Open Thread Wednesday

What’s on your mind? Comment away!

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  • CassieVonMontague

    I was looking for my dream apartment and found this place all the way at the north end of Columbia Heights.

    It looks like the apartment is below street grade though. Can you own a Co-op apartment that’s below street grade or should I give up my dream of living on Columbia Heights?

  • CassieVonMontague

    Landmarks told the developer of 27 Cranberry they needed to make a stronger case for approval. The developer tried to rely on an earlier approval which had expired.

  • Andrew Porter

    I suspect this was the apartment occupied by a book collector I knew, who filled his place with books. A white-haired elderly but energetic man with unruly eyebrows, who I saw frequently around BH, extolling the virtues of his latest find.

    Found dead, alas, inside his apartment last year. Wish I could remember his name…

  • Andrew Porter

    I still have no idea what’s happening with Vineapple, which was still closed, with piles of material near the window and several attempt-to-deliver UPS notices on the door. A sign now removed stated they’d reopen on the 7th, but that didn’t happen.

    Meanwhile, courtesy the Municipal Archives, here’s 62 Fulton Street (now Cad Pl W) in 1940, under the elevated train tracks going down to Fulton Ferry, with Henry Street visible at rear. No clue what this was:

  • Pistachio Pony
  • Pistachio Pony

    Wow cool find!

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    Interesting story, below…. Mayor Bill LOVES photogenic proposals – think BQX – that make him look visionary. Dealing with traffic, homelessness, etc. would cut into gym time too much – all those pesky meetings PLUS no sound-bites and no “isn’t it grand” vibe.

    But there’s a very neat B.H.! angle for those who look closely!

  • Reggie

    LOL Andrew! Regular BHB readers know that ultimately everything is about you but your response to CVM is so tangential to the question that I wet my pants laughing. Having showered and changed:

    Cassie, there are windows onto a garden space that make this appear to be a legal living space, the purchase of which a bank would finance. If your dream of living on Columbia Heights did not include sweeping views of Governors Island, the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan, this might be the opportunity you have been waiting for. For some, having outdoor space is a dividend.

  • CassieVonMontague

    I looked up underground living and found this NYTimes article:

    “There are restrictions on what residents can do on the lower level, which is part of the reason the space trades for less. For sunlight, ventilation and other safety reasons, the city does not permit bedrooms in space that is completely below grade, said Tom Fariello, first deputy commissioner of the Department of Buildings. And plumbing is limited to half bathrooms, meaning no showers, to deter illegal basement rentals.”

    Does “below grade” mean street grade or does a sunken garden solve that? What about the bathroom?

  • Reggie

    Look at the difference between “cellar” and “basement,” as in English Basement. The rear yard here has been excavated to the same elevation as the floor of the apartment. It would be hard for a co-op to get a Certificate of Occupancy or for the Attorney General to approve the co-op offering plan if a space is not legal. This is of course general advice, not a professional opinion. Ask the broker who is representing the seller! Get it in writing!

  • CassieVonMontague

    Thanks for the help! I found the CofO, and it’s all good, but I think I’m going to pass now that I realize my new underground apartment would be a few feet from the BQE. I hear people have been complaining.

  • Teresa

    We’re going to put up a post about this– may we have permission to use your photo, and if so, how would you like it credited?

  • Pistachio Pony

    Hi Teresa, sure you can use it and credit it to Maria Mercedes Martinez.

  • Cranberry Beret

    Nice apartment, but for the facts:
    (1) DOT might condemn the building to rehab the BQE, and even if not, the front door is literally about 10 feet from the Columbia St bridge which is going to be replaced in any rehab scenario
    (2) Chapin playground looks right into the garden
    (3) The “window” in the kitchen looks into an underground service alley

  • Jeremy

    That photo shows the Plaza Bar & Grill at 168 Fulton Street, NW corner of Cranberry St.

    (Municipal Archives has the address wrong – you can read the right one above the door!) Today, it’s roughly the site of the circular flower garden outside the High Street station stairs.

    Until the mid 1920s (at a time when Cranberry still went through to Fulton), the whole north side of Cranberry, from Henry to Fulton and wrapping around onto each of those streets, had 4-story tenements dating to the mid 19th century, similar to the ones still standing today on the west side of Henry north of Cranberry (shown left background).

    Sometime around 1925, the city condemned the Fulton/Cranberry/Henry corners and ripped down the tenements to stage construction for the IND subway. The whole site was an empty lot after subway construction finished, the station opened in 1933 and by the next year the city had sold the plot. Of course, by then the Depression was on, so the new buildings that went up there were only 1-story taxpayers — that’s what’s pictured in this circa 1940 photo.

    The whole block was razed again in the early 1960s for the Cadman Towers project (although this particular block ended up with the 2-story Whitman Close townhouses).

  • Andrew Porter

    Thanks! I will amend the photo in my archive.

    If you see older Wednesday Open Threads, you can see my postings of many other old photos of these streets.

    That circular flower garden was built as a wading pool and fountain, part of a playground that never worked. You can see the remains of more of the children’s playground, and a kiddie wading pool, behind the iron fence just south of the plaza area. Now with trees growing in it.

  • Andrew Porter
  • GHB

    Anybody have a pleasant exchange with any of the celebrities in the Heights? I don’t bother them, but I will acknowledge them with a smile and a “hello”. Most just look right through you as if you don’t exist. The only nice one I’ve met is Amy Ryan. The rest (Connelly, Bettany, Parker, Russell, Giamatti, etc.) are not. Thoughts?

  • gc

    Half of them I wouldn’t know if I fell over them.
    The only one I know (Russell) has always struck me as pretty friendly.

  • Heightsguy77

    It’s NYC. People are busy, “stars” or not. If you want to smile and/or say “hello” to someone, that’s your prerogative. But don’t expect anything in return, from anyone.

  • H Ginsberg

    What about Matt Damon? Has anyone seen him in the neighborhood?

  • GHB

    You don’t give a friendly nod to people you see in the neighborhood on a regular basis? Must be sad being you.

  • South Brooklyn Boys

    You didn’t mention the coolest of the bunch – Bjork! I know she is trying to sell her PH, so she will be gone soon.

  • Heightsguy77

    Jeez, give someone a bit of advice and they say you have a sad life… Actually, I frequently “give a friendly nod” to neighbors. But I don’t expect some type of recognition from anyone I don’t personally know. And even if I was so in need of recognition from a “star”, I’d be smart enough to know that other people are going through various things in their life, where maybe they’re not into meeting or nodding to other people at that moment. Or maybe, just maybe, they’ve smiled or nodded to people and some of those people held them up for a “selfie” or an autograph, when they’re just trying to get to their kids’ practice or school in their own neighborhood.
    But hey, you need them to be “on” all the time, or you have the gall to say that they’re not “nice”. You should do everyone a favor and grow up.

  • Andrew Porter

    I talk to lots of people on the Promenade and other places, have a nodding relationship with all sorts of people here. Also know many of the people in my building, and on my street. I even e-mail them things I think might be of interest.

    I frequently run into people from my street in Trader Joe’s, Key Food, other places. It’s nice to be nice!

    BTW, anyone know what’s happening with the Cranberry Street Fair?

  • StudioBrooklyn

    My best interaction with Keri Russell ever:

    I was walking home from Pierrepont Playground with my 6yo son. He was requesting, for the umpteenth time, to watch more TV when we got home (he had already watched several episodes of his favorite show that morning, which was pretty much the limit).

    As we approached our corner, I saw that traffic was backed up in the street and a large black SUV livery car was blocking the crosswalk. In the backseat, the window was rolled down and there was Keri Russell, texting or doing something with her phone.

    We were within earshot of her when my son demanded an explanation from me as to why he couldn’t watch more TV, and I brushed his request aside with a remark about how too much TV would rot his brain. My old-school remark must have amused her, because she looked up at us, smiling. At this point I made eye contact with her and said, “Well, not all TV” and gave an enormous wink.

    Her face exploded in delight as a traffic light somewhere up ahead changed colors and her car pulled away.

    Of course, I was talking about The Wire, but she didn’t need to know that. John Dorman does though.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    I adore her but I’ll never have the guts to say anything to her. I hope she never sells the place and stays our neighbor forever.