Brooklyn Heights Blog » Brooklyn Heights http://brooklynheightsblog.com Dispatches from America's first suburb Thu, 17 Aug 2017 03:33:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Worker Injured In Fall From Roof Of 135 Joralemonhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84532 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84532#comments Thu, 17 Aug 2017 02:47:50 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84532

The Daily News reports that a construction worker, Antonio Garcia, “suffered serious injuries” because of a fall from the roof of 135 Joralemon Street (photo). Mr. Garcia was replacing shingles on the roof of the landmarked 185 year old house when he fell and landed on his head. He was taken to Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, where he is in serious condition.

Mr. Garcia was employed by V Roofing and Construction. The Daily News contacted them, but they would not comment. The General Contractor, American Residential Contractor LTD and a subcontractor, Velu General Contracting, were both cited for not providing adequate fall protection.

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Kushner Companies Sued Over Alleged Rent Violations At 89 Hickshttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84517 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84517#comments Wed, 16 Aug 2017 03:41:13 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84517

Curbed reports that tenants at 89 Hicks Street (photo), which the Kushner Companies bought from Brooklyn Law School, which had used it as a dormitory, in 2014, are suing because they claim the new owners

waged a “deceptive, systematic and pervasive pattern of misconduct to skirt rent stabilization laws,” and may have bilked tenants out of as much as $1 million in rent overcharges.

The suit was brought following an investigation of the Kushner Companies’ practices concerning rent stabilization requirements by Housing Rights Initiative, a non-profit organization that “systematically and proactively investigate[s] rent fraud in rent stabilized buildings and connect[s] tenants to legal support.”

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, was previously CEO of the Kushner Companies. He resigned when he assumed his present position as Senior White House Advisor.

Photo: N*ked Apartments.

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Squadron Resigning From New York Senatehttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84496 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84496#comments Wed, 09 Aug 2017 12:49:04 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84496

In an opinion column in today’s Daily News State Senator Daniel Squadron, whose district includes Brooklyn Heights along with Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens (where he resides with his wife and children) and much of lower Manhattan, announced his resignation from the New York Senate, where he has served since 2009. His resignation is effective this Friday, August 11. His replacement will be elected this November; meanwhile, he said, the balance between his party, the Democrats, and the GOP in the Senate will not be affected.

His decision came because of his frustration with “structural barriers, including ‘three men in a room’ decisionmaking, loophole-riddled campaign finance rules and a governor-controlled budget process.” While he called New York “a particularly seedy example” of government overwhelmed by moneyed interests and a culture of corruption, he noted that other states have similar problems. Following his resignation, he plans to join with entrepreneur Adam Pritzker and Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University to “launch a national effort focused on addressing this crisis — joining others already doing important work toward 2018 and beyond.”

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Will 67 Remsen Be Brooklyn Heights’ Next Mansion?http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84462 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84462#comments Fri, 04 Aug 2017 03:23:26 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84462

Curbed reports that owner Gili Haberberg wants to convert the ten unit apartment building at 67 Remsen Street (photo) to a mansion-sized (4,700 square feet) single family residence. Haberberg bought the property from the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2012 for $3.35 million. It sits next to the back end of the Bossert, between Hicks and Henry streets.

Photo by C. Scales for BHB.

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Library Site Developer Sued Over Commissionhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84468 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84468#comments Fri, 04 Aug 2017 03:05:08 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84468

The Real Deal reports that real estate private equity bankers Carlton Group are suing Hudson Companies, developers, on the site of the former Brooklyn Heights Branch Library, of the high rise residential and commercial building that will include a new branch library on its ground and lower floors. Carlton’s suit alleges that Hudson failed to pay $2.2 million in commissions owed for arranging financing for the new building. The Real Deal story quotes a Hudson spokesman as saying the case is without merit.

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FDNY May Take Part Of Former Hillary HQ At One Pierrepont Plazahttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84470 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84470#comments Fri, 04 Aug 2017 02:42:13 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84470

The Real Deal reports that the FDNY is considering taking half of the space at One Pierrepont Plaza (photo) vacated by Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters, to replace part of the administrative space in nearby MetroTech that it has now outgrown.

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Hot Event At Brooklyn Historical Society Thursday Evening, August 10: How Curry Spiced Up New Yorkhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84434 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84434#comments Wed, 02 Aug 2017 02:14:20 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84434

Did you think America’s first celebrity chef was Chef Boy-Ar-Dee? He was a mere toddler when J. Ranji Smile arrived in New York in 1899 to introduce curry dishes to the city’s high society. On Thursday evening, August 10 at 7:00 the Brooklyn Historical Society will present gastronomic historian Sarah Lohman and MIT scholar Vivek Bald, who will discuss Chef Smile’s “sometimes scandalous rise to fame and his lasting impact on American cuisine.” Admission is $10, or $5 for BHS members. There’s more information and buy tickets here.

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String Orchestra of Brooklyn Presents Summer Concert at St. Ann’s This Saturdayhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84446 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84446#comments Tue, 01 Aug 2017 03:10:24 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84446

This Saturday evening, August 5 at 8:00 the String Orchestra of Brooklyn will present a summer concert at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church. On the program are Mozart’s Symphony Number 41, “Jupiter” and Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” his musical adaptation of James Agee’s prose poem of the same title, featuring the soprano Kristina Bachrach (photo). Admission is a suggested donation of $15, but no one will be turned away. There’s more information here.

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Is The Brooklyn Heights Historic District a Mistake? Heights Resident Sandy Ikeda Thinks Sohttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83443 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83443#comments Mon, 31 Jul 2017 03:24:02 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83443

Sandy Ikeda is a professor of economics at SUNY Purchase, and a resident of Brooklyn Heights. He’s also a very personable and bright guy, as your correspondent can attest, having gone on two Jane’s Walks through the Heights that he led, one several years ago and one this April. On each occasion he showed extensive knowledge of the neighborhood, including information that I, a resident of thirty years, didn’t know.

IMG_8039For example, I learned that the townhouse on Clinton Street in the photo above served, in the time just after the conclusion of World War II, as a halfway house for Japanese-Americans who had been interned in camps during the war.

IMG_8040Then there’s this plaque on the townhouse at the corner of Clinton and Livingston, that identifies it as having been the clubhouse of the Brooklyn Excelsiors, baseball champions in 1850, and one of whose pitchers may have invented the curve ball. The Excelsiors were lineal ancestors of the Brooklyn Dodgers, my first love in baseball, even though I lived nowhere near Brooklyn at the time.

Despite his knowledge of, and obvious love for, Brooklyn Heights, Sandy has argued here that the designation of Brooklyn Heights as a landmarked historic district was a mistake. He says he and others have benefited from it; they “enjoy the quiet and charm of a place nearly frozen in time – we basically live in a museum with restaurants.” The problem, he says, is that the restrictions imposed by landmarking have constrained how owners may use or dispose of their property and, for a more far-reaching effect, have limited the supply of housing over the whole local market, making it less affordable for all.

These were “Jane’s Walks,” and Sandy is an admirer of Jane Jacobs, whose The Death and Life of Great American Cities and The Economy of Cities examined the question, “What makes cities work?” She championed the idea of the “neighborhood,” an area incorporating a mix of uses: residential, commercial, and public (schools, libraries, police and fire, parks) and a mix of old and new buildings housing people of diverse economic means. She opposed attempts to impose order or rationality through “urban renewal” schemes that were popular in the 1950s and ’60s. Neighborhoods, she thought, should be allowed to develop organically.

Jacobs also fought against the construction of highways through urban neighborhoods, which destroyed large parts of them and created divisions where none had existed before. Sandy noted with approval the efforts by Brooklyn Heights residents to keep Robert Moses from routing the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway through Brooklyn Heights, an effort that caused Moses to re-route the highway to the edge of the bluff atop which the Heights sits, and to create the Promenade above it. Like Jacobs, Sandy saw Moses’ original plan to route the highway through the Heights as a heavy handed government intrusion into a neighborhood; one that would alter its character for the worse.

How, then, did landmark designation, which was brought about by local residents (though no doubt some were opposed) violate Jacobs’ principles? She believed neighborhoods should develop organically, but also (according to this brief bio) was “[a] firm believer in the importance of local residents having input on how their neighborhoods develop.” I didn’t put this question directly to Sandy during our Jane’s walk, but I think his answer would have been twofold: first, by tying their own hands with regard to the disposition of their properties, owners at the time of landmarking were also tying the hands of future generations of owners who had no voice in the matter; and second, that the wishes of the neighborhood’s residents in this respect were outweighed by the city’s need for greater density (which Jacobs also advocated) and the affordable housing this would make possible.

I haven’t found any indication that Jacobs took a position, pro or con, concerning the landmarking of Brooklyn Heights, which occurred a few years before she left New York for Toronto. I have learned, though, that Brooklyn Heights was her first home in New York City. She and her sister Betty lived on a block of Orange Street that, some time after they moved out, was demolished to make way for Moses’ Cadman Plaza housing development.

As Sandy and I walked along the Promenade, I asked him if, had Brooklyn Heights developed “organically,” we would be seeing a phalanx of high rises to our right instead of the backs of townhouses and their gardens. His first response was, “Yes,” but then he quickly added, “Well, you can’t really tell.” That’s true; real estate markets have their ups and downs, as do cities as preferred places to live. It’s also possible that the owners of townhouses along Columbia Heights might have made a pact not to sell to any developer. How enforceable that would be, and how long it could be effective, are relevant questions. It’s not unknown, though, for property owners to refuse a deal that would be lucrative in the short run in order to preserve a pleasant ambiance and the prospect of long term appreciation in value. This is just what happened when the owners at 75 Henry Street, part of the Cadman Plaza high rise complex, voted to say “no” to a developer’s offer that would have resulted in the construction of a new high rise on the location of the Pineapple Walk shops.

IMG_8583

For better or worse, New York, and Brooklyn in particular, is now considered very desirable. My guess is that the Heights, without landmarking, would today have the phalanx facing the water and many, though not all (some still survive in Midtown East), stretches of attractive row houses (as in the photo above) demolished and replaced by tall buildings, casting many shadows over the neighborhood. The Columbia Heights phalanx would make the Promenade a less attractive place to visit. I think the Heights would still be largely a “residential monoculture,” as that seems, in economic terms, the “highest and best use” as determined by market demand. We’d still have restaurants, probably more of them, and perhaps more high end retail.

What Jane Jacobs may not have foreseen when she wrote her first two great books was that her beloved West Village would be overrun by, well, people like me: people who could afford $350 a month (in 1973) for a one bedroom in a gut rehabbed tenement; people with jobs in law firms (like me), ad agencies, or banks, but who harbored artistic pretensions and were looking for authenticity, instead of the sterility of the Upper East Side or, heaven forbid, the suburbs. This began a trend of gentrification that led to what my friend David Coles describes here. Much of the West Village, like the Heights, became a landmarked district. It also became devoid of what Jacobs praised: a mixture of uses and of people of differing economic circumstances.

The Heights went through a similar process of gentrification, well described with respect to Brooklyn generally by Suleiman Osman in his The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn. The early gentrifiers were in the vanguard of those seeking designation of the Heights as a historic district. Today it is a much less economically diverse community than it was in the 1960s and before, and commercial rents have risen considerably, forcing out some locally beloved stores, the latest being Housing Works. I believe, though, that these changes would have happened with or without landmarking. Any new high rises built in the Heights, because of its proximity to water and its pre-existing charm. would have commanded very high rentals or asking prices. Their combined effect would have been to make the neighborhood less attractive, but not enough to make it affordable for those of moderate means.

Jane Jacobs may not have foreseen gentrification, nor the ability of private developers to disrupt neighborhoods by (sometimes surreptitiously) acquiring assemblages of land and purchasing air rights in order to put up massive structures. I asked Sandy if he believed that private, as well as government, entities could impose on neighborhoods in ways that frustrated Jacobs’ notion of organic development. He unhesitatingly replied, “Yes.”

The question is, was the landmarking of the Heights worth it on a cost versus benefit basis? I would say it was. To Sandy’s first objection, that it puts a burden on property owners in the district, I would say: should the burden become too great for a majority of them, they may petition the city to remove it. To the objection that it constrains the supply of available housing, I would say that the constraint, in the case of the Heights, is minor. My further answer would go to less economic than, dare I say, historic and romantic considerations. I think it’s important to save some neighborhoods, like the Heights and the West Village, as reminders, imperfect as they may be, of what the city once was like, and of the history that played out in them; not only, as in the case of the Heights, that Washington’s army camped here in August of 1776 and that he planned his troops’ escape from Long Island here, or that many great artists, writers, and political figures have made homes here, but also in the more impressionistic words of Truman Capote in his A House on the Heights:

These houses bespeak an age of able servants and solid fireside ease, invoke specters of bearded seafaring father and bonneted stay-at-home wives: devoted parents to great broods of future bankers and fashionable brides.

Landmarking couldn’t save residential or commercial diversity in the Heights or the West Village, but lack of landmarking wouldn’t have, either. Indeed, it would likely, in my opinion, have made things worse.

Photos: C. Scales for BHB.

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Spielberg Turns Willow Street Into D.C.’s Georgetownhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84430 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84430#comments Sat, 29 Jul 2017 03:19:42 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84430

If you were at the north end of Willow Street today, you may have seen lots of 1970s vintage cars parked there, including a cab with the paint scheme of a D.C. company. If you were lucky, you might have caught a glimpse of Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep playing, respectively, former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and publisher Katherine Graham. Director Steven Spielberg cast the North Heights as D.C.’s Georgetown, just as the Coen Brothers did for their Burn After Reading ten years ago. Spielberg’s new flick, which has the working title The Papers, is based on the 1971 Pentagon Papers incident. Read more, and see photos by local residents, as well as a comment by BHB favorite Andrew Porter, in Brownstoner.

Steven Spielberg photo: Helene C. Stikkel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Brooklyn Historical Society Shows How Hollywood Gets History Wrong, For Free!http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84425 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84425#comments Fri, 28 Jul 2017 02:36:21 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84425

This coming Monday evening, July 31 at 6:30, the Brooklyn Historical Society begins a series of movie screenings, “Hollywood Does History… Poorly.” This series will “look at films that play fast and loose with history, often to absurd effect.” First in the series is Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, and George Carlin (Could anyone do absurd effect better than him?). Newsday’s film critic Rafer Guzman and Slate writer Kristen Meinzer will introduce the show (and, no doubt, tell you what it gets wrong). Admission for this (as for all films in this series) is free, but you should reserve tickets here.

Other films in the series are Disney’s Pocahontas (1995) at 6:30 on Monday evening, August 7; (reserve free tickets here), and Forrest Gump (1994) at 6:30 on Monday evening, August 10 at 6:30; reserve free tickets here.

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Two New Floors, Condos May Come To Former Banana Republic Sitehttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84351 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84351#comments Tue, 25 Jul 2017 01:39:41 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84351

CityRealty reports that plans have been filed by owner Eli M. Dweck and Marin Architects to add two stories to the building at 133 Montague Street, formerly home of Banana Republic (and, when your correspondent moved here in 1983, of a Burger King). The resulting four story building, if the plans are approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, would have 3,187 square feet of street level retail space and 7,474 square feet of residential space above.

Image: Google Street View

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Coming at Brooklyn Historical Societyhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84342 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84342#comments Sun, 23 Jul 2017 03:53:23 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84342

On Monday evening, July 24 at 6:30 the Brooklyn Historical Society will present a screening of Rebecca Messner’s film Olmstead and America’s Urban Parks. Frederick Law Olmstead, along with Calvert Vaux, designed Central Park and Prospect Park. Olmstead considered the latter his finest design. Ms. Messner will be present to discuss her film after the screening. This event is in conjunction with BHS’s new exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of Prospect Park. Admission is free, but you should reserve tickets here.

You always knew Betty Boop (image) had to be a Brooklyn native, right? It turns out she was. On Tuesday evening, July 25 at 6:30 BHS will present “The Amazing and Incredible History and Future of Brooklyn Animation,” a panel discussion featuring several experts in the field, and with video clips from past and present Brooklyn animation studios, including Fleischer Studios, Betty’s creators who are still going strong. Admission is $5 or free for BHS members; more information and purchase tickets here.

Betty Boop image: JacksCrafts.com.

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Brooklyn Music Cafe, Tonight at First Presbyterian Churchhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84336 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84336#comments Fri, 21 Jul 2017 13:42:37 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84336

Summer in the city and the music is fine. This is the final concert in First Presbyterian Church’s series, curated by Reverend Adriene Thorne.

Come out for our final outdoor concert of the summer featuring Dionne McClain-Freeney and Friends. Friday, July 21st from 7-8:30 pm.

The music will be jazz, R&B, and a little gospel thrown in for good measure. Light refreshments will be served. All ages welcome!

Photocredit: SongBirdNYC

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Sic transit gloria mundihttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84318 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84318#comments Fri, 21 Jul 2017 02:33:43 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84318

Perhaps the landlord was hearing the words of Robert Frost: “Something there is that doesn’t love a [Great] [W]all….”

Photo: Martha Foley for BHB.

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Brooklyn Cat Cafe Has Rats Caring For Kittenshttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84293 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84293#comments Tue, 18 Jul 2017 14:27:07 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84293

When I first saw a link to this story on the blog Peoplepets, I wondered if it didn’t refer to the stuffed white rat that the Brooklyn Cat Cafe on Atlantic Avenue has long used (see photo) as a cat toy. It turns out, though, that the Cafe has obtained two live rats, named Emile and Remy, from an organization called Helping All Little Things Animal Rescue, and put them to work as “nannies” for some orphaned infant kittens. Does it work? See the videos.

Photo: C. Scales for BHB

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Controversy Over Who Will Be New P.S./M.S. 8 Principalhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84278 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84278#comments Sun, 16 Jul 2017 04:07:39 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84278

The Daily News reports that some P.S.8 parents believe that Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña is blocking the appointment of P.S./M.S.8 Assistant Principal Patricia Peterson as principal to replace Seth Phillips, who retired in June. The reason given, according to the Daily News story, is that “Peterson is a former student of Fariña who’s been accused of getting promotions thanks to her history with the chancellor” and that Fariña “is blocking Peterson’s principal appointment because she doesn’t want to appear to be giving Peterson special treatment.” The News quotes an Education Department spokeswoman: “Any suggestion that the chancellor is influencing the hiring of the PS 8 principal is completely false.”

We have been told that the faculties of both P.S. and M.S.8 support the appointment of Ms. Peterson as principal. We will keep you advised of further developments.

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Secrets of Brooklyn Heights’ Key Food, Gristedes Revealed in Wall Street Journalhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84248 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84248#comments Wed, 12 Jul 2017 03:31:19 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84248

Wall Street Journal reporter Anne Kadet recently moved to Brooklyn Heights, and has written a story about the supermrket scene. She likes Key Food on Montague Street, which is handy to her new digs–she even likes Gregory the Mannequin–but is put off by the high prices. She is even more dismayed by Gristede’s prices, which she writes “are what you’d expect to find on a remote island inhabited by zillionaires” and by the store’s condition, which she describes as “a scruffy mess.” Consequently, she now does most of her shopping at Trader Joe’s.

She interviewed Key Food co-owner Enrico Palazio, who said he doesn’t consider Trader Joe’s his competition–it lacks a deli and an on-location butcher–but rather Fresh Direct, whose prices he beats. He’s counting on the fact that many Heights residents don’t drive, and don’t want to lug their groceries more than a few blocks.

Ms. Kadet also interviewed Gristedes owner, and former mayoral aspirant, John Catsimatidis, who said he can’t afford to lower prices or renovate because the Henry Street location commands a monthly rental of $100,000.

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NYC DOT Seeks Public Comments, Suggestions Concerning BQE Repairshttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84241 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84241#comments Tue, 11 Jul 2017 02:29:48 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84241

We noted earlier that the New York State Legislature, which has an unfortunate stranglehold on many matters affecting New York City alone, in its recent session failed to pass the legislation required to expedite the urgently needed work to repair the cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway that runs below Brooklyn Heights and the Promenade. We now have word, thanks to the Brooklyn Heights Association, that the New York City Department of Transportation has invited members of the public to comment or offer suggestions concerning the project during the approximately eighteen months that DOT will undertake a public planning process for the BQE repairs. Comments, questions, or suggestions may be sent to BQEAtlantictoSands@dot.nyc.gov or by phone to 212-839-6304.

The possibility remains open that the “Design/Build” option, which would greatly expedite and reduce the cost of the project, will be approved in the next legislative session.

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Coming at Brooklyn Historical Societyhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84209 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84209#comments Tue, 04 Jul 2017 20:07:56 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84209

Aspiring Izaak Waltons will get inspiration at the Brooklyn Historical Society this Thursday evening, July 6 at 6:30 for “Gone Fishin': Brooklyn’s Favorite, Forgotten Pastime,” a panel discussion featuring local anglers and environmental advocates. There’s plenty more coming up in the next couple of weeks, including a book talk on Tuesday evening, July 11 about a biography of Washington Roebling, who supervised the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge designed by his father, John Roebling. There’s more information here.

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Thanks to Albany BQE Repairs May be Stalled; Made More Difficulthttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84164 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84164#comments Thu, 29 Jun 2017 03:16:27 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84164

The cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, below Brooklyn Heights and the Promenade, is in need of critical repairs. Concrete has eroded, exposing rusting metal reinforcements. The job will take years, and will require closure of at least parts of the BQE for long periods. Last year a City Department of Transportation Official told a community meeting that the work could be done without diverting significant amounts of traffic to Brooklyn Heights streets. Still, there may be other disruptions, including closing of portions of the Promenade.

The duration of the project could be shortened, and its onset brought forward, by a technique called “Design/Build” in which joint bids are solicited from designers and construction firms, who must collaborate on their bids and, if successful, proceed on agreed upon terms. When design and construction bids are made and awarded separately, it often results in misunderstandings between designer and builder or repairer, leading to delays and sometimes litigation. Since the BQE repair is under New York State jurisdiction, approval to use Design/Build must come from the State.

Unfortunately, the State Legislature adjourned without approving Design/Build for the BQE. As State Senator Daniel Squadron noted in his newsletter: “The budget failed to allow design-build for the BQE reconstruction, a failure that could add years to this difficult project.”

The Brooklyn Heights Association has made a strong statement on this issue, concluding:

Despite the failure to get the bill passed during the recent session, the BHA will continue to prominently advocate for this legislation when the legislature reconvenes. The stakes are too high for Brooklyn Heights and the entire borough to not press our case. NYCDOT estimates that design build will shorten the projected 5 year construction period of the BQE Rehabilitation Project, thereby reducing the duration of environmental impacts on the Heights community, and save city taxpayers $113.4 million. These savings can then be used on other critical infrastructure projects in New York City to further improve the quality of our lives.

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Open Thread Wednesdayhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84170 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84170#comments Wed, 28 Jun 2017 04:02:55 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84170

What’s on your mind? Comment away!

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At Brooklyn Historical Society This Weekhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84153 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84153#comments Tue, 27 Jun 2017 03:51:46 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84153

On Wednesday evening, June 28 at 6:30, the Brooklyn Historical Society will present a panel discussion on the timely topic, “Who is Muslim.” It will be led by Imam Khalid Latif, chaplain at NYU, and will feature a distinguished panel of Muslims living in America who will “challenge stereotypes, highlight alternative narratives, and share their hopes for America’s evolution.” Admission is $5, or free for BHS members. Tere’s more information, and you may buy or reserve tickets here.

On Thursday evening, June 29 at 6:30 Kay S. Hymowitz, contributing editor of City Journal and author of The New Brooklyn: What It Takes to Bring a City Back, will discuss the

seeming Renaissance of Brooklyn’s ever-changing landscape through seven neighborhoods: Park Slope, Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brownsville, Sunset Park, and Canarsie. In this exploration, Hymowitz looks at the successes of black and white middle classes, local policies, and small businesses, while assessing the challenges left for recent immigrants and other diverse communities trying to thrive.

Admission is $5, or free for BHS members. There’s more information and you may buy or reserve tickets here.

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The World at Your Service at the Hotel St. Georgehttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84150 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84150#comments Tue, 27 Jun 2017 02:20:39 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84150

Immigrants: They get the job done. Nowhere more so than at the St. George. Is there anything you can’t get done at the St. George? You can get your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And get your hair cut, your shoes shined, your pants cuffed, and yours nails did. And who does all that work for you? Here are some of those people, who immigrated from three different continents, and work to make our lives better, all in one building.

Henry (Han-Suk) Cho Henry Custom Tailor & Dry Cleaners

Henry (Han-Suk) Cho
Henry Custom Tailor & Dry Cleaners

Meet Henry (Han-Suk) Cho, the always nattily-dressed tailor, who turns out immaculately hemmed and altered garments in his tiny, friendly shop.

Q.  Where were you born?
A.  Seoul, South Korea.
Q.  When did you come to New York?
A.  15 years ago.
Q.  What is your native language?
A.  Korean.
Q.  How did you get started in this business?
A.  I was a tailor in Korea for 40 years.
Q.  How long have you owned this business?
A.  Since 2007.
Q.  Tell us about your family?
A.  My wife, Hee-Ja, works with me and I have two daughters, one son, and one grand-son.
Q.  Where do you commute from?
A.  Flushing, Queens.
Q.  What is your favorite thing about this neighborhood?
A.  The delicious sushi and nice owners at Sushi Gallery.

Katya Mirzokandov Studio Diva Nail Salon

Katya Mirzokandov
Studio Diva Nail Salon

Meet Katya Mirzokandov, nail technician extraordinaire. One look at her perfectly-maintained brows and sweet smile, and you know she’ll ace your mani-pedi.

Q.  Where were you born?
A.  Tel Aviv, Israel
Q.  When did you come to New York?
A.  4 years ago.
Q.  What is your native language?
A.  Russian and Hebrew.
Q.  How did you get started in this business?
A.  I came to the U.S. and went to school for a nail technician license, and have been working since.
Q.  How long have you worked at this salon?
A.  For 3 1/2 years.
Q.  Tell us about your family?
A.  I have a husband named Patr, and a 7 year old son.
Q.  Where do you commute from?
A.  Forest Hills, Queens.
Q.  What is your favorite thing about this neighborhood?
A.  The beautiful river views.

Fernando Castano Brooklyn Heights Shoe Master

Fernando Castano
Brooklyn Heights Shoe Master

Meet Fernando Castano – Brooklyn Heights Shoe Master (the shop’s name, but could also be his moniker). Has the concrete jungle destroyed your soles? Bring them to Fernando for quick and reasonably-priced, expert repair.

Q.  Where were you born?
A.  Cali, Colombia.
Q.  When did you come to New York?
A.  In 1982.
Q.  What is your native language?
A.  Spanish.
Q.  How did you get started in this business?
A.  My cousin taught me shoe repair.
Q.  How long have you worked at this shop?
A.  For 17 years.
Q.  Tell us about your family?
A.  My wife is Paola, and I have 3 kids – a 32 year old son, a 9 year old daughter, and a 5 year old son.
Q.  Where do you commute from?
A.  Jackson Heights, Queens.
Q.  What is your favorite thing about this neighborhood?
A.  The promenade, it’s beautiful.

Rocco (Rocky) Scali The Cutting Den

Rocco (Rocky) Scali
The Cutting Den

And last, but not least. The man. The legend. Rocco Scali, better known to his customers as Rocky. What is there to say about Rocky that the New York Times hasn’t already covered? How about that nothing can hold this man down. Triple bypass in his 70’s? Back to work in 2 months. Working on his feet 40+ hours a week for 57 years? Nessun problema! And no one, and we mean no one, knows this neighborhood better than Rocky. He’s seen St. George in all its iterations since 1958. He’s had thousands of locals sit in his chair and spill the beans. He knows exactly where all the bodies are buried, but he’s not telling anyone.

Q.  Where were you born?
A.  Calabria, Italy.
Q.  When did you come to New York?
A.  In 1958.
Q.  What is your native language?
A.  Italian.
Q.  How did you get started in this business?
A.  I was a barber apprentice since age 12 in Italy.
Q.  How long have you worked at the Cutting Den?
A.  For 59 years.
Q.  Tell us about your family?
A.  My father was in the Italian Navy for many years and my mother was a housewife. My wife Mary was born in Palermo, and we met in Brooklyn. We have two daughters and six grand-children.
Q.  Where do you commute from?
A.  Staten Island.
Q.  What is your favorite thing about this neighborhood?
A.  Everything, this is a great place!
Q.  Well, you could write a whole book about this place, right?
A.  Yeah, but you want me to get in big trouble?

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Will Fourth of July Fireworks be Visible from Brooklyn Heights?http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84136 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84136#comments Mon, 26 Jun 2017 03:04:49 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84136

Update: Here’s reaction from local business owners. The Eagle reports that this year’s Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks will be launched from barges on the East River beteween 24th and 41st streets in Manhattan. Unlike the past two years, there will be no fireworks launched from barges anchored below Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO. The Eagle story quotes Macy’s as saying Brooklyn Bridge Park “is not a suggested location to watch the display due to its obstructed views.” It’s possible that a somewhat less obstructed view could be had from the Promenade because of its elevation above the level of the park. Those lucky enough to have access to rooftops on tall buildings might have a better, but still not perfect, view.

The answer to the question in the headline, though, is “Yes.” As the Eagle story concludes:

But fear not, Brooklynites. The Fourth Annual Jersey City Freedom and Fireworks Festival at Liberty State Park in N.J. will be visible from the Promenade and BBP.

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Pop-Up Pool in Brooklyn Bridge Park to Open Thursday, June 29http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84132 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84132#comments Mon, 26 Jun 2017 01:30:35 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84132

The Pop-Up-Pool in Brooklyn Bridge Park will re-open this Thursday, June 29. The opening will be at 11:00 a.m., and the group Love Our Pool plans a “little reception” at opening time.

The pool was slated to be removed after last year’s season, but got a one year lease on life thanks to the efforts of local residents and State Senator Daniel Squadron. At the time, Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation officials said they would allow a one year extension while they considered other ways to provide a swimming venue. At present we have no indication of any such plans, so Love Our Pool has posted a petition on line to keep the pool open beyond the 2017 season. You may read, and if you wish sign it here.

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Night Milling Of Furman Street Scheduled For Friday, June 30http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84129 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84129#comments Sat, 24 Jun 2017 15:56:09 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84129

We have word from Community Board 2 that Furman Street between Old Fulton Street and Joralemon Street will be milled this coming Friday, June 30. According to CB 2:

Due to daytime traffic volume, this work is planned to take place OVERNIGHT. Yes, this is an annoyance but one that is deemed necessary. Thank you for your forbearance.

Furman Street lies below Brooklyn Heights and the cantilevered portion of the BQE, which it parallels for much of its length. Noise from the milling is likely to be audible in the Heights, especially between Hicks Street and the Promenade.

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Cuomo Makes Brooklyn Heights Resident Joseph Lhota MTA Chairhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84120 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84120#comments Fri, 23 Jun 2017 19:50:23 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84120

The Eagle reports that Governor Cuomo has named Heights resident Joseph Lhota to serve as chair of the MTA. Lhota previously served as the MTA’s chief executive, and is credited with leading the agency’s quick response to the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. He later ran unsuccessfully as the GOP candidate for for Mayor, losing to Bill De Blasio.

In his new role, Lhota will serve as a non-executive chair, with a one dollar a year salary. He will retain his position as senior vice president, vice dean and chief of staff at NYU Langone Medical Center. Lhota will be engaged in the search for a new CEO for the MTA, and will be active in planning strategy for dealing with the system’s extensive problems.

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Know a Spot, or Two, That Needs a Litter Can? Tell Council Member Steve Levinhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84102 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84102#comments Tue, 20 Jun 2017 03:12:03 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84102

In his “Word on the 33rd” e-blast today, City Council Member Stephen Levin has this message for constituents:

We all need to do our part to keep our community clean. Everyone one of us should be able to take pride in the streets and sidewalks that are extensions of our homes and workplaces. To this end, I’m asking the community for suggestions on areas of the community that could use some extra attention.

If you know a spot, or up to three spots, that could use extra litter baskets, please submit them here.

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Developer Finally Closes on Library Sitehttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84096 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84096#comments Tue, 20 Jun 2017 02:44:43 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84096

We have it from City Realty that developer Hudson Companies, Inc. has finally closed on the sale from the City of the site, at Cadman Plaza West and Clinton Street, formerly occupied by the Brooklyn Heights Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, which now occupies temporary space on Remsen Street between Henry and Clinton. Demolition of the old library building is now near complete. The new building Hudson will erect on the site will include a new library at three levels, along with STEM lab operated by the NYC Department of Education at its base, as well as other commercial tenants at street level and 32 stories of apartments.

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