Open Thread Wednesday


Is that a new video store on Montague Street? Is it 1983?

Planning to check out the new exhibit at BHS on the landmarking of Brooklyn Heights?

Any more clues on that piercing alarm on Montague?

NoHe? NoHi? Oooooeeeoooo oh oh… 

and… Fink and Qfwfq will be in the trivia hunt tonight at Magnetic Field with Dick Swizzle… 

Plus any thing else you have on your mind. 


Also, BHB is looking for contributors… let us know if you have a little writer inside you dying to break out and work for free.


Flickr photo by fkuffel via the BHB Photo Club

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  • Claude Scales

    Is that a new video store on Montague Street? Is it 1983? I moved to the Heights in 1983. That would sort of be like Groundhog Day writ very large.

    Planning to check out the new exhibit at BHS on the landmarking of Brooklyn Heights? Yes, and thanks for your post about it.

    Any more clues on that piercing alarm on Montague? No.

    NoHe? NoHi? Oooooeeeoooo oh oh… The first sounds emasculating, the second depressing.

  • Heights97

    First of all, Homer, I want to thank you for your website, which I have been enjoying thoroughly, especially your coverage of the Corner of Cranberry empire.

    Here is a random thought: Have you noticed that the street sign for Pierrepont Place (across from the playground) has a typo? It says “Pierrepoint Place.” If I ever get around to it, I’ll call the DOT and ask them to fix it.

  • Claude Scales

    Another bank job? About half an hour ago, I was walking on Montague and found police putting up yellow tape around Washington Mutual at the corner of Montague and Henry. They were also closing Henry at that corner, and a police car was blocking Montague at Clinton. There was a red armored car, with no driver inside, sitting diagonally as if making a turn from Montague to Henry.

  • BP

    That video store on Montague used to be across the street.

  • SG

    Does anyone know why the Thai Grille went out of business so suddenly last year and why nothing has yet filled the void…or what the deal is with the vacant spaces down near the end of Joralemon? That area always creeps me out just a little bit…Also what do people think of the Astro turf?

  • SG

    I have yet another question…go figure…why doesn’t the neighborhood impose a time limit on the length of time construction can take….the huge scaffolding monstrosities take away from the neighborhood and do a tremendous disservice to the businesses that must operate under them. I have lived her for several years now and have yet to see the clean metal free facade of some buildings.

  • Claude Scales

    SG: I’m puzzled by how Thai Grille managed to hang on as long as it did; the food seemed to me quite mediocre.

    As to why the space (and also those spaces on Joralemon, by which I presume you mean the space formerly occupied by River Deli and several others on Columbia adjacent to it) remain empty for long periods of time, you’ve hit on something that’s had me scratching my head, too. Having studied economics just enough to be dangerous, I have wondered why property owners allow space to stand empty, rather than reducing rent to a “market clearing” rate. Of course, the market for commercial real estate isn’t quite like that for, say, winter wheat, in that each property is, to some extent, unique, and a rental price is something of a long-term commitment. Nevertheless, I suspect that what’s at work here is a departure from the rationally self-interested behavior of homo economicus, a departure that is driven by a fear of invidious comparison. To put it in more concrete terms: no one wants to go to the Landlord’s Club to celebrate having finally gotten a nice mom-and-pop store as a tenant by cutting the rental by $20 a square foot, only to find that the guy on the next barstool is bragging about the national chain that leased his space for the full asking price.

    Of course, at some point the pain of foregone cash flow must overcome the fear of looking foolish, but apparently that point must be further off in time than you or I would think.

    The brokerage community must be playing some role in this, as well, though beyond holding the carrot in front of clients, I’m not sure what it might be.

    Like you, I hate those sidewalk-covering bridges and scaffolding that obscure the views of so many Heights buildings. However, I think that putting a time limit on the work would be bad policy. Most of these projects are not new construction or renovation, but simply compliance with a city statute (passed after a Columbia student was killed by a piece of terra cotta that fell from a building’s facade) that requires buildings over a certain size to have their facades inspected and, to the extent needed, stabilized, at regular intervals. For a building with a plain brick facade, like the one I live in, this is a fairly simple and quick process. We had it done last summer, and it was completed in just over four months. For a building like the Montague, the red brick late nineteenth century apartment building on Montague between Hicks and Henry that has elaborate decorative touches on its facade, the process can take much longer. Unfortunately, it is buildings like that which pose the greatest danger of deterioration.

    Astroturf? If the area in question is going to be used regularly for soccer, touch football or the like, I think it makes sense. Upkeep of grass under such stress could be very expensive. Anyway, I like Tug McGraw’s reply when asked if he preferred pitching on grass or turf: “I don’t know. I never smoked turf.”

  • Queens Crapper

    Love the budding purple crocuses. Or is it crocii? I also posted a photo of a crocus today on my site, Queens Crap.

  • Queens Crapper

    Sorry, submitted wrong URL in previous post!

  • BP

    My understanding with the Thai Grille closing is that the owner took ill and it was or was close enough to the end of the lease that it was worth shuttering. Why nothing else has gone in, or even a “For Rent” sign been posted, is a mystery.

    I was against the astro-turf, but now I think that it’s a reasonable solution when you consider the upkeep grass requires. A couple of weeks ago, I walked through the north end of Cadman Park and noted how much the grass/dirt was being torn up by a group of 8 or so who were playing soccer. If it the turf area were to be grass instead, it would have to be a no-ball playing zone.
    This could also be another case of the few who do play soccer in the park ruining it for the many who simply want to enjoy grass in their neighborhood.
    Grass which should also be a dog-free zone.

    Regarding vacant commercial space, my understanding here is that landlords can “warehouse” unused space and somehow it works out for them financially (at least so it’s not as big of a loss as it may seem from the outside). I do not think that the landlords give a hoot about looking foolish.

    A time limit on the scaffolding and repair/restoration work would be terrible for those who have to pay for it. The Local 11 filing requires an inspection every five years and often, in these landmarked buildings especially, there is much custom exterior work to be done. To impose that rush fees be paid on top of the astronomical prices would be too much of a burden for property owners to bear. I can’t even think of what might happen in such a case.