Open Thread Wednesday

What’s on your mind? Comment away!

Photo by Margaret Sanz.

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  • Andrew Porter

    An ornate building that we lost: the intersection of Cranberry Street and Columbia Heights in 1938:

  • Rick

    Great looking building. Would have given the scenes in Moonstruck and Manhattan (the Woody Allen movie) a very different look.

  • CassieVonMontague

    Brooklyn Heights Resident Joseph Bartscherer, Rigorously Conceptual Photographer, Dies at 65

  • CassieVonMontague

    Back to School: In-person, outside.

    Trish Appel Peterson, the principal of PS8, The Robert Fulton School, which teaches about 650 K-5 students in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, worked with her colleagues to submit a plan, still pending approval, that proposes closing two nearby streets, using tents on each for classrooms. The school would also use outdoor space on school grounds.

    Ms. Peterson sees the potential for creativity to flourish in an outside class, when there is less technology and more talking. “I think it’s going to be interesting to see how things change when we’re outside and there isn’t a screen as a back up,” she says.

    Lea Ciavarra, co-founding partner at Lubrano Ciavarra Architects in Brooklyn, helped PS8 build a plan for safe indoor and outdoor learning. Ms. Ciavarra, whose daughter is heading into second grade at the school, says outdoor options are definitely viable, just as they were during epidemics early in the 20th century.

    “You get outside, there’s fresh air and you get reinvigorated,” she says. “Why wouldn’t you weave more of that into the day for a child?”

  • CassieVonMontague

    NYC Tax and Water Lien Sale Does Not Go On As Scheduled Friday

    Buildings in the neighborhood on the list:

    53 Cranberry St
    76 Montague (Cat Cafe)
    128 Montague (Pinto)
    276 Henry St
    95 Court St (Bruno’s Hardware)

  • Reggie

    I didn’t know the man or the work; thanks for sharing. Ironically, his own obituary was not only not on the front page, it does not look like it appeared in the print edition at all.

  • Andrew Porter

    I sent this to Claude, and to other Brooklyn media outlets, recently…

  • Andrew Porter

    Closing part of Poplar and Middagh (though the fire station is on that street), I guess…

  • Jeremy

    That’s the Packard mansion, built c.1883. It had one of Brooklyn’s first elevators in a private house. Photo by Percy Sperr.

  • CassieVonMontague

    I looked up “Packard House” and found one on the corner of Henry and Joralemon. Were there two?

  • William Gilbert

    What’s going on with the eyesore Construction site on Cranberry Street between Hicks and Willow? A beautiful block seems to be held hostage to a never ending mess. Why has this been allowed to go on for years? Why has nothing been done to complete it? This is certainly unfair to the neighbors. What gives?

  • Jeremy

    Yep, different Packards. The Columbia Heights @ Cranberry house was Ralph Packard. The Joralemon @ Henry house was Edwin Packard. Apparently no relation.

  • Cranberry Beret

    Nothing is going on. The developer has sat on the property for years. There must be some kind of behind-the-scenes problem, because it’s not economically rational to do nothing with valuable property like that for so long. Last news was almost a year ago, then radio silence again.

    This article sums it up through 2019:

  • CassieVonMontague

    Ralph G. Packard was an engineer and had his own dredging company.

    Edwin Packard was a linen importer for AT Stewart and served on the board of directors for many companies

  • Jeremy

    Yep. Edwin Packard was president of the Franklin Trust Company, whose HQ was the building on the SW corner of Montague & Clinton. (Not to be confused with the Franklin Building on Remsen Street, an error which that blog makes.) George Morse designed the Franklin Trust building. He also designed Packard’s house at Henry/Joralemon (the one in the library photo).

  • Knight

    Our protectors at Engine 205 & Ladder 118 rarely go down that block. They usually take control of the traffic light and go up to Henry Street. But if I lived on Willow & Cranberry I wouldn’t be happy with this plan!

  • Andrew Porter
  • Cranberry Beret

    Why Willow and Cranberry?

  • Reggie

    The building has gone through a series of design revisions, all of which require LPC review. There also seems to be a tense relationship between the developer (who is actually a real estate developer) and the neighbors. These two facts, however, only partially explain the delay, which is as you note is measured in years.

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    I wonder. Yes, there are “quirky” people (like the owner of the long empty space near Key on Montague) who march to a drummer only they hear, but Mr. Greco (the developer in question) is much more likely to be fully sane.

    So, here is all I could come up by way of “motivation.” (A) An eyesore lasting a decade or more probably DOES build pressure for approval of even a dubious plan next time around. (B) I’m sure you could play with numbers to say that “settling” for 1 $5 million profit when you would rather net $8 … might lead to a “wait for it” approach.

    You can again play with 2 numbers – when you bought and how long you held, but you’d find very few combos that made Heights R.E. anything other than “about as sure-fire as an investment can be.”

    In other words, even a somewhat “scaled back” design implemented in 3 or 4 years might net so much more than the same one now that he sees that “time is on his side.” T.B.D.

    Has everything changed? I’m sure I don’t have the answer to that one!

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Film I did in my youth of the Franklin Trust Building and surrounding architectural structures.

  • CassieVonMontague

    Heights could be model for tree support in Brooklyn’s flora-loving neighborhoods

    “In fact, we are hoping to launch a new effort this fall to conduct an inventory of the conditions of our tree pits and trees. We think this is a great activity that people can undertake as they plan socially distant walks around the neighborhood,” Birnback said.

    “We’re also hoping to recruit some ‘block captains’ or tree stewards who will volunteer to monitor the trees on their block and care for any new trees in particular that may be planted,” she said.

    And now there’s an app

    BHA volunteer Peter Steinberg has built a mobile phone app that tree fans can use to easily record tree pit data. All people need in order to participate is a tape measure and a smart phone.

  • Cranberry Beret

    If he thought a decade-long eyesore would build pressure for approval, then he miscalculated! LPC turned him down when he tried to renew his expired permit. See the Eagle article.

    I don’t think “wait a few years to hold out for better price” applies to this situation. It’s taken so long, he could’ve earned more money just by plunking his investment in the S&P 500, not to mention the carrying costs.

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    I sense this is an area where you almost certainly know a great deal more than I do.

    It’s just that (as Reggie points out below, he IS a developer, so he probably “knows more” than even you do.

    I happened to look at Google’s “view” of his Hicks St. property. I don’t know the economics of parking lots, but I doubt he’s losing much money there.

    Maybe, it’s a matter of record what his tax bill on Cranberry is. Could it be more than $10K p.a.? (I doubt it.) If so, the numbers I threw around last post support my view of his choosing to “stay in,” rather than “settle” for a sum (via building a little smaller) that would certainly change my balance sheet seismically.

    You’ve seen, I’m sure, a fistful of “conversions” in the N. Heights, where the new co-operators have “bought out” the developer for $10MM or more – I’m talking 3-5 unit buildings. Maybe, he is just a little “petty” and is “sticking it” to folks who have so far blocked him; if he’s rich enough, maybe it’s “not about the money” – this once.

  • CassieVonMontague

    Teachers’ Union Says There Are At Least 16 COVID-19 Cases Among School Staff

    UFT President Michael Mulgrew said these were individual cases at 16 different school buildings, based on testing performed before teachers returned to school Tuesday. Since testing is not mandatory for the DOE staff, these results are coming from employees who underwent testing on their own.

    Two cases are in District 15, at M.S. 88 in South Park Slope and at P.S. 1 in Sunset Park.

  • Banet

    I spoke with the BHA about this today. Basically, they’d love for volunteers to head out with a tape measure and a iphone or Android phone and measure tree pits. It sounds like a fun civic-minded project I might do with my kids in the coming weeks.

    If you’re so inclined, give a call to the BHA and they can set you up. 718-858-9193. or

  • JaneonOrange

    If anyone lost keys on Monroe Place Friday, I can tell you where they are…

  • Andrew Porter

    The history of St. Francis College before it moved to Brooklyn is here, on the blog “Daytonian in Manhattan”:

  • Claude Scales

    Wasn’t there an issue about construction affecting the foundation of one of the neighboring houses? I believe the house in question is one of the older, wood frame houses.

  • Reggie

    I did hear allegations of failure to underpin the neighboring property. This is the same developer who made the mess at Smith and Douglas, where there were also accusations that an adjacent property was damaged.