The “Mystery of Montague Street” Featured on Curbed

Curbed published an interesting article on “The Mystery of Montague Street” — why does it suck? There are the usual reasons given — business owners blame the high rent, landlords blame the high taxes, the BHA and the Montague BID don’t want to blame anyone. Incoming city council member (and neighborhood son!) Lincoln Restler puts his support behind a vacancy tax. Of course, 112 Montague Street, and its totally normal, not at all out of touch with reality landlord (who may or may not be named Nathan Silverstein), are featured as well, and seem to provide a case for why a vacancy tax might not be such a bad idea:

He said he is asking $15,000 a month for the second-floor space and “more than double that for the ground floor.”

“When Starbucks first closed, I had all the restaurants call, like Armando’s. But I’m holding out for a triple-mint tenant.”

But there’s a quote I would like to highlight, from Lassen & Hennigs co-owner Thomas Calfa:

This is a bedroom community for Manhattan, and it always has been. That’s never changed. People around here will basically stay in Manhattan and do their clothing shopping and go to restaurants. It’s maybe shifting a little bit, but it’s always been like that since the 1970s.

Do Brooklyn Heights residents still feel this way about their neighborhood, 40 years later? Or do residents “stay in Manhattan” because the local options are so mediocre and bleak? And how much has that changed since the pandemic struck? Is it odd that this argument is made concerning Montague Street, but doesn’t seem to apply to more bustling “commercial” streets in the area (Henry Street, Atlantic Avenue), or Cobble Hill?

Be sure to read the Curbed article before answering!

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  • CassieVonMontague

    The Kings County District Attorney alone has 1,300 employees. City Tech has another 1,000. You may say I have an expansive definition of “city workers”, but that’s who I meant. Ninety percent of them would make quite a line at Shake Shack.

    If you don’t attract them, you’re dead in the water. That’s why Five Guys moved to MetroTech. The rise of Downtown Brooklyn in the past 20 years has also hit Montague St hard.

  • CassieVonMontague

    I want to agree with you but have you seen the number of Federal Prosecutors that go to the Park Plaza Restaurant? Anyone who enjoys their food should be committed.

    In all seriousness, it’s more about economics and economics of scale than taste. You can’t get a bottle of olive oil for under $15 at Union Mark-Up, I mean, Market. Books Are Magic needs to have 25 copies of the newest John Grisham shipped to them every week. Bein Cuit won’t have room for their $16 miche when they have to display ready-to-go salads. If I’m going to buy pastries for the office, am I going to get six almond croissants for $40 or am I going to Dunkin Donuts?

  • Effective Presenter

    LONG business lunches that were not held at the Brooklyn Club on Remsen Street had been held at other Montague Street establishments, Foffe, Peter Hillary, etc.

    The neighborhood changed when Brooklyn Union Gas now National Grid
    moved from 195 Montague Street to One MetroTech Center as anchor tenants.

    Banking changed the 3 Martini lunch no longer in fashion ALL those lunches gone.

    Christine and Earl owners of China Chile had the $450 lunch deal they had to close because few “eat lunch” gone is the lunch hour.

    Multiple family dwellings converted back to single family Brownstone homes have resulted in fewer Brooklyn Heights residents.

    Over decades Montague Street has taken a number of hits resulting in a negative impact on Montague Street.

  • Andrew Porter

    The reason all those “3-Martini Lunches” disappeared was a change in the tax laws to forbid the deduction of such meals within 50 miles of home.