capital Campaign Fund or just keep up with the progress being made on their ungoing restoration/ construction work by following the link below.

PSJC Capital Campaign Blog