Saturday, May 26, 2018

New Rental Building at Fourth & 11th Changes Hands for $81M

The rental apartment building at 237 11th Street (formerly known by a 470 Fourth address) has been sold.  It was developed by the Adam America/Slate team, and leasing began last summer.  Now it has been bought by Trinity Place Holdings for $81M. 

The building stands 12 stories tall and contains 105 units, and leasing started in August, according to Trinity. The residential portion of the building is now about 63 percent leased, and the property includes 6,264 square feet of retail as well, part of which is leased to Starbucks.
Trinity purchased the building from Adam America Real Estate, Slate Property Group and Naveh Schuster. Matthew Messinger’s firm financed its acquisition with a $67.8 million loan, although this has not yet appeared in property records. Trinity did not immediately respond to a request for comment about which institution the loan was from.  (The Real Deal)

I've written a number of posts about 237 11th/470 Fourth, dating back as far as 2014.  Adam America/Slate have been active in the neighborhood, both in new construction on Fourth, & the acquisition of older rental buildings. You can find a few links back here & here.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Walking the Dog

I can't say I ever want to walk the dog last thing at night but once we're out, especially on nights like this, the rhythm sets in. A fifteen, twenty minute round is all it takes to put the day to bed.  The dog sets the pace, stopping at the usual corners to sniff and lift his leg and piss. We're in no hurry in the heat. We’re both on automatic, except if one of us scents or spots a raccoon - a flicker of drama catching us out of one dream state & into another.  Always this time of night the closing of the shutters & the garbage hauler pick ups, and always the random snatches of conversation.  A teen on a stoop, into his phone: "I mean I love you more than the fucking world," & a graying couple by the subway stairs: "But what do we do about the man?" We're almost home when we pass a mother & a child, sitting on a bench outside a store. It's just the night for it. The boy is four or five, with cheeks like pillows. He's curled right into her; she only belongs to him.  It's her birthday, and he's singing to her softly in Spanish.  It's still May, but it's already summer.

Tree Pit

Flowers, candle wax, jar.  Early morning, Seventh Avenue by Green-Wood Cemetery

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Brooklyn Bridge, Opened May 24, 1883

Insistently through sleep - a tide of voices - 
They meet you listening midway in your dream,
The long, tired sounds, fog-insulated noises:
Gongs in white surplices, beshrouded wails,
Far strum of fog horns ... signals dispersed in veils.

And then a truck will lumber past the wharves
As winch engines begin throbbing on some deck;
Or a drunken stevedore's howl and thud below
Comes echoing alley-upward through dim snow.

And if they take your sleep away sometimes
They give it back again. Soft sleeves of sound
Attend the darkling harbor, the pillowed bay;
Somewhere out there in blankness steam 

                                     Hart Crane, from The Bridge (1930)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Street Fair

A lot of people don't like street fairs.  Take this online comment.

"In terms of not-that-controversial but entirely inconsequential topics, I offer this after walking a few blocks of the 5th Ave. street fair in Brooklyn today: NYC street fairs are all uniformly terrible and should be rethought from the ground up or just eliminated entirely."

I get at least some of the criticism.  The same old vendors at every fair bring a uniform glut of sausage and funnel cakes and hokey t-shirt stands.  The live music is a mixed bag - I'll admit to growing tired of the Brit revival band in front of Smith's.  But familiarity breeds affection as well as contempt.  It wouldn't be a street fair without the smell of grease and sugar, and judging by the dancing at Fifth & 9th, some people still enjoy another 19th Nervous Breakdown.  And really, who's so severe as to find fault with a bouncy castle or King Kong?  There are plenty of local businesses in the mix too, for whom the fair brings a yearly revenue boost, and there's often food outside the standard fairground staples.

It's not just the eats and the music. It's the street and the crowd. Just as a fall of snow disrupts the rule of keeping to the sidewalks, so a street fair gives the beleaguered pedestrian a change of perspective.  An (illusory) taste of transgression!  All the familiar markers change too, & stores become backdrops.  As well as walking in the middle of the avenue, I like the sidewalk's shift too. Relinquishing its normal role, it offers a back of the scene view of things.

Don't take a street fair too seriously - other people are having fun. Too much good taste is definitely bad for you, but cheesiness & excess calories every once in a while won't kill you.  Stay for half a dozen blocks, or walk a mile or more.  And don't worry.  It'll all be back to normal in the morning.                                               

Monday, May 21, 2018

In the Sun

27th Avenue, no. 805, Astoria, Long Island City, Queens
Berenice Abbott - May, 1937 (NYPL)

Saturday, May 19, 2018


Russo demo crew at 217 9th


Bella Donna, 2011

Brooklyn home collapse rattles neighbors, sparks evacuations (Daily News)

Former CB6 Manager Forged Papers To Give Himself Raises, DA Says (Patch)
The former district manager for Community Board 6, who resigned last year after being accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend, is now facing charges that he forged signatures of board members to give himself unauthorized pay raises.
Craig Hammerman, 53, was hit with a 17-count indictment on Monday for giving himself more than $38,000 in raises over a two year period by forging his manager's approval on documents, Brooklyn's District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced.

NYC’s ‘participatory budgeting’ procedure doles out millions, though few actually vote (Eagle)
Voting was conducted over nine days during the spring at sites overseen by trained poll workers. Voters could also make their selections online or through LinkNYC sidewalk kiosks after verifying their identity.
Nonetheless, the program suffers from low voter turnout.
In Lander’s District 39, which includes the relatively well-educated and empowered citizens of Cobble Hill, Gowanus and Park Slope, just 6,000 residents voted out of roughly 127,650 eligible voters over the age of 10. That’s a turnout rate of just 4.7 percent — compatred to a low 8 percent in the 2016 federal primary election, 35 percent in the presidential primary, and 62 percent in the November General Election, according to Gotham Gazette.

In Staten Island, a remote wilderness is threatened by encroaching development: Touring the urban wilds of the Sharrotts Shoreline on Staten Island’s southern end (Nathan Kensinger at Curbed)
On the South Shore of Staten Island, where Tappen’s Creek flows into the Arthur Kill, a remote wilderness has taken root on forgotten land. Deer and woodchucks wander through forests filled with abandoned cars; geese and ducks paddle around marshlands littered with engine blocks; and ospreys nest in a boat graveyard.
This is the Sharrotts Shoreline, a unique maritime habitat that has somehow managed to thrive, even after decades of neglect. Isolated and almost inaccessible, the secluded coastline here is part of the rural neighborhood of Charleston, where the narrow roads are lined with Victorian homes, ancient cemeteries, and active horse stables. There are no signs or public paths connecting this community to its shoreline, which is perhaps one reason why the wildlife here has flourished.

Foamland Security: Ferry Riders Say de Blasio’s Subsidies Spare Them Subway Trauma (Voice)
Each of the existing SBS routes carries more passengers alone than the ferry system in total. Some individual SBS routes, such as the Bx12 (15,576,377 annual riders) or the M15 (14,128,504) carry orders of magnitude more New Yorkers per year than the entire ferry system.

The Gentrification of Canal Street (NY Times) Re-edited after publication, with a fresh title, but still a read & wince Times piece ...
“Personally, I love the grittiness of it,” said Ms. Standefer, who likened Canal Street to the area around NoMad, where she and Mr. Alesch designed the Ace Hotel. “Both have this thriving, high-low energy.”

Beloved Street-Fashion Photographer Bill Cunningham Is Getting a Career-Spanning Museum Retrospective (artnet)
The show will be on view (at The New York Historical Society) from June through September, drawing to a close just in time for New York Fashion Week and the highly anticipated publication of Cunningham’s secret memoir, Fashion Climbing, discovered by his loved ones after his death.

Modernists & Mavericks: Bacon, Freud, Hockney and the London Painters by Martin Gayford – review (Guardian)
Gayford deploys Bacon’s voice to brilliant effect, and you hang on to every word, from his conviction that he wanted his pictures to look as if a human being had passed between them, leaving a trace of human presence “as a snail leaves its slime”, to his sudden, hungry observation, made one sunny day in Soho, that a horizontal shadow “eats into the figure, like a disease”.

Hamlet, thy name is woman: Why Michelle Terry's Globe is staging post-gender Shakespeare (Guardian)
“We have at our disposal a canon and a body of work that is essentially about the human being,” explains Terry, summing up her approach to the plays and to the casting of them. “There are no character descriptions in Shakespeare. There is nothing prescriptive about who can and should play what. Our job as actors is to offer up the impression of a person’s character in all its complexities and ambiguities.”
This then offers up the possibility of alternative ways of looking at the world. “For me,” Terry says, “that is what Shakespeare was doing within the limiting constraints that he was writing in. We don’t have those constraints anymore.

The Last Derelict House In Spitalfields (Spitalfields Life)
Of all the old houses in Spitalfields I know, this is the one that has most retained its soul. The house holds its own silence and the din of the contemporary world is drowned out by it.

Friday, May 18, 2018

On 9th Street

Here are some shots of 217 9th Street.  Amongst the crowd of burly men assessing the scene, or simply schmoozing on the sidewalk, we think we spotted a lone woman, familiar figure on the demolition scene Marie Grasso.  If not her 'twas her doppelganger.  Bystanders, including myself, were transfixed by the scene, & all of us hoping the demo would get done good & quick, to let the people on either side to get back in their buildings.  A DOB honcho was keeping the timeline for this on a strictly "no comment" level.

Building Collapse at 217 9th

Updated 5/18:

Demolition plans were filed for 217 9th Street a week ago. On Thursday night, the building partially collapsed.  Fortunately the building was vacant and there were no injuries, but a number of nearby neighbors have been evacuated from their homes. More to follow.

By coincidence, I wrote a post on the house yesterday, which was posted today. It references an earlier post from 2015, which included the following:

The building last changed hands almost twenty years ago, and is being developed by its longtime owner. According to a story in The Daily News, in 2010 Mr. Singh and his wife, Thackoordai, were indicted on fraud charges. 

 A couple who own $12 million worth of real estate conned Medicaid into accepting their application and received $9,000 in free medical care, the Brooklyn district attorney charged Wednesday. 
Praim (Roger) Singh, 55, and his wife, Thackoordai Singh, 55, who own 16 properties in Brooklyn, face a minimum of seven years in prison. 
They are charged with falsifying their Medicaid applications - claiming they did not own any property, businesses or bank accounts and subsisted solely on Praim Singh's $225weekly salary.                                                                                                                                          (Daily News)

In recent years, Mr. Singh appears to have sold at least some of his many properties.

The post I wrote yesterday:

Back in 2015 plans were filed for a new building at 217 9th, one of the last grand wooden houses on 9th Street between Third & Fifth Avenues. The plans were disapproved and the old house remained.  Now a demolition application has been processed, so it looks like new building plans are may be on the way again.

Since 2015, the north side of the block has seen some changes.  Houses at 227-233 9th (two brick, two frame) were demolished, and a seven-story apartment building is currently under construction.  Closer to Third, a rental building has risen.  There's that de rigueur Kentile sign again.

Another Supermarket Gone

At the end of last year I noticed that the Bravo supermarket space was up for lease.  Bravo has remained open since then, but will be closing at the end of the month. The owner of the store is retiring, and there's no word on what business will be coming in next.  I doubt it will be a supermarket.

Bravo is a New York-based company. Most of its stores are in the New York area (especially Brooklyn & Queens) and in Florida. It caters especially to Latino shoppers. There are a couple of other Bravos not too far away in Sunset Park.  But with the area ever more wealthy and white, with rents increasing and land turned over for development, this kind of mid-sized market is vanishing.  Emporium, at Fifth & 7th, is still around, and has shifted a little to cater to newer shoppers; the hot lunch table has gone and some of the items are slightly more upmarket.  But it's still a regular, unpretentious kind of store, still skewed towards an older, less affluent, residential base.

The shelves are starting to empty at Bravo.  All the packaged items are selling at a 50% discount - an excellent deal for thrifty shoppers and those on a budget.  But you'll carry your bargains home with a heavy heart.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Plans filed on 23rd

Update on 303-305 23rd Street.

Plans have been filed for a four-story, eleven unit building, with a 303 23rd Street address.  The architect on record is Manhattan based Marin Architects.  The 50 ft. tall, 20,000 sq. ft. building, standing on a 78 ft. lot, will, according to NY YIMBY, include car & bicycle parking, & a recreation room.

Bliss Street

I like taking pictures through windows too.  It's always a gamble, so the pleasure's all the sweeter when the smear of the glass is just fine for that one bright moment passing Bliss Street on a summer afternoon.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Road Trip

I don't know much about Walter Silver (1923 - 1998) other than that he taught at The School of Visual Arts, and also worked as a commercial photographer.  The New York Public Library has over a thousand of his photographs in its digital collection.

The bulk of the photographs date from the 1950s - mostly pictures taken in New York, but also shots of London, Barcelona & Paris.  The New York pictures reveal a life lived at the center of the New York art world: casual, familiar pictures of studios, apartments & galleries, & the artists & writers who lived & worked in them. De Koonings, Rauschenberg, Frankenthaler, Rivers, Hartigan, Schuyler, O'Hara, Koch, et al.  The Downtown streets are represented too - clusters of street kids, dozing cats, men in hats at restaurant counters, laborers on building sites, elderly women - carefully dressed - sitting alone on sidewalk benches, waiting. 

70s pictures show billboards & graffiti, and a group from the 80s - maybe my favorites - suddenly leap into color. These color pictures are taken during bus trips.

Some of them are urban shots & others quit the city for the highway, passing tattoo parlors, parking lots, railroad cars & hitchhikers, fields & sunsets.  There's a transient beauty in this kind of photograph, taken at a light, in a jam, or on a pit stop.  You could be right there on the bus yourself, looking out the window, watching the miles go by.  The country comes right through.