Open Thread Wednesday

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  • Jorale-man

    Sign of the times: Fairway is planning to file for bankruptcy and close its stores. Obviously not Heights specific, but with our mediocre local grocery options, some would travel down there to stock up. https://nypost.com/2020/01/21/fairway-planning-to-file-for-chapter-7-bankruptcy-will-close-all-stores

  • AEB

    Oh, dear! Not only does this mean the loss of a place to get good groceries at reasonable prices–it signals yet one more nail in the coffin of New York as we knew it.

    I’m ancient enough to recall a scrappy, more characterful New York of which Fairway was an UWS North star. Toxic gentrification, homogenization, corporization–welcome to our modern city daymare!

  • Banet

    I would say what killed Fairway was greed. Undoubtedly the owners made a tidy annual profit from their one store on the UWS. That’s what made them attractive to the private equity firms that made massive investments and then made them go public and expand.

    While my family will miss the Red Hook location, we won’t miss it for the groceries — the groceries have been going downhill for years now. What we’ll miss is that fantastic café location. While the food was mediocre we would shop the store for picnic materials and then sit outside and enjoy a lovely sunset view while the kids ran rampant. I can’t conceive of what’s going to move into that location. What a loss.

  • CassieVonMontague

    Gentrifying Iowans didn’t bankrupt Fairway. Private equity did.

    Sterling Investment bought 80% of the store, which had been family owned for four generations. Sterling then took out $300 million in debt so they could expand and then take the company public. Now the company is stuck with terrible leases and debt while the private equity got all the money from going public. Same thing happened to Sears. I can’t wait to read the article about it in New York Mag.

  • Jorale-man

    Yes, I’ll miss the waterfront cafe. As you say, the food was nothing special, and the staff there could be gruff, but it was a pleasant spot to sit outside along the harbor.

    Red Hook residents will really be hurting for a decent supermarket now. I guess they’ll have to order online.

  • Banet

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Glickman family bought back the UWS location. And maybe Harlem and Red Hook. After all, they made ~$100MM selling out 12 years ago. If well invested they could easily be sitting on twice that.

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    2 responses…. The simple one is that we DO have a capitalist economy, and while there are many bad aspects and “cheats” – like calling one’s employees “independent contractors” – times change and those that don’t bend, break!

    “Ma Bell” survives as Verizon, but MySpace went from serious player to footnote in a couple of years.

    In a year where Wegman’s opened, any tears for Fairway strike me as pretty ludicrous.

    #2 – and much bigger – Eric Adams’ terrible, horrible, no good MLK day, 2 days back –

    Until the revolution – a couple of regular commenters around here ARE far enough left of center to make that not altogether ironic – NYC is very much TWO CITIES, one for folks who thought Fairway was worth taking an Uber to and from … and a much larger number who only wish they could buy decent fresh produce some place they could walk to/from.

    Fortunately, most of the latter DO have roofs over their heads … and jobs, and many of the rest are “provided for” – probably not altogether adequately, but way better than in almost any other city in the U.S.

    When Eric rails against Iowan “immigrants,” he’s barely better than Trump – especially since this is just as much of a “dog whistle” as one routinely hears on Fox.

    Sure, he’d like to be Mayor, … and just possibly, he’d be less of a disaster than David Dinkins. But probably not! “It’s Our City” is just as vacuous and odious as “It’s Our Turn.”

    Some of the folks coming from Iowa will start companies and offer meaningful opportunities to people of color. And the building boom is largely about THEM, … and the construction workers are mostly New Yorkers and immigrants who need those job. Plus, their taxes MIGHT make schools and mass transit better – although that’s more of a “stretch.”

    Just as Wegman’s provides literally hundreds of entry level jobs to people of color, many of whom live close to the store, and – it’s worth noting – well less than a mile from any point in Brooklyn Heights.

    I never shopped in the Harlem Fairway, so I won’t say a thing about its relationship to the folks who lived nearby, but for all that Red Hook’s demographics are normal for Brooklyn, the shoppers were just as white as those at Key Food on Montague. IF it closes – the last Fairway bankruptcy breathed 5 more years life into it – it’ll be missed even less than Teresa’s!

  • CassieVonMontague

    Looking around the web for data on the neighborhood, I found this scholarly paper from 2003: “Super-Gentrification: The Case Of Brooklyn Heights, New York City” (PDF WARNING)

    https://eportfolios.macaulay.cuny.edu/goldwyn17/files/2017/01/Super-gentrification-Lees.pdf

    Section 2; The Biography of a Brownstone is a good history of the neighborhood told through the life of a townhouse. A young lawyer bought the building in 1962 for $28,000. He thought he wouldn’t be able buy south of Joraleman because that area was mostly Puerto Rican rooming houses back then. He pushed out all the renters by 1969. He sold in the mid-90s for $595,000 in cash. The new owners spent 9 months renovating, and then only lived there for a year before selling it for $1.7 million. My own research shows that the home sold in 2016 for $4.1 million.

    The median income numbers for the neighborhood the paper cites seem high. But one number that struck me was percentage of housing units owner-occupied (pg 2497, Table 1). That number went from 16% in 1980 to 34% in 1990. Seems like the 1980s were very important for increasing homeownership in the neighborhood. Probably not a coincidence that the 80s also saw the rise of the financial industry right across the river.

  • streeter

    Such a shame – even though Fairway denies the initial report, it’s been well known that they were in trouble. I went to the new Wegmans and while it’s great that it’s providing local jobs, in terms of pricing they are definitely not serving that area. I don’t understand why people get so excited over it. Maybe some of the produce and staples are decently priced but it’s loaded with trendy luxury products and the prepared foods are restaurant priced. Sixteen bucks for a tray with 8 little scoops of refrigerated mashed potatoes? Great…
    At Fairway I loved the guilt-free pricing on their lobster rolls ($9.99 although I noticed the other day it’s now $12.99).

  • CassieVonMontague

    To the 231 Iowans who move here on average every year, I say, Weclome! To the 211 New Yorkers who move to Iowa on average every year, I say, “Do you need us to send you any bagels?”

    Fun Fact: The domestic counties with the highest NET migration to New York City are Washington, DC (by far with 1,293), the counties surrounding and containing Boston, and Tompkins County (Cornell grads?).

    Source (WARNING PDF, Page 10, Tabe 5): https://zicklin.baruch.cuny.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2018/02/Paper-Series-Feb.-2018-No.-15-New-Yorkers-on-the-Move.pdf

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    I heard Eric Adams with a pretty sympathetic Bryan L. on WNYC this morning…. He emphasized that there were plenty of Black people in Ohio, so nobody “should” read his “stay there” as racially “coded.”

    Iowa, obviously, is a tougher “sell.” Of course, he WAS talking without notes … and his audiences ARE on the front lines re gentrification. When you’re literally forced out of your apt., it takes a near saint not to direct some hostility toward whomever replaced you., and it was clear that Eric was channeling those feelings – perhaps in a genuine MLK vein.

    Beware your stats and its source, however, because in our very weird times, I’ll bet that no small number of “immigrants” to NYC had as their last legal address some place outside the U.S. But as will be the case with the census, our city is big enough to “get lost in.”

    Still one wonders if Eric thought through his personal (and political) open-ness to genuine (however defined) immigrants … because there can be no doubt that they, too, compete for affordable housing. To hear that Joralemon once separated many Hispanics from [ahem] more stereotypical “Heightsers” seems quaint, but one hears that Bed Stuy and Harlem are significantly “gentrified,” with East New York and other neighborhoods all but “reserved” for people of color the last 75 years … “next in line.”

    It would also be nice if someone could track attrition of “immigrants” … of all types. HOW MANY (whether BA’s or MBA’s from Boston, DC, Ithaca, etc. … or from Central America) are New Yorkers 1, 3 or 5 years later?

  • CassieVonMontague

    “I’ll bet that no small number of “immigrants” to NYC had as their last legal address some place outside the U.S.”

    Yes, I was only pointing out domestic migration. Foreign net migration is orders of magnitude larger. According to the source, it’s about 100,000 a year (Page 5, Table 1)

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    Wow. Now it sounds like Eric was just going for applause. BTW, your “historic” posts fascinate – you’re digging deep & reporting truly interesting things.

    If/when you get tired of tiny Heights, Park Slope probably runs “in parallel” (on things like home ownership, appreciation, etc.)

  • 627&@+to9:•

    Hello Brooklyn Heights,

    Can anybody recommend a licensed general contractor that works in co-ops?

    I know it’s a long shot , but I don’t trust home Reno sites and would like personal input from anyone.

    Thank You

  • Reggie

    How much were the five-pound bags of potatoes? Anyone who buys mashed potatoes deserves to pay a couple of bucks per scoop. (Okay, “deserves” is too harsh. How about, ‘shouldn’t be surprised to pay a Jefferson.’)

  • Mary Kim

    I highly recommend Billy Strackman. He lives in a nearby neighborhood, does great work, and won’t cheat you.

    https://www.billystrackman.com/

  • http://www.yotamzohar.com StudioBrooklyn

    Can any locals with meteorological knowledge explain why the intersection of Montague and Hicks is prone to hurricane-force winds, even on an otherwise calm day?

  • Banet

    It happens in a variety of locations around the city where airflow moves through a narrowed space. Much like a wide river moving along at a placid 5 mph speeds up to a rapid pace where the banks are closer together. Either the water moves faster or the water backs up. If it tries to back up it’s pushed from behind by the flow of water from behind.

    The same is true of air. The massive scale of The Bossert forces gives the air in a gentle nowhere to go and so the air moves faster. The same is true on the corner of Cadman and Pierrepont. I suspect there’s a similar effect by the St. George on the Hicks side.

    If my city lore is properly recalled, the same effect was created by the then-epic height of the Flatiron Building. It would create gale force winds that would blow womens’ skirts upward. Men would loiter in hopes of catching a free show. Local police would tell the men to move along with the phrase “23 skidoo” as the Flatiron building is at 23rd street.

    Who knows if this take is true but I like the sound of it. ;-)

  • KXrVrii1

    I thought you might be having us on with the “23 skidoo” story, but sure enough, Wikipedia lists the Flatiron story as a possible source of the phrase.

    PS – and this is in no way an insult, but can you help me parse this sentence of yours:

    “The massive scale of The Bossert forces gives the air in a gentle nowhere to go and so the air moves faster.”

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7nPOzGeyaw Arch Stanton

    Basically, when a moving air mass hits a tall building, it disperses up, to the sides and down. The latter air is further restricted by the ground and lower buildings thus it is forced out sideways, creating the “wind tunnel” effect.

  • Banet

    Thanks Arch. Clearly I didn’t proofread what I had dictated on the go.

  • Knight

    Interesting that on last night’s CBS News report Fairway was denying that they would file for bankruptcy protection, saying that they were just going through a “structural reorganization.” Then this morning I read that they filed for Chapter 11 protection and are closing 5 stores.

  • Andrew Porter

    Hold everything! The Post apparently got it wrong. Today they filed for Chapter 11, reorganization, not Chapter 7, dissolution.

  • Andrew Porter

    When I moved to the Heights, there was a New York Times article about living in the Heights, which stated the median price of a brownstone was $35,000.

    Back then, I was making $45 a week…

  • Andrew Porter

    I would check out the listings on Briwnstoner.com .

  • Andrew Porter

    Also very windy at the corner of Montague and Court, and on Pineapple Street, where the wind goes past the Towers and St. George.

    I’ve also noticed that since the giant tower has gone up on Clinton, the block between Pierrepont and CadPlzW has also become a wind tunnel.

  • mac

    Blu Contracting… Dimitrios is the owner. They were fantastic. Used them for a complicated gut reno in a CoOp and they were great. After us, 3 other people used them in the building and were all very happy.
    his office #

    718) 545-5450

  • CassieVonMontague

    The closest article I could find was from 1971: https://www.nytimes.com/1971/11/21/archives/these-diagnosticians-check-on-the-health-of-a-house.html

    “The fee for brownstones is higher, as a rule. The great wave of amateurs sweeping into such Brooklyn communities as Bedford‐Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens and parts of Park Slope are buying brownstone row houses for $35,000 to $50,000 that would cost two or three times more in Manhattan or Brooklyn Heights.”

    I found another from 1967 about people buying brownstones that includes the timely quote, “Like so many New Yorkers, the Reids came here from the Midwest.”

    Sigh, ’twas ever thus

    https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1967/06/12/90359772.html?pageNumber=52

  • Andrew Porter

    Here’s the article, which I scanned in from the original before it turned to dust. Click to see at full size (and no, I don’t have permission from the NYT to post this. Read before it gets taken down):
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/55b4fd0d350dea6e6c39afcbf20901fb7687df3efa23e0457c959e28e97a248f.jpg

  • Clara West

    MTA chief Andy Byford has resigned