Brooklyn Heights Blog » Brooklyn Heights Dispatches from America's first suburb Fri, 15 Feb 2019 01:59:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Montague Street Businesses Show the Love with Instagram Contest, Giveaways Tue, 12 Feb 2019 01:30:40 +0000

Through February 14th, The Montague Business Improvement District wants to spread the love! It’s as simple as posting to Instagram:

How Can You Win?:

>>Follow @montaguebid on Instagram.

>>Post pictures of what you do, buy, eat or drink on Montague Street by February 14th.

>>Tag a BID businesses and use the hashtag #ilovemontaguestreet.Winners will be contacted by direct message, so keep your peepers peeled to your DMs.

Win flowers, fashion eyewear, meals, hotel stays, workouts, haircuts, beauty, self-care goodies and chocolate parties from businesses including:

  • Bossert Management Group
  • Brown Harris Stevens
  • Chocolate Works
  • Cohens Fashion Optical
  • Dellarocco’s
  • Grand Canyon Diner
  • Heights Cafe
  • James Weir Floral
  • Keihl’s
  • Lantern Kitchen Thai
  • Orangetheory Fitness
  • Pinto NYC
  • Saketumi
  • Scott J Aveda
Enter often. Shop local. Have fun.
Share the love. Be kind.
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Theater 2020 Presents Into the Woods at St. Francis February 21 – March 17 Mon, 11 Feb 2019 03:28:34 +0000

Theater 2020, Brooklyn Heights’ own award winning professional stage company, will present the James Lapine/Stephen Sondheim musical comedy Into the Woods at the Founders Hall Theater, St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, in a run of sixteen performances beginning Thursday, February 21 and continuing through Sunday, March 17.

“Into the Woods,” where the characters in the fairy tales of Grimm, come alive wishing for a better life, first looking out only to their own self-interest, but learning in the end that true happiness comes from a collective caring about others. Told in a hilarious book by James Lapine with glorious music and lyrics by the master Stephen Sondheim, we discover that while we may lament our lot, we can do something about it, just remembering “No One Is Alone!” Awarding winning Producer/Director David Fuller sets this production in a refugee resettlement camp, somewhere in the world today.

Performances will be Thursday through Sunday each week; you may buy tickets here.

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Incident At Clark Street And Columbia Heights This Afternoon Mon, 04 Feb 2019 20:31:43 +0000 We’ve received word that there was an incident that resulted in someone pulling out a gun near the corner of Clark Street and Columbia Heights around 3pm this afternoon. At this time (3:20pm) there’s a large police presence, and there’s rumored to be a wrongful arrest based on mistaken identity. This is a developing story, and we will update as soon as we get more information…

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Brooklyn Only Foods Opens on Henry St. (With a Speakeasy Entrance to As Of Now Gallery) Mon, 04 Feb 2019 05:48:19 +0000

I was on a walk on Henry St. on Sunday when I noticed a shiny new awning and light coming out of the storefront that once housed Heights Car & Limo. The space had been dark and vacant for four years, and even before that, it was quite an eyesore with a drab brown façade and the outlines of an old sign that had been removed. Without the burly livery drivers sitting outside, the spot looked even more sad and lonely the last four years.

As I walked toward the bright newness, Jamel Othman, the owner of Heights Falafel next door, came out and said, “We need your support!” I looked at him puzzled, and Jamel said, “That’s my son’s new business.” I looked again and noticed that Heights Falafel also had a shiny new awning. I marveled at the beauty of the matching side-by-side awnings over small businesses owned by father and son, side-by-side. These stories are so hard to come by in New York City these days and this one I had to tell.

The awning over 78 Henry St. reads “Brooklyn Only Foods.” I walked in and saw Jamel’s son Karim Othman at the counter. “You look so much like your mother,” I said. “Yeah, everyone says that. I got lucky,” Karim replied. If you patronize Heights Falafel, you’ve surely seen his beautiful mother, Lisa Rosettie, working behind the counter. She was also there on Sunday helping her son at the new shop and she’ll continue to help with developing ideas for prepared foods.

Brooklyn Only Foods Interior

Karim was raised in Park Slope and went to Packer. “So with Packer and my dad’s business being here since 2001, I feel like I grew up in Brooklyn Heights,” he said. Asked about his new business, Karim said,

“I was doing an internship at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, where I worked at the farm one day a week and at the restaurant five days a week. I was commuting to Westchester from Brooklyn every day. Blue Hill’s concept is sustainability, locality, and accountability for the food it serves, and knowing who’s producing your food and creating that connection. So if we were getting pheasants from a farmer, that farmer would come and explain his whole practice to us about raising pheasants in a healthy and sustainable way. It’s all about being accountable to your customers and the environment.

After that internship, I decided that I wanted to start a food-related business. I wanted to continue with the accountability and locality that I learned at Stone Barns, in that I would know all the vendors, speak to them, and see their operations. So I opened this shop. Most of the products here, I personally went to the suppliers, met with them, and picked up the goods. Everything here is either produced in Brooklyn or the business started in Brooklyn and they’re all businesses that I want to support. For example, the Gold’s horseradish started in the 1930’s in Brooklyn and now it’s a major national company. Or the Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup, every old-school Brooklynite knows that you can’t make an egg cream without it.”

I asked Karim, “Did your parents influence your decision to start a food-related retail business?” He responded,

“Yes, it was a combination of Stone Barns teaching me the narrative, the ideas, and then there’s my dad who sometimes worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, day in and day out. Ideas are great, but to fulfill the idea, it takes a lot of hard work. So my dad showed me the work ethic. I think it’s something lost on a lot of young people these days.”

Brooklyn Only Foods Interior 2

In addition to the snacks, sauces, chocolates and more displayed on the shelves, there’s a refrigerated case stocked with drinks, cheeses, and smoked meats. Behind the counter, sandwiches are offered, using bread from Caputo’s in Cobble Hill and all local ingredients, including one made with roast beef from Marlow & Daughters in Williamsburg and another with smoked white fish from Acme, a smokehouse in Greenpoint. Karim is working on adding more ready-made sandwiches.

After I visited Brooklyn Only Foods, I dropped into Heights Falafel, where Jamel was beaming with pride and said, “I’m very proud of Karim. He got an idea and I believed in him to execute it. As parents, we did everything to support him and I’m happy that he’s making his dreams come true.” Karim’s mom Lisa echoed the same sentiment and added, “The internship with Dan Barber at Stone Barns changed Karim and gave him a lot of motivation. It’s been great to see his ideas fill these shelves little by little, day by day.”


But wait. That’s not the end of this story. If you go behind the counter and walk down a short flight of stairs, there is an art gallery called As of Now Gallery. That’s right, a speakeasy entrance to an art gallery, run by Karim’s longtime friend Austin Siegert, who worked as an art handler at Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan and is an oil painter. This unique arrangement came about when Austin mentioned to Karim that he wanted to look into renting spaces and doing pop-up openings to showcase artists that he believed in. Karim suggested the basement of the shop as a permanent home for the openings. “I thought it was a great idea because the people who would want local sustainable foods from Brooklyn might also be the type of people interested in local artists,” said Austin. “So we got to work gut renovating the basement space that still very much had the old Russian cab stand vibe.”

For more info on Brooklyn Only Foods, check out and follow on Instagram @brooklyn_only_foods. Current hours are 7 am – 6 pm daily.

As of Now Gallery is also on Instagram @asofnowgallery, where Austin can be direct-messaged for an appointment to view the gallery, or email

Support our local economy. Support our small businesses.


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Levin: “[T]here Has to be a Better Way” for BQE Repair Thu, 31 Jan 2019 03:42:59 +0000

City Council Member Stephen Levin was interviewed on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, and had this to say about the City Department of Transportation’s plan for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway rehabilitation:

Robert Moses’ infrastructure projects created all types of massive havoc around New York City, divided communities and really displaced thousands of people. As we’re looking towards 21st century infrastructure in New York, I think that we have to reckon with that and do what we can to address it restoratively.

I applaud the Brooklyn Heights Association and a new group called A Better Way, because they’ve really said “You know what? Let’s take a look at this, let’s get some transparency into this process…let’s build a 21st century highway.”

We need to be looking at alternatives. We need there to be some kind of real transparency to the process. [We need] a community advisory committee so that we can bring good ideas to the table.

We think that there has to be a better way to do this.

Thanks to for this information.

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Grace Church Winterfair Saturday Wed, 30 Jan 2019 02:43:19 +0000

This Saturday, February 2, Grace Church, 254 Hicks Street (corner of Hicks and Grace Court) will hold its annual Winterfair. From 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., you may shop for children’s clothes and toys, men’s and women’s clothing, books, CDs, DVDs, vinyl discs, sporting equipment, plants, flowers, furniture, housewares and tchatchkes. Carl Weisser will do silhouette portrats. From 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the cafe will serve hot luncheon entrees. Admission to the Winterfair is free.

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Brooklyn Historical Society Celebrates Black History Month Tue, 29 Jan 2019 02:03:18 +0000

February is Black History Month, and the Brooklyn Historical Society will celebrate with a series of events illuminating aspects of Black history, both local and national. The series will begin early, this Wednesday evening, January 30 from 6:30 to 8:00, with a discussion of a vicious crime in 1946 against a Black decorated war veteran that led to President Harry Truman’s order integrating the armed forces, and to the awakening of a courageous white Southern judge, W. Waties Waring, whose decisions helped prepare for the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. There’s more information, and you may purchase tickets here.

Other events in the series are: Black-Owned Businesses: A History of Enterprise and Community in Brooklyn (Tuesday, February 11; Book Talk: Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson (Tuesday, February 19); Beauty, Media, Money, and More: A Conversation with Tressie McMillan Cottom (Monday, February 25); Book Talk: Force & Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence (Tuesday, February 26); and The Halls of Hope: Voices from Obama’s West Wing (Thursday, February 28). All of these events will take place at the Society’s main location, 128 Pierrepont Street (corner of Clinton).

All month, and until March 24, the exhibit Brooklyn Abolitionists: In Pursuit of Freedom will be on display at the Society’s main location.

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String Orchestra of Brooklyn and Violinist Paul Huang at St. Ann’s Church Saturday Mon, 28 Jan 2019 23:28:26 +0000

This coming Saturday, February 2, the String Orchestra of Brooklyn and violinist Paul Huang (photo, by Marco Borggreve) will be at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church, Clinton and Montague streets (enter from Clinton) beginning at 8:00 P.M. for a concert featuring Mr. Huang as soloist on Aram Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto, followed by jazz great Duke Ellington’s River Suite. General Admission is $16; seniors and students $11; children under 18 free. You may purchase tickets here.

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Times Reports on BHA’s BQE Plan; Guarded But Positive DOT Response Fri, 25 Jan 2019 04:08:10 +0000

Today’s New York Times reports that the alternative routing for the for the temporary highway to be used during reconstruction of the portion of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway below Brooklyn Heights, proposed by the Brooklyn Heights Association has, at least in an initial form, been revealed. Scroll down in the linked Times story, past the photo of the designer, Marc Wouters, with the plan in the background, to the image of the plan in full. According to the Times story, “[t]he alternative plan is still largely an untested concept and would require extensive vetting, though the [BHA] did hire a consulting firm to do an initial review.” It continues:

Even the [BHA] says its plan is not meant to be the only solution, but is intended to expand public discussion and challenge city officials to think more creatively about repairing a six-lane highway that carries 153,000 vehicles daily.

The Times story continues:

Polly Trottenberg, the city transportation commissioner, said her agency was analyzing the association’s plan as it also continues to explore other options for rebuilding the B.Q.E. “We’re working through the technical details, but we appreciate them putting it forward,” she said.

Ms. Trottenberg said she expects to end up with four to six options, which will be weighed in public discussions as part of a thorough review process that will last about two years. “We certainly acknowledge that the two we led with [the temporary six lane highway replacing the Promenade and the lane-by-lane approach likely to divert much traffic to local streets] were extremely controversial,” she said.

The alternative proposed by the BHA would place the temporary highway over a portion of Brooklyn Bridge Park, although not any part used by the public except for parking. The Times quotes Park President Eric Landau: “We have questions and concerns about this proposal, but are involved in the discussion.”

Read the linked Times story for more pertinent information, including the reaction of one Promenade visitor.

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Simon Says: Talk to Neighbors; Examine Data; Review EIS for BQE Renovation Sat, 19 Jan 2019 03:54:14 +0000

As expected, Thursday’s “Java with Jo Anne” event, with State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon at One Girl Cookies in DUMBO, drew a number of Brooklyn Heights residents eager to question Ms. Simon’s stance concerning the City Department of Transportation’s plan to construct a temporary six lane highway in the present location of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Simon was booed and heckled at the rally on the Promenade last Saturday for not declaring herself opposed to the DOT plan. As Mary Frost reports in the Eagle, when asked why she hadn’t opposed it as other elected officials had, Simon replied that unlike those who had spoken against the DOT plan at the promenade rally — she didn’t name them, but they are City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams — she isn’t running for Mayor. (Another elected official who spoke against the DOT plan on Saturday, Assembly Member Latrice Walker, is running for City Public Advocate.)

Simon noted that there are only two plans now under consideration: the “innovative” plan to build a temporary highway at the level of the Promenade, and a “traditional” lane-by-lane approach that would involve partially closing the BQE, would take longer, and is projected to cause seven mile long traffic jams and cause diversion of much traffic to local streets. The “traditional” approach would affect constituents of hers in Cobble Hill, where she lives. The “innovative” approach would be a benefit to residents of DUMBO and Vinegar Hill, because it would allow traffic to flow freely to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges from the BQE, rather than being routed through their neighborhoods. The Eagle story quotes Simon: “We’re in a state of equipoise here. Both plans suck. And they suck a little differently for different people.”

Asked about the alternative plan proposed by the Brooklyn Heights Association that would route the temporary highway below the Promenade, and above the sound attenuating berms and parking lot of Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Eagle story quotes Simon as saying “the DOT Commissioner [Polly Trottenberg] was very intrigued by it” but that the Department must determine if it is feasible. Simon also noted that it could adversely affect residents of 360 Furman Street, the Pierhouse, and Pier Six (presumably meaning the soon to be completed high rises on the Pier Six uplands).

Simon also noted that it was impossible to evaluate the impacts of the proposals until an environmental assessment has been completed. According to the Eagle:

Her office will be helping to advise people working on statements for input into the environmental review process — a process she is familiar with based on many years of involvement with the Gowanus Expressway and Atlantic Yards processes.

She said that the environmental report, when released, would be very long, and deal with a number of topics. She suggested that neighborhood groups should appoint people with expertise in various areas to analyze and criticize portions of the report. She also encouraged people from different neighborhoods that might be differently affected to get together and discuss how they could find common ground.

Several attendees asked about actions that could reduce the traffic using the BQE, and thereby mitigate the possibility of traffic jams and diversions of traffic. Simon said that eliminating the outbound toll on the Verrazano Bridge would require federal legislation. Congestion pricing, which would require action by the state, is a tough sell, because legislators representing districts in the farther reaches of Brooklyn and Queens, and Nassau County have all been told by their constituents that they oppose anything that would constrain their right to commute to Manhattan by car. Simon added that surveys have shown that people living in these areas rarely if ever use their private cars to go to Manhattan. Nevertheless, they object to anything that would limit their freedom to do so. Simon said she’s convinced that “there’s a direct connection between the steering column and the male groin.” In any event, she didn’t think that congestion pricing would have a significant effect on BQE traffic.

Simon expressed disappointment over the failures of the city and the state to take earlier action on the deterioration of the cantilevered portion of the BQE. She said several successive City DOT commissioners had “kicked the can down the road.” She also reiterated her criticism of the state, expressed at the rally last Saturday, for turning its back on the issue, but added, as the Eagle story reports:

I’m talking to everybody; I’m working with the DOT to explore every alternative; I’m working with the federal elected officials; I’m working with the state elected officials; I’m hounding the state Department of Transportation. I’ve a meeting with the commissioner next week … He’s coming to see me. Which is highly unusual for the transportation commissioner to come visit a legislator. The statement is pretty clear. We’re going to do everything we can.

There was some discussion of matters unrelated to the BQE. Simon said that Democratic control of the Senate, along with the assembly and the Executive, meant that progress had been made on several fronts: voting rights, campaign finance reform, LGBTQ rights, and gun safety. She was asked if taxes accruing from marijuana legalization, if passed, might be used to improve public transit. She said there were several proposals for the use of those funds, including repairing the lives of those who had been imprisoned because of marijuana convictions.

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Car Jumps Curb on Cadman Plaza West, Takes Out Scaffold and Fence Thu, 17 Jan 2019 05:03:32 +0000

This past Tuesday, a livery car jumped the curb on Cadman Plaza West, barreled onto the sidewalk, and took down a section of scaffolding and fencing in front of 101 Clark St. We read about it first on Brooklyn Heights Life’s instagram. Todd Maisel of the Brooklyn Eagle also reported on the incident on Tuesday. According to the Brooklyn Eagle report, a livery cab driver suffered a “medical emergency” around 2:30 p.m. and lost control of his Toyota Highlander, narrowly missing pedestrians and parked cars. The driver was taken to the hospital. About 10 minutes later, students from area schools and their caretakers would have been walking home after dismissal on that very sidewalk. Thankfully, no one other than the driver was hurt.

Photos, courtesy of Brooklyn Heights Life, of the immediate aftermath are below. The lead photo was taken the day after as workers repaired the scaffold and fence.



Cadman Plaza Accident


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Hundreds Pack Promenade For Rally Against BQE Plan Sun, 13 Jan 2019 21:37:43 +0000

Brooklyn Heights Association Executive Director Peter Bray said the cold weather made him hope that 300 people would show up for yesterday’s rally on and for the Promenade, but by our estimate there was well more than that number. (Update: the New York Post estimates the turnout as “[a]bout 200″; we believe this is way on the low side. The Eagle gives an estimate of “several hundred”; scroll down in the linked story to the photo taken from above, which shows only part of the crowd.) People kept arriving well after the announced starting time of 11:00 A.M.

Mr. Bray began by announcing the BHA’s opposition to the City Department of Transportation’s preferred alternative of building a temporary six lane highway that would replace the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for a period of at least six years while reconstruction of the cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway below proceeds. Mayor De Blasio has expressed his support for this plan, but according to City Council Member Stephen Levin later partially walked back that statement by saying he considers an alternative plan proposed by the BHA, to run the temporary highway over the berms on the east edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park, to be “worth exploring.”
IMG_2221The first elected official to speak was City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who in December sent a letter to the Mayor and to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, faulting them for not consulting with affected communities and not considering alternative plans. He said the DOT plan fails to consider evolving trends in transportation, instead perpetuating a 1950s Robert Moses solution. He compared it to “buying the drapes before you buy the house.”
IMG_2219Among the elected officials present were State Senator Brian Kavanagh (in photo above, with sunglasses) and Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon (in blue cap, next to Kavanagh). In her remarks, Ms. Simon took the state to task for having taken money appropriated for a study of the BQE rehabilitation and re-allocated it to the Tappan Zee (now Governor Mario M. Cuomo) Bridge. She was loudly heckled when she would not unequivocally state her opposition to the DOT proposal. Ms. Simon has invited all to have “Java with Jo Anne” and discuss any community concerns with her this Thursday morning, January 17, from 8:30 to 10:30, at One Girl Cookies, 33 Main Street (between Plymouth and Water) in DUMBO.
IMG_2228 Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (photo above, in baseball cap) received ethusiastic applause and cheers when he decalred, “I am an environmentalist” and stated his opposition to the DOT proposal. Representatives from the offices of Mr. Levin, and of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez were present and spoke.

One elected official whose district does not include any part of Brooklyn Heights or nearby neighborhoods spoke in opposition to the DOT proposal. This was State Assembly Member Latrice Walker, whose district includes parts of Brownsville, where Ms. Walker grew up and still lives, and Stuyvesant Heights. She recalled childhood memories of visiting the Promenade, and said that, as an asthma victim, she opposed any plan likely to worsen air pollution.

Several representatives of local community groups also spoke. Hillary Jager, speaking for A Better Way NYC, said the group not only opposes the DOT plan, but also any plan that would add congestion to local streets. Toba Potosky, Board President of Cadman Towers, Inc., expressed strong opposition to the DOT proposal on environmental grounds.

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Local Electeds to Join BQE Rally on Promenade Saturday Fri, 11 Jan 2019 04:49:08 +0000

This in from A Better Way NYC:

State Senator Brian Kavanagh, State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, and City Council Member Stephen Levin just announced that they will be joining Comptroller Scott Stringer at a press conference this Saturday calling for a community-driven solution to the BQE reconstruction.

Please show your support this Saturday, January 12th, at 11a.m. on the Promenade at the Pierrepont Street entrance.

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Emily Blunt & John Krasinski Buy “A Quiet Place” in Brooklyn Heights Thu, 10 Jan 2019 22:39:51 +0000

The Real Deal and WSJ report A-Listers Emily Blunt (“Mary Poppins Returns”) and John Krasinski (The Office) have purchased adjacent apartments at The Standish for a cool $11M. Sources close to the deal say once combined the renovated apartment will take up an entire floor of the building.

The power couple, who starred together in the horror-suspense flick, “A Quiet Place” directed by Krasinski,  joins Matt Damon and family at the famed building on 171 Columbia Heights. Damon’s penthouse purchase for $16.6 broke Brooklyn sales records.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

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Brooklyn Historical Society Family Programs at DUMBO Begin This Saturday Thu, 10 Jan 2019 04:37:11 +0000

The Brooklyn Historical Society has announced a series of “family programming geared towards families with children ages 2 and up” to be held on two Saturdays each month, from January through June, beginning this Saturday, January 12 at BHS’s DUMBO location, 55 Water Street, in the historic Empire Stores building (you may also enter from the Brooklyn Bridge Park side). The scheduled events are as follows:

January 12: Changing Perspectives – Collage
January 26: Storytelling – Design and make your own book
February 9: Eye Spy – Gallery Hunt
February 23: Storytelling – Design and make your own book
March 9: Picture This! – Color a mural
March 30: Storytelling – Design and make your own book
April 13: Changing Perspectives – Collage
April 27: Storytelling – Design and make your own book
May 11: Eye Spy – Gallery Hunt
May 25: Storytelling – Design and make your own book
June 8: Picture This – Color a mural
June 29: Storytelling – Design and make your own book

There is no admission charge for these events, but you are encouraged to register here.

Photo: Rathkopf Photography.

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City Comptroller Stringer to Lead Rally on BQE Plan Saturday; Eagle’s Mary Frost Interviewed About Toxic Hazard Wed, 09 Jan 2019 17:55:01 +0000

City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, along with A Better Way NYC, are rallying this Saturday, January 12th, at 11a.m. on the Promenade at the Pierrepont Street entrance to call for a community-driven solution to the BQE reconstruction. According to A Better Way:

Comptroller Scott Stringer will call on the City to demand more transparency and recommend that a community driven process must be implemented to identify a feasible alternative to the 6-lane highway plan. This will be a press conference, and it is crucial that our community show up in full force!

In other BQE related news, Rafael Pi Roman of Thirteen’s MetroFocus has interviewed the Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s Mary Frost concerning the toxic hazard of the elevated six lane highway plan; view it here.

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BHA Sends New Letter to DOT; Harvard “Kroks” Benefit Concert for BHA and A Better Way NYC Tue, 08 Jan 2019 03:52:16 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association, in a letter sent today to Polly Trottenberg, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, noted that the announcement of an alternative plan for repair of the L train tunnel should inspire DOT “to re-think DOT’s approach to the BQE reconstruction project.”

The parallels seem clear: each project poses huge engineering challenges, and in each
case the government’s initial approach would impose unthinkably devastating
consequences. The exciting new approach for the L Train, devised in a brief period and
announced only a few months before the start of the planned shut-down approach,
shows it is not too late to solve the BQE challenge. It also demonstrates that the fresh
perspective of creative, independent experts can identify far preferable solutions … DOT seeks to rebuild (and modernize a bit)
exactly what was built from 1951-54. But a highway that made sense for the NY
metropolitan area for the last 75 years cannot possibly be the right way to serve the
region’s transportation needs for the next 75 years.

The full text of the letter is here.

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In further news on the BQE front, the Harvard Krokodiloes, a men’s chorus that performs “popular music from the Great American Songbook” and is “America’s oldest collegiate social organization”, will sing at the Heights Casino this Friday, January 11 at 6:00 PM. Tickets are pricey: “a cocktail reception and warm-up concert in the Doubles Court for $100, or the above including a formal concert in the upstairs Governors Room followed by a private dinner with The Krokodiloes for $250.” However, “[a]ll proceeds will benefit the efforts by the BHA and A Better Way to defeat the DOT’s 6-lane highway on the Promenade.” You may purchase tickets here.

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New Life for 186 Remsen? Bye-bye 192 Montague? Mon, 07 Jan 2019 03:23:24 +0000

In a post this past September I speculated about the future of 186 Remsen Street (photo, by C. Scales), which I have long liked as an example of Victorian Romanesque architecture. In the post I noted that the building had been acquired by Up Ventures LLC, who had filed plans for a fourteen story hotel on the site. Being east of Clinton Street, the site is outside the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, with its fifty foot height limit on new construction, but it is in the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District, which means that the Landmarks Preservation Commission would have to approve any changes to it.

Thanks to Brooklyn Community Board 2 we now know that Up Ventures has made

[a]pplication … to restore the façade, replicate the original two-story mansard roof destroyed by fire, recreate missing iron balconies and fences, install ADA-compliant ramp, reconstruct the rear portion of the building, construct a six-story rooftop addition set back 50 feet, and excavate the rear yard.

This application will be considered at an LPC public hearing to be held on Tuesday, January 15 at One Centre Street, 9th floor, in Manhattan. Hearings are to start at 9:30 AM, and 186 Remsen is the second item on the agenda.

Meanwhile, New York YIMBY reports that demolition permits have been filed for 192 Montague Street, AKA 200 Montague (see linked story for photo), a four story office and retail building on the south side of Montague between Clinton and Court streets. According to the YIMBY story, “It is unclear what plans are in store for the 10,000 square-foot lot as no permits have been filed. According to filings, Matthew Abreu of The Cayre Group is listed as the owner.” Update: According to Lore Croghan in the Eagle, demolition of 192/200 Montague will require Landmarks approval, as it is in the Skyscraper Historic District.

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New Year’s Fireworks Mon, 31 Dec 2018 00:04:19 +0000

This year’s New Year’s Fireworks, which begin promptly at midnight, when the ball drops, should be clearly visible from the Promenade and other Brooklyn Heights vantage points, as they will be launched from a barge near Liberty Island. If you hear some explosions and see flashes of light to the east, that’s because there is another fireworks display being launched near Prospect Park.

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No Garbage, Organics or Recycling Collection New Year’s Day; Alternate Side Rules and Parking Meters Suspended Fri, 28 Dec 2018 19:09:50 +0000

Our friends at Community Board 2 have advised us that, according to the City Department of Sanitation, there will be no pickup of garbage, organics, or recyclables on Tuesday, January 1. Those who normally receive pickup of these items on that day should put them out for pickup following 4:00 PM Tuesday. Also, according to the Department of Transportation, alternate side of the street parking rules and parking meter regulations are suspended all New Year’s Day.

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Recent Developments on BQE Controversy Sat, 22 Dec 2018 04:20:47 +0000

There have been several recent developments concerning the plan to repair the cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that lies below Brooklyn Heights and its Promenade, including the City Department of Transportation’s “innovative” proposal to replace the Promenade with a six lane highway while the two levels of the BQE below are repaired. This would cause complete loss of the use of the Promenade for a period the DOT estimates as six years and, according to public health expert Laurie Garrett, as reported by Mary Frost in the Eagle, would cause dangerous increases in airborne pollutant levels in the Heights.

More developments are summarized very well in another Mary Frost Eagle story. City Comptroller Scott Stringer has sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. In it, he faulted DOT because it:

has failed to engage the surrounding neighborhoods in a constructive manner, has not been sufficiently transparent regarding alternatives to the current project, and has “eliminated several alternatives from consideration” in a cursory manner

The Comptroller also noted in his letter that the DOT proposal fails to recognize:

other city initiatives and goals, including: $100 million in freight-rail improvements that would reduce truck traffic on the BQE; congestion pricing, which would also reduce traffic on the BQE; and the city’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases.

Ms. Frost’s story also includes reactions from local elected officials: Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, Councilmember Stephen Levin, state Sen. Brian Kavanagh, and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez. These officials have, understandably, been equivocal about efforts to save the Promenade from the “innovative” plan, because their constituencies include people who could be adversely affected by any major diversion of traffic from the BQE during repairs. Ms. Frost received a statement from these officials, noting “that they have met with members of A Better Way NYC [an organization opposed to the “innovative” plan] in addition to holding numerous meetings with local constituents and government officials.” Ms. Frost goes on to state:

They released an update on their progress on Friday, saying that both of the options the city has proposed so far “would have significant and profoundly problematic impacts on the communities we represent,” and that all “plausible alternatives” need to be fully considered before the project receives federal, state and city approval.

Photo: Teresa Genaro

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Public Advocate Candidates at First Unitarian This Evening Tue, 18 Dec 2018 20:14:16 +0000

Apologies for the late notice. The Brooklyn Heights Association is sponsoring a forum for candidates for the office of New York City’s Public Advocate this evening, Tuesday, December 18, at the First Unitarian Church, Pierrepont Street and Monroe Place. According to the BHA, “[d]oors will open at 6:30pm and the discussion will begin at 7pm. Because the organizers are expecting seventeen candidates to be present and the meeting has a two hour limit, there will be not be any opportunity to have questions from the audience.”

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Electronica Concert at St. Ann’s Church Saturday Evening Fri, 14 Dec 2018 04:14:05 +0000

Ambient Church, “a nomadic experiential event series dedicated to working with artists to bring new ecologies to architecturally unique spaces through transcendent audio and visual performance”, will, in conjunction with the indie record label Kranky, present a concert at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, Clinton and Montague streets, this Saturday evening, December 15, starting at 7:45. The program will feature the Brooklyn based group Forma (image), along with others. There’s more information and buy tickets here.

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Senator Gillibrand at St. Ann’s Church Saturday to Promote New Book Thu, 13 Dec 2018 18:23:11 +0000

New York’s junior U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, prominently mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for President in 2020, will be at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, Clinton and Montague streets, at 1:00 PM this Saturday, December 15. She will read from and discuss her new book for children, Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote, illustrated by Maira Kalman. There’s more information and you may buy tickets here. The event is sponsored by Books are Magic.

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Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” Free Performance Saturday Thu, 13 Dec 2018 04:56:47 +0000

This Saturday afternoon, December 15 at 2:00 (seating begins at 1:30), at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Heights Branch, 109 Remsen Street (accessible entrance from Henry Street between Montague and Remsen), Theater 2020, Brooklyn Heights’ own professional theater company, will Present “A Radio Christmas Carol”, an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ (photo) “A Christmas Carol”, by David Fuller and performed as a one hour Radio Play, complete with Foley Artist sound effects. The performance will last one hour. Admission is free. “This event includes some light holiday treats and is a lovely holiday event for the whole family, ages 6 years and up.”

Dickens photo, public domain.

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Goodbye, Chip Shop, and Other Neighborhood Changes Mon, 03 Dec 2018 02:26:15 +0000

Your correspondent was deeply saddened, on arriving for his and his wife’s (this time joined by some neighbors) usual Friday night dinner at the Chip Shop, to find at the top of the extensive beers, ales, and ciders menu a note that the place would close at the end of this weekend, having lost its lease. I returned today to enjoy one last Full English Breakfast and the company of others who had been regulars there, as well as some I hadn’t met before, and of long time bartender Liz Drobits (photo).

Atlantic Avenue has lost one other watering hole. Last weekend, as I was walking past, I saw a notice in the window of the empty (on a Saturday afternoon) Roebling Inn, announcing that its last night was the Friday before. Atlantic has thus lost two venues in which fans of English Premier League football (soccer to us Yanks) could gather to cheer their favorites: London’s Arsenal club at the Chip Shop; Liverpool at Roebling.

Reader Haley Geftman-Gold has notified us, on OTW, that the space at the northeast corner of Montague and Henry, above Pinto, formerly occupied by Vegetarian Ginger, is being taken by a chain called Otto’s Tacos. Reader Jorale-man has helpfully given us a link to their menu. There’s another interesting development taking place at 76 Montague, the former Friend of a Farmer location, that’s hardly a secret anymore, but our Teresa Genaro, who has the inside track on this, will be posting about it soon.

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PEP Greenlights PS/MS8 “Split” In Unanimous Vote Thu, 29 Nov 2018 06:09:10 +0000

As previously reported, the Office of District Planning introduced two proposals on October 12th to “split” P.S. 8 from M.S. 8. Currently, the schools are located at two sites but share a budget, Principal and other essential personnel and services. During testimony at two joint public hearings, the plans received praise from teachers, parents and administrators alike including now retired Principal, Seth Phillips and D13 CEC President, Ayanna Behin. The Panel for Education Policy (PEP) approved the plans in a unanimous vote on Wednesday night.


Effective Fall 2019, the change ostensibly divides the two-sited K-8 school into two independent entities. P.S. 8 (The Robert Fulton School) will continue under the leadership of current Principal, Trish Peterson and serve K-5 students. Also effective Fall 2019 but under new leadership, M.S. 8 (located at the Westinghouse Campus) will be known as K915 and serve grades 6-8.

The renaming affords the middle school its own budget, a dedicated Principal and Parent Coordinator and the flexibility to serve it’s population’s specific needs. The middle school will also expand to four classes for 6th grade and admissions priority for P.S. 8 students will end (with the exception of current P.S. 8 4th and 5th grade students).


The desire is for K915 to be a continuation and expansion of the “exploration” work currently happening at M.S. 8. Exploration is defined as a “two-week interdisciplinary [opportunity for students] to deeply study one essential question, and use the resources of New York City and their community to create and present culminating projects.”

In the coming weeks, a working group will be established to determine the vision and scope of the “new” school. This working group will liaise directly with the DOE’s Office of New Schools and other D13 stakeholders to carefully craft the school’s next steps.

EDIT: The new middle school was edited to reflect the correct name K915.

DISCLOSURE: SongBirdNYC is a P.S.8/M.S. 8 parent.


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Shop Small? Find Out What Can Be Done To Fight “Mallification” At BHS Thursday Evening Wed, 28 Nov 2018 02:50:13 +0000

This Thursday evening, November 29 starting at 6:30 the Brooklyn Historical Society will present “Malls vs. Bodegas: Resisting the Suburbanization of the City.” This panel discussion will be moderated by Paul Goldberger, contributing editor of Vanity Fair. Admission is $5, or free for BHS members. Make reservations and more information here.

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S.O.B. Performs Mahler’s 4th at St. Ann’s Church Saturday Tue, 27 Nov 2018 04:30:15 +0000

This Saturday evening, December 1 at 8:00, at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, Clinton and Montague streets (enter from Clinton) the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, which delights in its acronym, will present Gustav Mahler’s great Fourth Symphony, with its vocal part performed by soprano Lauren Michelle (photo), winner of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. You may purchase tickets here.

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BHA Presents Alternative BQE Plan to DOT Sat, 24 Nov 2018 04:22:32 +0000

As reported by the Eagle’s Mary Frost, representatives of the Brooklyn Heights Association met with Polly Trottenberg, Commissioner of the City’s Department of Transportation, and DOT engineers, to urge DOT to consider alternatives to a plan that would close the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for a minimum of six years and replace it with a six lane elevated highway. The BHA presented an “alternative plan conceived by Marc Wouters Studios, a Heights-based architect-urban planning firm. The Wouters design would move traffic to a temporary two-level structure west of the existing triple cantilever, as opposed to DOT’s six-lane highway on the Promenade.”

The Eagle story quotes BHA Executive Director Peter Bray as saying Commissioner Trottenberg

was receptive to having her engineers analyze Marc’s concept and for a later meeting with them to enable us to go into the technical aspects of the alternative proposal — what we call the Parallel Highway vs. DOT’s Promenade Highway. We anticipate that that meeting will occur once DOT has done a preliminary analysis.

According to the Eagle story, local elected officials, including State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, City Council Member Stephen Levin, and Borough President Eric Adams have shown interest in this matter.

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