The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sunday Stroll, Part Duh. The Remake of a Neighborhood

So much construction! So little time before the next meltdown! Hurry, hurry, fellas. Gotta get in while the gettin's good! A few more shots from within spittin' distance of the Q's abode.

An obvious spot to tear down and build up. Can't see this lowrise and parking lot lasting.

Looks Like The New Building on Bedford Is About To (literally) Swallow Those Old Victorians

More New Apartments on Bedford Where Houses Used to Was


This One's Truly Sad - The Beautiful Old Age Home at 123 Linden About to Be Demolished

During construction of the new apts at 123 Linden, you'll be able to see the nursing home behind it for a change
Since 123 is/was a tremendous asset to the neighborhood, a little more background is in order. Here's a Brownstoner piece on the building by the beloved Montrose Morris. And below a picture of the before, and if you want to know about the 20 (that's right TWENTY) story building to take its place, read on.

I really didn't see this one coming. After speaking to folks at the Nursing Home, sounds like it was a financial necessity.

Just over on the next block towards Flatbush, don't forget this is coming:


I honestly don't think people have the slightest idea what's happening to the neighborhood all around us. This painfully slow process of waking up to the new reality just boggles my mind. I've let it go - sort of. I see that's there's no political will to rezone anything, anywhere, in any of the three community districts close to our homes. But there it is.

One can only hope that the neighborhood doesn't become littered with the below sorts of vacant lots, if and when the money dries up.

Yeeeeehawwwww! Land, land, land and lots of it.

Looks like nearly every new building in the nabe is preparing for a fencing match


They call 'em soft sites. This large lot with the Ideal Supermarket won't survive longterm

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New Apartments Coming to Martense

Story on YIMBY from Rebecca
I'm a big fan of Martense. Anybody who lives there want to comment on what they think of this mercifully reasonably sized building?

Fenimore One Block Downzoning

As discussed here before in detail, here's an article that does a fair job of framing the issue.

Patch on Fenimore

Again at the CB9 General Board Meeting, the misinformers were out to squash a simple, reasoned and well-researched request by a group of your neighbors to protect the integrity of their block, which was inadvertently left off the Historic District demarcations. As their consultant Paul Graziano says, the whole neighborhood is in desperate need of a rezoning. Essentially, per DCP, this means downzoning inner blocks and allowing for the construction of taller, but not TOO tall, buildings along the avenues that would necessarily include affordable housing units due to the passage of the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing law passed this year by the City Council.

Such a reasonable compromise stinks of foul play, say the genius protesters, who so far have managed to keep you or anyone else from voicing their opinion through a fair evaluation in concert with the Planning department. On Fenimore, however, reason prevailed, and modest majority was in favor of co-applying to the City. Is there a fear that the City might change the rules mid-process? Of course not. The application pertains to that block only, and if they ever get around to it (very busy don't you know), I see no reason why a block with deed restrictions shouldn't get downzoned. We should all be so lucky.

Ho hum. A few apples have spoiled the whole barrel, and it's just a matter of time before the wrecking balls come to YOUR block. And Empire? It'll continue to be the gorgeous boulevard of dreams that it is. So many tourists from other neighborhoods come to fast-food hop, from one drive-thru to the next. Perhaps we could convince the City to create a drive-thru Vomitorium, in the neo-classical style? That way you could keep banging burgers all night long without taking a break for digestion.

The South Side of Fenimore Wants Our Help To Downzone and Prevent Teardowns

Sunday, November 27, 2016

a sunday in the life, part I

So many things happening all at once, it's hard to keep track of it all. I'll leave it to others to parse the meaning, the unprecedented and unpresidential meaning of calling into question the legitimacy of the voters - AFTER having won. Trump says millions voted illegally. That's a mindfuck, that, a symbol of the illogical future we're about to endure. The vote was rigged; I won. Wow. Just wow. My blood is boiling over anew. To other things...

I set out today to celebrate the opening of perhaps the most anticipated new shoppe in the nabe in years, maybe decades. A bonafide bookstore, one with a conscience and smarts, co-owned by a local to boot. Rebecca Fitting and her gang of loyal accomplices have done it. They've thrown open their doors at the base of the once infamous and now familiar 626 Flatbush. By hosting both the Maple Street School AND the beloved Greenlight Bookstore, plus leasing a couple dozen considerably below-market rentals within, developer Hudson has struck a balance that may well take some of the sting out of the monstrosity that looms over Lefferts and Park. Personally I'll never forgive the shock to the view from within the park, but future generations will undoubtedly see it as it is as it was and ever shall be. Thus, the Q continues to become one of the old farts who pines for the good ol' days. Though in this case, the old days meant a shitty parking lot and crumbling medical arts building. But they were OURS goddammit! I even parked there once!

the view from inside Greenlight Books, at, what else, 626 Flatbush
 Now that the Q's head is full of zoning info, he can't help but see sites like the Associated as ripe for the picking. Knocking down this "taxpayer," now that prices have reached a premium seems like the most logical next step for the current or future landowner. It's zoned for a nice big residential structure with commercial on the ground floor, after all.

Couldn't help admiring Lily and Blessings and her terrific jazzy brunchness. Dinner's delicious too, and you can even drink vino there now:


Lily and "some other Lady" looking sassy

they were damn good too, and not too loud. Nothing ruins brunch like a saxophone.

 
Westbury Inn and El Castillo now seem like old friends.



Then I dropped off Lil' Miss Clarkson Flatbed Jr. at a playdate and came back to yet another hurumph about the election, and decided to ride around and document my changing environs.


soon to be demolished on my block

the church, too

a reminder of what you can build on a single narrow lot

recently demolished, still on Clarkson. I've barely started my ride.

This is what you can do with two adjacent lots, and here it comes
Then I started musing on the remarkably diverse new offerings coming at you from a truly lovely cast of neighborhood characters, from wine to desserts to all manner of food and fun, as I rode up and down Rogers and Nostrand, both busting with new bizzes of the last year or so. Like:

Dedicated to health & community

Stellar wine store and hopefully a rebound for Streetsweeper after a fire


went to a bidet party for kids at this place - real nice, on Rogers. Called...Inspire?

okay they've been around awhile. just pluggin' here.

keeps getting better, Gratitude cum PLG Coffee Haus

this place is opening soon and its gonna be AWEsome

Here's Boucan on the inside. Beer & wine natch.

Ahh. Pels. Lovin' it. Been noticing more patrons each time I ride by.

That dance place with the KILLER mural on the gate. Called AbunDance I believe

Taste o' Brooklyn y'alls. Has quite a few fans on the online

Blue Sky Bakery, no?

No "bad hombres" here. Just solid tacos and burritos

new joint? new sign? Love the logo.

Two killer spots, one new one old - Michael Allen and Lindiwe's Ceramics

More to come. Nighty night.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Big New Buildings Coming - Some Affordable Housing Included

The other night at the CB9 ULURP meeting, it became clear that it is very difficult for some folks to grasp how little control they actually have over their own neighborhood. The reason the Q was so adamant about accepting City Planning's accepting of our offer to rezone WITH OUR INPUT AND GUIDANCE is because there actually ISN'T another way. Either they initiate, we initiate, or developers initiate. There's no fourth option that has been shown to work consistently. That's why it's rarely done. You can do your own "study," but it's rarely more effective than merely sitting down with Planning in the first place. Not that it isn't good to create your own plan. But you won't get everything you want either way. Enter Fenimore Street Block Association.

Your neighbors on Fenimore, whose proposal was to downzone the south side of the street Bedford to Rogers took the 3rd option - they acted like developers, designing their own application. Because of existing deed restrictions, they might actually have a shot, because legally it already IS downzoned, just not in the regulations. But if someone wanted to build higher, the neighbors would have to sue to invoke the deed restrictions, and that could be expensive. So why not nip any problems in the bud?

The rest of us in overzoned areas - the vast majority of Lefferts for instance - have no such option. We can try to Landmark, and many are trying. We'll see where that goes. In the meantime, check out these huge new developments planned for just north of (gasp) Empire Boulevard.


Here's what the developer has in mind, from The Real Deal, courtesy of eagle eyed Mike F.

Shifra Hager is looking to rezone properties near the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Crown Heights to pave the way for two buildings with more than 500 residential units under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program. Hager, head of Cornell Realty Management, filed an application with the Department of City Planning that would allow him to build a pair of buildings larger and taller than the current zoning allows. His company’s site at 40 Crown Street, which property records show Hager bought in 2014 for $14.5 million, allows for a seven-story, 70-foot-tall residential building as-of-right. Hager is proposing to rezone the property so that he could build a 16-story, 157-foot-tall mixed-building with about 15,000 square feet of retail.
Look for other developers to follow suit, on Empire no less. Will CB9 have input? Of course. Will it matter, particularly after the way it's been treated by MTOPP? Probably not much.

Vision of the Future - Empanada City

Everyone has their own vision of Utopia. For some, it's a lush green land of hills, vales and verdant meadows. For others, it's a digitized world of robots serving your every need as you toss back bottomless Mai Tais and luxuriate on space-age furniture, high in the air, unencumbered by work or toil. For others, it's a place of never-ending...empanadas.

Welcome to Empanada City, opening soon at 363 Lincoln near Nostrand. We told you about it ages ago, and wondered if the City would ever rise to the east, but now we have word from owner Briant Almonte that it will open its doors, or rather offer you a copy of the keys to the City, soon. As in soon soon, not in-a-while soon. Follow the progress on the Facebook page. And remember the old adage - Carpe Empanda.




Tuesday, November 22, 2016

TGITG. Thank God It's ThanksGiving, Y'all

So your life was getting a little dull, routine, predictable? Well have I got an election result for YOU!

Don't know about y'all, but I've been tooling around the political block a time or two, long enough to know we've seen some pretty "bad hombres" make their way into the upper echelons of American power. Haig, Schultz, Poindexter, Rumsfeld, Cheney. Though never a paranoid narcissist. Wait...wasn't that the diagnosis they gave Nixon? So there's your president precedent!

Too Big to Fail? No Tan, No Piece.
I can't stop thinking about what really won the election. Not the Neo-Nazis. Not the typical yahoos and rednecks. Not the bonafide racists, anti-semites and misogynists. No, those folks always voted Republican! It's those finicky contrarians, the ones who put Obama in the White House. Twice. Now Trump. And Bush. And Clinton and Reagan and Carter for chrisakes. And Nixon. And Ike. And Kennedy. And FDR. And...a pattern seems to be emerging here.

There is really only one part of the electorate that matters anymore. Swing voters in Swing States and those who need to be given a reason to vote at all. In swing states. It sucks. You spend all your spare time reading up on politics and history and none of it is worth a damn when you head to your Big City Polling Place to lodge your vote that's actually worth 1/2 a vote for a candidate that will likely be taking you for granted anyway. Plus, you get to stand in line for two hours, not because of restrictive voting laws but because of sheer incompetence.

But...it's still the greatest City in the world. You're the greatest neighbors anyone could have. Even Alicia Boyd makes me smile from time to time for her chutzpah and iron huevos. The kids are healthy, the wife is terrific. The house is warm and the food from the coop delicious and inexpensive. There's hot and cold running (get this) DRINKABLE water coming from the faucets. There's even potable water IN THE TOILET! The trash gets picked up three times a week from the curb. My parents are still living, in Tucson no less, a great place to go in the middle of winter. Quite honestly I could survive the rest of my life, comfortably, and never go more than two blocks from my house. That's how convenient and diverse is the Flabenue. I haven't had bedbugs in...at least three years. My band still plays a few shows a year. The internet is...amazing. Have you seen what it has on it? Lots and lots and lots of stuff. So much stuff. On the internet.

That's right folks. At the very least, be thankful for the internet. Have a blessed TG. You deserve it. And if you know someone who could use a nice hot meal, knock on their door and bring 'em to the Church of the Evangel on Saturday. No one should be alone for the holidays. Unless you have wi-fi.











Friday, November 18, 2016

Future of Neighborhood Decided By Same Dozen People At Every Damn Meeting

Make that a baker's dozen, since the Q is often there too.

Given the tenor of the debates, and the issues at stake, one might assume that large numbers of your fellow Leffertsonians and Southern Crown Heightsians would come out and express themselves at the officially sanctioned neighborhood meetings, like Thursday's CB9 ULURP. Maybe you were all at PLGNA's? I wish I'd been there to show support, since AB's been targeting them with a lawsuit meant to destroy them.

There are certain people you WILL see at nearly everything these days. That is, beyond the CB9 Board members who have managed to last this long despite the constant suing and lying and misinformation campaigns of MTOPP and its fearless leader. Board members who have been brave stalwarts include Warren Berke, Michael Liburd, Fred Baptiste, Zorina Frederick, Pia Raymond, Musa Moore, Yaacov Behrman, Beverly Newsome and others. They've managed to stay engaged and informed, though I often disagree with their sentiments and the pace of their deliberations. Regardless of what their nemeses may say, they do not have deep ulterior motives to do anything but be civically engaged and compassionate neighbors. (One, Denise Mann, seems to hate everyone and everything, but she's an exception. I've never seen her smile. If it's a medical thing I apologize.) Sure, some, like District-Manager-In-Waiting Carmen Martinez and many others are deeply involved in the affairs of local elected officials. They are, after all, chosen by the Borough President and Council Members from applications and supporters. So if you're looking to demonize them, I suppose you could say they're TOO deeply involved in local politics. Which is, of course, absurd. That's the whole point isn't it? Taking a deep interest in local politics? There's even enough of them - 50 in all - that creating monolithic decision-making is nearly impossible. From what I can ascertain, none of them are getting rich off connections or backroom deal-making. They hold beliefs and agenda like anyone else. (Thank god. We're gonna need every opinionated liberal on the planet to fight the Orange Bonehead-elect.)

So I mean to say that it's the non-Board members that seem to number around a dozen, all committed to poking holes in any and every effort to discuss or decide issues of importance to the neighborhood's future. Not that they're not entitled to their opinion. But it would be nice if that opinion weren't accompanied with shouts, accusations, interruptions and slurs - and ultimately tantrums when they sense they aren't getting their way.

The rallying cry continues to be Empire Blvd. Local anti-gentrification gentrifier Janine Nichols put it the below way on her MTOPP mouthpiece, the wince inducing-ly named Whitey on Whitey. She's referring to another perfectly reasonable group of neighbors to your north who are trying to landmark their area - the Crown Heights South Association (CHSA), led by architect and neighbor Evelyn Tully Costa. Like every other local group with an acronym or membership, they're in the crosshairs now too. Here's Whitey in her own Whords:


I suggest that it would be more useful for CHSA, whoever they are, to join our ongoing fight to prevent the Dept of City Planning (Plotting) from rezoning Crown Heights, and in particular Empire Boulevard. If DCP succeeds in rezoning Empire from commercial to residential, Black Crown Heights will become Williamsburg. No amount of landmarking will change that. 
There it is. The central thesis. Given that Nichols (white) and Boyd (not white), and workhorse acolytes like Elizabeth Mackin (white) are textbook gentrifiers themselves, it's laughable that they should be the face of keeping the neighborhood black and (enter stereotype) poor. As if their tactics were working in the slightest, right? They're homeowners, folks who moved here because this is where they could afford. Nichols actually complained the other night about having been priced out of Park Slope; Boyd out of Cobble Hill. And Mackin bought a house on Lefferts all of, I dunno, three years ago now? Don't get me wrong here. I don't find their presence in the neighborhood to be a problem in the slightest. It's the galling hypocrisy, and the thinly veiled disdain for their fellow gentrifiers, as if somehow holding the right social and political views washes away guilt like so much turpentine. Then to USE the plight of renters, caught in the crosshairs of so much market topsy-turvy, to use them to their advantage, all the while opposing any and all below-market rate home creation...it beggars belief.

I guess that's the answer, right? You don't go to these meetings because you probably want nothing to do with that nonsense either. And yet, that's the soup of the day, and right now, there's a gadfly in it. Waiter, oh waiter???


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Learning to Crawl - This Sunday


If you want tix or to RSVP, just go to the site, y'all.

Here's the gist:

Presented in partnership with the Parkside Empire | Flatbush Avenue Merchants Association, the PLG Fall Bar and Business Crawl promises a full day of activities and happenings connecting neighbors and visitors with local businesses. Enjoy brunch at one of our many local spots and follow with a walk through Prospect Park to take in the fall leaves and beats at the drum circle. Head over to one of our favorite bars and warm up with a cocktail and live entertainment. Stop off for a snack and sips between gallery openings and unique shopping experiences.
The crawl is free and open to the public with Full-Access Passes available for $15. Proceeds from passes will go to the Flatbush Tenant Coalition, which works to build tenant associations and improve housing conditions for our neighbors. Full Access Passes will get you all kinds of perks during the crawl, like a free draft beer at the Westbury Inn on Flatbush, discounts at local shops, + more.

Participating Venues:
The Westbury Inn – Free draft beer for Full-Access, live band performing.
Erv's – Buy a cocktail and get a shot for free for Full-Access.
The Owl Music Parlor – Open Ground concert series with David Virelles (solo) and Frank Kimbrough (solo). Free admission for Full-Access pass holders.
caribBEING HOUSE – View current exhibition, #BrooklynQuiltGirl, and peruse curated goods including Barbadian wire sculptures, Flatbush-inspired products and The Flatbush Caton Vendors Market. Full-Access passes take 10% off your purchase.
Salem's Hour – Acoustic Show with special guest. Specials for Full-Access pass holders.
Pels Pie Co – 2 for one drinks for Full-Access pass holders.
DRINK PLG – 10% discount on any bottle in the store for Full-Access pass holders. Open at noonon Sundays.
PLG Tavern – Tapas plates and new art hanging, half off first drink with Full-Access pass.
BKLYNCommons – Free workspace for a day (M-F 9am-5pm) with Full-Access pass, email info@bklyncommons.com to schedule (valid for new guests only who have not used any other free offer or promotion within the past 90 days from the date of redemption, expires December 31, 2016).
Play Kids – 20% off one item with Full-Access pass. Excludes LEGO and Micro Scooters and Helmets. Use by November 30, 2016.
Dorsey Art Gallery fundraiser and opening for local Flatbush legendary hornsmith, Winston Stiell from 2pm-8pm.
Helper Gallery – Peruse the current show and speak to studio artists about making art political again.
Dr. Cuts – Show pass for discount.
Bluebird
Taste of Brooklyn
+ more

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Here They Come...Council Wannabes Start Their Engines

The single least engaged, least effective Councilperson in all of NYC. Maybe ever? That's yours folks! Mathieu Eugene. Google him. Try to find his online presence, beyond old youtube videos with computerized voiceovers. If you're not aware of the extraordinary lameness of this do-nothing, you should really do your research. Then, consider the alternatives in the upcoming election.

The "democratic" election for President has come and gone. That means...time to gear up for the City elections for 2017. The Q has already noted the emergence of Brian Cunningham, who grew up not spittin' distance from the Q on Lenox, as a strong contender. Now we can add another soft-announced candidate - Pia Raymond - to the slate. She's the head of the Nostrand Avenue Merchant's Association, and a clear favorite of State Senator Jesse Hamilton, who was a clear favorite of BP Eric Adams. My point is that these folks don't just "appear" out of thin air. They're groomed, they put out their feelers, put in their time. Pia has led her "Creating Legacies" project, and already has about 1000% more goodwill and online presence going for her than the current Councilperson. Still, Cunningham has some deep connections too.

Given that both those candidates seem to be more known in the NE portion of Eugene's district, I'd put my money on a run by current Flatbush District Leader Josue Pierre as well. He's been positioning himself ever since Ed Powell gave up his District Leader JUST IN TIME for Pierre to step in and win it. Calculated, yes. He's more known in the 70th Precinct/CB14 area. It should be noted that all three of these possible candidates sport deep roots, a near necessity around here in order to drum up big support. And don't forget the churches! You can't win without the backing of the Christians around here. Try to make a heathen understand that and you get nowhere. It's like trying to explain why half the country is Pro-Life. Does not compute, does not compute.

The pictures tell the story. These three will be part of your politics for some time, the "next generation" if you will. With Laurie Cumbo, Diana Richardson, Rodneyse Bichotte, Walter Mosley, Jumaane Williams...there's a lot of talented African and Caribbean American candidates in House Flatbush. God knows the Nation needs all of them. And no funny business!








To date, the Q's noted the