Brooklyn Heights Blog » Real Estate http://brooklynheightsblog.com Dispatches from America's first suburb Tue, 17 Oct 2017 02:34:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Yes, Matt Damon Likely Will Be Your Neighborhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84714 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84714#comments Wed, 13 Sep 2017 03:07:43 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84714

The Real Deal, citing a Wall Street Journal story that’s behind a paywall, reports that actor Matt Damon is in contract to buy the penthouse at The Standish, 171 Columbia Heights. According to the Real Deal, if the sale goes off at the asking price of $16.645 million, it could set a new record for Brooklyn.

Several years ago Damon was considering the purchase of the mansion at 3 Pierrepont Place. It’s said he lost interest after St. Ann’s refused to bend its rules to let his kids in after the admissions deadline.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.

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Kushner Cos. Drop Out of Watchtower Dealhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84664 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84664#comments Thu, 07 Sep 2017 20:26:31 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84664

The Brooklyn Eagle reports that The Kushner Cos. have dropped out of a deal to buy 90 Sands St. (photo), a building owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Kushner Cos. has purchased a handful of properties that used to belong to the religious organization.

The company, which was headed by Jared Kushner until he stepped away to serve as senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, and its investment partners agreed in 2013 to purchase 90 Sands St. as part of a package of Watchtower properties.

The plan was for the Jehovah’s Witnesses to continue to use the hotel until 2017, then close on its sale.

Now, one of Kushner Cos.’ investment partners, RFR, has made the hotel purchase on its own.

According to the article, Kushner Cos. and its investment partners have spent $1 billion on purchases of Watchtower properties.

Get the full story at the Eagle

Photo: C. Scales for BHB.

 

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Witnesses Dispose Of More Brooklyn Heights Propertieshttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84546 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84546#comments Fri, 18 Aug 2017 03:20:41 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84546

The Eagle reports that L.A. based real estate investors Hawkins Way Capital have bought 117 Columbia Heights (photo), a Brutalist intrusion, by Ulrich Franzen, into a row of nineteenth century townhouses, three of which were also bought by Hawkins from Watchtower and, like 117, became residences for Witnesses.

The sale seems to indicate that the last of the major Watchtower properties in the Heights, with the exception of the former Leverich Towers Hotel, which remains on the market, have been sold.

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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 is 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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Update On Pier Six Towers: New Justice Takes Overhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84514 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84514#comments Tue, 15 Aug 2017 04:19:32 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84514

Our last report on the Brooklyn Heights Association’s lawsuit against the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation and the developers to prevent the construction of two high rise residential towers on the uplands of Pier Six noted that Justice Lucy Billings had orally declined to issue a temporary restraining order requested by the BHA to prevent any construction work until the court issues its decision in the case. Nevertheless, Justice Billings warned that any construction done prior to the court’s decision was at the developers’ peril, as the court could decide not to allow it to proceed. The BHA has advised us that Justice Billings has now issued a written version of her earlier oral order, noting that the developers and their contractors should not undertake anything “that is irreversible or incapable of restoration to its original condition” until the court issues its decision.

The Justice also noted in her written order that she had declined to issue the TRO requested by the BHA for several reasons. One of these, noted in our earlier post, is that she did not consider the noise from pile driving to be “irreparable harm” required to justify a TRO. While perhaps not “irreparable,” the noise has aroused some strong complaints from parents whose kids use nearby playgrounds, as The Brooklyn Paper reports. The Justice’s written order further notes that it was based on “the lack of a convincing showing that petitioner [the BHA] is likely to prevail on the merits of its claims.”

Justice Billings also advised the litigants that she has been assigned new duties, and as a consequence, the case will now be given over to Justice Carmen St. George. She said that Justice St. George’s decision would not be affected by whatever construction is done between now and when the decision is issued.

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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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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.

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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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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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Judge Nixes BHA Request; Pier 6 Developers May Proceed At Own Risk Until Final Rulinghttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84329 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84329#comments Fri, 21 Jul 2017 03:37:27 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84329

The Eagle reports that today New York Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings denied the Brooklyn Heights Association’s motion for a temporary restraining order to keep the developers of the two proposed high rise residetial towers near Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park from beginning construction before the August 4 hearing, at which Judge Billings will consider the merits of the BHA’s suit to permanently enjoin their construction. That suit is based on the theory that the revenue from the two proposed towers is not needed to fund the Park’s maintenance needs.

The BHA’s request for a TRO noted that the earliest phase of construction would involve driving of long steel piles into the ground (see photo of pile driver poised for action at Pier Six site), which would generate noise that would make nearby playgrounds unusable and seriously affect residents of nearby buildings. Judge Billings’ response was, “It’s noise”; meaning it doesn’t meet the standard of “immediate and irreparable injury, loss or damages” required under New York law to issue a TRO. Nevertheless, she warned the developers that any work undertaken before she rules on the merits of the BHA’s case is done at their risk, as she may yet decide that they may not proceed with the construction of the two towers.

Photo: C. Scales for BHB

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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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Down to the Wire on Pier Six Towershttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84298 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84298#comments Wed, 19 Jul 2017 02:04:17 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84298

As we noted in an earlier post, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation and the developer announced their intention to begin construction of the two proposed residential towers on the Pier Six uplands, near the foot of Atlantic Avenue, on July 19, which is tomorrow. This was one day after a scheduled court hearing on the Brooklyn Heights Association’s proceeding to enjoin construction of the towers because the projected income from them is not needed to fund park maintenance. When the BBPC and developer made their announcement, the BHA moved for a temporary restraining order to prevent any start to construction until after the court renders its decision on the merits of the BHA’s petition. That motion was to be considered today, along with the merits of the proceeding, but the court postponed the hearing until August 4.

The BHA responded by asking the judge to prohibit the start of construction until after August 4. The judge agreed to have a hearing on that motion at noon on this Thursday, July 20. The BBPC and developers would not agree to refrain from construction activities during the period before the Thursday hearing, but said no pile driving will be done during that time. The BHA has noted that the first stage of construction for both towers will involve the driving of more than 400 steel piles ninety feet into the ground; a process that will take ten weeks. The BHA fears that “the intense noise of the pile driving activity will make the Pier 6 children’s play areas virtually unusable this summer, and will also be intrusive for other Park visitors and nearby residents.”

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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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BHA Asks Court To Stop Construction Of Pier Six Towershttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84212 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84212#comments Thu, 06 Jul 2017 02:20:51 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84212

The Brooklyn Heights Association, which has sued the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation and the developers to prevent construction of two high rise residential towers on the uplands of Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park, reports that they received notice that construction would begin on July 19. This is one day after the next scheduled court date for the lawsuit. The BHA has made a motion to the court seeking a temporary or preliminary injunction prohibiting any construction activity until the court has ruled on the merits of the case.

The site of the smaller of the two proposed towers, facing Furman Street, has been surrounded by a plywood fence bearing a “Work in Progress: Residential” sign (see photo above).

IMG_8410Inside the enclosure is a stack of what may be foundation material, but no evidence of any work underway now.

IMG_8411The site of the larger proposed tower, closer to Pier Six, is also enclosed, with a “Work in Progress” sign.

IMG_8412Here there is a pile driver and a very large forklift, but again no evidence of activity. The Eagle reports that there have already been four test piles driven at each of the two sites.

Photos: C. Scales for BHB.

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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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BHA States Case on Pier Six Towers in Court Hearinghttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84042 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/84042#comments Sun, 11 Jun 2017 03:25:59 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=84042

The Brookyn Paper reports that, at a hearing in Judge Lucy Billings’ Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday, counsel for the Brooklyn Heights Association stated their case against the proposed two high rise residential buildings in Brooklyn Bridge Park, on the landward side of Pier Six, near the park’s Atlantic Avenue entrance. Counsel argued that construction of the buildings would violate the park’s commitment not to build any more housing on park land than is necessary to fund park maintenance. Judge Billings expressed some doubt about whether the wording of the park’s 2006 General Project Plan was tight enough to commit the park not to allow any more residential construction than is absolutely necessary. She also showed interest in the findings of the BHA’s financial expert, who argues that the park’s projections of income from existing development are more than adequate to meet the park’s financial needs. Finally, the park’s and developers’ counsel conceded that the park violated its own rules in selecting the developers for the proposed high rises before the developers filed required paperwork with the city.

The park and developers will state their case at a hearing before Judge Billings in July.

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Future of Gowanus Discussion at Brooklyn Historical Society Wednesday Eveninghttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83812 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83812#comments Sat, 13 May 2017 19:05:46 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83812

On Wednesday evening, May 17, starting at 6:30, the Brooklyn Historical Society, in partnership with the Van Alen Institute, will present a panel discussion, “Gowanus’ Triple Bypass: Change Through Art, Design, and the Environment.”

Once an artery of commerce and industry, the Gowanus neighborhood has become emblematic of change and the forces impacting the Brooklyn experience: grassroots arts, environmental remediation, and real estate speculation.

Panelists will be: Abby Subak, director of Arts Gowanus; architet and developer Jared Della Valle; David Briggs, executive director of Gowanus By Design; and Dr. Philip Silva, “an environmental researcher, advocate, and educator,” as well as co-founder of TreeKIT. The discussion will be moderated by Joseph Alexiou, author of Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal.

Admission is $5, or free for BHS members; purchase or reserve tickets here.

Photo: Claude Scales

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Coming at Brooklyn Historical Societyhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83668 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83668#comments Sat, 06 May 2017 03:46:41 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83668

On Monday evening, May 8 at 6:30, the Brooklyn Historical Society will present “100 Clark Street: A Case Study in Navigating Building Codes, Gravity, and Landmark Preservation,” a panel discussion about the difficulties faced by owner Margaret Streicker Porres and architect (and former Brooklyn Heights Association president) Tom van den Bout (his professional partner, Brenda Nelson, is also his partner in life and wife) in “saving [a] landmarked, 150-year old building [photo] from certain demolishment.” Their discussion will be led by Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director of the Historic Districts Council. Admission is $10, or $5 for BHS or BHA members; more information and purchase tickets here.

On Tuesday evening,May 9 at 7:00, BHS will present “Talking Privilege with Hari Kondabolu and Jordan Carlos,” two actors and stand-up comedians who will “bring their observations [on race, gender, and social class] to BHS in this unmoderated, one-on-one conversation.” Admission is $10, or $5 for BHS members; more information and purchase tickets here.

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Pier Six Settlement Talks Fail; BHA’s Lawsuit Continueshttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83610 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83610#comments Fri, 28 Apr 2017 02:38:35 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83610

The Eagle reports that settlement talks between the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation and the Brooklyn Heights Association, along with other community representatives, have failed. This comes as no surprise, as both sides have been adamant in their demands: the BHA and its allies for more green space on the Pier Six uplands and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation for two residential high rise buildings on that space in order to generate revenue the BBPC claims is needed to fund park maintenance in the future.

The Eagle story quotes a BHA statement as saying the “next step will be an argument … on the merits of the lawsuit on June 7th or 9th.”

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BHA Issues “Fake News Alert” About Pier Sixhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83568 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83568#comments Sat, 22 Apr 2017 02:57:31 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83568

The Brooklyn Heights Association has issued a notice under the headline “Pier 6 Rumors Have No Factual Basis.” This is in reaction to rumors it has heard in response to Judge Lucy Billings’ order to the BHA and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation that they have “dialogue” in an effort to reach a compromise on the issue of housing on the Pier Six uplands. Because settlement negotiations are, by court order, held in confidence, there has been, the BHA said, speculation that it “is entering into a ‘secret deal’ that would somehow harm some of our neighbors.” The BHA responded:

We are writing to reassure everyone that those rumors have no basis in fact. The BHA has not and would not enter into any resolution of the Pier 6 issues without consulting with our community and we have consistently said just that to the Court and to the respondents, i.e., the other party.

The BHA added that, to assure community representation in the negotiations, it had persuaded the court that “we could expand the confidentiality tent to include the two community leaders with whom we have worked most closely from the beginning of this case.” In conclusion, it said, “no one should have any concern that we would enter into any resolution without input from our community.”

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BBP News: At One End, Squibb Bridge to Re-Open This Wednesday / On the Other, Judge Tells BHA and BBP to Work It Outhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83517 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83517#comments Tue, 18 Apr 2017 01:59:57 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83517

Love it or hate it, after three years of shut-down and unanswered questions, Squibb Bridge will be back in bouncy action this Wednesday, albeit with a lot less bounce. According to today’s New York Times report:

What was billed as a temporary closing dragged on for months, then years, as a successful fix eluded the bridge’s designer, a noted engineer named Ted Zoli, the recipient of a MacArthur grant. Compounding the problem was the fact that the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which operates the park, was strangely reticent about the exact nature of the trouble and what was being done to address it.

While BBPC commenced a lawsuit for breach of contract and professional misconduct against Zoli’s firm, BBPC footed the $2.5M bill to repair the bridge. “I didn’t want the litigation to impede our ability to move forward and get this bridge open as soon as possible,” said Alicia Glen, deputy mayor and chairperson for BBPC. “This is such a great amenity to the neighborhood. It was better to spend the money necessary to fix the bridge and then try to recover as much money as possible.”

And on the other end of the park, Brooklyn Paper reports that a hearing was held in the Brooklyn Heights Association’s lawsuit against the proposed towers at Pier 6. Presiding over the hearing was Judge Lucy Billings who admonished BHA’s lawyer that “[w]hat you would want to talk to [BBPC] about is what changes you’d want to make to the project to make it more palatable for the community. My first question when you come back [into court] is going to be how much dialogue you’ve had.”

Meanwhile, BBPC’s lawyer complained to the Judge that the BHA would not budge from its position unless affordable housing units in one of the buildings were eliminated and the project was changed “in a major way.” BHA, on the other hand, had previously suggested compromises, “such as moving the proposed affordable housing to the park’s headquarters on Furman Street in exchange for reducing the height of one of the towers.” The hearing ended with the parties being called into the Judge’s chambers for off-the-record discussions, which neither side would comment about.

 

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Pier Six Towers Court Hearing Set for Wednesday, April 12http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83460 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83460#comments Thu, 06 Apr 2017 03:01:25 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83460

The already twice delayed hearing on the Brooklyn Heights Association’s lawsuit against the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation to prevent the construction of two high rise residential towers on the Pier Six uplands, near the park’s Atlantic Avenue entrance, is now scheduled for this coming Wednesday afternoon, April 12, at 2:30, at the New York State Supreme Court, 71 Thomas Street, in Manhattan, before Justice Lucy Billings.

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Now We Know What’s Replacing Housing Workshttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83350 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83350#comments Thu, 23 Mar 2017 01:30:48 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83350

Just what we all wanted and needed: another real estate office. The words above “Halstead” in the large window are “The new home of”…

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View of Brooklyn Bridge from Promenade Blighted Againhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83322 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83322#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 04:45:45 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83322

As if the Pierhouse’s blotting out of the full view of the arc of the Brooklyn Bridge, which had been visible (apart from two small interruptions caused by rooftop equipment) from the southern portion of the Promenade when the National Cold Storage Warehouse buildings were there (see here), wasn’t enough, a high rise building in Manhattan is now spoiling the view of the East (Brooklyn) Tower of the Brooklyn Bridge. As shown in the photo (by your correspondent) the new building (just north of the Manhattan Bridge on the Manhattan side) is looming over the Brooklyn side tower, thus taking away the view of the tower against the sky, as we’ve always known it.

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Pier Six Lawsuit Hearing Postponed Againhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83317 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83317#comments Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:16:16 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83317

We’ve just received word from the Brooklyn Heights Association that the hearing on the BHA’s lawsuit to enjoin construction of two high rise residential buildings on the uplands of Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park has been postponed for a second time. The hearing was originally scheduled for March 7, then postponed to tomorrow (Wednesday, March 22). It has now been postponed until an unspecified date in April because of a trial this week having been assigned to the judge, The Hon. Lucy Billings.

We will let you know when a specific date, as well as time and place, have been established.

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Mathnasium To Move Into Heights Kids Spacehttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83283 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83283#comments Tue, 14 Mar 2017 19:16:50 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83283

Neighborhood tiger moms and dads, rejoice! Mathnasium, a math tutoring center, will be moving into the empty space on Pineapple Walk that used to be home to Heights Kids. The recently-posted sign on the window says Mathnasium will be opening this spring.

The space has been empty since last July, when the neighborhood collectively grieved over the loss of Heights Kids. Ever since, parents have been forced to wander the toy desert for blocks and blocks to pick up that last-minute birthday party gift. Still, no oasis has been found anywhere to match the charm of Darek and those collectible Schleich figurines.

According to its website, Mathnasium is a franchise, like a McDonald’s serving up math, with more than 700 locations worldwide and an average of two more opening every week. Good luck to the new occupants and let’s hope another one doesn’t sprout up on Montague St.

 

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Park Corporation, BHA Trade Punches Over Pier 6 Developmenthttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83221 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83221#comments Sat, 11 Mar 2017 20:27:28 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83221

We previously noted that the Brooklyn Heights Association, citing new information from the City’s Department of Finance concerning valuation of existing properties on park land, was going forward with its lawsuit to prevent construction of two residential towers near Pier Six and the Atlantic Avenue entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Curbed now reports that the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has responded with a post on the Park’s website and a February 28 letter to the court. The Curbed story says the BBPC’s interim President, David Lowin, maintains that “the numbers BHA drew from only represent one year of incomplete valuations, and don’t present enough data to project a conservative 50-year financial plan for the park.”

The BHA has since replied with a post to its “News” webpage that links to its March 7 letter to the court disputing, among other things, the BBPC’s claim that BHA has misinterpreted the City’s valuations and their significance. In addition, the BHA has circulated an e-mail in which it notes:

In addition, the BHA lawsuit contains many other challenges to the Pier 6 development, including the failure of the BBPC to consider the environmental impact of the proposed project in light of changed economic conditions and increased school overcrowding in the more than ten years since the last environmental review, as well as the procedural flaws in its decision making process. None of those claims are rebutted in the [BBPC’s] Update.

A hearing on the BHA’s motion to enjoin BBPC from proceeding with the Pier Six residential development is scheduled for Wednesday, March 22. We will give further details when available.

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City Approves Demolition of Library Buildinghttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83016 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83016#comments Tue, 07 Mar 2017 04:12:41 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83016

The Eagle’s Mary Frost reports that the City’s Department of Buildings has approved the demolition of the former Brooklyn Heights Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library by Hudson Companies, which intends to build a high rise residential and commercial building, with a new library on its ground, mezzanine, and basement levels, on the site. When we last noted the status of the Hudson deal, the DOB had approved plans for the new building, but had not given clearance for demolition, apart from some preliminary work such as asbestos removal.

The Eagle story notes that Hudson has not yet closed on its acquisition of the property, but that Hudson is confident that the closing will take place “in the coming weeks.” Demolition may proceed before closing. If Hudson should fail to close, it will be obligated to resore the building to its original condition (presumably excepting the asbestos).

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