Friday, April 17, 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fourth & 9th

The late, great, Catene deli, which opened at Fourth & 9th in 1965, closed in late 2011. The store stayed empty until 2014, when the restaurant Uncle Arthur's came in for a blink-of-the-eye seven-month run. The place has been papered up since then, and is listed for lease at $6,500 per month.

"Sat right off the corner of 4th Ave and 9th Street, a major Park Slope subway stop, this unit is begging for the next food service money mint to install a fresh idea." (Ideal Properties)

When I read this sentence, I knew it sounded familiar.  It has quite a ring to it. In fact, the listing itself is less than fresh - it's the same one Ideal put out two years ago.  Oh well.  With the subway station renovation crawling towards completion, there'll be a bunch of new stores around here sooner or later (later, most likely).  We won't get another Catene's on 9th, but I'd love to see a worthy retail heir.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


The new building at Fifth & 17th (Aaron's parking lot) (YIMBY)
A seven-storey, seventeen unit building, with twelve parking spots

The olive empire of Sunset Park (Brooklynology)

"Established in 1907, Mawer-Gulden-Annis originally specialized in green queen and Manzanilla olives from Seville, Spain. They later expanded, packing olives coming from California, Italy, and Morocco. The olives arrived at the plant, at its peak the largest olive packing plant in the world, in hogsheads (a big barrel, not a pig head) containing 160 to 180 gallons, as well as smaller 50 gallon casks. The brine in which the olives were delivered allegedly had a percentage of salt double that of the ocean. "

Warning Shirt



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

More to Drink

Another on-site liquor license application. This one's at 700 Fifth, formerly the Express Real Estate Institute. No idea what kind of restaurant/bar is planned.

A Bob Guskind Sofa on Second

Remembering Gowanus Lounge ...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Less Tranquil on Sixth

No surprise here.  Large corner lot.  Prime South Slope/Greenwood Heights location.

A permit is pending for a Karl Fischer three-storey, 32 unit apartment development at 695-705 Sixth Avenue / 305-313 21st Street.   The warehouse buildings currently standing at this address have been most recently used by the Yeshiva Machzikei Hadas,  The yeshiva has kept a rather quiet profile here, perhaps partly due to an open violation for use contrary to C of O.  A contract of sale last April (no money recorded) transferred the buildings from the yeshiva to 695 Realty LLC.

Earlier: Sixth & 21st (January, 2015)


Sunday, April 12, 2015


You rows of houses! you window-pierced fa├žades!
        you roofs!
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron
You windows whose transparent shells might expose 
        so much! 
You doors and ascending steps! you arches! 
You gray stones of interminable pavements! 
        you trodden crossings! 
From all that has been near you I believe you have 
       imparted to yourselves, and now would impart 
       the same secretly to me, 
From the living and the dead I think you have peopled 
       your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof 
      would be evident and amicable with me.

     from Songs of the Road (Leaves of Grass - 1856) - Walt Whitman

I always like passing by this group of wooden houses between 16th & Prospect. They're pre-1880 buildings, and they make up an interesting collection of old-style & new facades: the vinyl, the brickface, the period re-fit, the spare contemporary.  My favorites are the two bookends.  Thumbs up to the cheery blue and yellow color scheme at one end, extended even to the awnings & the front wall. A house where it's perpetually spring!  And next to the deli, the house with its white & pale green semi-scalloped facade makes its own, quieter statement.  There's personality here. (To defy my reputation as a perpetual mourner of things passing/things past, I'll add that 560, the most modern of the bunch, is a pretty good-looker of its kind, and in some respects favorable to a period do-over.  Can you go back again?  I'm not sure.)

I didn't know the elderly man who lived at 558 Sixth, but we did exchange hellos sometimes, and he always seemed gentle and kind.   A while back a handwritten note appeared in a window.  It gave a number for enquiries, & it seemed to suggest the property was up for sale.  Yesterday I saw a Century 21 sign outside.  I googled the listing, but before I got to it up popped a Curbed post about the house that was shockingly mean-spirited & offensive.  I won't even quote from it here, but you can follow the link if you want.  Sure the interior of the house is worn, but it belonged to someone of advanced age (no longer around) & likely of modest means. And it was a home.  These are the very rooms where a long life was lived, where someone ate, drank, slept, wondered.  From where an unimaginably different world outside the window was seen unfolding, year by year, decade by decade.  It still feels the presence of ownership, & even if run-down & not to your taste, the house and the life deserves respect. The price?  No less nuts, perhaps, than anywhere else in this Looking Glass market, but still a better deal than a box of a two-bedroom condo for the same price or more.  In the past buyers might take over a house like this gently, and with plenty of do-it-yourself spirit & not a lot of cash, turn it into their own home bit by bit - cleaning, repairing, fixing walls or ceilings, painting, putting in a bathroom, doing up a kitchen, replacing windows as funds allowed.  They might bring in experienced help only for the big jobs they couldn't manage alone. These days, with the sums involved, a sale results most likely in a gut-job or demo, with an attendant army of architects, contractors & hired labor.

The real estate scene gets ever more ugly as even the most humble of properties becomes a prime target.  There's little tolerance for difference, be it a difference of age, income, ethnicity or taste.   Instead, we witness a winner-take-all march to uniformity.

Let's save the snark for the fat cat developers and the fraudulent landlords, for euphemistic realtor-speak & tacky displays of conspicuous wealth.  Let's leave the innocent alone.

And to those Curbsters wondering where the bathrooms were?  I'm betting on tubs in the kitchens.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Another Bar for Fifth

Looks like there's another bar in the works for Fifth.  This one will be at 683 Fifth (20th/21st), right between the future home of Hair by Alberto (the current sign is great - please don't leave it behind when you hop the avenue!) and J'eatjet. According to a Facebook page, Iron Station will be serving southern picnic food along with the booze.

Friday, April 10, 2015

In Passing

The holidays are gone, or waning, but signs of them remain.

When I saw this window I had no idea that Bolek and Lolek was a popular Polish children's cartoon. The names just fell so trippingly on the tongue that I repeated them many, many times over the course of the next few days.  Bolek & Lolek! Bolek & Lolek!  And they reminded me that we still haven't been to the Living Museum, the art studio of patients at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens. The museum was co-founded by the late Bolek Greczinski, who was artist-in-residence there. I'm pretty sure I never met Greczinski, but he knew family friends of ours well. He knew my father-in-law too, & made him a cassette of homeland carols.  He sang them himself, and I think, if I remember rightly, strummed along on guitar.  I hope the tape is still playable - we should bring it out again next Christmas.  And we'll get to Creedmoor in the spring.

Meanwhile, over at Steve's C-Town, it's time for those Passover bargains!